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M'ville mom named Mrs. Washington, promotes awareness of domestic violence
MARYSVILLE — Marysville's DeAnna Emborski was crowned Mrs. Washington this year, at the age of 37, and will be competing for the title of Mrs. International 2009 in Chicago this July, but she's less concerned with the titles that she can win than with the message that she can send.
Emborski works in sales and media, volunteers for charities, and is a military spouse, a mother to three children and a stepmother to three more. She is also a survivor of more than six years of domestic abuse from her previous marriage, and it's this experience that fuels her passion for pageants.
"I'll wear my ribbon upside down, as a 'V' for violence awareness," Emborski said. "People will ask me, 'Do you know your ribbon is upside down?' and I'll explain why it is. It opens the door for conversations about a topic that can be unpleasant to talk about."
Emborski had modeled and competed in pageants during her teen years, but she believes that what she was missing back then was "something to talk about," a positive social agenda that she could use her title to promote, since "a tiara and a sash are nice to have, but they don't help with the housework." She feels that such pageants are a means towards education and other goals, and an opportunity to showcase women's accomplishments, rather than simply accomplishments in and of themselves.
Among Emborski's more notable accomplishments, she not only survived years of domestic violence, but also escaped from her abuser in 2004, and in 2005, she met the man who would become her current husband. When we met for our interview, Emborski was upbeat, articulate and unflinching in her willingness to discuss the violence she'd survived. She showed me glossy photographs of her pageants and other public appearances. She then showed me photos of the physical marks from her abuse.
Emborski had come from a loving home, with happily married parents, and was brought up to forgive others for their trespasses, a philosophy her abuser would use against her. She was successful in her career and as a mother, but she blamed herself for the abuse she endured, and wondered why the problem-solving skills which had served her so well on the job didn't seem to work at home. She prayed for an end to her suffering, and stayed in her abusive relationship out of a sense of responsibility to her family.
When she stopped covering her bruises and denying her abuse, Emborski promised herself that she would make others aware that domestic violence exists in all communities and all walks of life. To that end, she started competing in pageants again a few years ago, and surprised herself as much as anyone by winning the title of Mrs. Florida in the 2007 American Queen Pageant. With the support of her family, she was then encouraged by Mary Richardson, a former Mrs. Virginia who went on to become a director for the Mrs. International contest, to try out for the title of Mrs. Washington.
While the Mrs. International Pageant is months away, the Chocolate Lover's Gala, on behalf of Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County, takes place March 27 at the Everett Events Center, and Emborski will be delivering the survivors' keynote address. For more information on this event, call Julie Martin at 425-259-2827, ext. 13.