The Crusader Newspaper Group

Native Chicagoan writes ‘I Can Take It from Here’

“I Can Take It from Here: A Memoir of Trauma, Prison, and Self-Empowerment” is an emotional, page-turning account of unhealed trauma and personal transformation that will break your heart and change your mind, in the tradition of “Somebody’s Daughter,” “A Piece of Cake,” and Jesmyn Ward’s “Men We Reaped.”

Riveting, honest, and raw, “I Can Take It from Here” recounts native Chicago daughter Lisa Forbes’ harrowing journey into darkness — including a 14-year-long stint in a maximum-security prison — and her fierce resolve to understand the effects of the trauma she endured, to take personal responsibility for her actions, and to ensure that her history does not dictate her destiny.

The youngest of six children, Lisa grew up in a Chicago housing project where she endured sexual, religious and emotional abuse as a little girl. A voracious reader, she graduated high school at 15 and went to work as a secretary in a downtown insurance office, became pregnant at 16 and, at 19, unexpectedly and uncharacteristically committed a violent act, stabbing and killing the father of her daughter.

Providing powerful insights into what we as a society need to learn and confront in the ongoing epidemic of mass re-incarceration, Lisa is a stunning example of an individual who through determination, knowledge, and hard work has been able to reclaim her own life.

The book presents Lisa’s rousing call to action to support the people—as well as the shorthanded employers who need the help, and need each other more than ever.

Lisa Forbes grew up poor on the South Side of Chicago, was an ex-con in her thirties but she started her own company, Lisa Forbes Inc., to help restored citizens cope with post-prison life. Now based in Denver, she has spoken widely and conducted many workshops.

Previously the state communications director for the League of Women Voters of Colorado, Forbes now edits her local county League’s monthly newsletter, The Voter. Additionally, Forbes is a Colorado co-coordinator of Better Angels, a national citizens’ movement to bring liberals and conservatives together at the grassroots level.

Praise for “I Can Take It from Here:”

An inspiringly courageous memoir.”– Kirkus Reviews

“Forbes’ clear, honest, and inspiring memoir proves she is a champion for herself and the struggle against mass incarceration and recidivism.”–Booklist

“An inspirational memoir that moves from childhood trauma to incarceration to eventual reintegration into society, “I Can Take It from Here” is compelling as it argues that trauma resolution for individuals is critical to criminal justice reform.”– Foreword Review

I Can Take It from Here“I Can Take It from Here: A Memoir of Trauma, Prison, and Self-Empowerment” is offered by Steerforth Press and is priced at $16.95 / $22.95 CAN/ Paperback Original / ISBN 979-1-58642-304-9 / 256 pages).

More about “I Can Take It From Here:”

Lisa Forbes’ gripping, searing  story provides powerful insights into what we, as a society, need to learn and confront in the ongoing epidemic of mass re-incarceration. The youngest of six children, Lisa grew up in a cramped apartment in a Chicago housing project.

One of her brothers sexually molested her on a daily basis, and her mother, a Jehovah’s Witness, dismissed her college aspirations because the world could end any day. A voracious reader, while in prison for killing the father of her daughter, Lisa discovered writers ranging from Shakespeare and Machiavelli to Toni Morrison and Huey P. Newton.

She completed college courses and earned professional certificates. But upon her release, she faced the same impediments to a “normal life,” and to reuniting with her daughter, that confront all ex-felons, as if the system wants them to fail. Of the 650,000 people released from prison each year, two-thirds will be re-arrested within three years. Lisa, however, persevered, learning the role of trauma in her life and the importance of taking responsibility for her own actions.

Author’s Note:

“Please join me in the fight to return tens of millions of ‘ex-cons’ and ‘former felons’ in America to the point where they can reenter society as restored citizens,” she writes, “where they can turn around and say with gratitude and dignity, ‘Thank you for your help. I can take it from here’.”

It is an under-recognized fact that most former prisoners in the United States are traumatized before entering prison or while in prison. Many published studies indicate that most incarcerated people experienced childhood abuse or neglect.

In 2016, the American Psychological Association published an article that asserted, “Nearly all youth detained in the juvenile justice system have experienced traumatic events often leading to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” These boys and girls will “remain at risk for future offending” unless they receive treatment for PTSD and associated conditions. Many of those traumatized youth end up in adult prisons, just as I did.

As a society, we will never end mass incarceration and mass recidivism until we acknowledge and address the role trauma plays alongside other factors, such as systemic racism and poverty.

“I Can Take It From Here” is my story, but in many ways it is also the story of millions of other individuals, and part of the story of our nation. We are all in this together.!


Elaine Hegwood BowenElaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is the Entertainment Editor for the Chicago Crusader. She is a National Newspaper Publishers Association ‘Entertainment Writing’ award winner, contributor to “Rust Belt Chicago” and the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood: South Side of Chicago.” For info, Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago ( or email: [email protected].

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