LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — This year’s winner of the WLNS Remarkable Women award has worked to make our community a better place, which is similar to many of our contestants. But unlike many of our honorees, her help is rooted in her personal experience with heartbreak and horror.
Shamir Owens spoke with Tanesha Ash-Shakoor to hear her inspiring story.
“I know what it’s like to feel like you’re looking death in the face and you survive those moments,” Ash-Shakoor said.
Ash-Shakoor is a survivor who has overcome staggering darkness in her life.
During her undergrad years of college, she met and pursued a relationship with a man she thought was a good fit for her, until she found out he was the complete opposite.
“He became very jealous about where I would go, how long it would take me to be somewhere. Went through all the stages of abuse, from the mental, emotional, physical, to the point where I was raped by my abuser,” Ash-Shakoor said.
She said her attacker held her in a room for hours as he called his family members to tell them that he was going to kill her.
“I was just going to be leaving the world with no one ever having known what I was going through,” Ash-Shakoor said.
She says this experience changed her life in unimaginable ways, but her faith kept her going.
“I certainly knew that there was more purpose for me,” she said.
Purpose, indeed. After graduating from law school in 2015, Ash-Shakoor began her mission of helping people on a path she once traveled herself.
“I never wanted anyone to feel like, in those moments, they couldn’t call someone,” Ash-Shakoor said. “I want people to know, there is life after, there is love after.”
That’s why she started the non-profit ‘Voices of Color’ to ensure that victims of domestic violence received the services they needed.
“Our mission is to serve them as they come to us, as unique as the case may be,” Ash-Shakoor said. “What that looks like is showing up to court cases, we also attend Child Protective Service referee hearings, we are training to be expert witnesses in the courtroom when it comes to custody cases or shared parenting time, and assisting attorneys with that so that they better understand adverse childhood experiences. We walk with them hand in hand from the beginning of that process to the end of that process.”
For the past four years, the group has hosted the State of Michigan Domestic Violence Rally to educate and emphasize that domestic violence does not discriminate.
On top of running her organization, Ash-Shakoor is a wife and mother of three, a pastor, first lady of ‘Walking with Christ Worship Center and Ministries’ and an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
“I’m in awe,” Ash-Shakoor said. “I still haven’t completely absorbed the idea of someone saying ‘you’re a Remarkable Woman.’ The women and men that I serve, they are remarkable. I am just a vessel.”