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

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.


15 Responses to “Turning Twelve, A New Awareness, and A Documentary on Throwaway Teens”

  1. Susan Says:

    Hi Dawn,

    I just finished reading your book and it is hard to comprehend what you have had to endure. God Bless you and I am so glad to see that you have found a relationship with God. It is the only way.

    I had a couple of questions to ask you.

    First, in the film Wonderland, Lisa Kudrow (Sharon) wore a crucifix necklace yet in the book you make it clear to the end that she had no religious foundations and beliefs. Why was the film different?

    2. What was John’s explanation as to why Eddie Nash didn’t just kill him when he found out about the Wonderland gang being behind the robbery? Why let him live and then put out contracts on his life? Supposedly he had him at his house getting details, etc…

    Thanks and God Bless you and your daughter!

  2. Walter Says:


    Just felt compelled to write after reading your amazing book. I had first seen Wonderland several years ago, and found it a very good, very powerful film. Little did I know that it only hinted at the true story you relate. In your steady voice, you recount such horrors that I don’t how you turned out so – seemingly – well. And your writing talent is awesome, especially for a first time author. I just want to say that your story is so heartbreaking and so touching – please stay well. And write more!

    I am recommending it to everyone I know. To say such things as – “you are inspiring”, etc, is not enough. You have a great grasp of yourself, what you went through, and how you have processed it all.

  3. Kristina Says:


    I just finished your book and have to say that I am quite emotional. Your story was not only intriguing, but also heart wrenching and sad. You have been through so much and came out on top. I give you much credit for getting this out to the public. It is a story that needs to be told.

    I am so proud of you for staying sober and getting your life on track. I have experienced the numbing effect myself and know that this world can be a cruel place. After reading your story, I have found a new strength. I remind myself, “If Dawn can make it…then so can I”.

    Please continue to write. You are amazing and talented. Thank you for taking me along on your journey. I watched the movie Wonderland again this evening and shed a tear for everyone involved. I hope that Sharon is well too.

    Have you ever found out what happened to Thor?

    Thanks Again Dawn..You have done so much that you don’t even know. You have touched my soul!


  4. Roseann Says:

    Hi Dawn,

    I am three chapters away from finishing your book,but just had to write to you even though I am not done. I feel as though I know you,your writing is incredible! God has gifted you with the ability to convey your heart and emotions through each page of your book.

    I met you on the weekend you came to my church,Orchard Valley Community a few weeks ago. So many times as I was reading,I would just have to stop because of so many emotions that your story stirred up for me personally. Also,because of our ages,I am 51,I could feel the 70s experiences with you like it was yesterday! Each year that would go by,I would think back to what was happening in my life during that same time period.

    I am still amazed at the incredible abuse your body and mind endured during those days with John and obviously even before leading up to that time. I can’t wait to finish your book tonight so that I can hand it over to my sister to read. I have told many others about your story. You are truly an inspiration and blessing to so many young girls as well as to those of us who grew up during those drug crazed 60s and 70s era. Oh the familiar days of thumbing with my sister during the mid 70s! Sadly,many of the things that you experienced during your days with John was also my sister’s experiences,but she died on Oct 13,1995 at the age of 37,leaving behind 3 children. Just like your sister,we were 14 months apart. My sister just turned 1 on May 29th of 1959,then I was born at the beginning of July.

    Dawn,May God continue to bless you and your sweet daughter as He holds you in His safe and loving arms. I hope that you will get a chance to visit the Orchard again sometime.

  5. Dawn Says:

    Hi! I miss everyone at the Orchard. That was such an amazing experience for me. I do wish I could come back soon.

    Thank you for writing to me. Interesting on how many common threads resonate with people, but Wow, we do have many things in common. If you feel inclined, I’d love to hear what you think after you reach the end.

    Thank you also for the prayers. I appreciate them all.

    Talk soon,


  6. Dawn Says:

    Hi Kristina,

    Thank you so much for your comments on my writing, and especially to share that I have some how given you hope. All I can say is that if I gave you that, then you can give someone else the hope also some day.

    I wish I knew what happened to Thor. I miss him everyday. His spirit is with me, at least I feel that in my heart.

    Please stay in touch…and thank you again.

  7. Dawn Says:

    Hi Walter,

    Just wanted to say sorry I missed this message and hadn’t responded sooner, and thank you. Truly. I am humbled by your comment and very pleased you will be sharing my story with others who might find inspiration in it.

    I hope you stay in touch.


  8. pumpkin12903 (Laura) Says:

    Could you please send me a message on IMDB? This way I can add you to my “friends” list and when the messages are deleted I won’t lose your name/address. Unfortunately, IMDB deletes the messages after a certain amount of time. I apologize that I hadn’t answered your messages yet. I’m VERY behind on everything since I went through a fire in February. However, I’m catching up on my Internet and everything else as I can. Actually, at least a few GOOD things have come out of that whole HELL experience once I moved from where it happened, etc. Congratulations on your sobriety, by the way! Keep up the good work! I have 11 years alcohol free as of on October 16th. I know how hard it is at times to stay clean so I commend you! Take care.

  9. Jacqueline Thomson Says:

    Hello Dawn…..I was just searching online for some more info on john holmes and the whole history of you and him, not just about the wonderland murders, although the movie is what introduced me to it…I have just been so moved and inspired by you and your willingness to put yourself out there to help others even after all you have been through. I too have been through similar things definetely with the drugs. Cocaine has forced me into some really dark places as well as opiates just recently…it all started when I was 15 as well and I have also had some very destructive relationships with men. You really inspire women to believe that they can get through it alive, and with their sanity intact and to feel like they have some self worth and a purpose. I just wanted to tell you what a beautiful soul u are and how u’ve totally inspired me to the core. Your book and your story in the movie as well as everything else I have came across have caused me to react in such a strong way towards my own demons. I thought if you could get through all that, then I could surely get through this. However I am still struggling with my addiction and can barely see the light at the end of the tunnel in that regard. I am 24 and have been doing these opiates since I was a teen to numb myself from the pain. The hurt from my family I am starting to see is at the centre of all my issues. I just wanted to ask you how u dealt with those deeper issues like family and how they played out even in your relationship with John. Alot of women seek out what they think will take the place of the love you didn’t receive from their father or mother and they stay with men who can be loving to start but turn on you in the end. It’s like a viscious circle and I don’t know how to stop it from creeping back into my relationships time and time again. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated…thank you so much and may God truly bless you even more than you already are ~8()8~

  10. Susan Nichols Says:

    Hi Dawn,
    I left a message back in August and never received a response. Would you mind to please read it and answer my questions if possible?


  11. Dawn Says:

    Hi Susan,

    Thanks for your comment earlier, sorry I missed this, but I don’t always have time to respond to them all. Here are some responses.
    1. In the film the director decided to make Sharon appear religious. He felt it would put a positive light on her. What I wrote is the truth. Sharon had no desire to be involved with anything God most of her life. Then, in 2001, she opened her door to a Mormon Missionary and converted. So, when she met the director in 2002, she was very much involved in the Mormon church.
    2. I don’t understand your second question completely. My understanding is that John and Eddie had a close “brother” relationship before the robbery and that is why he gave John a “chance” to live. John was not off the hook though, he had to participate in the retaliation attack on Wonderland Avenue by letting the killers in the house. It is still in question whether or not John had to strike a blow as well in order to save his life…and the lives of me and his family.

    I hope this helps. Thanks again for reading my book. Can you tell me what you thought of the book?

    You are welcome and God bless you too!


  12. Dawn Says:


  13. Susan Nichols Says:


    First off thank you for the response and that does answer both questions. Second, I thought the book was amazing. You are a true example of God working in our lives. I think most of us have had childhood trauma. But you survived the truly unthinkable. Your book made a deep and lasting impression on me and I hope that you have healed. When my daughter is old enough I definitely plan on sharing your story with her.

    God bless you and Merry Christmas to you and your daughter!

  14. Roseann Gove Says:

    Hi there Dawn,

    I sent you an email in October while I was still a few chapters away from finishing your book. Time got away from me and I forgot to let you know how I liked it when I finished.

    It was a phenomenal story with so much detail and emotion that filled every page. Of course,the best part is that you were not only able to survive,but were able to eventually move on and receive God’s healing grace in your life. And as a result of God’s grace being poured out into your life,you have allowed it to be shown to others as well. I am definitely a recipient of His redeeming grace through your story.. Thank you Dawn and have a very Merry Christmas and New Year!

    I hope that God brings you back one day to the Orchard to say hello to everyone there!

    God bless!
    Roseann Gove

  15. Dawn Says:

    Oh Jacqueline,
    I’m so sorry I haven’t opened this message sooner. I hope you are okay. Bless you for having the courage to post this to me. I know, it is a struggle at first, and opiates are hard. What worked for me was being an active member of a 12 step program and have been for 12 1/2 years now. I have had TONS of counseling and PTSD therapy as well. I do alot of internal work constantly and I give back to society. I make a conscious effort to make good decisions and I have, not only a sponsor, but many, many people to reach out to for support. That is what I did and do. That is what I suggest to others who ask me about how I have been able to heal. Thank you for reaching out. I will do my best to respond as I can. Please don’t give up hope…and as it was told to me, “don’t quit before the miracle.”
    God bless you,

Leave a Reply