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Lourdes Cartagena



Lourdes Cartagena has worked extensively in both the clinical and criminal justice fields for twenty two years. She is a published author, victim's’ advocate, consultant on domestic violence issues, clinician, speaker and founder of Lourdes Empowers™. This organization provides life coaching to women experiencing trauma, abuse and addiction. As a survivor of domestic violence and addiction and through the extraordinary, transformed life God has given her, Lourdes’ mission is to bring healing, help, and hope to women by empowering, encouraging, and inspiring them to succeed.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY in a low-income housing project, Lourdes and her younger sister was raised by her mother, a homemaker and her father, a laborer. She had a vivid imagination and loved to read criminal investigation books and articles but her early childhood was dampened by dysfunction in the household. Witnessing domestic violence and experiencing physical abuse and emotional abandonment had a major impact on her life and she became depressed and rebellious. Desperate for an escape, she ran away from home at twelve years old where she found herself lost and in and out of juvenile facilities.

At fifteen years old and in a highly abusive relationship, Lourdes gave birth to her son and motherhood was overwhelming. By the time her son was three years old, her life took a turn for the worst and she left her son with her mother and gave her soul to the streets. The pain she felt was too much to handle and she started a ten year journey of using and selling drugs, prison and abuse.

In 1991 Lourdes was selling drugs on the streets of Bushwick, Brooklyn and found herself and her then husband running for their lives being chased by a major drug dealer. Within seconds she was limping and eventually slumped on the streets shot. The damage didn’t stop her and a week later she was back on the street selling drugs. High and walking aimlessly around looking for her next sale, she heard the sounds of tambourines and drums coming from a nearby church. At that moment she felt in her spirit that she should walk into the church and turn her life around but before she could walk in sirens from a police car started ringing loudly in her ear and within seconds she was being arrested for criminal possession and attempted sale of a controlled substance. She received a 3 year prison sentence.

In 1994 Lourdes was released from prison and she knew it was time to turn her life around and reconnect with her son. She was focused and determined to rebuild her life and pick up the broken pieces. She used her pain as the driving force for change and was determined to help others along the way to recovery. From 1994 to 1998 she worked with the Department of Homeless Services and coordinated services for homeless women from various shelters so they could become independent and employed. Lourdes returned to school, received an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice Degree from ASA College and became certified in Moral Recognation Therapy, Counseling, Life Coaching and joined the National Association Drug Court Professionals, the International Association of Professional Life Coaches. She is also a member of the No More Organization and the Tribune Society. She also started volunteering at various programs to help other ex-offenders integrate back into society.

In 1998 she graduated from the Recovery Assistance Training Program (RAPT).  She began speaking and sharing her story all around the world and was the keynote speaker at the Henry Street Settlement (STEP) program. She received an award by the New York State Department of Correctional Services for contributing with distinction to the betterment of services and programs made available to the incarcerated offender. In 2015, she launched the Latin Investors Association (LIA), which is an organization designed to assist more minorities invest in real estate to achieve wealth.

Lourdes has been working on her soon to be released memoir and has been been featured in three documentaries, “Straight Talk”, “Beyond Prison Parole & Probation” and “Victim to Victory”, which she co-authored the book Victim to Victory: 12 Unbelievable Stories of Abuse, Incest, Rape, Drugs, Death and Redemption.

Lourdes continues to be a warrior and passionate about helping others.


Follow Lourdes on Social Media @LourdesEmpower |




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