Leslie Batchelder: Childhood trauma and abuse made her resilient



As a podcaster for justice, I stand with my sisters from the Women of Color Podcasters Community. We are podcasters united to condemn the tragic murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and many others at the hands of police.


This week on the Finding Fertile Ground podcast, I interview my friend Dr. Leslie Batchelder. We both sing soprano in our local Rock Voices choir. I’ve always loved her spirit and spunk.


Leslie’s life is one of grit and resilience. One of five children, Leslie’s childhood was full of abuse and her parents’ addiction problems. She left home at 17 to go to college. By age 19, she was in a psychiatric hospital when the abuse caught up with her. She went sober in her 20s when she saw what addiction had done to her parents.


Leslie also shared the way men preyed on her when she was young. She was sexually assaulted in the boys’ bathroom, yet she was the one punished instead of the boys.


Fast forward several decades later, Leslie earned her Ph.D. in German cultural studies and became a professor at Portland State University. She married later in life and got pregnant after two miscarriages.


Her son was born 10 weeks early and landed in the NICU, an experience full of trauma.

Leslie and her son Rhys
Leslie and her son Rhys when he was little

Right before she took her son home, Leslie was diagnosed with melanoma. After receiving treatment, the melanoma came back and some of her doctors gave her a death sentence. Leslie wasn’t ready for her life to end, so she found health care providers who gave her hope (and clinical trials).


Her body was not done challenging her. A few years later she battled anal cancer.

The challenges Leslie has faced in her life are stunning. She talks about her mental health challenges and how she’s learned the value of medication. Leslie believes her childhood trauma gave her the resilience she needed to survive.


Her life and resilience are an inspiration!


Sopranos, preemie moms, resilient women: Leslie Batchelder and Marie Gettel-Gilmartin at Rock Voices
Sopranos, preemie moms, redheads, and resilient women at a Rock Voices rehearsal...some people have said we look like sisters!

Next week on the Companies That Care podcast, I interview Naama Barnea-Goraly, who has invented an app called Girltelligence that empowers young women.

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