Please Note: This post references and briefly describes domestic violence
I am a survivor of domestic violence, and God wanted me to share a part of my story that I had never told anyone. So, I engaged in a spiritual haggling session with God because sharing this vulnerable part of me was scary. But I know that God knows more, so there was a reason—there is a reason—I needed to tell this part…
I was on a self-love retreat in beautiful Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The group had just finished lunch and were headed to class out on the villa patio. We engaged in an exercise where each person gave a 5-minute testimony of something significant in their lives that caused them to stop loving themselves. Then, it was time to head down to the beach for a sunset walk. I was relieved thinking I’d escaped having to share my story, when our leader announced, “We’ll continue class on the beach.”
As we walked along the beach, the weather was perfectly warm with a slight breeze. The sky was lending itself to God’s coloring, turning shades of orange and purple. I felt the sand dancing between my toes and watched the blue water rush to the shores to welcome me. When it was my turn to share, I could feel tears rushing towards my lashes. I began my testimony:
“I used to always make it a point to cover my body. I would choose clothes that covered my arms and legs and anywhere else I had a scar because I didn’t want to deal with the stares and questions. I haven’t worn a bathing suit in public in 20 years. I didn’t want to deal with the pointing fingers and judgement of my stab wounds. So, I strategically picked clothes that would cover my scars.”
As mouths dropped and eyes raised, our leader said “Wait a minute. You said, ‘stab wounds.’ Let’s not rush past that. Can you explain?” I felt my body shaking as I gave a brief account of being stabbed 22 times by my ex-fiancé. This was not something I saw on TV—this was my story! In that moment, I was reminded of the horror and the pain. I gasped for air as crying took over.
When I looked up and saw others crying, I realized the group had formed a circle with me at the center, as I shared the shame I used to have about my body because of the scars. This was a full-circle moment of healing for me, and now my testimony included how God had been healing me over the past ten years. In the last five years especially, He has started teaching me how to love myself. So, it was no accident that I was on a self-love retreat, in a complete circle of beautiful strangers, sharing my testimony about an experience that caused me to stop loving myself.
The woman next to me, who was not comfortable with being touched, reached over and put her arms around me. My body collapsed on hers in relief; I felt relief and rescue from my former insecurities thanks to sharing my story. God also granted me the courage to share the following habits I’ve developed on my self-love journey:
- I keep a wine glass on the counter in my private bathroom. It is filled with colorful cards. Every week I take one of the cards and write down something I love about myself.
- After I bathe, I intentionally wait before getting dressed, so I can stare at my naked body in the mirror. I do this because I need to love the woman I see in the mirror. So, I stand naked in a full-length mirror and say, “Yaaasss!!! Give it to ‘em, Queen! I love you girl!”
- I recite The WHOLE Woman Affirmation every day to affirm my value.
- I had a photoshoot. Two weeks before my trip to Saint Thomas, I put on a sexy bra/panty set, thigh-high boots, a leather jacket, and put my tripod to work. This photoshoot wasn’t to send pics to some man for his validation or lustful comments or donation on a bill. This photoshoot was just for me to live boldly and love the woman in the mirror fiercely!
The next day, someone told me they called their mother who struggles with self-love and told her about me and my story. Then, another person who had avoided wearing a bikini because of stretch marks from pregnancy came to me and said, “I’m rocking my bikini today. You did that for me.” Like I said, God knows more, and God knew that sharing my testimony on that day, on that beach, with that group of people would set off a domino effect of healing.
Today, as I’ve shared my story again, I pray someone really starts to love themselves because you are truly beautiful. By the way, I’m still rocking bathing suits! I’m loving myself!
What is one thing you can do today to start loving yourself—or to love yourself better?
You are not alone. If you or someone you know is seeking help from an abusive relationship, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Good morning I needed that!! I’ve struggled with self love as long as I can remember. I’ve been working on loving myself & your story encourages me to focus on self love even more.
Yaaasss Anitra! You deserve the most amazing love, starting with yourself. As you find the different things that enhance your self-love/self-care journey, try saying this declaration everday:
I AM an amazing!
And I deserve the most amazing love!
God will make it alright
margaret cade says
BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL. That is what i would like to get into, encouraging woman. Finding their selves and living this life till the wheels fall off. Letting nothing stand in your way.
That story was so beautiful. And know that no weapon formed against you shall prosper. i am so proud of you for your courage to share. Your story is allowing someone else to live. Live your best life sistah!!!!
Amen Margaret! You’ve started encouraging women with this message as I have been uplifted by your words. I’m carrying into my day
“Let nothing stand in your way” AND “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”
Loret Stagg says
Such a powerful and beautiful testimony to the oiwer of seeing ourselves as God sees us: precious and beautiful. Even more cogent is how this testimony blesses and heals others. Love is an essential and precious gift that transforms lives. My spirit is lifted. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing your truth with us.
I am so glad that you choose to share your journey to self love! You are an inspiration♡
Jasmine Nwade says
We can love others better once we love ourselves first! Thanks for sharing!!
Thank you for sharing your beautiful testimony! Keep living and loving you.
Darise Sanker says
It is scary to put your most difficult moments of your life for others to see. No longer possible to protect. Trusting Creator to get you through it all again. You survived and saving others going there again. Thank you for your vulnerability.
Your testimony only adds to your beauty and your scars amplify your voice for even more to hear and be healed. Thank you for sharing Duania! May you have many more fabulous occasions to rock your swimsuits!
Yaaasss Teniqua! Keep the swimsuits coming!
Lorettia Smith says
“D” you have always been an inspiration to me. Going through that time in your life was devastating to say the least. Yahweh had you then as He does now. Your full circle experience is just one of many blessings He has in store for you. The blessings of Yahweh will be prayed over you continuously, as you reach out to others and share your testimony for their healing and their full circle experience.
We are proud of you and love you “Forever and 2 Days”.
Thanks for sharing your story! You’re a true Overcomer!
Angella Cole says
I am at a loss for words. What a POWERFUL story you have . You are truly a unique and remarkable woman. Much love and respect.
Thank you Angella! May you feel God’s embrace in a special way over the next 30 days.
Rachel Howzell Hall says
This is such a powerful testimony, Duania! You are an inspiration to me and so many women. Thank you so much for sharing!
Rachelle Love says
Whew! When I tell you God knows your name. He knows and cares about every detail about us!
Thank you for sharing your testimony overcoming shame and guilt. I say guilt, because sometimes we think it was our fault, the enemy wants to keep us trapped in our minds, he uses fear, torment and shame!
But, Jesus has redeemed us from shame, guilt and fear! We are more than conquerors in every area of life! Be blessed and continue to spread His good news🙏🏾💋
Kim Swift says
Thankful that you lived to tell your story. Inspired by the bravery that it took for you to, amongst many strangers, be vulnerable. Blessed to be able to share that moment with you…..and you rocked that bikini!
Kim Swift says
Rocked that Swimsuit!
Miriam Matthews says
This story is such a blessing and a testament to God’s amazing love for us. No matter what we’ve been through, his love can restore and give us the courage to heal. Thanks for your obedience in sharing your story and testimony!
KATHLEEN WILLIAMS says
Thanks for sharing your story. I know God help us to heal from the worst things that we go through. I just finished watching the hallmark movie ” unthinkably good things”. I honestly fell asleep through some of it, but I caught the ending. I got a bit sad at the beginning because I realized only God is my one true friend right now. And reading your Story reminds me that God has been with me through it all. I am reminded that we all have a purpose in life and that you are strong, God pour his strength into you, and I actually feel like reaching out to you just to say thanks. I miss walking on the beaches in the Caribbean. I was born in Jamaica so when you describe how your feet felt in the sand and the waves rushing up as if to welcome you, I sure understand it all.