@latoyahawthorne, From Physical and Emotional Abuse to an Empowering ‘Muse’ #SheDidThat!Jan 24, 2014
Latoya Hawthorne, a native of Jamaica, moved to the United States with her family in 1993. Many know her as “Latti;” a nickname given to her by her mother as a child. She spent the rest of her childhood growing up in suburban Westchester County, N.Y. Shortly after arriving in the United States, Hawthorne was diagnosed with severe arthritis and spent much of her early years on crutches. She eventually overcame adversity and learned to live with chronic pain, and taught herself to walk without assistance.
Hawthorne went on to study mass communication and advertising, and after years of building her confidence to an all-time high, she entered the dating scene. It wasn’t too long before she fell madly in love with a man she believed to be her soul mate-or so she thought. Her former boyfriend was controlling and eventually isolated her from her family, friends and passion for the arts. Hawthorne endured years of physical and emotional abuse. The self-esteem she worked so hard to build began to crumble. She tried to run away from the pain, but fell into a downward spiral of drug abuse, leaving her hopeless and desperate for a way out.
Eventually Hawthorne escaped her troubles and followed her dreams, moving to California to pursue a career in the arts. She instantly began modeling and started shooting with some of Southern California’s finest fashion photographers. But it was when she began to explore the other side of the lens, working as an assistant photographer, that she found her passion for the craft. Her confidence and self-esteem returned with a vengeance, motivating her to push herself to the next level: creating A Walking Virtue.
A Walking Virtue is a non-profit organization that empowers young women to overcome abuse by using creative expression to better their lives. Hawthorne speaks on violence prevention in schools. She empowers young women to build healthy relationships with one another through the arts. By sharing her skills and experiences, she hopes to inspire young women as others have inspired her. Latoya completed the 40-Hour Domestic Violence Training and is now an Advocate. Her leisure time is spent volunteering at shelters for women experiencing domestic violence. She still resides in California and is currently writing her memoir on overcoming domestic violence, low self-esteem and drug abuse.
Latti has made it her life mission to support and empower women. In addition, Latti works for the Downtown Women’s Center that is a nationally recognized pioneer of permanent supportive housing, and the only resource in Los Angeles that is exclusively dedicated to serving the unique needs of homeless and very low income women in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row community. Permanent supportive housing is a successful, cost-effective combination of affordable housing with services that help people live more stable, productive lives. This housing model improves stability and reduces the use of high cost public services.
Founded in 1978 by social worker Jill Halverson and her client turned friend, Rose, DWC provided a permanent home to 119 formerly homeless women by the end of 2012, making DWC one of the largest providers of permanent supportive housing for women in the country. 95% of the women they house never return to homelessness – a high success rate for ending homelessness.
We are proud of you Latti and are humbled by your desire and willingness to empower women! #SheDidThat!