Today, I interview Sabrina Victoria who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, and her parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses. They had been converted when Sabrina was five, and from then on, her upbringing was strict, religious, and submissive. In keeping with their new faith, Sabrina followed the rules.
She obeyed the norms of Biblical teaching, learned as a female to submit to men, and learned as a female child to remain as quiet as possible, unless the group was evangelizing. Ironically, a large part of the evangelism included door-to-door “sales”, which, as many of us know, requires a certain boldness to speak. However, Sabrina’s many years of this door-to-door work meant she was professing a learned, rote style of outreach. The words were not her own, and she was limited to reciting conversations based on approved dialogue to further the church’s mission, not her own uniqueness or dreams. She was trapped.
This led to a pattern of abusive relationships, where Sabrina was submissive and felt very small, afraid to stand up for her own opinions. There was nothing in her life that affirmed her strength or the value of her feelings. Women were judged by men, and everyone knew each other’s business. In this particular religion, Sabrina tells us that there was a lot of talk about death. The pressure to be perfect and the fear of slipping up caused emotional conflict and trauma.
By age 20, Sabrina was pregnant out of wedlock and was disowned by her community. She was suffering every kind of abuse, and she felt like she was losing her mind. Against everything she’d been taught, she began to research her situation and feelings online. And when her research confirmed that she’d been abused and needed help, she took that validation and ran with it.
After many years of working through her own healing, today Sabrina makes it her daily mission to champion authenticity – she encourages others to face their life, past, present, and future, head-on. She encourages us to be honest with ourselves, and she reminds us that even though the first step may feel scary and small, it is so big and so precious.
From a struggling single mom to escaping a 13-year narcissistic abusive relationship, Sabrina’s tenacity and optimistic spirit have inspired fans worldwide and helped endless amounts of people break through and discover their own untapped talents and immense potential. Now, creator and CEO of Human Better 365, a human transformation company, creator of Sober Society, Her Nation Communities, and host of Her Talk Show. Sabrina is dedicated to giving people the tools they need to RISE and “human” better. Speaker, entrepreneur, and author.
Watch the episode:
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Transcript of Interview
Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode # 99 Sabrina Victoria
“Ask Questions, Listen, Learn, and Rise”
(00:36) Dr. Doreen Downing
Hi, this is Dr. Doreen downing I’m host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast, and what I get to do here is bring on guests who have some story about the journey that they’ve gone through to find their voice. We pop out into an unknown world, a world that either welcomes us or does not. Our journey begins way back when and that’s where usually the voice begins to be recognized, heard, welcomed, and when it’s not, how do we—somewhere along the line—figure out, “Hey, we want a voice,” and how do we find it, how do we then get out there and express what we’re so passionate about? I am really happy to invite my guest today. Sabrina Victoria is somebody who has definitely found her voice. Not only that, I feel like she has gone to great lengths to create arenas where women can come in and support them to find their voice. Thank you, Sabrina, for being here today.
(01:48) Sabrina Victoria
Yes, thank you so much for having me.
(01:52) Dr. Doreen Downing
I’m going to read a bio that I have here for you so people get a little bit better sense right off the start. From a struggling single mom to escaping a 13-year narcissistic abusive relationship. Sabrina’s tenacity and optimistic spirit has inspired fans worldwide, and helped endless amounts of people break through and discover their own untapped talents and immense potential. I have to take a big breath because that is so beautiful, that you have done, where you’ve been, and what you can do now. Now, creator and CEO of Human Better 365, a human transformation company, creator of Sober Society, Her Nation communities, and host of Her Version podcast. Sabrina is dedicated to giving people the tools they need to rise and Human Better speaker, entrepreneur, and author and soon-to-be friend. Thank you, Sabrina.
(03:01) Sabrina Victoria
Yes, I love it.
(03:03) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes. I always heard what you said about the origins. I mean, we could talk about the struggle which you mentioned, about the relationship, but a little background where you grew up and what your family life was like and what you might have learned about voice early on.
(03:27) Sabrina Victoria
Yes, so I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. I now live in South Florida, which is night and day difference. But I was actually raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. My parents were recruited into the religion. The unconventional way that most people think that someone actually came knocking on their door. All that door, knocking that Jehovah’s Witnesses do. My parents were actually converted by somebody coming to their door knocking. From the age of five years old, my parents were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses and at that point, all holidays, all extracurricular activities, anything that I would have done as a child pivoted. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t do any of that stuff. From a very young age, at age of five, I started knocking on doors, harking religion from door to door. By the age of probably 10 or 11 years old, you start getting immersed within the biblical terms. Women are very submissive. They don’t have very much of a voice. There aren’t a whole lot of questions that are asked. These are the rules. These are the boundaries and you stay within that framework. Forever.
(04:50) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, my gosh, that’s such early shaping for a little girl. I hear that you were using your voice. Knock, knock. Hello. In a way, they put you out in front of people and asked you to take that pulpit or that platform to speak up.
(05:15) Sabrina Victoria
Yes, 100%, as their little puppet?
(05:17) Dr. Doreen Downing
Puppet. Were you afraid to knock on doors and speak?
(05:22) Sabrina Victoria
No. Even now, as my life continued, I actually ended up in door-to-door sales. I did 15 years of door-to-door sales, recruiting and training sales reps into my adult years. No, I’ve always had a draw towards speaking, however, never really felt comfortable speaking because I was told to speak about things that I wasn’t passionate about, that I didn’t care about, and that I didn’t believe.
(06:03) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, the way you just said that. It was like, “Believe.” I didn’t—it’s like there was truth in what I heard you just say right there, and the conflict that comes up inside when you are having to speak on behalf of something that you don’t believe in. That feels like more—where the speaking anxiety was about stage fright, “I’m scared to get up and speak.” It’s more that you were trapped into what you had to say.
(06:40) Sabrina Victoria
Yeah, 100% trapped, and that bubble that I lived in, or that journey that I was on replicated itself in the relationships that I ended up. Because I was in a world of constraining my voice, my thoughts, my opinions, I ended up in relationships where the same exact scenario played out. I ended up in very toxic relationships with domineering men, who again, didn’t want to hear my voice, didn’t want to know my opinion, and feeling very small all the time, pretty much for the majority of my life up to this point, just not feeling confident, and not feeling comfortable in who I am authentically as a female, and what my real thoughts and opinions are.
(07:41) Dr. Doreen Downing
When you were in that religion, and part of that community, I know it’s like a family, if you did speak up and express your own opinions or thoughts, what were what were the consequences?
(07:58) Sabrina Victoria
I don’t want to say that there was consequences, because I have very high empathetic vibes, and because I am a recovering codependent, you didn’t have to do much to get me to quiet down. Literally a side eye, or a very loud snap of the finger from my mom could get me to hush immediately. I was always looking for approval, always looking to be on everyone’s good side. I didn’t want to cause any sort of confrontation. I didn’t want to rock any boats whatsoever. Asking any question, just curiosity, just being a child, and just curious about why would elicit some sort of a side eye or a hush of “How dare you? This is for God to answer. Don’t worry your pretty little head about that. Everything will come to fruition as it is supposed to. Don’t question anything.” I just learned at a very young age, probably before even my double digits that we don’t really dive into our internal thinking or opinions or thoughts. We just do what is told, we obey what is said. Those are the footsteps that I followed in.
(09:35) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, yeah. What do they call it? Hook, line, and sinker.
(09:39) Sabrina Victoria
Yes, very much so. That’s with everybody, that was with my parents, and the entire community. Even with friends and stuff, you’re taught to nark on each other, or tell on each other. If anyone is out of line, so even just friends where you would feel like a friend would be a confidant where you can say like “Hey, this doesn’t really make sense,” or “Hey, what do you think about this?” Too much of that off to the side could end up having them go to the elders or the upper people to tattle on you and say, “Hey, Sabrina is getting a little out of line.” That would then elicit a conversation in a back room with a bunch of men asking you why your thinking is out of line.
(10:30) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, yeah. I do get that. I feel the terror of that and how it would hold you back, hold people back from being more expressive. Yet, you’re so expressive now. I’m thinking that maybe because you probably popped out like a pretty expressive little one. They probably got a lot of mileage out of you early on. You learned how to do door-to-door. You took what you got out of that and made a business for yourself.
(11:14) Sabrina Victoria
Yes, definitely 100%. It’s definitely been a journey. I think that, for me, being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, there’s a lot of heaviness around death, and the end is coming. You’re not going to make it and God is going to punish you. My whole thought process is two-toned. One, That’s silly. It’s a game. It’s not even real. But when you’re brought up in that atmosphere, there’s still a tinge of like, “Maybe? I don’t know.” There’s still some cognitive dissonance that takes some time to unravel, take some time to really undo. As much healing and as much process that I’ve done on my mindset, and my mental and emotional health, there’s still a section that’s saying, “Well, I don’t know.” For me, if I’m going to go out, I might as well go out big.
(12:37) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes. I get that early on there were consequences, or at least, beyond the side, taken into the back room, and being scolded or questioned or confronted. But I think that some of that experience feels like you’ve been able to move it inside of yourself, so what would you say was the beginning of the—because you’re talking about that you might tell a friend that “Hey, I don’t know if I believe all this.” What was that transitioning out of and into something else?
(13:21) Sabrina Victoria
I actually did it by myself. Just because of the circumstance I was in, I ended up pregnant with no husband at the age of 20, which is a huge no-no within that religion, within a lot of religions, actually, but in that religion, and because of that I was disassociated or disfellowship, as they call it, which means you lose all contact with anybody who was a Jehovah’s Witness, including your immediate family. I ended up in a very toxic relationship after that, again, no voice, no confidence, no self-esteem. He was very domineering man, very toxic relationship. What happened is eight years into that relationship, I’m on the floor, in the dark on the ground, having a total mental breakdown, like literally losing my mind. If you saw me that day, you would have checked me into the psych ward. Crazy. Just feeling so much helplessness, hopelessness, and just despair, just no way out. I googled—I always say, Google saved my life—why is my boyfriend bullying me? There was a lot of verbal, mental, sexual, and financial abuse happening within that relationship. Google told me that I was in a toxic, abusive relationship, and I dove headfirst into personal development. What wound up happening is through the learnings that I learned through video, reading audible, YouTube, books, anything that I could grab my hands on too as far as personal development, I started to see a parallel between the relationship that I was in and the religion that I was in. Very similar tactics that were used as far as isolation as far as “Don’t ask any questions,” as far as financial abuse. I really started to take a hard look at my life as far as who do I actually want to be, who am I authentically, where are my opinions as far as all this goes, and really starting to step into this person that I am now with the help of other mentors, other teachers, other books, or authors that I was reading on, and just slowly faded out of the religion and slowly obviously faded out of that relationship eventually. It’s been a very long journey. It’s been healing. One of the things that I love to highlight is just the time. So many times, when you’re in stuff like that, it feels so heavy at the time, you’re like, there’s no way that I could go from this to that. You don’t go from this to that with a snap of the finger. It’s an evolution. It is a healing process. It is a journey that we all should take. We don’t all take it, but we all should take to really step into our own power, our own voice, our own confidence, and our own authentic-ness.
(16:42) Dr. Doreen Downing
I like the way you just said the authentic-ness. You didn’t say authenticity or authentic, but authentic-ness. I’m going to take a quick break. I want to hear way more about what this next aspect of your journey was about stepping into authentic-ness, but we’ll be right back.
(17:11) Dr. Doreen Downing
Hi, we’re back now with Sabrina Victoria. Already having learned so much about your past and how it influenced you to actually end up in a relationship that you call narcissistic, abusive. The waking up after you fell apart collapsed is what you said, and you mentioned Google saved you. We’re saying that you looked up and started doing some discovery work and some inner work and found mentors. What else about that part of your journey? The “Aha’s.”
(17:52) Sabrina Victoria
Just so much. The actions. I think the number one thing that is missing a lot of times with individuals who do recognize areas of their life that do need some tweaking, because when you’re in a relationship like that, whether it’s religiously, or a relationship or even with your parents, your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister, there’s toxicity everywhere. It’s very important to recognize that, “Yes, them and you.” You can’t, we can’t, I can’t change the people around me. All I can do is work on myself and change myself. Taking into consideration everything that I was learning, everything that I was reading, everything that I was absorbing, and then actually taking the actions of what I was hearing into consideration, taking what resonates with me, what I appreciate, what I was capable of doing, leaving the rest, and then actually creating some sort of a plan. It’s so funny that you’re saying this because literally probably two weeks ago—I just pinned this on my reel on Instagram two weeks ago—I just found in an old notebook, in the very back of the notebook, a scrap piece of paper that I had scribbled down the very early planning to leave that relationship. It was the money and the numbers that I needed. That piece of paper must be like 10 or 12 years old at this point. Really sitting down and like feeling the gratitude for that girl, that woman who took the time that day to sit down at her desk or in her bed and to take a pen and to say, “You know what? I don’t like where my life is at right now. I need to figure out how to get out. What is the first step? And for me, for that situation, the first step was money and sitting down and actually opening up a bank account and figuring out what I had and what I didn’t have and what I needed and what I needed to get rid of. Being able to review that and being able to be like, “Oh, my gosh.” Look at the physical action early on that I took, the years that have passed, and because of that initial step, and then the steps that I took after that has gotten me the life that I now have, and just feeling so grateful for that step.
(20:36) Dr. Doreen Downing
I like what you’re sharing right now for listeners to get that if they are in some situation where they feel like they’re struggling, there is a first step. what you just demonstrated is being able years later to look back at that first step, but you don’t know it’s a first step. you can’t really label it until you know that there are other steps later, but we don’t need to plan out the whole how to leave or how to change. It’s taking that wonderful first step, whatever that might be, taking out a piece of paper and saying—the work that I do about speaking fear—”I’m afraid because…” Just start making that list and facing the fear and the desire to have the more comes from that. Definitely, you got out, you moved on, you had a life. I suppose the child that you mentioned is wonderful for you to have.
(21:42) Sabrina Victoria
(21:46) Dr. Doreen Downing
(21:47) Sabrina Victoria
There’s a lot of them.
(21:50) Dr. Doreen Downing
Wow. Say more about that quickly.
(21:52) Sabrina Victoria
The inner child—I believe a 100%—that we are every year, that we’ve ever been, each one of those years is inside of us. There’s a one-year old, a three, a five, a 17, and 19, a 22, a 29-year old inside of me. Each one of those young women did their year. They did it the best that they were capable of doing it. Feeling the gratitude towards the women who wanted to give up and didn’t, towards the women who wanted to commit suicide and didn’t, towards the women who wanted to run away and didn’t, towards the women who made the plan, took the action, did the steps despite being tired, despite the verbal abuse, despite the sexual abuse, and just kept waking up every single day, kept doing the next best thing in order to hand the baton off to the very next woman. Really feeling a sense of gratitude for every single woman and the strength that she had to get me to where I am today.
(22:59) Dr. Doreen Downing
I also see this when you said the inner child and then going through each year. That’s a wonderful exercise to give to people today. Sit down and look back on your life and acknowledge the little one that faced the big monsters or faced the challenges. Wonderful. We’re getting near the end. I want to make sure and move towards your current, what you love so much and your passion for helping women rise. Talk a little bit about now—it’s not necessarily now that you have a voice, but it is yours. It is your voice and you are speaking up and gathering women. Tell us about that.
(23:47) Sabrina Victoria
Yes, everything that I do revolves around community. It was the one thing that I was lacking when I needed it the most when I got pregnant, and I needed people. I had nobody when I needed money. I had nobody, complete isolation. What I have really come to understand over the years is how important it is to have a solid foundation of individuals that you can lean on, count on, and ask questions in order to plug those holes of misunderstandings or unknowns. I believe fully that things that I don’t know, and that I know things that you don’t know. We all have these holes because of these unknown things in our world, in our life, in our container. The only way to start to plug those holes so that we can rise is to ask questions, is to exchange stories, is to listen to podcasts like this to get a better understanding of—oh my gosh, I’ve never thought of it that way. Thank you. You’re able to plug a hole, and every single time you’re plugging holes and water and love and goodness and health and relationships are poured into you, it continues to rise higher versus falling out of those holes. What I am doing my best to do is to create an atmosphere to create a container where women can reside. We can learn off of each other through podcasting in groups and learnings, and support groups, masterminds, and around a business around love, around relationships, so that we can ask questions regarding our personal experiences, hear from other women, learn how to do it a little bit better, and rise.
(25:35) Dr. Doreen Downing
I’m so glad you explained, and for those who can’t see visually what you did. Sabrina was literally bring your hands up. I think I understood what rise means in a whole new way. I usually think of one person rising up on two feet, and feeling like the spine is getting longer, and you’ve got your head on your shoulders, but what you said was that the collective, the community, and when you’re really connected, you put into yourself the nourishment and the information that it isn’t just about you standing up on your own two feet, it’s about integrating so much of the learnings from other people. Well, thank you so much for demonstrating that. Anything as final words that you’d like to give us.
(26:31) Sabrina Victoria
Yes, so I love the mantra that I’ve been carrying with me since I was about 26 or 27 years old is everything’s going to be okay. With a nice deep breath and a nice silence before and after. I think so many times we get so wrapped up in all of the overwhelm, all of the struggles, all of the challenges that were either behind us or that we’re in the middle of them, that are coming full speed ahead at us. It can be very easy to fall apart, it can get very easy to get wrapped up in that, and really taking a moment to recognize that you’re capable of doing hard things as they say, and you’ve done hard things before, and you’re capable, and really recognizing the strength and the power that has taken to get you to where you are right now. Reminding yourself, reminding your inner children—that sometimes get triggered and sometimes get nervous, and sometimes get overwhelmed, that, “Hey, listen. Everything’s going to be okay.” Really allowing yourself to sit in that, so that when you take a step forward into whatever that is, that new learning or that new healing or that new challenge, really going in with the competence and the power that you need to succeed.
(27:47) Dr. Doreen Downing
And I like the fact that you’re talking about the pause before and the message and then the pause afterwards. I like that juxtaposition of pausing and moving into something empowering and then pausing again and letting it sink in. Thank you so much for today.
(28:07) Sabrina Victoria
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Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.