Blog #5- Laura Cowan : “Victim to Victory”

In December 2014, former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice won his appeal of an indefinite suspension and was reinstated to the National Football League. Rice is now eligible to sign with any NFL team. In a statement released by the NFL Players Association, Rice said, “I made an inexcusable mistake and accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Rice’s actions were captured on video by a surveillance camera in a hotel elevator. He threw a punch that knocked out cold his then fiance Janay Rice, and simultaneously set off a media firestorm that ignited a national dialogue on the issue of domestic violence and lead to reforms of the NFL’s domestic violence policies.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States. That equals more than 10 million women and men a year.
  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced (some form of) physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
  • There are more than 20,000 phones calls daily placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
  • Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.

Like Janay Rice, Laura Cowan is among the victims. In fact, she’s the victim of one of the worst domestic violence cases in California History. Laura and her children were tortured, starved and imprisoned for years by polygamist Mansa Musa Muhummed, who initially offered to help after Laura’s husband was sent to prison.

In photo: Lorna Barrett, Laura Cowan and Linda Johanek, CEO Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center in Cleveland

During a recent interview Laura explained, “The way he put things, you know, this is the right thing to do this is the Koranic way we’re family, we’re not here to hurt anyone we’re just here to help until your husband gets out.”

But the help turned into a house of horrors where 3 women and 19 children were abused by the same man. Laura secretly recorded the violence on audio tapes and wrote detailed letters that reached authorities. Eventually they were rescued and Mansa Musa Muhummed was sentenced to seven life sentences for child abuse, torture and false imprisonment. Laura said, “There’s a reason behind everything and so I just take it as, thank you for letting us get out alive. It’s so many women who have not made it at all. I thought about it, it could have been me, could have been me.”

And since surviving her own darkness, Laura has been on a mission to help other women find light and hope. Laura’s a Domestic Violence Advocate/Volunteer at the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center in Cleveland, Ohio where she works on the hotline, counsels victims and shares her personal story through countless speaking engagements. She also started The Laura Cowan Foundation to help victims of domestic violence and educate women so they don’t become victims. Laura said, “ I’m just trying to educate and make a difference, try to save lives that’s all I want to do.”

In 2015, Laura’s story will featured in an episode of “House of Horrors” on the Investigation Discovery Channel. It was also the subject of a documentary called “Breaking Her Silence.” Play the video to get a glimpse of the nightmare Laura and her children endured, but survived. Then go to the home page and watch the Soul Story of the Week, “Laura Cowan: Victim to Victory.”

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