Tonier Cain is an advocate for trauma victims of physical, sexual, and mental abuse. Tonier stands as an empowered advocate because she is a survivor. As early as nine years old, Tonier suffered her first of many sexual assaults. In a recent interview with the survivor and advocate, Tonier Cain revealed to SHEEN that her 19-year addiction to crack cocaine actually saved her life, it was the only factor that numbed the pain she endured.
“No matter how many times I brushed my teeth or washed my face,
the smell of the men that would force themselves on me never seemed to go away.”
With 83 arrests and 66 total convictions and people constantly telling her that it was too late to help her, Tonier made it her own personal mission to change her life and the lives of many others.
“I wanted the world to know that there is a way, because I know how many
Tonier Cains are out there, I was in prison with them, I was on the streets with
them, they’re still out there because they’re being told that they can never get better.
Everything I do is to help change lives because I know it’s possible.”
As you decide to travel nationally to speak to others, how do you feel as if your story has impacted other women? Is there anyone that stands out to you?
Absolutely. As you can imagine going to the prisons where I was once was an inmate and other programs to speak with the women stands out. Up to 92% of incarcerated girls have endured sexual, mental, or physical abuse. I’m always used to being around and hearing their stories, I believe I give them a safe place to talk about their journeys. Women are coming forward now because somebody was courageous enough to speak out. Others find courage through that, giving a safe place to know that other women are going through or have been through it as well. I was a keynote speaker at a conference where there were thousands of judges from all around the country. I had one woman who came up to me outside of the conference. First off, I could tell she was very distressed, her face was red and it was clear that she had been crying. She couldn’t stay in my keynote presentation because she was hurting from what I was saying. She never told anyone but she had TWO children from her father. As a teenager, she was sexually abused. This was a woman that worked in the court system! I could tell you a million others that have told me their stories that don’t open up because of their status. Those that are providing services go through it, it hurts people.
Are there any upcoming projects you could give us insight on?
Yes, there is a docu-series in development about me and my husband, Adrian Muldrow, working as survival coaches. It showcases us helping people that are experiencing the same challenges we’ve gone through – addiction, incarceration, and homelessness. Also Healing Neen, a film based on my life is set to air on television in February. I have a new book, Relationships after Trauma, which discusses still living on life terms once you start the healing process in society. It shares my experiences as well as others and how we have been able to maintain our lives, it will be released at the end of March. Lastly, I have a spiritual tour in the Spring, it brings the spiritual component in the healing process. Only great things are happening but the best things in my life is that I get to do something to change other’s life. Whether it’s directly or indirectly.
What advice would you give to others that are going through the same situations you have found yourself at in the past?
I would tell people to never give up. No matter what it looks like, no matter what it feels like, no matter what people tell you, always know that as long as there is breath, there is hope. As long as you’re breathing, there is hope.
All images provided by Edrea Davis