What is hard to get back once it’s lost?
Today’s guest, Jennifer Lee, shares how she had the feeling of safety shattered in a robbery. It was a long journey of almost two years before she could begin the process of rebuilding it. We often take that feeling for granted, whether it be in our home or out in public; as she says, it’s hard to explain what it feels like. But that is what her stories all have in common. They all know that feeling and can relate, knowing they are not alone.
Jennifer’s podcast, I Need Blue, shares stories from robbery to domestic violence to understanding self-defense. She explores any topic which causes fear and share resources to overcome the trauma. These stories are also coupled with a supportive law enforcement format.
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And welcome to Causepods. I’m your host, Matthew Passey, here at Causepods. We have one simple mission to highlight the amazing folks who are using podcasts as a way to raise awareness for good causes and make the world a better or place, whether it’s in their own local community or they’re taking on global issues. Please visit us at Causepots. Org, where you can learn about our guests, show their favorite charitable cause. Join our Facebook group with Resources for Causebased podcasters and find a link where you yourself could be a guest here on Causepods again.
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That’s all at Causepods.
00:00:36.530 – Speaker 2
Org. All right. Going to take you down to Melbourne, Florida. We are chatting with Jennifer Lee. She is the host and the creator of the I Need Blue podcast. And this is all about those who are survivors of crimes, a lot of different crimes. What we’re going to hear all about Jennifer’s story and her impetus for starting this podcast and some helpful advice for those out there. Jennifer, thank you for joining us here on Cod Spots today.
00:01:05.910 – Speaker 3
Hi, Matt. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity we are glad to have you.
00:01:11.130 – Speaker 2
So tell me, what was the incident that happened to you that started this path towards creating a podcast called I Need Blue.
00:01:21.270 – Speaker 3
About a decade ago, I became a survivor of a grouped armed robbery. I was store manager of a women’s clothing store. It was 07:00 p.m. At night, and it was still light outside, so the robber was rather brazen. There was nine of us in the store, and all I know is that I was in the fitting room helping some ladies find their Easter dress. And behind me, I hear, give me all your money. I stopped because your mind’s registering like, okay, that’s not like zip me up or does this look good?
00:01:56.970 – Speaker 3
And then I heard it again. Give me all your money. So I turn around and I have a man with a mask on pointing a handgun at me close enough that I could touch it. So at that point, I pivot. I head towards the register. I give him the money from. We had two registers. He lined the customers up and took all of their money. And then at that point, he asked me, Where’s your safe? And we didn’t have a safe. He asked, What’s that? And he was pointing to the back door room.
00:02:33.210 – Speaker 3
So I told them that’s where our back room is. And we have storage, my desk, things like that. So he waved the gun and he wanted everybody to go to the back. At that point, I knew he already had all of our money. So I really wasn’t sure what else he was looking to obtain. It’s like I had an out of body experience where all of a sudden these customers kind of became my kids. And I had a fierce need to protect. So not knowing his true intention, I had them all go in front of me because if he was going to shoot anybody or hurt them, I wanted it to be me.
00:03:12.450 – Speaker 2
Wow, that is so brave of you.
00:03:14.430 – Speaker 3
It was instinct, like at the time, you don’t.
00:03:16.950 – Speaker 2
00:03:17.730 – Speaker 3
I’m a mom. So it was literally like I just kicked in to that mode. We head to the back room again. He asks me, Where’s the safe? I don’t have one. And that question a second time around made me nervous because in my mind I was like, oh, maybe he thinks I’m lying and I’m not trying to irritate him.
00:03:37.830 – Speaker 2
00:03:39.450 – Speaker 3
So we are in the back room. We’re all lined up in front of my desk, and he asked me to pull the phone out of the wall. So I did. A decade ago, we still used the landlines. And then he asked for our cell phones. I watched everybody hand over their cell phone. I had mine in my pocket and it was rather big so you could kind of see the outline of it. Before I made the final decision to hand it over, he asked me one more question, and it was, what is that room?
00:04:12.210 – Speaker 3
We had one more room back there that was strictly used for hangers and fixtures. We had never shut the door. It was just there for supplies, but I knew when he asked me that question, that that’s where we were going to be put next. So I gave him my phone because I didn’t want him to see it in my pocket as we turn to go into the room and then become agitated. So sure enough, we all end up in this room, and he looks at us and he says, don’t say anything and nobody will get hurt.
00:04:44.610 – Speaker 3
Mind you, I have children crying. I have mothers trying to console them. I have people praying, like sensory overload for me in absorbing everything that’s going on. Plus, I’m the one that’s communicating with the robber. He asked me how the door shuts because we had never shut that door. So again, I’m giving him the wrong answer by saying, I don’t know. So one more time, he says, don’t say anything and nobody will get hurt. And then he slams the door. So now we became abducted because we were left there against our will.
00:05:23.490 – Speaker 3
I could hear the doorbell go off, which signaled, hopefully that he had left the building. At that time, a lady started to go into a panic attack back there, and I’m like, oh, my gosh, I know how to put on a bandaid, right? But outside of that, I’m a little bit out of my realm. So I go over to her, and I just remember pinning her up against the wall and looking in her eyes and saying, Baby, I need you to stay with me. I need you to stay with me.
00:05:54.750 – Speaker 3
And slowly, the weight of her body is going down and down there. Was somebody in the room who I knew was stronger than me. So I called them over. I said, Listen, I need your help or she’s going to fall. Next thing, she’s laying on the floor having a different medical emergency, and I hear the doorbell go off. So now I know either the robbers come back or there’s somebody in the store, so I don’t even know what’s going on outside this door. I just know that I’m not liking all these things of the doorbell.
00:06:29.670 – Speaker 3
So fortunately, the one store associate that was with me had her cell phone. And so I told her, I said, I need you to call Nine One One. I had to get behind me just in case the robber had come back in. I didn’t want her to see her on the phone, so I had her hide behind me. She called, and it feels like forever, right? But anyway, I have this lady getting worse on the ground. So I was like, Listen, I got to call them again.
00:06:57.570 – Speaker 3
So I called them. And the Nine One One operator who they do not get much recognition at all, but I couldn’t have done it without them. They kept me calm because a lot of people asked, Jen, how did you not panic? Honestly, when she was on the ground having that medical emergency, I felt panic want to set in, and I swallowed it down. That was probably the hardest moment of the whole thing. But the Nine One One operator really gave me great instruction, kept me calm until finally, the wonderful moment that the police officers opened the door.
00:07:34.710 – Speaker 3
And until you experience that moment of finally being able to relinquish some of that, the strength, like the bravado that you have to have because everybody is relying on how you react. Finally, when they pushed open the door, I felt myself be able to breathe like, okay, it’s not all on my shoulders now, and we’re safe. We have people here to protect us. So I need blue podcast is based upon two things, real life stories of survivors of traumatic situations, such as myself. But it also can be domestic violence, all different types of situations.
00:08:13.410 – Speaker 3
And then we give support and thanks to our law enforcement, because they were the ones who came there to rescue us and make us feel safe.
00:08:23.250 – Speaker 2
That is an incredible story. And I’m glad that you and everybody there safe. I assume the woman who was having medical trauma beyond the panic attack, she is okay at this point now. Yes.
00:08:35.910 – Speaker 3
As far as I know, skipping forward, I had to go to several court hearings in front of juries, but I was able to see all of them two years later because we had to go to federal court. I was not happy about going to federal court because that’s a whole new beast. But I was able to see all of them. And the only thing that I was thankful for with that whole traumatic situation is the fact that I got to tell them. Thank you. Because in those types of situations, you don’t know how you’re going to react at any moment.
00:09:07.590 – Speaker 3
One of them could have tried to be a hero, and the situation could have ended totally different. So I was so thankful for them and trusting me. They knew me, maybe all of five minutes. But they trusted me.
00:09:21.750 – Speaker 2
And for that, I am thankful you mentioned going to court. Was this person caught? Yes.
00:09:27.090 – Speaker 3
So he took my cell phone and he didn’t get rid of it. And I had Where’s my droid, which is a tracking app. So I told the officers I said, listen, I have this app because they never recovered my phone. Plus, come to find out, he took my wallet off my desk when he left. So he had my current address, my credit cards, my cell phone like he had my whole life with him.
00:09:55.110 – Speaker 2
00:09:56.130 – Speaker 3
So I lived with a lot of fear for a while. But back to your original question. Yes, they pinged it. They pinged my phone and they found him 20 miles north in a bar partying. It up.
00:10:08.790 – Speaker 2
I’m glad that everybody was safe. I’m glad that you were able to walk away from this. I’m glad that everybody was able to exit the safely. And I’m glad they caught the guy all good things. So as a result of going through this kind of trauma, what were the next few months and years like you mentioned having to go to court, which is a totally new experience. Obviously, you are passionate about helping folks who are dealing with trauma after an incident like this. So what was your own experience post this incident?
00:10:46.650 – Speaker 3
I lived by myself kind of out in the Woods and mind you. Like I said, he had my current address, all of these things, so I couldn’t stay by myself for a little while. I had to have someone just come and stay just to make me kind of feel safe. I had two cats, so I knew when I came home if they weren’t at the door, that chances are somebody could very well be in the house because my cats didn’t like strangers. I found that I would take a piece of paper and I would put it in the bottom.
00:11:20.130 – Speaker 3
So like, when you shut the door, I would put a piece of paper in there so that if I got home and that piece of paper had fallen to the ground, a little sliver of paper, then I know somebody had opened my door and I had been in there. Or perhaps maybe still was. I learned to take different routes home instead of being the same route over and over. I changed it up, so I became less predictable. That just kind of became normal routine. I never would have thought that I would be doing that, but we never do until we’re put in a situation where we have to learn to react differently.
00:11:59.070 – Speaker 3
Court was a whole new beast, and it was very traumatic. I had to go to motions pretrial. They caught the driver. So I ended up going to a jury trial for him, even though I had never seen him. But I think they needed to see the emotional impact that his being an accessory to crime had done. My first time walking into the courtroom, I saw his friends or family or whoever they were. And the fear started all over again. But in a new way, because now other people knew what I looked like and they could potentially know what I drive.
00:12:45.630 – Speaker 3
They could potentially follow me home. That was very scary for me. And something that I never really would have thought about in regards to victims that go to court. I did talk to the detectives and the police officers about it, and they assured me that type of incident ever occurring would be very rare. But they gave me different suggestions and things. Unfortunately, nothing happened when I thought court was all done. Like I said earlier, two years later, I get called into federal court. I remember where I was standing when I got that phone call that I had to appear.
00:13:26.430 – Speaker 3
I just cried. I just cried because everything that I worked so hard to overcome and to work through my fear. If you yell from me behind me, it startles me. I get angry, and then I have to calm myself down of, like, okay, Jen, this is just your husband calling you. It’s not the robber. It leaves you with these PTSD symptoms that you don’t really realize. You have them until, like, little triggers come along and then you’re like, oh, okay. Well, there’s something new that I need to work on now.
00:14:02.850 – Speaker 2
The crazy thing about all that is, I’m guessing, right. The initial fear this person has your address has your information again took that sense of safety from you just in getting in the store and doing this to you in these folks. And then I imagine there’s a bit of a sense of relief when this person is sentenced and presumably sent to prison for their crimes. And I assume some relief fell over you. And while it probably doesn’t cure all of those side effects, all that anxiety and the potential fear that’s out there, I imagine there was some relief.
00:14:47.310 – Speaker 2
But then to have it all kind of rushed back in by being brought up with his accomplice or the federal court. Is that what happens? Even though there’s some relief, it sort of dissipates because it’s being brought back into your world. Yes.
00:15:04.890 – Speaker 3
So you brought up some really great points. And number one in regards to safety is I didn’t just have my sense of safety shaken. It was shattered, literally shattered in front of me. And that’s a feeling that it’s really hard for me to explain. But it’s why my podcast is so great because other people who have experienced, we understand it. So number one with that. And number two, two years later, it was like the rug was pulled out behind me. It was like being a victim all over again.
00:15:37.650 – Speaker 3
And I told the lady on the phone, I said, I just want you to leave me alone. That’s really all I wanted. Please just leave me alone. But I have to say, because I don’t want to ever discourage people from going to court or anything like that. The alternative is, let’s say they didn’t catch him or I didn’t go to court. He’d still be out there. He could still be hurting other people. He could hurt them worse. It may not turn out with nobody getting shot.
00:16:06.210 – Speaker 3
So I’m thankful. As hard as it was to go to court as many times as I did, I’m thankful that they caught him and I would do it again. Yes, but it is nice that I can tell my story to give people a realistic view of here is what to expect.
00:16:23.670 – Speaker 2
So you go through all of this experience, and then at what point did you decide to take this and turn it into this podcast? Turn it into a media project to help others.
00:16:39.810 – Speaker 3
It actually was not my original idea for a podcast. When I started my podcast, I had never listened to a podcast, which is interesting. I just really missed talking, especially with Kovid. For a year. I missed talking. I missed meeting people. I missed listening and learning different points of view. So a neighbor was the one who kind of threw out an idea of doing a podcast. And I was like, oh, I can do that from home. That should be easy enough. I can talk. So that is what started my podcast journey.
00:17:13.590 – Speaker 3
And how I ended up with my topic is I literally was standing in front of my refrigerator. I pulled one of the doors open, and all of a sudden it hit me. Okay, Jen, your purpose now is you need to tell your story and you need to help people, and you need to couple it with a supportive law enforcement message. And the fire it created inside me, like passion, like this fire just burned. And I knew that it was what I needed to do. I knew it was my purpose.
00:17:47.970 – Speaker 3
And so that moment that I opened my refrigerator is when I decided it was time to start a podcast and use my story to help others.
00:17:57.450 – Speaker 2
So you’ve never listened to a podcast? What was it like doing one for the first time? What was the research that you did to understand what these are, how they work, how to launch one? Like, how did you go from your neighbor telling you you should do a podcast to okay, I guess I’ll do a podcast.
00:18:17.070 – Speaker 3
A lot of research is first thing. I guess I wanted to do is figure out what equipment that I needed as far as, like a headphones and a microphone. And I just looked on different platforms. I do belong to a couple of Facebook groups that have been extremely helpful, but with the Internet now you can find most anything. But I wanted to be diverse in my findings and not just pick the first thing that I found. So I bought some equipment, and then from there I had to think about what my name wanted to be because I like to write already.
00:18:50.850 – Speaker 3
So that kind of is for my benefit. But I have to be inspired. So I knew I needed the right name and then kind of things would flow from there. So I came up with my name and then I established an email address. I used to be in sales, so I wanted to get business cards. But I also was going to need content, right? So I knew my first probably could pull off two episodes talking about my story because I gave you the very shortened version of it.
00:19:20.430 – Speaker 3
So I’m like, okay, now I have to think about how I’m going to record this. So I practiced on my Mac, but then I found that where I live, there is a recording studio where I could go and record with guests, and then some editing would be done. So I started out doing that. But I’m going to be honest with you. So you don’t want to allow someone to control your brand. And what I mean by that is for me being a beginner, I was afraid of the process of editing.
00:19:52.650 – Speaker 3
I was afraid of what if I mess up recording? I was afraid of the process, and I shouldn’t have been. So if I give a piece of advice to anyone, it’s believe in yourself. And editing really is not that hard. I actually really enjoy it. And as a beginner, it’s great, because as a beginner, you don’t always have the money to outsource it.
00:20:18.870 – Speaker 3
Just a lot of research. It was really beneficial. Sometimes they say, make sure you have a lot of content, or you already have, like, three episodes or together. I didn’t do any of that. I literally went in and told my story. And then I used the neighborhood app, and I happened to find another story. And then I started to go to local fundraising events, charity events. And again, I had made little cards that weren’t expensive, so I would hand them out. And I found that more people have a story to share or know someone that has been through a traumatic situation than you can possibly imagine.
00:21:04.710 – Speaker 3
So I had to work to find my content. I still work to find my content, but I don’t let that stress me out because I believe in my message. And as long as I keep digging my ditches as I call it and networking and going on different podcasts, that it tends to come to me because I believe in my message, and I have that passion inside of me.
00:21:31.050 – Speaker 2
I am fascinated by the fact that you use the neighborhood app to do some research and sounds like even to start promoting your content, a lot of folks hesitate to do local based content. Now, I know your show is not necessarily only local and focused. There are folks who have dealt with traumatic issues and crimes and things like that everywhere, and you’ll talk to anybody. But I’m just fascinated by the fact that you Dove into that app. And I wonder if there’s anything you learned about using that platform specifically that you could share with us the neighborhood app.
00:22:08.490 – Speaker 3
Honestly, I was blocked from it because they told me I was promoting a business, even that I was asking for stories. Mind you, that’s all I was doing, but they blocked me. But I think that there’s also because I am pro police. And so there is some guidelines that fall in line with particular messaging as well with the next door app. So I’ve been blocked several times, so I don’t put anything on there, even like some local fundraisers that were really cool I put on there and I got blocked and they weren’t even mine.
00:22:44.970 – Speaker 3
You know what I’m saying? So next door has been a challenge, but there are other ones like Suntry, which is where I live. They are very accepting. So Facebook. So if you want to delete next door, that’s fine. But Facebook groups for your neighborhood have been very beneficial and seemed to be a little bit more welcoming because I wasn’t asking for money and no time did I ask for money. And most of the comments were very positive. But because particular people didn’t like it, it was deleted and I was blocked.
00:23:19.770 – Speaker 2
That is another interesting point. And I’ve got to say we try not to get political here. I’m not taking sides in any way, shape or form, but it is frustrating that there are certainly things that can be changed about law enforcement at state, national, local levels. There are certainly problem spots. There are certainly the incidents that we hear about in the news are undeniable, but at the same time, most of the people who put on a uniform are out there to serve and protect and policing should not be political.
00:24:03.630 – Speaker 2
And the fact that simple support of the police automatically gets you flagged by someone is annoying at the very least. So like I said, I don’t want to get too deep into that, but I hope that that was not the reason that a lot of your content was flagged or whatever in this app, and I’m not going to remove this because I think it’s an interesting lesson, though, about using that platform that depending on your particular neighborhood, there might be people who really object to using it to promote a business or promote content or something like that.
00:24:42.010 – Speaker 2
But still, there is possibly something there that could be beneficial. And to your point, yes, like local Facebook groups could also be beneficial. Although you could run into the same problem. There are groups that don’t want you to promote a business, don’t want you to promote content. There are others who are like, no, you’re part of the community. If we can help you, we’re going to help you. So I think that’s definitely a good lesson for everybody to learn and understand and things like that. So as part of everyone’s appearance here on, we always ask about charity that they like to support an organization that we would like to give attention to.
00:25:15.670 – Speaker 2
What you said before we jumped on the call was, honestly, if there’s any group out there that is trying to help survivors of traumatic incidents, crimes, things like that, you are clearly in support. But specifically today, you want to draw attention to policeBLUE Nation. They’re at policebluenation. Org and just real quickly tell us what it is that they do and why you are lending your support to them today.
00:25:40.630 – Speaker 3
Oh, absolutely. So it was great because I was able to talk to Leo, who is the founder. We had a great conversation. He was a Marine. My boys are Marines. So I already told him I said, You’re dear to my heart already. He was like, I get that. But they are a little different in that they have what’s called the Blue Heart for law enforcement. So it’s like the Purple Heart that they have for the military. And I really liked that. I liked the recognition that is given to the law enforcement.
00:26:13.090 – Speaker 3
It’s awarded in the name of the Department for those who are seriously wounded or killed during the performance of their duties. I think it’s important we recognize our law enforcement officers, obviously while they’re alive, but we also need to carry on their memory. And I think that this five piece metal is great, and part of it also goes to the widow as well.
00:26:38.470 – Speaker 2
And, of course, like we were saying earlier, most of the folks who put on the uniform are out there to protect and serve our communities, and they’re doing their best. And they are in it for the right reasons. And what we have to remember is most of them have families, parents, siblings, significant others, children. And they are also making a huge sacrifice by these folks putting on a uniform and serving and protecting. So the organization is policebluenation. Org. You’ll find a link to it here in the show notes on at.
00:27:11.530 – Speaker 2
Crossbar. Org. Jim, before we let you go, any other advice? Anything else you would want to tell somebody who is passionate about their calls and thinking about possibly using podcasting as a medium to serve their cause. Anything that you’ve learned, go for it.
00:27:29.830 – Speaker 3
Number one. And that’s what’s great about podcasts is you can talk about anything and everything, and it is your story. It is your story. It is your brand. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon. So learn along the way. Don’t be afraid. Like I said, I was afraid of the process, and now I look back and I was like, oh, my gosh, this is so easy. What were you afraid of? Challenge yourself? Because when you challenge yourself, that’s when you learn and when you grow, have fun.
00:28:03.670 – Speaker 3
Absolutely. Have fun.
00:28:06.010 – Speaker 2
Couldn’t have said it better myself. Jennifer Lee, host and creator of I Need Blue, the podcast. If I didn’t mention it, I needblue dot. Net is where you find her show, ways that you can support and sponsor her efforts, ways that you can appear on the show or if you are someone who is in need of support because you’ve also went through a traumatic incident, highly encourage you to check it out. Jen, thank you so much for joining us here today on Cosmos.
00:28:33.130 – Speaker 3
Oh, thank you so much.
00:28:34.150 – Speaker 1
Matt, thanks for listening to this episode of Cause Pods. If you’ve been inspired by the work of our guests, please check out the show notes of this episode in your podcasting app or at causepods.
00:28:45.250 – Speaker 2
00:28:45.970 – Speaker 1
There you will find links to their show, their website, their podcast, links on Apple, Google Spotify, as well as a link to support the charity that they highlighted here in this episode. You will also find that causepods. Org a way to subscribe to this show on your favorite podcasting app, how to sign up to be a guest on the show and a link to our Facebook group, which is going to have special resources just for the folks who are podcasting for a good cause. And I can tell you right now we’ve got one great deal from our friends at Pod page, but you’re only going to learn about it and get that special deal if you are a member of the Facebook group for Cause Pods and before I go, I should say thank you.
00:29:22.930 – Speaker 1
In particular. The show is edited and produced by Ben Killoe of the Military Veteran Dad’s podcast. What a great job he has done and all this is made possible because of the great support that I received from Shannon Rohas here at thepodcastonsultant.
00:29:37.030 – Speaker 3
00:29:37.750 – Speaker 1
Once again, if you want to learn more, go to cospods.
00:29:39.850 – Speaker 2
00:29:40.690 – Speaker 1
Thank you so much and we will see you next time on Cause pods.