Saved & Fly

Laquisha Hall

Laquisha Hall

JG. So tell me a little bit about your title as Mrs. Galaxy and how you got involved?

Laquisha: Well actually my current title is Mrs. Maryland Galaxy 2009. I represented my county in the Maryland pageant in April of this year. I won and became the state title holder and as a result I was able to compete in the national pageant where I was able to compete as Mrs. Galaxy. Although I didn’t win, I am still very excited that I got so far in the competition because it was my first national pageant.

JG. What do you mean by, “so far in the competition”?

Laquisha: I won first runner up and I was also the Mrs. Fashion Wear winner, which meant a lot to me because the pageant is very classy, glamorous, and glitzy.

JG. Oh wow! That’s pretty cool. In general, I always like the idea that there are pageants for Mrs. because there is often times a general consensus that married women are like less attractive or frumpier than the average fashionista. Married women have just as much swagger as single ladies!

Laquisha: Oh yeah. I agree with you 100 percent. The pageant prides itself on highlighting the accomplishments of married women. What’s funny is that my dreams and goals never included being part of pageants, but once I did some research, I found that pageants allow women with a passion and a movement to be able to get a national platform to expose those movements. As a married woman who is a survivor of incest, the pageant platform became very attractive to me to get the word out about it.

JG. How so?

Laquisha: Well, before I became involved with the pageant, I had begun to get disheartened by how people reacted to the literature, pamphlets, and information about incest that I tried to distribute to the people as I was volunteering for a couple of different organizations. Most people did not receive it well or just weren’t welcoming with me at all. It was like, “We don’t need that over here.”

JG. Really?

Laquisha: Yes ma’am! I was convinced that child sexual abuse was rampant, but I knew that just because it maybe didn’t happen to them didn’t mean it didn’t happen to someone they know. I refused to believe that I was the only victim of incest out here. But again, people were just not open to the topic coming to a meeting or church near them. I think the topic is very taboo and makes some very uncomfortable. I expressed my feelings to a friend and was encouraged to try pageantry.

JG. I see. So, since pageants function as a platform based organization, you figured it would be a good way to get people to listen.

Laquisha: Absolutely. I don’t mind being a beauty queen if it can help someone who has been through that I have. People don’t mind listening to controversial topics when it is validated by a pageant organization. Now the community is listening!

JG. The pretty faces don’t hurt either!

Laquisha: {laughter} I’m sure.

JG. Do you mind going into a little more detail with your story.

Laquisha: Not at all.

JG. Before you start, I praise God for your testimony. It seems as though this is the season for the exposure of incest…at least within the pop-culture.

Laquisha: You’re so right. Incest is not a new phenomenon, but it is starting to be put out there more now. Mackenzie Phillips was on Oprah recently talking about her incestuous relationship with her own father.

JG. Yeah, I saw that. It was very disturbing. There is also this movie out now called Precious (based on the book “Push” by Sapphire) about this exact same issue. I saw it and was moved to tears that things like that really happen.

Laquisha: Yes…it does. I read that book and it was hard to get through. It happened to me, but what the devil meant for evil, God meant for good. I am healed from my past circumstance and it doesn’t define me, but it does allow me to minister to others with the same story that may be depressed or not able to cope with life as a result.

JG. Praise God sis!

Laquisha: Amen. In my situation, the incest happened with my second cousin when I was a teenager. I believe that the incest started between him and my mother first and then over time trickled down to me. I say believe because although I never saw a sexual act between them, I saw signs of an inappropriate relationship with them. But as a child I didn’t fully understand and process the situation. As an adult looking back on it, I know that there was a lot that played into my mother’s mindset at that time. She was recently divorced from my father who was actually abusive to her. When they split, I think that she allowed herself to feel that she needed someone…anyone, to help her with the load of three children. Our cousin filled a void for her at that time. He knew how to prey on me. I was teased by everyone all the time about my looks…I was a very lanky child. My self-esteem was nonexistent by the teen years. So, while he was sexually abusing me, I actually embraced it because he was the only person in my life at that time who showed me any attention and didn’t make fun of me for this or that. My mom and I had a terrible relationship and do still to this day to a degree. She took out a lot of her anger on me, so much so that I eventually ran away from home at age 16.

JG. Really?

Laquisha: Yes.

JG. Oh my goodness. Where did you go?

Laquisha: I had always been very close to my father, so I ended up living with him. So long story short, I broke my silence to my father at age eighteen while he and I were watching a movie with a rape scene in it. I was saddened by the scene and began to cry and it caught my father off guard and concerned him a great deal. I dragged it out some, but eventually during the course of that conversation with him about why I was so sad, I opened up and told him everything. So with his support, I ultimately opened up about it to my family.

Laquisha Hall

JG. So how did they respond? Was the cousin banished from the family? Reported to police or anything?

Laquisha: Quite the contrary. I forgot to mention that the cousin was the pastor of a church in North Carolina, which is where I’m originally from. Because of his outstanding reputation in the community, when I did come forward with my story I was not believed by the community members or my family.

JG. Oh no!

Laquisha: Yep. I was only 18 and probably quite naïve about the world in general. But I actually believed in my heart that because he was a man of God that he would admit that he did it and that it was wrong and he would apologize and get help. Boy was I wrong! The whole thing was turned around on me. He and my mother both told authorities that I was basically rebellious because I wanted to live with my dad and that I was a liar and all that kind of stuff. So it became the teen girl who ran away from home versus the perfect pastor. It was very hurtful.

JG. That's crazy. How did you cope with it?

Laquisha: For a short while after the fiasco, I had become very self-destructive. Pretty much anything I could do to harm myself, I did. I was depressed all the time…kind of woe is me all the time. When I went to college, I never went home to visit family because I felt betrayed by them. So I was alienated, depressed, and confused. I attempted suicide with 120 pills, locked my dorm room and waited to die. But God had other plans. My best friend came looking for me and felt something was wrong, so the authorities broke down the door and saved my life. From there, things continued to go downhill for me in many ways, but God sent a friend to me in the midst of that storm that kind of pulled me up by the boot straps and took me to church with her. That was the beginning of a turning point for me.

JG. I like the words you said, “BUT GOD”!!! I love that because it speaks to all situations. No matter what the trial, tribulation, or circumstance… “but God”! Nothing is impossible for Him.

Laquisha: Exactly. The church had in a sense become my new family. Even though I sometimes struggled…well actually still do at times; struggle with trusting clergy because of what happened to me, God had allowed it and the people there to fill a void for me at that time.

JG. I love how God works!

Laquisha: He is good.

JG. What do you currently do for a living?

Laquisha: I am an English Teacher for Baltimore City.

JG. {sigh} Oh wow! Forgive me, but I tend to always think about the former HBO series The Wire when I hear the word Baltimore.

Laquisha: {giggle} With good reason. It is ranked one of the most dangerous public school systems in America outside of New York and Chicago. But I know that it was God’s plan to put me in a job where I am closely linked with teens. I can’t tell you how many students I have personally come across who share my story or a similar one. I have been able to be a rock for many of them. I am grateful for the assignment God has given me.

JG. How do you think you stay relevant in the eyes teenagers, enough for them to receive your help or advice?

Laquisha: Well although I’m a married school teacher, they also know that I’m only twenty-eight years old and into pageantry, so they don’t look at me as an old lady who can’t relate. Also, outside of my day job I started a non-profit mentorship program called Queendom T.E.A.. In that program I work with teen girls to instill etiquette and self-esteem building. The program shows them the importance of community service projects as well as teaches them tips on how to best keep themselves safe from predators of all kinds, including a boyfriend who may become abusive. I have a saying that I use with them quite a bit. I tell them to utilize me as their “trash can.” In other words, if they need to dump something…dump it on me. Don’t go dumping it on their friends or go home dumping it on their parents, but use me and I will do my best, with God’s help, to tell them how to best handle that situation without getting other people all worked up. People tend to make hasty decisions when emotion is involved.

JG. You're such an inspiration.

Laquisha: Thank you.

JG. When I look at your pictures, I see a beautiful woman of confidence and poise. How do you think you got to that point with everything you’ve been through in your past?

Laquisha: Well, I must say that the pictures you see are the result of great pageant coaching. {laughter} My wonderful pageant coach, Terrianne Small is the best. Through my testimony, she understood the person I have become with all I have been through and was able to show me how to translate that strength into visible confidence. Also, my husband’s support of me is solid.

JG. What are your long term goals?

Laquisha: I’d love to continue speaking. Since April, I’ve already had over 90 speaking engagements. That is a true blessing for me. I’d also love to be able to have a training program for people who want to help teen girls in need and have them start Queendom T.E.A. programs in their own states. I’d like to facilitate the programs instead of running the groups myself. I am also currently working on my memoirs. I am hoping to have that book published within the next few years and the proceeds of that book will benefit the cause. I am currently working on my PhD now and seeing where God allows that to take my ministry within the next few years is going to be amazing as well.

JG. How long have you been saved?

Laquisha: I have been involved in church pretty much all my life, but I mean…I was baptized by my abuser back then. Things were weird in many ways so I didn’t fully understand what truly being saved was until later in life. I gave my life to Christ in 2001 and started to have an intimate personal relationship with Him at that point.

JG. Anything you want to share with the people that we haven't covered?

Laquisha: Uh…no. I think we’ve covered all the bases. Oh, maybe a couple of my websites. Make sure you all support the Queendom movement. Please visit www.queendomtea.com I’m also the international spokesperson and a board member for “Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse” and their website is www.stopcsa.org

Laquisha Hall

JG. Thank you for your time Laquisha.

Laquisha: Oh…thank you. I love what you’re doing with Jesus Groupie. The overall church experience can sometimes be very boring for teens. Way-to-go by making Christianity look so appealing to the youth. Your clothes are so cool.

JG. Thank you for your words of encouragement sis and thanks for being a Jesus Groupie!

Laquisha:

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