After a 13-year marriage to a physically abusive husband, Linda Hudson, a senior sociology major from Lakewood, California, fled the state with her 2-year-old daughter on Valentine’s Day, seven years ago. They left behind their career, friends and family with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Until then, Hudson had never spoken of the years of abuse she had endured. Even when the police were called to her home or a close friend confronted her, she remained silent about her struggle. In fact, even after her escape, Hudson said it took a long time to open up about her past.
“I lived in secrecy in order to preserve my dignity, because there’s a lot of shame involved, unfortunately, with domestic abuse,” Hudson said.
Fast forward seven years, and Hudson has successfully reintegrated herself in Cedar City, working a part-time job, studying at SUU and raising her daughter, all on her own. Not only that, but she has also since gained the courage to share her story, first to a small support group and later at speaking events around the state.
To complete her EDGE project, Hudson shared her story as a keynote speaker at a three-day leadership conference organized by the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. The audience of 300 people included police officers, therapists, social workers, survivors and more.
“I figured once I became comfortable in my own shoes and admitting that there were issues, I was able to better heal at that point,” Hudson said. “I started speaking at little events and going bigger and bigger to the point where I got comfortable speaking in front of 300 people and putting myself in a place of vulnerability. But it’s a way of healing for myself.”
The title of her speech was “Speak up! Domestic Violence and its Effects on Society,” a subject that Hudson understands better than most.
Gaining the courage to share her story was not the only hardship Hudson encountered in the process. As a mother, employee and student, finding the time and money for such a project was a persistent struggle. On the website she created for her EDGE project, Hudson expressed her determination to make the project a success, no matter the sacrifice.
“The expenses of traveling, including food, gas, lodging and other miscellaneous expenditures are exorbitant,” Hudson said. “However, I will find a way to make it to Provo, even if I have to walk … and if needed, bunk with near strangers to accomplish what I call a mission with a personal purpose.”
Kelly Stephens, a director of academic advising who has interacted with Hudson during her time at SUU, said she was honored to work alongside Hudson as she undertook such an honorable project.
“Linda is so intrinsically driven to make a difference in this world that I’ve simply gotten to work alongside and learn from her,” Stephens said. “Through her project, Linda offered conference participants the chance to hear a voice that sometimes gets lost … Linda’s willingness to take on that challenge to help educate others speaks volumes about her passion for prompting change and being an advocate for survivors.”
Earl Mulderink, director of the Community Engagement Center and professor of history, said Hudson has displayed exceptional work, both in the classroom and while completing her project.
“Linda Hudson is one of the most inspiring students I’ve encountered in my two decades at SUU,” Mulderink said. “Linda (Hudson) epitomizes lifelong learning … (she) used her EDGE project to emphasize her life experiences in ways that helped other people. Moreover, Linda (Hudson) is a diligent and persistent student who seems always eager to do her best and to learn as much as she can.”
After Hudson shared her story at the event, she was able to utilize the knowledge she gained to collaborate with the Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center in Cedar City. This eventually led to a position on the Board of Trustees.
“I think it was very successful,” Hudson said. “It got me into a great position on the board (of CCWCC) where I can help that particular community excel and move forward with new and innovative ways to help survivors.”
Hudson, who graduates in April, will continue her studies in the master’s program and later pursue a career in higher education. In the future, she said she hopes to continue her involvement with local organizations and pursue solutions to combat the epidemic of domestic abuse, both as a volunteer and in her career.