About Fighting For Me
Fighting For Me was founded to meet the nationwide need for sexual abuse aftercare and prevention. We believe free, professional counseling for people affected by sexual abuse is as basic a need as water.
In the Meantime...
As we gain funding and visibility, we are still offering free counseling! We’re finding licensed therapists to volunteer an hour or more a week to serve clients.
Meet our Team
Amanda Zarate, President and Founder
Click here to read her story and motivation behind Fighting For Me.
Christine Schick, Director of Marketing & Communications
Christine is also passionate about music and can be found writing and performing songs throughout Southern California under the name Christine Alicia. You just may see her at one of our events as she has become one of our go-to musical guests.
Kiersten Ellis, Creative Director
Her contributions to Fighting For Me range from planning and creating the “Warpaint Campaign,” speaking at fundraising opportunities, and overseeing the big-picture creative vision for Fighting For Me.
When she’s not busy making Fighting For Me better she manages events, weddings, conferences, concerts, and more. She’s also training to obtain her private pilot license in the near future.
Sunnie Mills, Director of Donor Relations
Sofia Najarian, Secretary
Today Fighting For Me has a growing network of volunteer, licensed therapists who are primarily located in the Orange County, California area.
Our volunteer therapists provide free counseling to individuals who request help through fightingforme.org. Potential clients send an email via our contact form or leave a message and a therapist returns their call to schedule their first appointment. All further appointments are scheduled directly through their therapist’s work email or work phone number. Our patient record software is web-based, allowing clients to easily switch to another Fighting For Me therapist for any reason.
In the future we will hire licensed therapists to supervise psychology interns from local universities who will care for Fighting For Me clients. This structure allows us to serve an immeasurably larger base of clients. For example, instead of seeing 8 clients a day, we could potentially see 50.
We also plan to work closely with the criminal justice system so they recognize the importance of immediate access to counseling. The deep wounds and problems caused by sexual abuse do not magically go away with time–they need to be addressed head-on, and usually as soon as possible. But–of course–Fighting For Me services are also available to the public without a court referral.
Furthermore, we anticipate our psychology interns to teach classes to local agencies, non-profits, and church groups to bring in additional revenue for Fighting For Me.
My Story, My Motivation
When I was 9 years old my father brought me into his bedroom to tell me that he and my mom were getting divorced. I spent the night in his bed to be comforted, and that was when my worst nightmare began. My dad sexually molested me. I was devastated. As the years went on, the abuse got progressively worse. When I was 11 years old, my dad told the congregation elders of Jehovah’s Witnesses that he was sexually abusing me. He talked to them first, and then I had to talk to them. I sat in a room with 3 grown men who asked me embarrassing questions about my nightmare. I felt relieved and hopeful that finally he would stop hurting me.
Eventually he raped me. After many meetings with different groups of congregation elders I lost hope. I was too scared to tell my mom what my dad was doing to me and I felt so ashamed and dirty for not saying anything to stop it. A couple of the elders would offer to let me sleep on their couch on the weekends that I was at my dad’s. My dad would drop me off at strange homes where I would sleep on a couch, and then he’d pick me up in the morning. It was very awkward.
When I was 16 I finally got the courage to tell my mother that my father had been sexually abusing me. She did
everything a good mother would do and called the police and Child Protective Services. I no longer had to go to my dad’s on the weekends and he was eventually charged with sexual abuse crimes and went to jail.
I thought my dad’s imprisonment would be the end of my nightmare, but it was just beginning. I was depressed. I hated myself. I hated my body. I felt disgusting and used. In my mind I had no worth. My emotional distress manifested itself as physical ailments. I went to my doctor and thankfully she was intuitive enough to know I wasn’t sick physically, but I was emotionally sick. She gave me a counselor’s card and told me, “Amanda, you deserve to be the woman you were meant to be.” Those words meant more to me than she could have ever known.
I began my journey of healing and quickly found out how expensive it was to see a counselor. I was going to need months or possibly years of counseling to unravel all the hurt and pain I was experiencing. I felt victimized all over again! I was sexually abused and now I had to pay to feel better! I did manage to pay for the counseling I needed but it was not easy.
Unfortunately, my nightmare was not something my family wanted to talk about, so we didn’t. It was as if nothing ever happened. I believe that if I had known earlier that I needed counseling I could have avoided many destructive behaviors I got involved in in an effort to feel better.
I don’t understand many things that went on in my young life. For instance, how could all those grown men who had children themselves knowingly let my dad take me away while they did nothing? Why didn’t the Jehovah Witness elders call the police to help me? How could my father do this to me? I may never understand them, but I find comfort in knowing I am stronger than they are–I choose to use my voice to protect and help people.
Today, I am a Christian who is married to a wonderful man and has 4 beautiful boys. God impressed upon me to use my experience to reach out to others who are confused and broken hearted from being sexually abused. I knew I needed to help other survivors get the healing they need so they can hear when God calls them. This is my work that He has given me to do and I could not be more humbled or more honored. Through my foundation, Fighting For Me, Inc., I want to make it possible for anyone who has been sexually abused to get the counseling they deserve. I want family and friends of abuse victims to get the counseling and healing they need too. To me, FREE sexual abuse counseling is as basic a need as clean water.
May God Bless You and Keep You,