When Illawarra business leader Wendy Gee told the story of her early life at the Inspire Illawarra Women's Business Conference last year, everyone was deeply moved.
It took great courage for the Grant Broadcasting NSW executive regional manager to relive difficult childhood memories at the event, hosted by Illawarra ITeC and The Illawarra Grammar School (TIGS).
It was so taxing she almost collapsed when she came off stage but there was such an overwhelming response she agreed to come back on May 24 to tell part two of her story.
The fourth Inspire Illawarra Women's Business Conference will also feature the former editor-in-chief of the Australian Women's Weekly, Deborah Thomas.
Each year four speakers are asked to help inspire women in the region but none has done that more effectively than Mrs Gee when she spoke about the challenges she faced growing up without her natural parents in London's East End.
She also spoke of a relationship that involved domestic violence, becoming a single parent and changing careers.
"The domestic violence resulted in me then being on my own."
But that experience has allowed Mrs Gee to understand what other women are going through when she volunteers to speak to them while they are seeking respite in shelters and refuges around the Illawarra.
"They think they can't survive on their own and often that is why they go back," she said.
Mrs Gee agreed to tell more of her story to give other people hope there was a way forward.
In part two she will also talk about her son Geoffrey Archard, who is the human resources director at Harrods in London.
She said the hundreds of people thanking her for being so brave last year and the support of her husband Doug Gee gave her the courage to tell more.
"I only got to age 24 last time.
"When I got down off the stage I actually felt I was going to pass out. I think this year will be really hard. There is another nasty bit in there that will be really hard to talk about. But everyone will see there is a happy ending.
"I am still a little overwhelmed about the reaction last year. Even up until very recently I still get stopped on the street and asked about it."
TIGS development and community engagement manager Margaret Biggs said she had asked Mrs Gee to come back because "she absolutely touched people's hearts by being so honest and so brave".