05/21/2014 03:17 pm ET Updated Jul 19, 2014

Abuse and How Healing It Has Inspired Me to Give Back

When I was twelve, I moved in with my father, stepmother and stepbrother. Soon after, a family, who was older than me, began manipulating me into having sex with him, his friends, and another family member.

I started abusing laxatives at the same time, although I'd been starving and binging for years. Sex became like a handshake to me. I'd do anything to try to fill the void I felt but could not acknowledge, understand or describe.

In college I moved from laxatives to drugs: ecstasy, crystal meth (in order to lose weight), cocaine, and lots of alcohol. I promised myself that as long as I made good grades, I could do anything I wanted ... and so I did. My party girl persona kept me running so I wouldn't have to stop and deal with the pain, shame and remorse.

Luckily, the universe had different plans for me. I stopped taking laxatives in '92, after my roommate lovingly confronted me. I stopped doing drugs after having a spiritual experience in the Landmark Forum in '97, and I stopped drinking alcohol in 2000 as I was moving to NYC from Austin, TX.

A line of demarcation was drawn for me the day I stopped drinking. My healing journey took a huge leap forward and though my path has been ungraceful, often two steps forward, one step back, I have faithfully trudged along.

When I finally got up the nerve to try stand up comedy in NY and a group of strangers began howling at my tales of family dysfunction, suddenly my life made sense to me. Maybe God had had a plan for me all along. If I can help others laugh at the pain in their lives, and we can all heal from the lessons and laughter, then it was all worth it.

The numbers of addicts and people who are abused is staggering. One in three women has been a victim of sexual assault.

How do we heal this pattern? I believe by talking about it, identifying, getting it out in the open instead of hiding in shame. If we know that we will never be alone again, and we can find loving, safe support, then we can heal and even laugh about the whole experience.

Laughter is healing. Laughter says: I win. Laughter says I can overcome. It is my passion to inspire, educate, and entertain. I adore connecting with audiences with my humor. My goofy attitude is contagious and when I allow myself to laugh, I then give others permission to do the same. I believe that when we laugh together, our hearts remember that we are all one.