Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Shared Journey

By Anita Sullivan

I didn’t set out to be an advocate for anyone. When I was little I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. When I was a bit older I wanted to be a marine biologist. I wanted to be a Mom. I wanted to be a wife. I went to college and wanted to be a sports administrator. I got involved in ministry and wanted to share God’s love with others. But it was really still all about me. It was about what I wanted to do, where I saw my life going. I had it good, and thought I should share that with others.

I hit a few bumps in the road, faced some challenges. So I thought I might even be able to tell people how to get past them like I had.

So I began seeking meaningful work. I spent two years working with women in a domestic violence shelter and leading volunteers in a sexual assault response team. I spent night after night advocating for women in hospital emergency rooms, leaving exhausted and spent, but appreciative of the place I had in their lives in that moment. I learned even more from the women I worked with, who had chosen to become advocates, unlike me who had stumbled upon a job out of need. They were tough. They were sometimes mean. It became a little less about me, but still it was a job.

I then spent some time working with families in a supervised visitation program, training volunteers and observing families in need. Then I moved on to the business of cancer, advocating for patients in the community. But I found that the job was all about the business, there were already a lot of advocates, and as jobs went, it was pretty tough. Not really for me. It was still about me, but I knew it shouldn’t be just about me, and I didn’t think I was making a difference for anyone there. God kept growing my heart to want to do something real. But it was still about what I wanted to do.

So I took a break from the non-profit jobs. I thought that I’d figure it out while having a job that was just that, a job. And I’d focus for a while on my family. See, while I was busy finding jobs to advocate for people (good jobs going good work), I was advocating almost daily for my husband who battles a rare chronic illness. But I didn’t know what I wanted to do, that was just something I had to do. So the plan was to keep sharing my love for people through involvement at church, and keep figuring it out.

Five short months later, I again was forced into something I didn’t want to do. Much like facing my husband’s illness, I couldn’t go home from the job and relax. On June 26, 2007 I became an advocate for my brother, the day he went missing from my home. Michael “Austin” Davis was 26 and depressed, and I was silenced at first- by my own fear and guilt. But I spoke. Then, eventually I learned to speak for others too. To ask for help for us all. It was no longer about me. It was no longer a job. I still speak for my brother because he can’t, and for my family because sometimes they can’t. I speak for our community of missing to anyone who will listen because I can, and over time I’ve found that all the time I spent up until now was God preparing my heart for these days.

Years ago, I thought I might share with people how they might get past the bumps like I had. Today my message is much different. Today I offer instead that people climb the mountains and trudge the valleys alongside me, and together we can lean on each other, and I might be able to share some hope along the way. Today I no longer know so much about what I want to do or how I may be used, but I know that God may use me, and I’m open to that. And no matter what type of journey you’re on, no matter your situation, we can support each other.

Today as I start the journey of blogging on Time’s Up, that’s what I have to offer you. A shared journey.

Anita Sullivan is the sister of a missing person, and long time advocate of victims, even before having a personal connection to the world of lost. During college,Anita found a passion for helping others and was involved in a variety of ministries. She then started a career in non-profit, first working with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. She went on to work with at risk families through a supervised visitation program before spending several years in fundraising and advocacy. She now tries to reach people with a message of Hope through writing and speaking, while honoring her brother, Michael "Austin" Davis, who has been missing since 2007. To learn more about Anita, visit her at


  1. Welcome Anita! I enjoyed your narrative and look forward to discovering your journey with you! When events like yours and mine (family homicide) happen, it's never "all about us"... with the exception of our personal quest for justice. You and your brother are in my thoughts and prayers!


    Donna R. Gore,M.A.

  2. Thank you Donna! It is sometimes hard to balance that personal quest (not for justice in my case, but still for answers) with everything, but what in life isn't tough.

    Very glad to have joined the Time's Up team.



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