Stress and Anxiety
Depression vs Sadness
Empty Nest Syndrome
Loneliness vs Aloneness
Rape, Sexual Abuse
Sexual Identity Issues
Family of Origin Issues
If anyone knows about low self esteem, it’s Lee Davis. Life experiences have equipped Lee in
many special ways to understand how and why women must learn to mobilize their inner
resources for self-fulfillment through effective coping skills, healthy relationships, and creative
development. Although her academic experience has taught her a lot about human nature, her
personal experiences have taught her about life.
As a young child, Lee was abandoned by her parents, forced to a life on the city streets, and an
institutionalized foster care system, then an abusive foster home where she spent many years
at the hands of a woman who was determined to strip Lee of any confidence or determination
lee possessed, and a foster father who used a belt on her to control her when she was too
young to fight back, and then raped her as ofter as five or six nights a week from the age of
twelve until she left the foster home. This, and more, gave Lee many reasons to have low self-
There was no one to talk to or tell about what her foster father was doing to her. The one time
she gave a hint of the physical abuse that was taking place to a social worker who visited her at
school every six months, Lee was around nine years old. After confiding in her, the social worker
went directly to Lee's foster parents and confronted them.
Can anyone be that stupid? Couldn't she predict what would happen next?!!
If Lee was already being physically abused, what did this lady, this social worker, think the
consequences would be for Lee?
This time the belt left stripes across Lee's little buttocks and the back of her legs. She found it
difficult to sit. But she wasn't about to tell the teacher at the elementary school who kept telling
her to sit down when Lee was trying to stand during the day because of what had taken place
the night before. And then there were the years of sexual abuse.
It took Lee years to finally say that she had been raped by her foster father on those dreadful
nights, instead of being sexually abused. She didn't want to believe it was rape. He was the
only Dad she had really ever known, and she didn't want to believe he would rape her. She
knew that his own daughter was truly his only daughter, but she wanted to believe that he had
at least a little regard for her. Calling it sexual abuse seemed to be the lessor of the two evils.
So, she hid behind the term sexual abuse or years, her mind's eye refusing to see it as anything
Sexual abuse, or rape, was not limited to her foster father. There were other family and non-
family members along the way who exploited Lee's position as a victim. Every time she was
approached, and hesitated, if it was not told straight forward to her, then it was implied, that if
she didn't do what "he", whomever he was at the time, told her to do, he would tell her foster
mother that it was her fault. That she was the one who had asked him to do "it", whatever it
was at the time, not the other way around.
Except, they didn't ask, the took what wasn't theirs. As young as six years old, she was forced
to participate in these crude acts, and hoped with all her might that it wouldn't happen again.
But it always did.
Learned helplessness, or the inability to say "no", is a powerful thing. It is an emotional
crippling and all about fear. Young girls and women in other nations who are beaten into
submission and raped repeatedly know all about learned helplessness.
Lee did get whippings with the belt, and was raped regularly, but it was the emotional torment
that made her passive. In addition to what was happening physically and sexually, she was
being told on a daily basis that she was ugly and stupid. The clothes she wore to school, even
high school, especially high school, screamed "Look at me! I dress ugly! I wear boy-looking
shoes! My hair is not cut right! I AM UGLY!!!!!"
By the time Lee was in her teen years, abuse was common place. The physical, emotional and
mental abuse had escalated about the same time her foster dad started making visits to her
bedroom in the basement. Did her foster mother know? She didn't think so back then, didn't
even make the connection between the intensity of the abuse and the visits to her bedroom,
but today Lee thinks otherwise.
The spiritual abuse, and being told God would punish her for any wrong doings, no matter how
minor, persisted. There was so much that had gone on during those years that it would take a
book to tell about them all. So many nights Lee begged God to let her go to sleep and never
wake up. And worst of all, she had no one to talk to about any of it.
Lee's friends at school had no idea what kind of hell she went home to each day. If only she
could tell one of them. Donna, Marie, Paulette, Michelle, Carol, Stephanie, Candy, Marcy. These
were school, and only school, friends. Lee had no social life outside of school. The only time she
saw there girls was in school, and even though they were her life line to sanity, she was afraid
to trust them, for fear they would tell someone, and it would get back home. She couldn't let
Despite all of that, somewhere deep inside of her, Lee learned self-reliance, self control, unique
ways to manage her anger, and many other ways to cope in that environment. In the school
system, she learned how to make friends, and use library resources to build a strong belief and
value system. In church she learned to believe, have faith, and wait. Patience is a virtue, she
Lee had graduated from high school, and went on to further her education at a trade school for
which she got a full scholarship. In her early twenties, as a young single mother and welfare
recipient, Lee learned gratitude, while learning to support herself and her son, all the while
learning to love and bond with her child. She learned to seek career development opportunities
wherever and whenever possible. Later, as a divorced woman and victim of domestic violence,
Lee picked herself up and forged ahead again.
At age 25, Lee, who had really been Debbie up to this point, moved 1500 miles from home to
Houston Texas and started going by her middle name Lee. She knew that she had to get away
and start over. Houston was the number one growing city in the country at th time.
With her child, she forged ahead, determined to be respected and seen as a person who can
get things done. She decided that she no longer wanted anyone to see her as a victim, nor did
she want to be treated as one.
She had discovered that no matter how hard she tried to change the way the people she knew
viewed her, there were some who would always see her as the girl that looked and acted
stupid and without respect. There were those few who needed her to stay in that role because
her successes would bring out their inadequacies. After all, how could she, the girl who had
nothing, knew nothing, and above all, who didn't deserve respect, become anything.
Even after forty years, she was confronted with a situation that validated that belief. Sitting
around at the home of her best high school friend, someone she had known since first grade,
along with other girls from high school, a topic presented itself, whereby Lee decided it was time
to share something that had happened to her with these "best friends."
This happened before she had moved from Houston to California, and, in fact, may have been
the deciding factor for moving to Los Angeles.
One night, on there was from the Woodlands and having had a great day together, Lee and a
friend had stopped at a convenient store. She decided to stay in the car while her friend ran into
the store. Within a minute, or so, Lee decided she wanted a Twinkie, or candy bar. As she was
walking across the parking lot, and then between two parked cars almost directly in front of the
store, a back door of one of the cars flew open, and a young man that looked no older than his
late teens, maybe early 20's, slide a gun out far enough for Lee to see it. She was told to get
into the car or he would shoot her. Lee, knowing nothing about guns, had no idea that the
young man had pointed an Oozie AK-47 at her. Nevertheless, it was a gun and she didn't want
to die. She got inside the car. They drove out of the parking lot, down the street, and up onto
Not far from where they picked her up, they drove off an exit, down a dark street, and parked.
That night at gunpoint, Lee was raped and beaten by three young men, who were speaking
Spanish, each taking their turn in the back seat of the vehicle. When they were done, the leader
of the pack told Lee to get dressed. They drove back up onto the freeway, and after just a few
minutes, the driver pulled over.
As the leader put her out along the freeway, he told her to walk in the direction from where they
came. As she walked, she waited for the bullet that was about to be planted in her spine. But it
didn't happen. She wasn't shot! Instead, she heard them take off on down the freeway, yelling
something in Spanish out the window.
After sharing this experience with these high school girl friends, one of them asked what type of
gun did these guys have. Lee hadn't mentioned exactly why kind of gun it was in sharing this
experience, mainly because she had blocked it from her memory. In fact, this may have been the
first time she shared the whole story with anyone. When asked what type of guy it was, she
saw only darkness in her memory. "I can probably draw it for you, but I'm afraid that's one I
have pushed way back in my memory," Lee responded.
"Sure you did, Debbie. If you had been raped as you say you were, you would definitely
remember what type of gun it was," she retorted. Lee was appalled. It took a lot to share this,
and then to be accused of lying.
But then Lee remembered, this particular high school friend had always needed to be the center
of attention, as did this girl's best friend who agreed with her. The two of them had always
acted silly and in ways that attracted attention, and this was no different. Lee also realized that
she wasn't suppose to get smart, or pretty, or successful. This was certainly an attempt by one
and then both of these two "girls" to put Debbie in her place.
Getting back to when Lee was in her 30's, she finally had the credentials she needed to begin
helping other women. She chose the area of self-esteem. She had come so far in her own
personal growth and development, especially is her mental, emotional, and spiritual growth, all
the while helping herself build her own self-esteem. That, she decided, was what she wanted to
pass on to other girls and women. She developed a program that she still teaches today that is
based on her own personal growth and development.
Later Lee branched out into other areas of self improvement She became co-founder of The
Center for Human Development in Houston, Texas in 1988, which was located in the prestigious
River Oaks area. When she moved to Santa Monica, CA, in the mid 90's, Lee continued to teach
classes and see clients.
Years later, while living in California as a bone marrow cancer and transplant survivor, Lee found
that her previous struggles and achievements had prepared her to face the toughest battle of
her life with determination and optimism. Chemo three days a week for six months, hair loss,
and having to spend nearly thirty days in the hospital, some of those days unable to lift her
head off the pillow, was how most intense challenge. (That amount of chemo had also played a
part in Lee's not remembering the gun type in the previous experience shared by Leer. It had
only been two years since the transplant that Lee went to her fortieth class reunion.)
From the onset, she turned everything over to her doctor, an expert in the field of bone marrow
cancer, stayed positive throughout, and followed direct orders from him on what to do and how
to do it. She survived. Today she is totally cancer free!
Other experiences along the way, both pleasant and unpleasant, the coping skills to not only
survive, but thrive, and the determination to never give up on herself, is what Lee imparts to
other women. She has had to deal with being the older and only sister to her sister who
committed suicide as a young woman, to a brother who spent most of his adult life in prison, to
a foster brother that grew up with Lee, who had always depended on her for emotional
support, who died of aids at the young age of 30 in a Houston hospital.
In addition, Lee's birth mother died just three months before Lee had the chance to finis beauty
school and rescue her mother, something Lee fantasized about for many years. An alcoholic,
heroin addict, prostitute, and having spent times in a mental institution, Lee just knew she could
help her. In retrospect, Lee realizes today that trying to rescue someone who was so far down
could have dragged her down instead of the other way around.
Using as many search engines that she knows are available, Lee has never been able to find
her ntural father, someone she disparately wanted to see before he died. The last time she saw
him, Lee was only five years old, and she still remembers it like it were yesterday.
Lee continues to persevere and make her life work for her. She learned early on that every
poblem has a solution. It may not be immediate, but there is a solution. She clearly believes in
staying in the solution, and teaches other women how to do the same. That has always been
her mission and purpose in life. “Every woman’s life should be made up of peace, joy and
happiness. If I can help someone else to bring that about in their life, then I am blessed."
Lee has been instrumental in helping hundreds of women get in touch with their true self. For
over forty years she has taught many classes on a variety of subjects both in Houston, TX, and
Santa Monica, CA. Topics include Building Self-Esteem, Discovering You Purpose, Co-Dependency,
Anger Management, The Power of the Denial/Addiction Cycle, Adult Survivors of Abuse, The
Abandoned Orphan, Surviving the Foster Care System, Developing Your True Identity, Making
the Workplace Work for You, Setting Boundaries, and other areas of Personal Growth and
Lee's son and daughter-in-law live in Houston suburbs. Her granddaughter is attending college
in northern Texas. Lee is helping with her darling great granddaughter, who is the love of her
Lee continues to teach online classes and see both counseling and coaching clients.
For contact info click here.
Watch for Lee's book in 2017/18.
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Counselor/Coach, Author, Lecturer