Daniela Atamoros Garcia:
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.
So 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 bullying.
I was insulted and beaten in the school bathroom just because I was not out to parties, or did not have any addiction and for having 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 denounce my father for domestic violence but that only worsened things more. 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 argue 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 did 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 2 options: giving my idiot father and all those who bothered me at school the power over my life, or being smart, loving me 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 any 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, other in which I had to put more effort and there were some other things that I had to stop doing since they were obstacles for my plans. 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 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 that I did have it was easier to control my emotions and thus to help my mom when she was in 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 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. Since I could not imagine that there are more children with the same or worse problem than mine and they are ignored and discriminated like me. For this and more 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, getting well informed about how we can fight for our rights under the law. There is no doubt that knowledge is power. My parent’s 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 me, I felt a lot of anger for all the injustices we had suffered. So I decided to redirect that anger into something positive for me. 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.
And now I love getting involved in volunteer and other causes that enrich me as a person. I therefore invite all women who have suffered some kind of violence, injustice, discrimination: do 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, the person reading these, and many others: we are strong, women like us do not need feet because we have wings to fly.
Daniela’s story was published as part of Sharing not Shaming campaign by SAFIGI Outreach Foundation Ltd, a not for profit organization based in Zambia with a vision to raise a generation where girls are empowered, equipped and fulfilled in every aspect of their life, for the development of the entire world. To know more about SAFIGI’s goals and activities, visit http://www.safetyfirstforgirls.org)