My name is Tiwangi Rochelle Kyle and I am 35-year old single mother of two girls ages fifteen and eleven. I was born and raised in Tallulah Louisiana but came to Dallas at an early age. As a child I witnessed a lot of abuse in the home. My father beat my mother and they constantly argued about other women. Later my mother left my father and landed into the arms of another abuser whom she married. I was tired of fighting for her and I developed a very violent nature.
At age 16 I left home but I hated to leave my younger brothers behind. I had an older sister who was in a bad situation with her child’s father so I felt isolated and alone. I ended up staying with an older female who lived in my apartments and she and her older sisters introduced me to a life of clubs and shoplifting. I felt a sense of connection to them and I did whatever was needed to fit in. Besides, I was on my own anyway. So this new life of crime consumed me. I was able to wear all the designer clothes and meet people that made me feel important because I struggled with low self-esteem.
I ended up meeting my children’s father who was an abuser and big time drug-dealer. We lived the fast life for 11 years and there was nothing under the sun that I wanted except to be free because I was trapped in a body and I didn’t know who I was. I lived life to satisfy everyone but my goal was to maintain a good image. I just wanted to be somebody even if that somebody was not myself. So the fast life had a serious hold on me.
I was now addicted to material things and money because I was attempting to fill a void within. I opened two clothing stores and a hair salon because I was attempting to build a name for myself. I even ventured out into music and partnered with some local rappers and opened a recording studio in downtown Dallas. I had a weekly allowance of about 10 grand and I lived to shop. But throughout the relationship history had begun to repeat itself because I was abused just like my mom and there were many other women I had to deal with.
This life called me to be a fighter and tough. I lost my sensitivity and I had begun to hate my children’s father. Overtime I had begun to indulge in drug sales behind his back and later was apprehended by the authorities. Sentenced to five years in prison, my life had changed forever. My children’s father found out about my secret profiting and stopped helping me altogether.
For three years straight I lived as if I was going to prison as I tried to fight my case. Eventually I started abusing Xanax to cope and developed an addiction over time. I ended up making bad business decisions and later lost my business due to neglect. I didn’t care about anything because I had a prison sentence hanging over my head. One day I would have to leave my babies and this tore my world apart.
The federal agents had apprehended my children’s father and took everything. I ran to the pills because I was drowning in despair. Faced with the fact that I had little money, no businesses, or no solid means to make a living, I went back to what had worked for years before. Shoplifting! An old friend and I had begun to adventure into this illegal profession as we ran in an out of stores day by day. Eventually my bad choices caught up with me and I was facing more charges for robbery that resulted from the shoplifting escapades. There was no way out of my dilemma.
When I went to prison I finally surrendered to God. I felt like a failure because I had lost everything and my relationships, reputation, and life was ruined. The Potter’s House was among the many ministers who bought God’s word to me and I was uplifted and renewed. I gained a sense of direction when I learned about the T.O.R.I. program. I served 5 years in prison and was released March 16, 2011. Immediately I contacted T.O.R.I and I first believed it to be too good to be true. Later I learned otherwise because I had a case manager, Joe Pritchard, who truly cared and help navigate me to success. I received referrals to programs and jobs and within 5 months of release I had a car, an apartment of my own and a good job.
I couldn’t have made it without my T.O.R.I. family. They accepted me just as I was and I didn’t have to be perfect. I only needed to make progress. Dealing with such compassionate people reminds me of my relationship with GOD. He is loving and merciful and never uses our past. The people at T.O.R.I never judged and they made it evidently clear. I received help through anger management form an instructor who was so sincere. He made me want to open up to him. Jermaine Jakes was always warm and inviting and I felt like I could talk to him about anything. Most of all, Joe and I connected because he always saw my potential and showed me that he believed in me. This was monumental to my success and I am truly grateful.
I later re-joined the Potter’s House where I am fed by my Bishop. He and the T.O.R.I. family are my reapers and I glean behind them as a woman of faith. All the resources as T.O.R.I. have enabled me through the providence of knowledge, wisdom, connections, and influence, that I may live a productive life. I’m a great mother, person, and mentor and my life will never be the same. Thanks T.O.R.I. and thank you Bishop.
I love you all and am blessed to be a part of your team. You helped me get my life back and now my life beams with hope. I truly am a winner and I won because of the seeds sown into my life by a staff of frail men and women just like me who have dedicated their lives to help the helpless in their struggle to have life. I see Jesus in the face of you all and as a result people can see Jesus in me!
Tiwangi Rochelle Kyle