I first met Jennifer Gilbert at a DivaMoms Book party in January for a little-known author named E L James and her book trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey. I hadn't yet read the books and was intrigued and slightly amused by the palpable energy in the room. Women were pushing and shoving each other to get the chance to listen to this pleasant, unassuming woman describe how she created a love story out of the trappings of S&M. No one knew at the time that this would be the beginning of the phenomenon known around the world as THE BOOK.
Across the room, Jennifer Gilbert and I found refuge from the Fifty Shades madness. Settled into a corner (the only place we could find quiet), she told me she wanted to be part of the PowerwomenTV web series, as she felt she had a strong message to share. We talked and she told me about her business, Save The Date, and how she was named by Ernst & Young as Entrepreneur of the Year, her short stint on the Housewives of New York City and how she was ready for the next chapter in her life. Talking to her, it seemed like she had "it all" -- she was a mother, a wife and had a thriving business.
She told me she had written a book and that she was about to reveal a twenty-year-old secret that she had told very few people about, but felt compelled to share with the world. She had tears in her eyes when she confided in me that her son had alopecia and his courage had propelled her to reveal her authentic self to the world.
I didn't push her as to what her "secret" was -- I took a cue that if she wanted to tell me, she would. Before she left, she promised to send me her book. I knew that in this book would be her hidden story.
The next day, a package arrived from Jen. Her book, I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag, looked like a great beach read until I turned the book over and read this:
In May 1991, a 22-year-old Jennifer Gilbert was visiting friends in New York's West Village. It was a beautiful day -- the sun was shining and she was happy. That was moments before she was attacked and nearly stabbed to death.
I read her book in a few short hours as the story was compelling, horrfying and inspiring at the same time -- when I finished the book, I sent her an email promising her that I would interview her for PowerwomenTV. A few months later, under camera lights, we sat in her apartment and filmed as she read passages from her book. There Jennifer bravely shared her story about the moments she was attacked by a man with a screwdriver.
Jennifer was stabbed 37 times.
There was not a dry eye on set. From my camera crew, to the producer, to myself... we were all incredibly moved by Jen's story. Jen taught us the true meaning of being a survivor -- to gain strength and power from moving on. We were reminded that life continues to teach us lessons in ways we could never imagine.
It is my hope that you will find strength and inspiration in my interview with her.