Many, many good things — and I’m back

March 26th, 2011

Hello everyone.

I’m back!!!   Well, I really never left. Only had one of the busiest years of my life.  And it keeps on coming. To give you an idea, I just finished sorting over 4,000 emails and have put together a  breakdown of all the events (presentations, book readings, lectures, interviews for radio, meetings with survivors, etc.) and they total 54 separate events for last year alone!  This has been great, but only left me time to post short sentences on Facebook, in place of posting here.  So, my apologies. I haven’t given up on Dawn-Schiller.  This is where my online journaling began and I don’t intend on giving it up.

Many good things have been happening, especially with E.S.T.E.A.M.  We have an amazing board of directors who have been working hard to gain a sense of direction and focus to have the best possible outcome for the teens/young adults we want to help. Our website is getting updated, volunteers are being organized, and subcommittees are focused on particular tasks. In addition, our mentoring piece of advocacy has taken on quite a positive spin, and in August I will be coordinating, teaching a memoir writing workshop and co-sponsoring a 9-12th grade camp for girls who don’t have a home life that is positive. (I’ll leave it at that for now.)

Heads up also, as I’ll be the keynote speaker for the North West Regional Conference for the Soroptimists of America on April 29th in Vancouver, Washington.  Come stop by if you can.  I’d love to meet you and talk about how we can help our kids.  Soroptimist Keynote

I also did an interview with CBS KOIN Local 6 news and Amy Fraiser.  I think they did a great job.

CBS KOIN News – Dawn Schiller

I want to thank everyone who sent me their stories of strength after reading my book.  I want you to know how important it is to hear those messages. It tells me that the reason for me to write my story goes way beyond what I could have envisioned, and that all the hard work was worth it, a million fold.

More great things to come,

Dawn

Empowering Successful Teens through Education, Awareness & Mentoring (E.S.T.E.A.M.) Appeal

November 26th, 2010

To all of you who have read my book, believe in me and have encouraged me on this long journey, THANK YOU!

It is my hope to continue to use my voice to help prevent teens from experiencing similar horrors to mine. As with any cause,
it needs financial support. For a one-time donation or a continuous gift of as little as $10.00 per month to E.S.T.E.A.M. you can help me:

*Take my presentation to at least 6 major US cities
*Recruit and establish an on-line mentoring team for the E.S.T.E.A.M. website
*Develop outreach materials to reach throwaway teen populations

Please visit our webpage at www.empowerteens.com. All donations are tax deductible.

Together WE can change the lives of teens and young adults.

With love,

Dawn Schiller

Voices

October 10th, 2010

I’d like to share one of the poems mailed to me by Pat Green from Chicago who started a group called Y.A.S.O.  (Young Adults Speak Out).  This poem was one of many poems and letters written from teens who are trying their best to figure out life.  These kids have a voice!

Why?

Empty, broken-hearted and alone. I spend my life blasting music and trying to come up with a reason as to why everything must suck so much, and stressing out about what’s going to happen next. My parents fight 24/7 and take alot of their anger out on my little sister and me. I’m hated by most and loved by few. Y.A.S.O. is the only thing I have to a real family and I only have that once or twice  a month. It’s my one and only escape from stress and thoughts of suicide. The pressure of keeping what little things I have left is slowly killing me. What hurts the most is knowing I’m one of many. Knowing others have it the same or worse. And for those freaking out about boyfriend or girlfriend problems or why a couple people dislike them…appreciate what you do have. Because you never know, it could all be gone in the blink of an eye.

~Anonymous

Turning Twelve, A New Awareness, and A Documentary on Throwaway Teens

July 24th, 2010

On July 22nd this year, I marked my twelfth year clean and sober. Not a small feat considering my drug infused past, and I am beyond grateful that I have made it this far.  I have so many blessings in my life today. Blessings I never, in my wildest dreams, believed would be realities for me. It seemed any happiness was unattainable, not in my cards, someone else’s story, any excuse, but not for me. I had so much pain from a youth that haunted me, and I saw no way to live with myself except by numbing it out to escape.  I was a shell of a person who, even though I had survived my experience with John Holmes, was killing myself.  In the end, I had lost my home, my friends, my family, and my connection with God.  But I wouldn’t die….

When I share this experience with others, I remember  it like this: A day came when I was particularly despondent, coming out of a fog that I had literally prayed I wouldn’t wake up from.  It was mid-day and for some reason I turned to look toward some dusty bushes rustling in an unexpected breeze.  I stared at them, watching the wind curl a random pattern through their brown-tinged leaves. There, I was suddenly struck with an understanding…a deep new awareness that came to me clear and simple–”it was time I change”.  Then almost as randomly, an acquaintance happened to show up and offer me help… this time I took it.

It was tough in the beginning, but with God’s Grace I’m making  it, one day at a time.  My journey has been a path of amazing revelations–of who I was, who I am, and who I am supposed to be.  Also, came  a wonderful reconnection with God and some amazing opportunities. So much of my pain was connected to abuse, and with my abuse there was the theft of my God given voice.  With sobriety came healing and from healing…the publishing of my book. I have been given my voice back in a big way.

The Grace and opportunities haven’t stopped. My voice has now grown into a conduit for other voices.  The voices of those throwaway teens who are still suffering, reaching out, and seeking to be heard.  A documentary is on the horizon.  Today, I am humbled and again blessed to be given the chance to produce a film depicting the plight of these teens.  With the support of Medallion Media and award-winning documentary film maker Justin Hunt (“American Meth” and “Absent”) this film will become a reality, and another new awareness will be realized by many.

To think, twelve years ago I wanted to die. I had no idea that I was worth anything, for myself or much less for others.  But God did.

Thank you all for being a part of this journey with me. I am grateful beyond words.

Dawn

An old song that said it all….

July 10th, 2010

I watched the movie “Harold and Maude” with John in the seventies. My world was turning upside down. While this song played in the film, I was drawn to stare at John asking him “why”. He squirmed uncomfortably in his
green vinyl chair, knowing I could not go on much longer.
Here is Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam singing that song, “Trouble” by Cat Stevens.

Speechless….

May 8th, 2010

I want to share some amazing reviews that have come in.  Sometimes, a person is just not prepared.

“When I got an advance copy of The Road Through Wonderland, I thought I already knew the story. I picked it up casually, and then l could not put it down. I was up till 3 a.m. reading it. The power of Dawn Schiller’s writing is that within a few pages, you are so drawn into her harrowing, roller-coaster life with her fractured family and then with porn star John Holmes, that you almost become her while reading it. There is not much separation between writer and reader. Schiller draws an unforgettable portrait of a lost, drug-addled corner of late 1970s Los Angeles and what it was like to be a lonely girl targeted by a predator in that world. The most mesmerizing memoir since Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, The Road Through Wonderland is one long, chilling money shot.

~ Dana Kennedy, correspondent and journalist, AOL News, The New York Times, People, Time

“Dawn Schiller’s chilling account of her youth as the underage mistress of legendary porn star John Holmes is infused with the goodness and humanity that ultimately delivered her from her abusive ordeals. A classic story of an innocent young woman’s descent and self-redemption, The Road Through Wonderland is gritty and starkly honest; it is at once a horror tale and a story of triumph.”

~ Mike Sager, writer at large, Esquire; author of Scary Monsters and Super Freaks

“. . . Dawn Schiller manages to write so beautifully about something so shatteringly repulsive. Her picturesque descriptions [demonstrate] her ability to somehow connect with the beauty of the natural world while being neglected, exploited, and abused by the human world.”

~ Mitru Ciarlante, Youth Initiative Director, National Center for Victims of Crime

“Dawn’s writing candidly weaves through her horrifying existence during what should have been her carefree and innocent teenage years. I helplessly experienced her body, mind, and spirit being gnarled by the very adults who should have protected her but chose instead to destroy her. At times I was not able to put the book down; at others, I had to cry and hug my own teenagers, desperately wanting to comfort the girl on the pages. . . . This book is an absolute must for teenagers and especially for the adults who should be safeguarding them against the evils in this world.”

~ Paula Lucas, founder and executive director of Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center

“A compelling book by an unwavering woman who tries to take back control of her life after living in a world of drugs, murder, abuse, and human trafficking¬—all under the control of one man, porn idol John Holmes. The emotions are strong throughout this well-written book and lead the reader into a world few travel and survive. I was unable to put the book down!

Though Hollywood used the real-life tragedy of the Wonderland murders to produce a pretty, neatly packaged movie, Dawn Schiller’s life was anything but neat and pretty. ”

~ Susan Murphy Milano, violence expert and author of Time’s Up: A Guide on How to Leave and Survive Abuse and Stalking Relationships

“The Road Through Wonderland is a gripping and beautifully written memoir about Dawn Schiller’s teen years with John Holmes. This riveting account moves the reader from Dawn’s impoverished beginnings in a rough neighborhood to a much worse life under the spell of John Holmes. Drug addiction, sexual abuse, hooking and being sold for drug favors, suicide attempts, physical abuse that almost left her dead, psychological trauma, and being way too close to multiple murders: Dawn endured far too much for any teenager. This book is a firsthand account of Dawn’s descent into hell and her struggle to survive.”

~ Lois Gresh, New York Times best-selling author of The Twilight Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to the Series

Throwaway Teens Highly Vulnerable to Pimps

February 22nd, 2010

When children, teens in particular, are tossed aside by their guardians they are extremely vulnerable to the lecherous side of society.  One of the more devious class are the pimps. Men that groom and work these young kids, who are often homeless, into sexually exploitative situations first befriend them and gain their trust. They buy them the basics to survive and kids being so desperate for food, clothing, shelter and love, accept these back-handed promises while talking themselves into believing that this is all they deserve in life.  When the pimp grooms them and then later controls them with force, it is extremely difficult to identify them. They move or are  moved and don’t trust adults, especially law enforcement. Often, they don’t think of themselves as victims. Still, there is hope.  Some signs to identify them  include:

  • Highly controlled or restricted schedule, money or communications
  • Unidentifiable source of income
  • Unexplained absences of days at a time
  • Unexplained source of new clothing and personal items
  • Bruises or other physical signs of abuse
  • A tattoo that the young person is reluctant to explain (for instance, being “branded” with an exploiter’s name on the neck, chest or arms)
  • Isolation from family, friends or other social networks
  • Secrecy or vagueness about whereabouts
  • Gaps in life story or defensiveness in response to questions or concerns
  • Paranoia or lack of trust
  • Self-blame or feelings of humiliation or shame
  • Disassociation or lack of connection to the outside world
  • Malnourishment
  • Untreated health and dental problems

No one chooses to be sexually exploited. A child doesn’t say one day “I want to be sold for money”. But when it happens, it didn’t happen overnight.  It can take a long time for a teen to overcome a life wrought with abuse and degradation. Be patient, be aware and above all don’t judge. These kids deserve a better life.

For further information please visit the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth website.

The Tragic Consequences of Throwaway Teens

January 25th, 2010

In an April 28, 2009 article in the San Francisco Weekly.com is the story of three teenage girls, Felicia, Jillian and Kim.  Besides being young teenagers, they had a couple more things in common–they were all three throwaways–and they were being tried for murder.

In the article titled, Pretty Bad Girls, it states, “All had come from broken families, eventually becoming what investigators called “throwaways,” the catch-all term for girls on their own at a young age. Struggling to support themselves and their drug-addled lifestyle, the teenagers had become close and built a family of their own.”

The article details the events of one ill-fated evening in San Francisco where they lured a young man to the beach, shot and robbed him.  This horrible tragedy, detailed in the link below, is yet another story of the terrible consequences of a throwaway teen. When teens have to run from abuse and neglect they often fall into hard crime on the streets to survive.  Here, the ultimate crime was committed, and the biggest tragedy of all is clearly the loss of that young man’s life.  But the article also accurately states, “the situation of the throwaway girls is also tragic. They are these kids on the street, living adult lives. Kids that are raised in dysfunctional families…have very short childhoods. I think childhood is so painful for them that there’s a tendency to want to grow up quicker just to get away.”

These girls now wear prison garb and have to take responsibility for the pain they have caused–and I agree they should.  But I also can’t help but wonder if they were ever given any hope in their lives.  Hope to see that there was much more in the world for them, and that they deserved to reach out and own it.  I said…I wonder.

San Francisco Weekly

The Road Through Wonderland’s First Review

October 31st, 2009

Yesterday, I received my first review on my unedited manuscript from New York Times bestselling author, Lois Gresh.  For me, to write is an art, and many times the art was my only source of light in the darkness of writing  my story.

Thank you Lois,

Dawn

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The Road through Wonderland is a gripping and beautifully written memoir about Dawn Schiller’s teen years with John Holmes.  This riveting account moves the reader from Dawn’s impoverished beginnings in a rough neighborhood to a much worse life under the spell of John Holmes.  Drug addiction, sexual abuse, hooking and being sold for drug favors, suicide attempts, physical abuse that almost left her dead, psychological trauma, and being way too close to multiple murders:  Dawn endured far too much for any teenager.  This book is a firsthand account of Dawn’s descent into hell and her struggle to survive.

Lois Gresh, New York Times best-selling author of _The Twilight Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to the Series

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Medallion Press Launches Website for “The Road Through Wonderland”

October 6th, 2009

Medallion press launched a new website for my book, The Road Through Wonderland.  The address is www.theroadthroughwonderland.com.

Check it out! There is still much more to be added as we go along, including linking this web blog to the site.  So come back whenever you can to find out about additional speaking engagements, etc.

I’d love to hear what you think, so feel free to leave a comment.  You can also find the group “theroadthroughwonderland” on facebook that is also new, where you can leave direct comments as well.

Thanks for all your support and love.  I am inspired by YOU!

Dawn