Rocklin mom, survivor, fights for her dreams

Morell is finalist for Women's Opportunity Award
By: Teresa O'Hanlon, Placer Herald correspondent
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A couple of years ago, Rocklin single mother Alexis Morell could not even bear to think about herself as a sexual assault survivor, let alone talk about it. For 20 years, her secret trauma festered.

“Around the age of 17, I was held against my will by a group of men for several days, during which time they abused me physically and sexually,” revealed Morell, now 38. “I would spend the next 20 years either burying my thoughts, memories and feelings in one substance or the next – be it drugs, food, shopping, etc.”

Drug addiction dragged her into depression and denial. When the pit of darkness became so deep that thoughts of suicide emerged, it seemed only a miracle could help her resurface and reclaim the life she was meant to live. It was the sensation of new life that woke Morell up from her nightmare and gave her the courage she needed to tell her story and reach out for help. Overcome with feelings of elation when she realized she was pregnant made her whole world change.

“I realized not only did I need help psychologically, but I wasn’t going to be able to get clean and stay clean alone,” shared Morell, who at first was reluctant to share her deeply personal struggles, but wanted to let other victims know there is help and support in the community. “I reached out for help. I also realized that this couldn’t be like every other time I had gotten clean; this time I needed to get clean not just during the pregnancy, but I needed to be able to stay clean for the rest of my life if I was going to be the kind of mom I wanted to be and the kind of mom my son deserved – the best.”

Today Morell’s baby boy, 1-year old Matteo, is a thriving, curious little man who loves hanging out at Whitney Park, playing with his cousins and smiling at new wonders. Mom has used every fiber of her being to give Matteo a good life. She lives with her mother to cut down on living costs, continues weekly counseling and is working diligently toward a degree in nursing to secure a bright future with her son.

When Morell’s sister read a flyer about the Soroptimist International of South Placer Women’s Opportunity Award, celebrating women who are the family breadwinner, working toward a degree and have overcome tre-mendous obstacles, she knew she had the perfect applicant.

“I was surprised that this program was available and more than a little doubtful that I would win the grant, but she told me it wouldn’t hurt to try,” shared Morell, who put all her strength into the application, where she had to stand up for herself and realize she is a survivor.

On March 9, Morell will take her spot as one of three SISP Women’s Opportunity Award finalists up for a $1,000 grant to aid with educational expenses. Morell is the sole finalist from Rocklin. The celebration, open to the public, will include a brunch by Hannibal’s Catering and Events and Rocklin Mayor Diana Ruslin will provide the keynote address.

“This is the only award for surviving and overcoming,” said Latanya Hampton-Johnson, event chair. “This award recognizes women who have endured, women who fell down, but got back up and continued the pursuit of a better life. To receive this award is an honor. It shows that the woman did not give in or give up; she endured.”

Just nuzzling with her baby boy gives Morell the energy and confidence to look forward and not be ashamed by past traumas and tears.

“Being able to talk about what happened to me ... I don’t even know how to describe it,” Morell explained. “I feel 1000 pounds lighter. I also feel 1,000 times more capable and because of this newfound confidence. I have decided to go back to school and become a registered nurse like my sister. I also want to teach my son that it is never too late to change your life and to follow your dreams. I firmly believe parents teach by modeling, and my plan is to spend the rest of my days teaching him how to be the very best person he can be by being the very best person I can.”

Hampton-Johnson ad-mires Morell for her strides in becoming better and added, “Alexis is an example of what it means to fall and get back up in the race like you never fell at all.”