When dreams shatter, how do you pick up the pieces and move on?
Emily Morton faced that question after she was raped.
She ended up taking her two young children to the forest; they stayed in a small tent to escape the fear that haunted her. “That was the most scared I ever was,” Emily said. “I couldn’t protect my kids.”
I first met Emily at a meeting to start a warming center for the homeless. People were talking over each other, but Emily impressed me with her calm, thoughtful voice. So I sought her story.
Emily once dreamed of becoming a doctor. She worked as a nurse aide and went to school to prepare for a career in medicine while caring for her two young boys.
She was a single mom who had survived an abusive relationship. “After my sons’ father went to prison, I thought I’d be safe.”
A policeman, supposedly investigating a series of tire-slashing incidents, came to her home. He raped her. No one believed her story and she spiraled out of control.
Soon after the rape, under the influence of drugs and fearful of staying in the apartment, she tried to commit suicide, crashing her car. When the cops came, their uniforms threw her into a panic. Emily panicked and began punching.
The nightmare got worse. The courts sent her to jail for assault, then to a psychiatric hospital because she was a danger to herself. They put her into a diversion program and she had to pay fines. She lost her CNA certificate and her job because of the pending charges.
Back home, she could not shake the anxiety and paranoia. Where could she find safety? That’s when Emily took her two boys and ran to the forest.
A judge later dropped the diversion program requirement when it came out Morton had been wrongfully accused and that the same officer had also abused a neighbor.
Finally, life began to change. She got work at the Creekside restaurant in the mornings. She looked up all kinds of recipes on YouTube and worked on the grill. One day, she brought in a loaf of rustic bread she made and they sold it at the bar. Everyone loved it. Later, Emily began making bread and selling it door-to-door riding her bike.
Emily’s LovEm’s Bikery was born.
She then got a job at Gerardo’s restaurant in the evening and lived with her kids in a motor home in back of the restaurant. She drove back and forth to work.
Her cooking skills grew into a food catering business and food cart, making lunches for different venues and events. A caring neighbor offered to rent her a house at a reasonable rate.
For the past few years, Emily has had a partner in her ventures, her husband, Skyler Brice. They both worked in the food industry in Payson. She took one of his classes on self-defense for women.
“I didn’t know there were men like him,” she said.
It took time for Emily to heal and finally trust in their relationship.
Skyler brings his support skills to their marriage. He said, “My grandparents died when I was in high school. Before that, my grades were all A’s. I began to slip. I was in mourning. Instead of offering understanding, the teacher said to me, ‘Get over it.’”
Skyler said, “I would never say that to anyone. I joined support groups and that helped.”
Later, he took part in the National Alliance on Mental Illness groups, NAMI. Both Emily and Skyler have been facilitators in the NAMI group. Now, Skyler is the vice president for the NAMI state organization. He is working as a lay minister and is studying pastoral education.
Both Emily and Skyler spend many days a week as volunteers providing cooking and support services for the new Payson Homeless and Homeless Veterans Initiative warming center at the Mount Cross Lutheran Church.
Emily said, “If I can be the voice of the voiceless, if I can help someone, I will tell my story. I was on the streets with my two boys. Now we have a house and I feel so grateful.
“I got this second chance.”