Looking back on the person she used to be, Donna Fischer isn’t sure whether she wants to slap that woman or just give her a hug.
Starting at age 9, alcohol was her companion as she made choices that led her to juvenile detention and several prison terms as an adult. Felony drug possession and sale charges and numerous drunken-driving arrests are some of what kept her cycling in and out of prison.
Sober for about seven years, Fisher now hopes to be an example to other women who might recognize themselves when they hear her story. In October, Fischer was a featured speaker in the Success Inside and Out Conference, a daylong event that aims to pair women who will soon be released with a mentor who can steer them in the right direction.
“Most of the women that are incarcerated right now grew up having some kind of trauma," she said.
Fischer, 49, can relate. In this video, she talks about her journey from an abusive childhood to a college degree. Her message: It's never too late to change.
There was physical abuse, sexual abuse going on with me growing up. I think that I started using alcohol as a way to just avoid my feelings, to check out, to try to cope with what was going on. It was pretty unacceptable.
I really had low self-esteem. I didn’t think a lot of myself. I certainly didn’t know that I was important. My core was, you know, no matter what I do it’s never going to be enough.
I’ve spent a lifetime trying to medicate those feelings, trying to run away from those feelings, trying to fill up this hole in my soul with drugs, alcohol (and) men.
State of Intoxication special project