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Being in love can be one of the best feelings ever. #Relationshipgoals has become the epitome of every modern-day relationship, but sometimes what lies beneath the relationship can be more troublesome than people care to take a selfie about. Women have more recently gotten the courage to speak up and out about domestic violence in their relationships. From the #MeToo movement to Surviving R.Kelly, women everywhere are no longer hiding in shadows. The uncovering has begun and had the will to survive after tragedy has become the story across the world. While this topic may be uncomfortable for some, the conversation is NECESSARY.

Unfortunately many women who are in domestic violence situations are living in fear, afraid to open up and be set free, however, one survivor

Nadejeh Minerva is using her voice to be a voice for many. Facing your demons and even your fears can lead to a downward spiral but for Minerva, she has been able to find her strength in overcoming the dismay of domestic violence. Establishing her then relationship at the age of 16 and continuing while in attending college at Hampton University, Minerva experienced domestic violence first hand. She endured physical, emotional and mental abuse while in her relationship and she recalled an incident where she was dragged by her girlfriend, following a misunderstanding.

She says: “I walked away from her and she grabbed my arm. I start pulling away from her and she starts dragging me away by my clothes. She pushed me against the car and presses her body against mine so I couldn’t get away. She unlocked the car while holding on to me at the same time and I tried not to scream because my car was parked in front of my uncles’ house, and my uncle is a big dude. I didn’t want to wake him up because it would have caused a scene. She unlocked the car, grabs me, pulls the seat up and pushes me into the back seat and locks the car. I was crying, I was upset, and I said I’m done, I can’t do this anymore and at that moment, she asked me to marry her.” She continues: “At that moment you are confused, and you don’t know what to feel and start to calm down. You start to think well this person loves me and they want to try.” This is a similar story for a lot of people in a domestic violence situation. Love often becomes blurred when you are seeking to be loved so bad.

She says; “I’m the victory my circumstances never thought would form.” A native from Brooklyn, NY, Minerva has created her foundation #MyStrengthIsBeautiful Inc. which is centered on empowering survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. The foundation focuses on mental-emotional, physical, professional and social development of survivors. The goal behind the foundation is to touch people all over including individuals on college campuses. She has made it her life’s mission to help women who have been through domestic violence situations through the surviving and healing process.

She says; “You have to have friends who will help you get through the fire. It’s important to have them in your corner to live and be at peace.” 

What was the journey to survival like for you?

The journey to survival was brutal. It took me a very long time to realize the damage that had been done. I was repeating the behaviors that I have become accustomed to having from my situation and in my mind, I didn’t realize where they had stemmed from. So my journey was rigged because I was in the midst of trying to be a college student, trying to be a good person and trying to focus on the things, that I didn’t have time to heal, I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. But then I realized I had a form of depression where I would check out from the world for a while. I would go through the day, but I wouldn’t be there fully and for me, it was just realizing why do you feel this way, this is not good. You don’t realize how bad your situation is until you look at it from afar after I re-evaluated that relationship and how bad it was. I realized that even when they tried to be kind to me and offer sweet gestures, it was just them trying to hold on to me. Those gestures were just their way to will me back in. My journey was a lot of pain, frustration, loneliness, anger, and sadness. But allowing myself to feel those things, it helped me get to a better place. I still have those triggers of things that just cannot be done, and I don’t tolerate but its learning how to deal with those triggers a little better so that it doesn’t revert to where I was. My journey wasn’t just an upward curve I had a lot of ups and downs and sometimes I have more bad days than good, but it was necessary, because I had to allow myself to go through all the emotions that I was feeling, the betrayals, deceit, pain, and anger it was all necessary so that I could see what happiness is not, now I can get to a place where I can see what happiness truly is.

There are a lot of women who are afraid to speak out about domestic violence, why is it important to share your voice?

One thing I will say is for people for who have been in domestic situations or another type of trauma, a lot of the time we feel as if our voices don’t matter because the people who have hurt us have tried to take that voice away. The minute you start to speak it you will realize how wrong those people were. Because we are made to feel as if we are worthless as if our voice doesn’t matter and then when you start to use it little by little, it may be uncomfortable but then that discomfort becomes our comfortable We realize how wrong they were and how powerful we truly are and just by speaking your truth and speaking up will make you feel so much better. Then you will be regaining your power that they thought they took from you.

What does surviving mean to you?

Surviving means that you may have bent a lot, but you did not break in the end. Being a survivor requires so much more than closure. It requires more than saying “I’m over it”. If you don’t really deal with it head on then you can’t say that you survived. Surviving means that you have dealt with the problem and even if you haven’t dealt with the problem one on one with that person, you had to deal with it in your own way so that forgiveness can be done. In order to be a survivor, you must forgive that person. If you don’t forgive them for the pain that they caused you, you won’t be set free completely. Forgiveness isn’t for them it’s for you. They don’t have to know that you have forgiven them, they don’t even have to know that you have given it a second thought. But the peace and sanity belong to you.

A lot of people believe that domestic abuse is only physical, what are the other signs?

You have financial abuse where someone is controlling you with money or taking your money. I had a situation where my ex stole from me consistently from my bank account. Emotional and mental abuse that is the talking down on you and making you feel worthless, trying to breakdown your self-worth to make them feel better. People think that if someone doesn’t hit you, it shouldn’t matter but sometimes a punch to the face doesn’t hurt as bad as somebody breaking down your existence.

Featured Image by Reiichi Nickleberry