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This story was written by Daniela from the USA.

Fear? Only the silence. Since I can remember, my house had always been a violent place. I grew up listening to the insults and shouts of my father. I saw my mother being beaten and crying almost all the time. My childhood is full of memories of a dysfunctional family.

There was nothing else in this world I hated most than seeing my mother sad. I always did everything to please her, for mom had the lowest self-esteem and believed she did not deserve a life without violence.

During all these years, despite my young age, I decided to show her my strength. I wanted her to understand that women are more than the typical stereotype of getting married, having children and, "meeting a man." I focused completely on my studies, but never neglected my soul nor my heart.

Despite the bad moral example that my father gave me, I decided not to be like him. And that decision was the most important because rather than repeating a pattern, I learned precisely what I did not want to be and what I did not want in my life. I was an extremely shy loner who suffered from bullying. I was insulted and beaten in the school bathroom just because I was not out at parties and had the best grades in high school. My sin was not to do what most kids at my age do. My life at home and at school was a real hell.

One day when I returned from school I found out my father had hit my mom so hard on the head that she was in the hospital. My despair drove me to get away from home and accused my father of domestic violence, but that only worsened things more. The government authorities in Mexico are very inefficient so it is a country with high rates of femicides and domestic violence. They did not want to believe me because of the simple fact of being a woman and being lying. They argued I should be home taking care of my father and accept his behaviour. They said he acted that way because my mom and I probably deserved it. I never received support from the authorities.

I was very depressed and did not know what to do. My depression was so severe that I almost committed suicide; I tried to suffocate myself. When I almost achieved it, I stopped. I remembered my mother and how she would suffer if something happened to me. I felt the most cowardly and selfish girl. I had two options: give my idiot father and all those who bothered me at school power over my life, or be smart and loving enough to value my own life. I chose the second.

I showed my mom what she always wanted to see in me: a woman who can move forward regardless of the situation. I focused on healing myself before attempting to heal my mother. I learned about emotional intelligence and breathing techniques. I started reading a lot. I got involved in deeper issues such as education, economy, politics, etc. I learnt how to set short, mid and long term goals. I also realised that there were things I had to focus on and other things that I had to stop doing since they were obstacles to my goals. I changed school and I made new friends. I kept trying hard in school. I changed the way I saw things so my inner being became more important than banal things from the outside.

I also realised that there were things I had to focus on and other things that I had to stop doing since they were obstacles to my goals.

I began to worry about the world in which animals lived, global warming, war, discrimination, lack of education, inequality, etc. I understood that if I change, the world changes. Although it was difficult because in my home and my school was still the same hell, I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.

With this internal change, it was easier to control my emotions and to help my mom when she was in a crisis. I started to talk a lot with her about various subjects. We exercised together and I told her every day how beautiful and valuable she was. I was super affectionate to her so she felt like the most beloved woman in the universe.

She began to be different, she became stronger and I had never seen her like that. She got the courage to separate from my dad even though the law never paid us any attention for a legal separation. It is impressive the corruption that exists in my country when talking about human rights. These situations forged my decision to get more involved in the laws of my country and its politics, as I could not stand that there are more children with the same or worse problem than mine and they are ignored and discriminated like me. So I decided to study law.

Although things were much quieter without my father, my mother still had the sequels of years of violence. So I continued working with her, becoming well informed about how we can fight for our rights under the law. There is no doubt that knowledge is power. My parents’ divorce was a very difficult process but together we are facing the demons of our past and overcoming our problems.

I was still having trouble inside. I felt a lot of anger for all the injustices we had suffered. So I decided to redirect that anger into something positive. Again, it was time to be reborn like a phoenix. I started playing the violin and painting, all my troubles went away thanks to music and my brush. I remained being an excellent student I finished school with honors and entered the best university in the state to study what I love. I got involved in debates and conferences to discuss the reality of domestic violence.

I felt a lot of anger for all the injustices we had suffered. So I decided to redirect that anger into something positive.

Now I love getting involved in volunteering and other causes that enrich me as a person. I therefore invite all women who have suffered some kind of violence, injustice, discrimination to not give up and fight for what you love! Believe in yourselves as capable of accomplishing anything you want. Regardless of your condition, problem, age, nationality, cultivate yourself, study, read, discover your talents, practice a sport, speak up, have goals, looking for campaigns that seek to promote women’s empowerment, and never feel alone. You are strong. Women like us do not need feet because we have wings to fly.

This story was part of Safety First for Girls (SAFIGIs) #SharingNotShaming campaign.

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