Delta Peers, Antioch and The Peer Network of Contra Costa County – Constitution of Intent

The data collected for the Constitution of Intent (2021) was compiled during the The Service Provider Individualized Recovery Intensive Training (S.P.I.R.I.T) internship that I (Jo Bruno) did through Contra Costa College (CCC), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Consumer Empowerment (OCE). OCE is a department within our Behavioral Health Department.

Already working with the Council on Homelessness (H3), which is a division of the Health Services, I wanted to build a bridge between the two departments in order to capture the lived-experience of homelessness. Strengthening the partnerships already in the Delta Peers network, I conducted outreach by holding community meetings, gathering input from, so far, 26 people. Of those community partners were OCE staff, S.P.I.R.I.T students and alumni, Delta Peers members, Health Leads Housing is Health committee, community members, and county/social workers.

    Inform & Educate
Support for further education:


Train the trainer

Cross-Sectional Training (H3/OCE)

Parent/partners know their roles

Peer to department

Peer-Ran Orgs to departments

Provide more access to peer trainings, policy making, advocacy teams, information sessions etc.

Create jobs specifically around facilitating peer trainings to develop advocates who can help others using the system (DP peer navigation)  

Peer partners build trust between system and community
  Consult, Listen & Relate
Streamline relatable data:

Message of hope and recovery

Promote racial equity 

Show problem

What can the community do?

How can community fix problem?
Validating lived-experience gives them democratic authority as a policy maker, changing the system.

Guidance on how one can advocate for themselves while they’re in crisis or utilizing the system.

Peer liaison groups to discuss problems and solutions around BIPOC experiences.
    Include & Compensate
Provide incentives for completing programs:

Receive guidance toward skills development into relevant work.

Acknowledge economic inequalities for BIPOCBuild a peer foundation

Find a peer grant writer who has lived-experience

Develop skills already acquired by lived-experience and work history. Resume building/job placements.  

Opportunity to try different things with the support of other peers. The work you’re doing is being yourself.  

Understanding that creating job skills and acquiring a job may not work, so having guidance and support to other opportunities.

Meet them where they are.
  Build Community Partners
Cross Sector language:

Student becomes the teacher

Use peer model to educate others within system/CBOs.

Allow space for youth language, systematic language, etc.

No more alphabet soup dialog

Community mindset, peer coalition. Bringing value to the story of the lived-experience.  

Groups of peers go to community members, sharing the current work in the meetings of the system.

Peer partners educate the community while the community gives the peer partner insight to bring back to the system meeting.
    Empower Self-Agency
Cross Sector Empowerment:

Peers hired in county positions

Clinicians/social workers need peer support, too.

Encourage peers to become community partners/advocates
UNITE community members with community partners who will connect with peer workers already in the system, which gives the opportunity to educate the system workers who don’t have peer knowledge.

Opportunity to explore emotions of trauma.

Find logical, cognitive understanding of the trauma and how it can change the work place.
  • INFORM and EDUCATE: Give facts, share information, and provide formative, quality principles (the fundamental truths of peer support and advocacy/advisory). The
  • S.P.I.R.I.T graduate holds training opportunities to talk about Peer Support in the work-place, becoming peer trainers for their co-workers, facilitating presentations, implementing peer support for the department.
  • CONSULT, LISTEN, and RELATE: Seeking advice from those with lived-experience, acknowledging that the racial equity perspective is essential; the story-telling aspect. It’s probably the most important part of this entire framework. We would capture the lived-experience perspective from each peer involved with each discussion, bringing it back to the department/committee for them to bring it to the board of supervisors.
  • INCLUDE and COMPENSATE: Practicing and providing equal access to become part of the whole system of care. When a peer, one with lived-experience, shares their story we compensate for their time. Compensation is on a needs-by-needs basis, meeting the peer where they are, recognizing the inequities of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People of Color).
  • BUILDING COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS and COLLABORATIONS: The process of working together to create something in agreement. Best practices while coordinating with others not already in the network. Community members are the partnerships we’re building.
  • EMPOWER SELF-AGENCY: Given the authority of one’s own livelihood. Allowing the process of self-awareness by strengthening their confidence in advocacy work and personal story-telling. Knowing and understanding how their lived-experience can influence the system, they build a sense of identity within their experience and crisis. It doesn’t determine who they are, but rather how they can use what’s happened to benefit their livelihoods.

UNHOUSED LENS: The unhoused community are met by peers who start the relationship with community members who are in crisis. This is building trust with the community member. The peer is the Community Partner, partnering with H3 (or other department/organization), who is doing the community outreach.

NEXT STEPS: Each category listed above will be further explored from community members. There will be ongoing Peer Network meetings through OCE, which will provide opportunities to share input to the constitution. At any time, a community member and/or county worker can suggest edits to raise awareness to other best practices not listed.

Contra Costa Peer Support Constitution of Intent

Proposed Pilot Program:

OCE (peer specialists) and Delta Peers (unhoused population)

Final draft last updated: 10.20.21 (edited by Jo: Next Steps)


The Wench’s 2020 Vision: No More Silence in the Church and Black Lives Matter. The introductions.

Here is an edited introduction to The Wench’s Cocktale. I wrote this right before I published it in 2015/2016, but edited it a bit for this additional piece. I am revisiting this and adding to it. I am expanding on what’s already published. The Wench’s story itself will not be explored, but instead, this is about introducing my next phase of publications. After the edited introduction of my memoir, you will find additional 2020 expressions for the purpose of this expanded piece. Following that, No More Silence in the Church. Then, Black Lives Matter. Those two pieces will be blogged, following this blog, later in the year. I have known this purpose since before writing my first book, since even before writing the first draft of my first book. I have always known this purpose.

#CupOfJoBruno (Twitter @ACoJBx3)
#JBwolfpack (Instagram @ACoJBx3)
#PaganScripture (Facebook @TheWenchsCocktale)
#AmWriting (National Novel Writing Month NaNoWriMo)

My personal hashtags and social media tags where you will find the deep rooted purpose of erotic fantasy and healing energy

THE WENCH’S INTRODUCTION: Sex addiction (The Institute of Sexual Health). What does it mean to me? It’s the exchange of energy that I’m addicted to. It’s the rush of endorphins that I’m addicted to. It’s when two bodies are in full ecstasy and nothing else in the world matters. That’s what I’m addicted to. There are no bills to pay, children to care for, or a job to worry about. We’re not reading emails or stuck in traffic. We’re exercising, breathing heavy, sweating and stretching muscles, releasing tension. Healing through the form of sexual passion is an amazing practice if done correctly. It’s the chemical imbalance from falling in love that got me in trouble. People do crazy things when they’re in love right?

The Wench’s story started in 2000/2001. I was just barely legal to drink in public and I was recovering from a car accident that took place a couple of years prior. I was overweight nearly 400lbs., and I didn’t have any direction or purpose in life. I tried the college thing for a semester after High School but that didn’t work. I didn’t care much. I was living a life of depression and I didn’t know it. I picked up my first set of clients when I started working as a security officer at a new power plant in town. Honestly, I don’t recall how it all started but I spent about two years jumping from truck stop to truck stop and I met with men in parking lots, abandoned car washes and motel rooms that rented by the hour. One guy I met with; we jumped the fence at an abandoned military building to find a place to explore our sexual desires. Obtaining the job at the warehouse eventually got me off the streets but it didn’t keep me from pursuing my addictions. It didn’t keep me out of trouble. It didn’t keep me from the pain. I was a mistress. I was a prostitute. I was a harlot.

My story of sexual addiction really started when I was a pre-teen and I gave my first blowjob. It was a magical experience. I was a little white girl and I played in a field with a little black boy, a name I never knew. At 11, keep in mind, I already knew what I was doing. So, when I was working the streets as an adult, every time I gave my client a blowjob, I felt playful, almost as if I was a little girl back in that field. It wasn’t until I went to college at the age of 28 that I learned how trauma can cause damage to that person as an adult. Sexual abuse on children (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) happens everywhere and it’s rare to hear about an adult woman who has not only embraced the sexual abuse throughout her entire life, but is honored by her experiences. I’m outright blessed to have experienced them. It brought me to a place I am right now and even though it’s a constant struggle to remind myself how far I’ve come, I’m quite pleased.

I mean really, I grew up 20 minutes east of Oakland. My dad left when I was eight and after that my mom went a little crazy. She did the best she could with what she was given, which wasn’t much, so I can’t be mad at her. My mom didn’t know how to care for my sister and I, so we ran crazy with her. At only nine years old, I was introduced to 2LiveCrew (a hip-hop group based out of Miami Florida) known for their extremely sexual and controversial lyrics. My first blowjob was at 11 in that field. I lost my virginity at 12, where his younger sister was in the room, watching. Even joined. I continued doing that sexual lifestyle through the age of 26 when I finally decided to leave the streets and find my inner self, which is an ongoing process. I learned about the Leo Goddess that resided within me and I have become the Leo Queen I was meant to be. Still finding that balance. My message, my past, my journey, and my passions are becoming increasingly clear and the story of the Wench tells the reader who I am and why. I never knew what a sexual healer was until years after I worked the streets.

Now that I’m aware of the millions of women throughout history who have worked in the sex industry to heal the wounded man (International Encyclopedia of the First World War), I am honored to hold that title. I know that what I did for these men helped them through stressful times in their lives. Truck drivers, pipe-fitters, welders, forklift operators, security guards and mechanics were my clients. They were the men I healed. They were the men I enjoyed. They were even the men I hurt. I played mistress. It wasn’t always an exchange of money or an exchange of anything at all except for energy and sexual releases. The powerful endorphins in the orgasm (Science Alert) that are released into the body were and still are what I’m addicted to. Then, it wasn’t necessarily my own orgasm or the endorphins that released within me. I enjoyed helping these men release their own energy to help them heal.

Yes, I was aware my clients had wives.
Yes, I was aware I ruined a couple of marriages.
Yes, I was aware women were angry at the role I played to their husbands.

My purpose was found in the tears and prayers of these women. I received the message.

I’m not telling the story of my men or their wives though. I’m telling my story and it just so happens to have many married men involved. When I was doing sex work, I didn’t care about any of that. Then, I didn’t even realize I was a reason for so many heartaches and tears for wives. When they were home with their children, their husbands were with me. When they would call multiple times in a row, he would ignore the call because he was with me. Many wives would scowl at me because they suspected I was sucking their husband’s dick. Rightfully so, too. I enjoyed it.

Then, I was quite naive

Then, I was a broken little girl who craved love from men in a sexual manner because it was the only thing I knew. It was the only thing I was good at. It wasn’t until I fell in love with one of my clients that I started to rethink my actions. It wasn’t until I saw him get married to his baby mama that I realized I wasn’t okay. It took many years of scary ass experiences on the street for me to get the clue. I hurt many people in the process and many hurt me. Now, I am quite amazed by how much forgiveness I have given to others for the way I was treated when I was working the streets. I’m more amazed by the forgiveness I have given myself though. Some things will never be forgiven, but I’ve come a long way in my acceptance of my truth.

I have relived my memories throughout writing the different drafts of The Wench, while I used it as my senior project. With my college education came enlightenment. I would read articles explaining how the mind works for the sexually abused child. I put myself into those case studies. I heard my story as I read other stories and I learned a lot about my childhood through the eyes of a psychiatrist. When I read articles for anthropological studies of women in other countries who sexually pleasure men in the wars, I identified with my own stories of when I worked the streets. My men may have never been in wars, but they were broken in many ways. I treated the wounds of these men by giving them a moment of ecstasy and pleasure. When I wrote academic essays about socially unjust American ways, I recalled memories that triggered racial profiling. Then, I didn’t realize it was racial profiling. Then, I didn’t know black men were feared more so than respected. It wasn’t until I read Cornel West Race Matters (Good Reads) that I understood my role as a white woman who traveled between White American and Black America (PBS Interview with West).

I learned how unique my perspective was and more importantly, when I spoke with my college mentors, peers and supporters about how to make a brighter tomorrow for our youth, I gathered information that has allowed me to find the deep-rooted passion within myself. The clarity of my being has become the driving force of my life. I educated myself through the American education system and I see my life as a powerful story that can encourage many others. The life I have chosen to live, and was forced to live on some levels, is an erotic journey, and The Wench shows my truth. I have detached myself from this entire situation. I’ve come to terms with it. I accept it. I honor it as my truth. I’m not looking for help to get over this pain. I’m not trying to figure it out anymore. I’m simply telling my story.

I share it because ideally, I would like to see the readers take it upon themselves to educate the little girls and boys in their life. I want to encourage the reader to talk with the little boys and girls in their life who might be influenced just enough to act upon sexual desires at such young ages. Ideally, I am sharing this information for people to critically think about making choices regarding sexual acts and hopefully spark healthier discussions about the power of Sexual Healing. Bottom line, the Wench’s story is a tale of light in a lifetime of sexual abuse.

2020 Additions

Kundalini (Kundalini Guide).
Sexual healing (Llewellyn).
Chakra cleansing (Journal of Traditional Medicine & Clinical Naturopathy).
Trauma informed (Center of Health Care Strategies Inc).

From the shadows comes a dark essence of life that many are afraid to experience. In the Wench’s Cocktale, I told one specific story of the warehouse. It took me off the streets, like I said. But right now, I am working on a piece called No More Silence in The Church, named after a whispered lyric from Tech N9ne‘s life purpose. It is focused on the religious childhood I was brought up in. After I wrote The Wench’s Cocktale, I took a series of therapy that created a landscape of characters. It’s how I have worked through the triggering images that came to me. As a writer, I have created an entire storyline and landscape that shows the transformation of a woman from darkness to light. She is a powerful alchemist who can transform matter (Sarah, the Warrior Princess Amazon). So, a lot of writing has taken place since my memoir. Like I said, the Wench was only one piece of my story. It is the beginning process of how I made sense of the darkness I took in my innocence. Other stories are being written. Some are already published, like Morelia’s story.

The piece, No More Silence in the Church, is a double edged Athame Dagger (Grove and Grotto discussion). It’s the shadow work I started after I left the streets in 2006. The characters I created have become the multiple versions of myself and my comprehension of sexual abuse upon a child. I see my abused childlike actions come from an adult body and mind. It’s a split between light and dark. It’s the fight we all have, but this piece is deep, sexual abuse against a Child of God. To be the product of the Church. To be the product of sexual abuse in the Church. I am also the product of God’s Grace, Universal Light, and the driving force killing this virus against the next generations.

I was given responsibilities in this lifetime because I asked for it when I agreed to end my ancestral traumas. The pain of my ancestors is ending with me. Meaning, I will not repeat the traumas inflicted upon me to my child. I’m healing my ancestral trauma (Diana Quinn). The kundalini power that has been gifted to me is meant for a sacred man (My Twin Soul Journey, The Masculine Man). A man with honor for his family and a cultural acceptance of love after trauma. This is my purpose. To bring a child into this world with the druid-like wisdom I bestow. It will be the seed that many generations can grow roots from. It’s the sacred energy of the kundalini that I will gift to my children and grandchildren.

So, as I get ready to embark on an entirely new playing field, my journey will be fluid with sacredness. Not religion. Not even spirituality. But sacredness. Ancestral Sacredness (Mythic Medicine). There isn’t much sacredness about No More Silence in The Church except that it brings light to a very dark truth. That in and of itself is sacred, but the church in which I express is not a sacred truth. The silence isn’t sacred. The truth isn’t sacred. The lies aren’t, and neither are the people running the establishment. Intention, sure. But American church is not sacred. In all the churches I have stepped foot in and all the anointing I have witnessed, there was no sense of sacredness.

The kundalini is sacred. A girl’s innocence is sacred. A woman’s orgasm is sacred. A boy’s emotion is sacred. A man’s purpose is sacred. Sexual healing is sacred. Here’s the thing, this isn’t about me or my sacredness (Historic UK, Druids). I have found that already. I am finally at a stage in my life (40 years old) where my sacred wisdom (Ancient Origins) will flow into the lives of others without me even having to try. I have planted the seeds and I have watched trees bear fruit. The harvest is near and the feast will show plentiful for all involved. This is about finding that match to my self-found sacredness. A sacred man to join me on this journey. To combine forces with my mirror self is to finally live in freedom and love. No abuse. No trauma. No triggers. The kundalini, orgasmic release is where manifestation starts. With every release, we unionize our future. Together. Creating life.

To hold faith for as long as I have and to see the kundalini rise in myself is to see a reality that is not yet here. It is to see truth when millions are stuck in a lie. It is to shine light when others live in darkness. A darkness I have spent nearly 40 years living. On the streets, I recall many men telling me it was because of my smile that would keep me safe. Now, it’s that same smile that men see as enlightenment and strength. I don’t feel safe or protected, but I know my guardians are with me. My smile is proof of that after all the darkness I have had to process for others.

My innocence was taken. It was ripped from my soul. Someone stole my sacredness. As stated, I have had some triggering memories that are held as my truth. I see pictures of me as a little girl and I know that little girl was raped, abused, and forcefully beaten into submission. But still, she smiled. I see the curly hair, fluffy dress and church shoes with laced socks. I see objects and fingers forcefully inserted into her body. Still smiling. Almost saw death from drowning as an adult man forced himself upon that 7-month year old body. Upon gazing into the eyes of that little girl, I see a woman in the mirror’s reflection, but still an abused little girl in my heart. Still smiling though (Odyssey).

She is who’s writing No More Silence in The Church. She is who is speaking now. She is who will help raise my own children. She is sacred. She’s a product of the church. It is still unclear in how I am a product of the church, but as I further this piece, I am going to explore my childhood truth. I will return to the church that I was abused in. I will walk those halls again, smell it again and probably remember more than I’m willing to admit now. There are truths that are unknown, and I cannot keep silent any longer. It is time for answers. It is time for explanations. It’s time to know the truth. I recall some teachings from Catechism (Britannia) and First Holy Communion (The Catholic Company). I don’t remember the Bible or any of the messages from church. Born Catholic, raised Christian. Baptized (Catholic) at birth, never again by choice. Did it groom me (Catholic Ethics)? Trauma induced childhood, pre-teen rebellion. No church affiliation. As I grew into adulthood and with the education, study, and quite a long time in solitude, I found a spirituality about myself that is embedded into the very soil of our earth. It’s the Leo Queen I tapped into when I was in solitude, after I left the streets in 2006, where the story of the Wench ends.

To title myself, I would say I’m Pagan (NY Times opinion). I’m a witch (Witchcraft and Witches). I’m not Wiccan (Learn Religions), but we share similar ideologies. The five-point star (Patheos) is my symbol of faith. The five points represents the four elements (earth, air, fire, water) and spirit (self). It is where I pull my resources when I need healing and direction. When I pray to God, I speak to Him through song and discussion as I worship the land He created. I find my power of prayer and manifestation in the breeze as the leaves dance and fall from the tree in the early fall season. I find peace and grounding energy as I walk barefoot in the soil or bathe nude in a natural waterfall. The cycle of the moon is where I find routine and wisdom for my own menstrual cycle (Nylon). The practices and rituals I conducted have been done as a solo practitioner. I do not share my magic or my practice. My skills and tools will be shared with many people as I continue this journey and publish this piece, but I practice my witchcraft alone. As a mom, there will be a shared worship and practice with my children and the father of those children. I know this. I will go through training or ritual or cultural practice routine that will strengthen the witch within me. Honestly, I don’t know if I can take on another title of religious practices, but that isn’t to say I can’t respect and honor the practice. That’s where the sacredness of my adult life is. It’s the sacredness of orgasm, creation, manifestation, and prayer. It’s the sacredness of spirit. Sacredness is in a child’s giggle, a young man’s tears, and an elder’s voice. You will find sacredness in silence, meditation, and consistent eye contact.

Writing #PaganScripture #JBwolfpack is
wrapped in layers of transitions and a savage wolf pack.

Writing No More Silence in the Church is
entangled with deep sexual abuse and God’s Will.

Writing Black Lives Matters is
mixed with a bitter-sweet knowledge of lived experience and study.

Sarah’s fairytale is engraved in the rocks. Morelia’s waters are flowing. Gregorian’s Gnome Dome is flourishing. Maeve’s wisdom is raising a pack of wolves. Creatures and critters are scurrying and birthing knowledge throughout the landscape and the more I dissect my truth, the more I find my heart center.

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

2018 has proven to me that with every end comes a beginning. I’ve been reminded that truths are subjective but I was validated that love is universal and endless. This year taught me that no matter what is said, it really is what’s done that counts. It really is essential to my life’s purpose that I keep myself in the honest realm of reality. Yes, truths are different, but honesty is key.

I admit, the lesson I learned this year is that people aren’t who they say they are. People lie. People are hurting. People are dying. 2018 has given me insight to my own truth, which has led into an awakening that cannot be unseen. The new skills became thought, which are now daily practices. I’ve made a lot of mistakes this year, had high expectations, failed, and had a major suicide scare. I was challenged. I met a lot of new people. I was disliked, judged upon, and even threatened.

I mingled with the shadows a little too much because self harm was a major challenge this year. I learned that even though I come from the darkened soil, I have blossomed. I have grown a garden that’s flourishing with faery folk and gnome-like creatures. I found new love this year. I found new light, new darkness, and a new passion for life.

2018 brought a sense of self knowledge that has expanded into the professional realm of my ongoing journey of writing my life story while struggling with ptsd and a life time of trauma. This year has given me just enough courage and self respect to rise above the bullshit. I was shown some major fuckery from not only others but myself. I have regret. I hold honor. I learned loyalty.

2018 was a whirlwind of chaos and confusion. It uprooted me and threw me to the wolves. As I step into 2019, I’ll be Alpha female of the pack I found scurrying the landscape of my darkened soul. As 2018 comes to an end, I’ll drift further into my purpose and greet 2019 with the openness of joy, financial security, community, union, and more unconditional love.

Walking into the unknown realm of 2019, I am going to keep my head high, eyes open, mouth shut, and ears close to the ground. I’m going to respect my ancestors message to continue this path that is set before me. I am going to trust that the hard work and constant focus on becoming my higher self will not only pay off, but that in 2019, I will be met with grace and gratitude.

#CupOfJoBruno #AmWriting #JBwolfpack #FuckDepression #SuicideSurvivor #NewYears #Welcome2019 #Goodbye2018 #Reflections #Love #Growth #Ancestors

Celebrating International Women’s Day, Loving my Wolf Pack, and Surviving PTSD

It’s International Women’s Day

So, it saddens me I am writing this! How do I write about destructive masculine energies on a day we are supposed to celebrate women? How do I write about the struggle I am experiencing when I encounter men who trigger something inside of me that awakens the reactionary survival attitude without sounding like a bitch?

Ah, fuck it! I’ma be a bitch

I am sick of constantly feeling that overwhelming tingling sensation of survival mode when a man speaks to me in a way that triggers abusive memories. PTSD is a son-of-a-bitch, and I’m a host for their family dysfunctions. Mental health, addiction, and sexual and childhood trauma are all associated with my automatic fight or flight reactions.

Most the time, I fight. I want to destroy whatever is harming me and my psyche. I want to end the stinging sensations penetrating my aura. I want to tap into that beautiful, bad bitch Wolf Pack that scurries in my Spiritual Planes. I want to create a bloody carnage of the evil that lurks.

I want to hunt it down, destroy it, and devour it. I want to feel the flesh of this evil in my teeth and its warm life source drip from my lips. The smell. The taste. The satisfaction it would bring.

Oh wait?! There she is

That super bad bitch who’s seen and done some shit

She reminds me to simmer the fuck down! Take a moment. Calm the flame that burns. I can whine, whimper, growl, and even snap my Wolf teeth at this negative energy source. But, I cannot physically harm another.

I cannot physically harm another

She’s strong. My Higher Self. My Higher Power. She sits, resting under an orange tree, next to that bad bitch Wolf Pack Leader. They’re companions. She pets my Wolf Spirit. Strokes Her ego. Grooms Her fur. Studies Her hunting patterns. Watches over Her young.

I felt the rage of wanting to destroy the very thing that was trying to destroy us. It tries to destroy all women. Except this time, I could stand strong in my Queendom. I protected myself without creating carnage. I destroyed the energy force that seemed stronger than me before. I overcame the triggers and used the PTSD body memories to strengthen my life purpose. Something’s changed!

It can stab, slash, poke, cut, prod, and sting my very existence, but my Power within isn’t afraid of it anymore. The darkness doesn’t consume me, it guides me. The Wolf Pack doesn’t destroy, it protects. The triggers don’t control me, they strengthen me. The memories take me back, but the bitch brings me forward.

It’s International Women’s Day

Today, All Women move forward

So Mote It Be!


Moving on!

Peer Support Specialist

What is a peer support specialist? How is one considered a peer? Does the trauma need to be the same? Does the healing need to be the same? Does any of it truly need to be the same for it to be considered peer support? There’s a sense of understanding when one considers themselves a peer. There’s a sense of validation, compassion, and empathy. There’s an unspoken trust between people who are healing from trauma and those who identify as their peer. It’s lived experience that makes us peers.

Healing through the trauma I experienced was never met with peer support. Nobody identified with me or validated my feelings through my journey of self-awareness, self-healing, and self-expression. I didn’t have peer support. I started, struggled with, and finished the healing process by myself. It’s given me strength in my adult life. It’s powerful to identify the healing that’s come from my trauma; it’s empowering really. Because of that, I consider myself a peer. I consider myself a specialist.

Being a peer specialist doesn’t necessarily mean we are the same age, have the same ethnic background, or even the same sexual preference, political views, or religious practices. What it means to me is that I have experienced and healed from situations in my life that caused mental illnesses, which eventually turned into physical illnesses. When I say I am a peer specialist, it doesn’t mean I have a certificate either. What it means is that I have visited the darkest caverns of my soul and I shinned a light in them.

I had to work on motivating myself out of depression hundreds of times. I held myself as I cried myself to sleep. I caused physical harm to myself to release the sense of uncontrollable anger I felt. I resorted to over eating, cutting, suicide attempts, and prostitution just to feel something. Therefore, when I consider myself a peer support specialist, I am telling myself that I have identified and accepted my childhood trauma. I am reminding myself that I have healed and overcame what others are experiencing or have experienced. I am now pursuing my dreams, accomplishing goals, and becoming the best person I can.

Writing The Wench’s Cocktale: A Bay Area Memoir allowed me to express things I experienced. I was sexually traumatized at a very young age and it haunted me throughout my life. Of course, healing is a never-ending process, and I still have moments of negative thoughts, anxiety, depression, and the inability to accomplish things. I still struggle. But, that’s also what makes me a peer, right? A peer isn’t only someone who has healed their pain, it’s someone who is still healing.

As I heal, I am motivated to mentor our youth, I am passionate about women in the sex industry, and I am grateful to have the strength to uplift others who are struggling through their trauma. It’s what I love about being a peer specialist. It’s what I love about life. It’s what I love about myself.