Inspiring Latina of the Week: Domestic Violence Survivor Sandra Guynes

Being a victim and now survivor of domestic abuse, what do you want people to learn from your story?

My story in particular is of a young girl who was to ashamed to tell her family the truth and even now find it hard to explain to my family what I experienced.  I would love women to know that there is hope on the other side of domestic violence and that the healing can take a long time if you don’t actively address it.  I always talk about the baggage of domestic violence.  Many women who leave domestic violence relationships may repeat the cycle, have unhealthy relationships or suffer emotionally from the traumatic affects of the abuse.  I carried my baggage around until I addressed it and allowed myself to let it go.  I have since been able to remarry and have a wonderful loving relationship with a man who understands me completely, respects and loves me.

Every month you hold art workshops for women to continue healing from the emotional scars of abuse. Why do feel that this helps women along in the healing process?

Art workshops help the healing process by empowering survivors and providing an outlet for telling their stories through expressive arts.  We allow survivors to create without judgement.  Being able to create freely is a healing part of the process when someone has been controlled for so long.

Why do you think it’s important to educated Latinas about domestic violence?

As a Latina it was very difficult to discuss this topic with my family and to tell them what I was experiencing.  When I told my father what I was dealing with as far as physical abuse he told me I should talk with my husband and try to work it out.  I think in the Latino community we try to down play the existence of domestic violence and brush it under the rug.  We don’t want to embarrass our families or ourselves and so we fail to seek help.  I want my Latina sisters to know that 1 in 4 women are affected by domestic violence, whether we talk about it openly or not.  I want them to know that pride can be repaired but that death and physical scars may never heal.  I know that we need more education especially because of the customary roles that we see in our culture with women being the submissive and men the machistas.

What gives you the most pride about being Latina?

I am proud of the diversity of Latina women. When I look at my circle of friends and family it is a beautiful array of colors, subcultures and heritage. I am also proud of our natural sense of family and community that is so greatly needed not just in my personal level but on a global level. I wish we could show everyone the concept of familia.

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