July 23, 2017

In life, there are no coincidences and I strongly believe that Barbara and I were meant to cross paths. The 2016 I am Bold. I Rise marketing for the campaign had already begun. One of our mutual friends, also a participant, posted on her Instagram about the campaign and Barbara immediately reached out to her and said she wanted to be a part of it; she knew it was time for her story to be told. We had a phone conversation and I too felt it in my heart that her story needed to be heard. We both shared a secret for too long and have finally realized that our past and circumstances were not a weakness. Barbara is a survivor of sexual and domestic violence and I a survivor of domestic violence, instead of being ashamed we share our story in hopes that it will help others.

Being a survivor of domestic violence is not shameful, it is a sign of strength that shows how resilient women are. If every woman understood how valuable and uniquely beautiful they are, they would not tolerate for one second any form of abuse. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes for something drastic to happen for us to see that. I know that for many years I stayed in a marriage where I was unhappy, endured physical abuse because I did not value myself. My ex-husband and I had a financially comfortable lifestyle. Part of me stayed for financial reasons and another part of me questioned who would want me with four kids. There was also some guilt due to my indiscretions that made me feel like I deserved what happened. Being single for the past three years have been the happiest times of my life and has allowed me to find my voice.

There have been many who have frowned upon me being so open about my experience. I share my story and other women's story because we need to stop being ashamed of our experiences. My mission is to inspire women to own their truth boldly! Not talking about the abuse is what helps perpetuate the cycle of abuse. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. 14%-25% of women are sexually assaulted by intimate partners during their relationship. Luckily Barbara knew she had to break her silence but it came at a high cost. The day before Christmas she suffered a miscarriage due to physical abuse from her ex-husband. As she lay in the hospital bed her 2-year-old son was at her father's house being questioned by police officers about the whereabouts of her ex-husband. It was then she knew enough was enough.

Barbara now knows her self-worth, she is so inspirational and I admire her strength and hustle. She is a single mother of two amazing children, a thriving publicist, and still, finds the time to give back to her community. Many women have reached out to her and she knows she needs to be that support to women who do not have support. Barbara understands that she has an obligation to speak up and share her story so she could encourage others who have been victims and show them that not only can they survive but also thrive. Having a support system helped Barbara heal, but there is a long road ahead of her and she is determined to keep fighting. Scars will always show us where we’ve been they do not dictate where we are going. Through it all, Barbara has gained wisdom and found happiness. Barbara is bold and has chosen to rise. We all can rise above any circumstance, if you or anyone you know needs support do not hesitate to reach out, I am here for you too.

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