Domestic violence survivor, Karen Hoyos took her experience of abuse as the starting point of her journey of self-discovery, empowerment and success. Today, she’s a motivational speaker based in New York City.
Her smile and laughter don’t give away the difficulties she has overcome. As a child, she saw her father abuse her mother physically and emotionally. As an adult, Karen also became involved in an abusive relationship.
“A lack of self-love was the reason why I allowed myself to be abused,” she says now.
In her domestic abuse survivor story that she contributed to the inspirational book Thank God I, edited by John Castagnini, Karen shares how her abusive partner hit her on the side of the head with a gun, out of jealousy, while also insulting her. On other occasions he would lock her up at home. He even told her he would kill her. Despite that living hell, it wasn’t easy for Karen to terminate the relationship. He would say he was sorry, that he would change, and showered her with gifts.
“I was emotionally tied to the relationship and I was inadvertently addicted to the suffering it brought,” she remembers. “I felt victimized and yet guilty. Later on I realized that I had chosen to play the role of victim.”
Karen says it was difficult for friends and family to understand what she was going through.
“When you’re in an abusive relationship, you’re not fully aware and neither are those around you. You make all types of excuses. You believe things will get better”
BREAKING THE CYCLE
Her faith in God helped her take a decisive step towards emotional freedom and empowerment when she left her native Colombia in 2003 and arrived in the U.S. pregnant, to rebuild her self-esteem and her life.
“Life is a choice, and you must make that choice or someone will do it for you. I promised God that if he gave me the strength to live, I would devote my life to a higher purpose. It was an act of faith, accompanied by action on my part.”
Karen read self-help books and enrolled in self-improvement seminars, which helped her realize she could use her experience as a domestic violence survivor to find her purpose in life.
“I heard a voice in my heart that said: ‘Karen, this is what you are going to do for the rest of your life. You will carry a message of transformation, starting with your Latino community and then you will spread it across the world.’ ”
Karen says that her children, 8-year old twin boys, are her greatest inspiration. They know her story and are aware of her career as an international Latina coach and motivator.
“My legacy to them is that they know that life will always present challenges, but that it is in their hands to choose what to do about them.”
Signs that you may be experiencing domestic violence
If your partner does any of the following, you are very likely a victim of domestic violence:
- Throws things at you when in a rage
- Has bouts of jealousy and controls whom you see or talk to or where you go
- Pushes you or hits you
- Threatens to harm you or your kids
- Belittles you constantly
- Shouts at you and/or insults you
- Forces you to have sex
- Apologizes over and over for any of the above and when you forgive him or her, starts all over again
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence, please call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) as soon as possible, for help and guidance. You can do it!