Sexual abuse survivors create jewelry to help heal


At the age of 12, Lea McGough was kidnapped and held hostage in a Detroit home. For a month she was sexually abused by different people, until she was finally able to escape.

“The man who held me hostage was choking me, but when he leaned forward, I was able to grab him by his neck and push him to the ground,” McGough told Detroit Free Press. “Then I jumped out of a window, and I remember being barefoot because there was snow on the ground.

Now 27, McGough has struggled with how to cope with the experience. Today, she helps create striking jewelry out of auto parts for Detroit-based nonprofit Mend on the Move.

Mend on the Move provides part-time employment to women who are abuse survivors, former drug addicts, homeless or on probation. Rather than gemstones and precious metals, employees use salvaged car seat leather and auto parts to create a variety of striking pieces.

Source: Mend on the Move Facebook

Source: Mend on the Move Facebook

Joanne Ewald founded Mend on the Move in 2015, after years of creating jewelry on her own while learning to cope with the aftermath of years of sexual abuse as a child.

“Through that healing process, I started to make jewelry,” Ewald said to Detroit Free Press. “I also have a really strong faith. The culmination of my faith and the jewelry making and just really wanting to help other who survived trauma, that really how it came to be, just trying to help women heal from their abusive past.”

Today, Ewald works full-time running Mend on the Move. Their team creates about 20 different pieces, all made from parts either purchased from or donated by automotive plants.

Jewelry products from Mend on the Move can be purchased at a growing list of retailers, including the Henry Ford Museum and here at Wellington Limited in Midland.