When you are in an abusive relationship and you see the signs that things are going downhill and you don’t do anything about it, it begins to fester. Moment by moment you accept it and plant the seed that can grow into one of two things: a beautiful relationship or a monster. You are marking a choice in every moment, with every word.
A violent relationship has to be fed to survive, just as a loving one needs to be fed in order to bloom.
It blew me away when Jose told me he loved himself enough and was willing to let me go because he knew his worth. Yes, I was trying to move on from everything and was so focused on becoming this star, but deep down inside I really had forgotten how wonderful and amazing I was. And I say that in the most modest way, because I know it can sound a bit vain, but I needed to love me again.
Even as I write, I wonder what would have happened if I had told my boyfriend after the first time he slapped me ,“I love you but I love me more and it’s over.” I know we are not supposed to dwell in the past but once in a while I really think about how my life would have been completely different if I would have left after the first time. I know for sure I would not be writing my story and sharing it with the world. I always tell Jose his love saved me from myself. His tolerance and patience showed me I was more than my rage and anger. I was worth so much more.
If Jose hadn’t taken the time to put me in my place, I’m sure our relationship would not have lasted. At that point there was a shift inside of me. I suddenly knew Jose did not deserve to be treated that way, just like I didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t my fault.
Hurt people; hurt people.
When you are operating from a place of hurt you realize you hurt others in order to try and make them understand what you are feeling. You don’t necessarily want to hurt them but you also want to prove you have the power. Knowing your worth means you don’t have to prove it.
Ending Teen Dating Violence
According to the Department of Justice, girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost 3x the national average.
Help us raise awareness on this issue by taking action at LiveYourDream.org, a volunteer community helping women live their dreams. Your first step? Take the Pledge to End Teen Dating Violence.
This blog excerpts April Hernandez-Castillo’s Your Voice, Your Choice: A Story of Resiliency & Redemption. Buy the book to read April’s entire survivor story!
April Hernandez-Castillo is an actress known for her roles in Law & Order: SVU, Person of Interest, Elementary, Showtime’s award-winning Dexter, and MTV’s hit film Freedom Writers. But April is more than a celebrity. She’s a survivor of Teen Dating Violence who now travels the nation encouraging young women break free from abuse, claim their voice, and live their dreams!
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