1 in 4 women have experienced domestic violence at the hands of their intimate partner (NCADV), which means if you haven’t personally experienced abuse, chances are you know someone close to you who has. Even if she attempted to hide her bruises with makeup or isolated herself due to a partners controlling ways, watching your friend’s glow be diminished is undeniable.
Despite experiencing brutal treatment at the hands of their abuser, many domestic violence survivors place an emphasis on the deep-cutting roots of emotional abuse.
October marks annual efforts to raise awareness around domestic violence. We spoke to two women about their experiences with domestic violence and how they reclaimed their light and lives.
Cortina Peters, 37, Riviera Beach, FL
Like many domestic violence survivors, Cortina Peters didn’t understand what she had done to deserve the abuse her partner inflicted upon her, but stayed in the relationship because of her insecurities. “I struggled with feeling like I was not good enough,” she revealed in a candid exchange.
Prior to getting involved with her abuser, Cortina described herself as “a fun loving, career driven, and ambitious woman who had just overcome Cancer.”
She had lost her hair after undergoing chemotherapy making her extra vulnerable to her abuser’s attacks emotionally and physically. “Due to my battle with Cancer, radiation killed my hair follicles so I was very insecure about the back of my head at the time,” she revealed. She didn’t feel good enough and questioned what she had done to deserve such treatment.
Eventually, Cortina distanced herself from friends and family. “I became withdrawn from friends,” she explained. “I stopped doing a lot of things that made me happy. I became more of an introvert than I had been before. I limited my interactions with people. I threw myself into work and school so that I was around him as least as possible.”
Despite her attempts to minimize interactions with her abuser, she suffered emotional, verbal and physical abuse. “I was threatened/intimidated, I was raped (marital rape), I was choked, I had a gun pulled on me, and I was hit.” She developed PTSD as a result. “‘Til this day, I still have a very sensitive startle response as a result of that relationship,” she added.
Cortina attempted to conceal her scars with makeup or long sleeve clothing. “I wore long sleeves or lied about where the bruise came from when there were visible bruises. However, he would do things that rarely left marks.”
In time, she found the strength to leave the relationship. “The fact that I had a little girl who I needed to protect, was my motivation to leave. Also the fact that I knew I deserved better.”
Cortina suffered in silence and despite the shame. “I kept thinking that it would get better but it never did. I decided to leave after he choked me in front of our daughter. That was not something I wanted my daughter thinking was OK.”
Since ending the relationship, Cortina regained her confidence “I did the emotional work and healing required for me to heal and I have never felt better. I love me more than anything and I will never allow myself to be treated like that or disrespected in that way ever again.”
Brittinae Samuel, 34 Bronx, NY
Source: Brittinae Wright / Brittinae Wright”
“Emotional abuse really messes with your mental,” says Brittinae Samuel. At 34-years-old, the Bronx, NY native has experienced multiple violent relationships. Her story isn’t unique. In fact, 45.1% of Black women have experienced intimate partner physical violence (NCADV).
Before meeting her abuser, Brittinae Wright admits she was “lost in many ways.” she watched her mother suffered abuse at the hands of her partner. “My mom was eventually strong enough to leave and swore that I would never put myself in that situation.”
Brittinae lacked self-confidence and often put the needs of others before her own.
“I struggled with major physical insecurities for years prior to the relationship,” she admitted. “I attracted those toxic traits. But that last abusive relationship I was in was the worst! My insecurities got worse in that relationship. I thought everything was wrong with me.”
Brittinae’s abuser often used her insecurities as an abuse tactic, inflicting profound pain. “He would always let me know by comparing me to the women he would cheat with.”
Though Brittinae experienced emotional, physical, verbal and sexual abuse she says “the emotional abuse hurt the most. In time some scars fade, but the emotional abuse really messes with your mental.”
Still, the physical abuse took a toll on her body and she would use makeup to cover the wounds the world could see. “On many occasions I had to wear makeup to hide the bruises from family members and friends. There were times however where face was swollen and well you can’t hide that with makeup only a lie. A ridiculous lie like how you fell and just so happen to break your jaw. At one point it was just easier not to go outside.”
Brittinae finally found the courage to leave her abuser after the birth of her daughter. “She gave me a reason to live,” she said.”
One fateful evening, an officer who had frequently visited her home recommended her resources that would change her life.
“He pretty much said that he was afraid that the next time he comes here there would be yellow tape and that scared me. I’ve heard this many times but hearing it this time after having my daughter scared me to the core!”
Brittinae is working on fully regaining her confidence and in a much better place as she launched her own beauty business.
“While I am still a work in progress, I am happy to say that I have found the confidence in me! I started a business Soule 2 Soule, which was based on my passion for skincare and how it helped me on my journey to self-love. Starting a business and seeing it evolve just gave me confidence I needed. Not to mention seeing how proud my daughters are of me, pushes and motivates me daily to be better.”