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‘He tried to kill me. I kept calling for help; someone saw what was happening and kept walking.’: Young woman survives abuse, depression, self harm, finds solace in converting, ‘‘I finally have my confidence back’’

“It was HELL ON EARTH. I push memories out of my mind, like running from dad as he pointed a gun at my mom. I tried to kill myself one night. Luckily, my mother walked in. I will never forget the disappointment I saw on her face as she realized her baby girl wanted to end the life she gave to her.”

‘Who are you hiding from?’ I was forbidden from closing the door while I showered or used the restroom. I wasn’t daddy’s little girl anymore.’: Woman overcomes childhood abuse, ‘You will survive. Your life is worth saving and fighting for’

“My dad was a dangerous man. After I was born, he endeared himself to me. ‘I’ve seen 100 girls like you,’ he said. He found my diary. He read it. Humiliated me. They tracked my periods. They would time how long it took me to walk from the bus stop to the apartment. I hid who I really was. I got smarter. I knew how long it took to go from the bedroom window to the front door, which I’d deadbolt when he left. I hid notes in menstrual pad packaging. I tell myself, ‘You tried to break me. You told me to kill myself. But YOU WON’T WIN.’”

‘Oh my god, did you see Elena’s ears?! I mean, it’s basically child abuse.’ I left the party uncomfortable.’: Woman defends cultural parenting differences, ‘a mother knows what is best for her child’

“When Elena was 5 months old, my friend Nia brought her to a baby shower. My eyes fell on her cute little ears, pierced with diamond studs! As soon as the door closed behind her, all the girls dived right in. ‘Who does that to a little baby?’ ‘What’s next, a tattoo or something?’ ‘Shouldn’t that be Elena’s decision when she’s older?’ Honestly, I didn’t know what to think. Nia was the only person of color at the party.”

‘We had 90 days to get married. A man who’s never met my family. We both questioned what we’d gotten into.’: Woman takes leap of faith in marrying man who had never met her family

“I remember talking to my Dad after the fact. He said, ‘Ronnie called me to ask my blessing. I couldn’t understand half of what he said, but I told him yes, my daughter could marry him.’ Although, not everyone had encouraging comments. I had frequent questions like, ‘What if this guy just wants a green card?’”

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