I was invited to speak on a panel for a Women’s Health event at a local hospital that I worked at while I was in college. Little did I know this invitation would become a full circle moment on my journey—a journey marked by surviving an abusive relationship in my twenties and finally realizing my self-worth.
When I was in college, I found myself in a toxic relationship that shattered my self-esteem and emotional well-being. The journey through abuse was challenging, and at times it felt like there was no way to escape. I would make it to my classes and work weekends at the local hospital as if nothing was going on in my life. In 2003, I graduated with honors and became a licensed pharmacist. No one knew what I was going through.
Five years later, I found the courage to break free from the chains of that abusive relationship. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was a necessary one for my own survival. After I left, the emotional abuse continued from a distance, but it was during this period of self-discovery that I started to understand my true worth and value. And I finally chose myself.
Healing is a process, not a destination. I embarked on a journey that included seeking therapy and support from loved ones. With my faith and self-care, I started to mend the broken pieces of my spirit. I discovered my inner strength and resilience—qualities that had always been within me but were overshadowed by the trauma.
Yes, I knew that I was smart and independent, but I didn’t know that I was enough. Someone had made me believe that I wasn’t. I already had everything that I needed within myself; I just needed to realize it. I needed another woman to make sure that I knew it.
As I sat on that Women’s Health panel, I couldn’t help but realize that I had become the woman I needed in my 20s. Not only was I a current resident in this community, but I was also born and raised here. And the discussion focused on health information and self-care while also providing the women of New Orleans with the much-needed validation that they are seen, that they do matter.
After surviving—and now thriving—on my own journey, I felt a deep calling to advocate for others who might be experiencing similar struggles. I do not believe in mere coincidences. The invitation to speak on the Women’s Health panel was confirmation that my story, though painful, had the power to inspire and uplift others. I wanted other women to see that domestic violence can happen to anyone. I needed women to see what a domestic violence survivor looks like.
Life has a beautiful way of bringing us back to a familiar place so that we can see how much we have grown. When I was in college, I didn’t think that it could happen to me, and I didn’t know any other women who had been in similar situations. I was embarrassed and ashamed. Becoming the woman I needed in my 20s is not just about overcoming adversity; it’s about embracing my own strength, reclaiming my self-worth, and using my experience to empower others.
Life had indeed come full circle, and in that moment I realized that the shadows of the past had allowed me to become a shining light for those still finding their way out of the darkness.
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