Editor’s Note: This article contains mentions of sexual abuse and incest. Please take care while reading, and note the helpful resources at the end of this story.
A mother’s harrowing story of overcoming abuse is helping others heal.
Venus Morris Griffin is a mother of seven from Georgia. Looking at her, you wouldn’t know all that she’s been through. She’s the No. 1 real estate agent in Augusta, has sold $500 million in property, sent all her kids to private schools and is now happily married.
However, that’s not how her journey began. Griffin shared her now-viral 13-part story with Humans of New York — a story that’s both heart-wrenching and triumphant.
Griffin told In The Know that she made her story public not only to help others, but because of a promise she made.
“During the darkest time of my life when I was worried about supporting my six children both emotionally and financially, I made a bargain with God,” she said. “I asked if He would help me get through our very public family tragedy, I would share my story to help others. I am fulfilling my end of the bargain.”
Over a decade ago, after a tumultuous family upbringing, Griffin found herself in love with Tripp Morris. Publicly, Morris was charming and beloved. He was the PTA president, football coach and Bible study teacher. Privately, however, he would turn out to be someone else completely. Over the years, Morris began abusing Griffin, both physically and emotionally. Little did Griffin know, the abuse was just the beginning.
But, eager to raise a happy family, Griffin stayed with Morris. With the help of a sperm donor (due to Morris’ fertility issues) they had six children together. Griffin believed she was being a good wife by keeping her family together and going to counseling and therapy to try to help Morris.
But as he inflicted more abuse upon their family, she finally concluded the right thing to do was to protect her children. The abuse only worsened as he racked up hundreds of thousands in debt to sex workers — and sadly, Griffin would later discover he was sexually abusing her daughter.
The mother decided to leave Morris and get her real estate license to claw her family out of debt. She took back control of her life, and most of all, protected her kids, who were relieved to learn they were not Morris’s biological children. Morris is now serving a 45-year prison sentence.
Coming forward with abuse is never easy, especially when the abuser is publicly beloved. According to the National Coalition for Domestic Violence, “Abusers repeatedly go to extremes to prevent the victim from leaving. In fact, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence.”
“I recognized who my real friends were when I was struggling,” Griffin told In The Know. “A lady I met at church, who wasn’t necessarily my best friend, came forward and helped me at work, so I could be home in time to have dinner with my children.”
The acquaintance helped Griffin when money was tight for little in exchange.
“She was a true friend when I desperately needed one,” the mom said. “The ladies I thought were my best friends at church were the very ones who turned their backs on me and judged me after my husband got arrested.”
Griffin shared some advice for those grappling with difficult situations.
“With hard work, determination and faith, there isn’t anything you can’t do,” she advised. “Be respectful of all. I treat my $100,000 home buyer with as much respect as my million-dollar home buyer. Take personal responsibility. It is the only way you will regain the power you need to change your future for the better.”
Now, Griffin tours the world, giving motivational speeches and sharing her story to inspire others. She has also established an annual scholarship fund to help children with incarcerated parents. She is happily remarried and is now a mother of seven and grandmother of two beautiful granddaughters.
If you or someone you know is struggling with domestic violence, confidential, anonymous help is available 24/7. Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now.
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