Day 28: Strength of a Survivor: Lupe’s Story
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What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, etc)?
My abuse started at the age of 16 and lasted until I was 29. My abuser started by isolating me from my friends and family and then he controlled every move I made. During this 13-year period I suffered verbal, psychological, physical, sexual and financial abuse. I was physically beaten hundreds of times. He held a hunting knife to my throat once. He had 7 handguns, a rifle, shotgun, sawed-off shotgun, and assault rifle which he used to scare me with; and he even fired his firearms in our home. During my 2 pregnancies he strangled, kicked and punched me. He threatened to kill me and our kids if I left him. For the first 10 years that we were together, no one knew what I was going through. They all thought he was respectful and charming. He was the perfect example of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. The night our divorce was final he broke into my home and had a loaded automatic handgun. My home was surrounded by police and the hostage negotiation team was on standby.
What advice would you give other survivors who have experienced similar situations as you?
Talk to someone! I kept silent for 10 years before I told a close friend that I was being abused. Even then, it took me another 2-3 years to finally leave him because he had total control over me. Seek counseling as soon as possible. Until you heal from the abuse and recognize it’s not your fault, you risk getting into another abusive relationship, which is what I did. My second was a 9-year psychologically, sexually and financially abusive relationship. I excused this one by telling myself, “Well, at least he doesn’t hit me.” I felt that I didn’t deserve better and that somehow it was my fault that I was being treated that way. Learn about the different types of abuse and their warning signs. Set your boundaries for a healthy relationship and know your non-negotiable behaviors. Know that the abuse you suffered was not your fault, and you did not deserve it. Your abuse does not define you and it does not define your future. You are worthy to be loved! You are not alone!
Why do you feel it is important to empower women?
Women, especially young girls, need to know that they are loved and worthy to be loved. They don’t need to seek validation from another person. When women don’t have self-esteem or confidence they will have higher chances of falling into an abusive relationship. Women need to know they can have happy and healthy relationships, a career, a business, and dreams. In order to do this though they need the confidence to go forward and take action towards reaching those dreams.
Why do you support Break the Silence against Domestic Violence?
I first found BTS 19 years after leaving my first abusive relationship, and 9 years after leaving my second. I thought I was healed because I had moved on, was now remarried and no longer being abused. I thought that was all I needed. After attending the 2015 BTS Retreat, I realized I had more healing to do and how my hurt and pain were affecting my current marriage. I still had walls up and other fears that I needed to release. I still had issues with low self-esteem and confidence. I realized how I had repeated the cycle and verbally abused my children. Through BTS, I met women who understood what I was going through. Sharing our stories helped me see I wasn’t alone, and it helped me to speak out. With counseling, my marriage is now stronger and I’m more confident. I’m becoming a life coach to help others, and I’m rebuilding the relationships with my children. Thank you, BTS!!
Join us in embracing and celebrating the strength of 1 survivor every day for 31 days. May their strength inspire you, move you, and motivate you to take a stand against domestic violence.