| Executive Director
Next Steps, Inc.
Your destiny will be determined by your...Next Steps!!!
Copyright © 2006
Denise Mosby-Lewis, MA, LLPC
Denise, mother of three, was a product of low self-esteem. Denise
Mosby-Lewis understands the struggle of self-hate and self-abuse as her
life was filled with inconsistencies. Among other issues, her parents
had a "revolving door"relationship. On several occasions, she witnessed
her father beating her mother and in many instances, she would place
herself in the middle of her parents, in an effort to thwart the
Her father's behavior (she later discovered) was a result of the vicious
cycle of abuse.
At the age of 12, her parents separated for the last time. A few years
later, her father's sister, who resided in the home suddenly announced
that she was getting married. So, at the age of 15, as the eldest daughter,
Ms. Lewis was suddenly propelled into an adult role, becoming
responsible for the care of her younger siblings, in addition to making
decisions related to their well being.
When she made less than perfect choices, she was labeled as "dumb" or
"stupid." After continuously being referred to in such a manner, she
believed it to be true. As a result, her self-esteem was shattered. Ms.
Lewis was an encourager and counselor by nature, but at the time, she
did not recognize it as the mission for her life; it was merely something
she enjoyed doing.
Many of her family members and friends would come to her for advice,
which she would give freely with an abundance of wisdom, while the
circumstances in her personal life were in total chaos. She barely
graduated high school and the attempt she made toward college was
brought to a standstill, at the first sign of difficulty.
At the age of 20, she married for the first time. Before she was married,
her husband- to-be was verbally abusive and controlling, but, Denise
was certain she could "change" him and that things would get better
after they were married. She was wrong! While he continued to
verbally and emotionally abuse her with greater intensity; it wasn't
until thirteen months after their marriage that the physical abuse
occurred. It began with a slap.
Weeks later, (after begging for forgiveness and the promise of not
doing it again) he attacked her with his fists. This time, she began
seeking refuge. Her husband had also kept a double barrel shotgun by
their bedside and threatened to shoot her if she tried to leave.
However, Ms. Lewis was determined not to become a recipient of the
same type of violence that her mother had endured. Willing to die
rather than to submit to the abuse; she invited him to shoot her.
Finding himself powerless; he relented and she left the relationship,
but the scars from the emotional and physical abuse by both her father
and husband yet remained.
By the time she was 34 years old, she had been married and divorced
three times and had three children. All of her marriages were
short-lived. She continuously made decisions that were neither in her
best interest nor in the best interest of her children. After her third
divorce, she experienced a deep depression which lasted several
Deep down inside she knew there was a better life for her, but due to
her lack of confidence, she made no attempt to do anything about it.
As a pastime, she slipped into a fantasy world of soap operas.
One day, she was faced with a hard, cold, bitter truth. Most of her
younger sisters were pursuing and obtaining their college degrees,
while she babysat their children and collected welfare checks. She
knew that something was wrong with that picture!
Ms. Lewis took a long hard look at herself and decided that it was time
to make a change.
She was 35 years old when she reached the marked transformation of
her life. Although her parents were partially responsible for her lack
of self-worth; she realized that she could not continue to blame them.
Ultimately, she had to accept some personal responsibility. She knew
she needed to make a decision as to what she deemed more important:
focusing on the negative things that had happened to her, or making a
better life for herself. She chose the latter.
In 1990, at the age of thirty-five, she returned to college taking two
or three classes each semester in an attempt to decide which area or
profession to follow. However, Ms. Lewis recognized the charge for
her life in 1994, when she went to work for a women's shelter.
Many of the clients were struggling with low self-esteem, drug abuse,
domestic violence issues and many other issues confronting women
today, she had found her niche and embraced her calling!
Realizing that she needed to bring more than just her "personal
experience," she continued taking classes. However, she never
perceived herself as being a lead person. In 2002, she obtained a
classroom assignment which entailed designing a program that she
could teach, and thus, Next Steps, Inc. was born.
In 2003, she graduated from Spring Arbor University, Magna Cum
Laude! September of 2003, she began the pursuit of her Master's
degree. In June of 2005, she graduated from Ashland Theological
Seminary with her Master's degree in Pastoral Counseling.
She was all set and gung-ho to implement her program, but there yet
remained some unfinished business. She now found herself face-to-face
with some of the emotional "demons" of her past. The program
would have to wait a little longer.
It was not enough that she had obtained an education. Ms. Lewis
recognized that she, as the lead person of the agency, needed to
experience inner healing for herself, in order to be a truly effective
Director. After two years of "personal" inner-healing, she knew that it
was now time to execute the program.
Over the years, Ms. Lewis has been sought after to address the volatile
topic of domestic violence and sexual assault.
In 2013, she authored her first book, "Monsters Ain't Always Ugly:" A
Today, at the age of 60, Ms. Mosby-Lewis is a living testimony that with
dedication, diligence and determination, any woman can emerge from
being a victim to being victorious. However, she must first be willing to
take the Next Steps!!!