Daily Dialogue: Women discuss overcoming obstacles


Jamet Colton, who was born and raised in Santiago, Chile, shares her story of how she “overcame” at Daily Dialogue March 26. Colton is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for the special election to fill the vacant Iowa House district 46 seat.

Morgan Johnson

Six speakers gathered at Daily Dialogue to share their stories of how they overcame their respective adversities Tuesday night.

Daily Dialogue is a live storytelling event that offers a platform for individuals in the Iowa State community to share their stories from their point of view.

In its third installment, female-identifying individuals shared their life experiences, paying homage to the month of March, which is Women’s History Month.

Emily Berch, junior in journalism and political science, shared her experience with physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as the loss of a loved one.

Berch suffered multiple forms of abuse in her high school relationship. She said at first the relationship was fine but she started to notice red flags early on.

After the passing of her mother, Berch said things became worse in her relationship and she felt like she didn’t have anyone to talk to or confide in.

Berch said the night of the Homecoming dance her senior year, things became so bad that she could no longer hide or excuse the abuse anymore, so she confided in her friends and later pressed charges.

Berch said while sitting in the office of her school building with administrators, her coach and friends, she realized she wasn’t alone.

“I realized that I did have people to talk to and that I didn’t have to do this alone,” Berch said. “It got easier, and it’s still not completely better. I’m not fully healed, but I’m not alone.”

Jamet Colton, a Spanish language interpreter at Primary Health Care, shared her experience growing up in Santiago, Chile, explaining the difficulties of growing up during a dictatorship and in poverty.

She recently told her 12-year-old son a story about an experience with her grandfather’s “lady friend.” She said they were having tea time and the “lady friend” would lay a tablecloth on only half the table and enjoy a full meal while sitting across from her and her sister, who had very little.

She said she recently told the story differently with her son. Instead of focusing on the negative she decided to look at the positive things the “lady friend” had done for her.

“So at that time I gave her grace,” Colton said. “I let her go.”

Colton said she chose to give the “lady friend” grace and forgive her for her previous actions.

“I cured my little self,” Colton said. “By giving someone grace, I overcame.”

Micayla Applegate, a junior in English, shared her struggles with eating disorders and how she overcame them with the help of a stranger.

When she was younger, Applegate was bullied because of her body, which led her down a long road of suffering with eating disorders.

Applegate said eventually her struggle with eating disorders consumed her and became something she no longer had control over. She said when she met her current boyfriend, who was a complete stranger at the time, it was a turning point.

“He gave me the sense of courage to go get my life together,” Applegate said. “You may have lost a lot but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up the pieces.”

After hearing the brave stories of her peers, Natasha Greene, engagement and inclusion police officer with the Iowa State Police Department, said she felt compelled to share a story different than what she had planned.

Greene shared her story of how she overcame and accepted her history with sexual assault. Through her past as a social worker and as a sexual assault advocate, Greene helped others process their experiences.

Greene said following the death of her father she realized she was not doing well internally and not letting herself work on healing from her hurt. Her healing process started with reporting what had happened to her when she was younger.

Greene said after reporting her sexual assault, nothing was done by law enforcement. She said this was part of why she became a police officer, so she could hear others’ stories and serve those who are underserved by their law enforcement agencies. Hearing from other survivors and how they choose to interact has contributed to her strength.

“Sometimes that strength doesn’t come from sharing with anyone else. It comes from within,” Greene said. “Seeing support from other survivors, from other brave folks saying ‘hey I want to make this world a little different,’ has really been what’s powerful and impactful to me.”

Jazzmine Brooks, the violence prevention and green dot coordinator in Student Wellness at Iowa State, shared her story of healing from her past of power-based violence, sexual abuse and domestic violence.

“When I think about healing, it is to sit in, it is to sit right in it, and say ‘What exactly is going on,’” Brooks said.  “Not to say ‘I’m not gonna touch it, I’m [going to] deal with it later,’ all of that is a lie of feeling like you have to do it one way.”

Brooks shared the process in which she had to learn to trust a counselor who didn’t look like her and didn’t have the same experiences as her. Although feeling this way, she went every day, every week until she believed and trusted in her counselor.  

Another aspect of her healing process was learning to hold the people in her life accountable. She preached accountability and shared a time where she had to report violence within her immediate family.

“I have a privilege of being able to heal,” Brooks said. “So I’m trying to find my voice now of how do I help other women, other men, other people who are non-binary, who are queer, all these people who are harmed just like me.

“My story is not unique.”

Healing has been a process in which Tia Carter — senior studying kinesiology and health with an emphasis on exercise science — has gone through in her four years at Iowa State. Carter shared her experiences with depression, racism and sexual assault.

“I was suffocating from the explicit racism, stereotypes of oppression directed towards me,” Carter, who identifies as a person of color, said.

Carter said during her first years at Iowa State, she suffered from multiple mental health crises without anyone noticing her pain.

“I refused to seek help because I didn’t want to be labeled as weak,” Carter said. “So I suppressed everything with ‘you know I’m ok’ and a smile because it was easier.”

During her sophomore year, Carter explored new spaces at Iowa State that could help “nourish a broken soul.” Carter said this was the first time she was told she had a purpose and she mattered.

In her junior year, Carter said she found meaning to words she had been telling herself for years after seeking help.

“You still matter regardless of what you look like, regardless of what you’re going through,” Carter said. “Those words were the reason why I continue to live.

“Everyone deserves to live and enjoy this gift we call life.”