Day 29: Strength of a Survivor: Sonia’s Story

Sonia-Crespo-opt

I am free of abuse and can spread my wings wide. I am like a bird soaring above the clouds, I am a survivor.

What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, etc)?
I was in a verbally, psychologically & physically abusive relationship for about 8 years. I was loyal in love. I used my own strength against me to stay in an abusive relationship to “help” the man I loved. I was going to undo the wrongs done against him and love him whole again. I could heal him. I made every excuse for his behavior and lied to myself and those closest to me for him. I blamed his hard life for the way he was. I was going to carry his burdens because I was strong enough to do it. I loved him more than myself and lost myself in him. It wasn’t always bad; in fact, some of the best times of my life were spent with him. No one was ever kinder or crueler to me. What I know now is this is manipulation at its finest – An abuser gives to takes and takes to give. Some suspected abuse, but I defended him tirelessly. I left a few times, but went back. After deciding to leave, I was stalked for about a year after which point I got a restraining order. Today, I’m happier than ever
What advice would you give other survivors who have experienced similar situations as you?
-Learn to love yourself; it makes you the best version of you. Learn to forgive, both the abuser and yourself, it sets you free.
-Acknowledge you were a victim and are now a survivor.
My advice for victims is 1) Love is not enough, 2) My goodness YOU matter – know it and 3) There is a future and new beginnings after DV and I assure you it is bigger and more beautiful than you can ever imagine. I died in every way, but literally. I have been made anew and am proof that any person who shares a similar story to mine can do the same. Use the strength you used to stay in the abusive relationship, to leave. Use the love and sacrifice you endlessly gave, back to yourself. I encourage every victim and survivor to seek out therapy and DV resources. I wish had done so sooner. It’s ok to need help. Never stop investing in your betterment and in your mental, spiritual and physical health. Imagine the life you want and then work your hardest to create that for yourself – you deserve it!
Why do you feel it is important to empower women?
Women are the givers of life and so often are the rock of the family, the soul of the home and the most fundamental teacher and role model in a child’s life – as such, simply put, empowering women is ensuring a better world. If from an early age we can teach children by example to respect and value women, we have a better chance at creating adults that uphold these virtues and morals as well. Empowering women is, in part, solidifying the integrity of a home, society, nation and world. Empowering survivors of DV gives them back their voice and restores their humanity.
Why do you support Break the Silence against Domestic Violence?

I support equality, humanity and gifting compassion – BTS is that.

I support speaking out against injustice of any kind and standing beside your fellow sister and brother– BTS does that.
I support BTS because they are passionate about creating positive social change and offering education and resources to DV victims and survivors. I have seen firsthand the good this has done.
Everyone was born with the basic right to be free and safe and the right to seek their own happiness. BTS supports these basic human rights. BTS is more than an organization, it is a family. I wholeheartedly believe in the good they have done and continue to do.

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