Inspiring Latina of the Week: Domestic Violence Survivor Sandra Guynes

Tell us a little about your background as a nurse educator, artist and survivor of domestic violence.

I have my Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Hampton University and a Master's in Nursing Education from Walden University.  As a nurse my focus has always been women’s health and services. Working with women in a nursing a capacity I was able to see the need for mentoring, education and how healing from holistic approach can be so beneficial. My experience as a nurse educator has trained me in program development and holistic care which I have used to develop Pearls for Creative Healing.

The artist in me emerge at a young age, I was raised by my Dominican mother in the Bronx and our household was always filled with music and culture.  Living in NYC I was exposed to dance, art and theater very early on.  We had limited financial resources but my mother found dance and art programs that would accept low income or disadvantaged youth so that I could continue my immersion. When I graduated from high school I began studying Latin dance for several years. In 2004, in an effort to bring culture to the Virginia Beach area where I was attending school, I began teaching salsa, merengue, bachata, and afro-cuban styles. 

It was during this time of my life that I was recovering from a domestic violence relationship.  I used art and dance to heal from the pain, guilt and shame that I felt as survivor of domestic violence. My family was not able to be a support system to me at this time because they were, in a sense, desensitized to what domestic violence is. 

It was through dance that I began to explore how art can have a positive impact on someone’s health and well being. I especially began to notice how women who perhaps had self esteem issues began to gain confidence and blossom as they used dance to heal.

You are the president and Founder of Pearls for Creative Healing. Can you tell us about this organization?  

Pearls for Creative Healing is a nonprofit organization focused on using art to help end domestic violence. The program uses art to help survivors heal, educates the community on domestic violence and produces a yearly domestic violence awareness photography exhibit.  Our program has had women who are years or just months since their abusive situations trying to heal or let go of those negative emotions and art has brought them joy, peace and an outlet for them to share their story.  Most of the women share their stories in hopes of empowering someone who is in a similar situation.

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