THE POWER OF PERSISTENCE
Denisia's path begins in Salvador, Bahia and talks about an abuse that passes from generation to generation, creating impressions that remain.
Her mother was born in the interior of Bahia and at 17 she was already pregnant, in a relationship with a much older man - Denisia's father.
"I was born with this vision of having to fight and end these cycles".
But the story repeated itself, and at 17, Denisia was pregnant with her boyfriend, who, like in the story of her parents, was much older.
“I believed he was my boyfriend, you know. But the violence started at that moment, with the lack of support from my family and accusations that I didn't know who my son's father was. That was what motivated me to leave home when I was 19.”
Alone, Denisia ended up living with anarchists, adept of the punk movement, and it was in this environment that she met feminist women who, in addition to helping her with information, ended up encouraging her to seek justice and demand help from her son's father.
“I asked my brother for help and he ended up talking to my son's father. After the conversation, my brother came back saying that he denied paternity and he preferred to believe the guy instead of me.”
After some time living in the house of friends, Denisia encountered the second case of violence of her life.
“I met him in the neighborhood where I was living in and he proved to be someone very interesting, he worked with art, with drawing, he worked with children, and I was in a place of vulnerability, fighting for my rights and my son's rights in justice, and this guy supported me. He was divorced, had a beautiful relationship with his daughter and was super cool with my son.”
After a year of relationship, her partner's behavior began to change, especially in situations of jealousy.
“We had the first fight, he pushed me and I decided to leave the house and went to live with my friends. He was chasing me for a while, and after he insisted a lot, I gave the relationship another chance, but I continued to live with my friends.”
In the midst of this complex situation in the relationship, Denisia discovered that she was pregnant, and because of the instability she faced with her partner, she made a difficult decision.
“I had an abortion. I got really bad, because I didn't want to, but I think it had to happen. But four months after the abortion I ended up getting pregnant with my daughter.”
Faced with the transformation of her partner, she ended up deciding to return home and the relationship was good for 7 months.
“After that he got worse, and I was still pregnant. It was then that I started going to the police station.”
Pregnant, with nowhere to go, Denisia decided to seek help from her parents.
“I told them that that man had beaten me and the answer I received from my father was:
- I know who you are, I know you also provoke him.”
Without the support of the family, Denisia the situation aggravated in one of the most frightening moments of her life.
“He pointed the gun on my head for the first time. And after that, I spent the night practically on the street, pregnant and then I decided to go to the police station.”
At the police station there was no reception, the story was treated as a fight between husband and wife and that the police would not get involved. Then a "blessed soul" came along and directed her to the woman's police station.
“I spent five years going to the police station. There were times I had to go twice a week. And like, I realized that I had to get ready to go to the police station, because if I arrived desperate in the heat of the moment, I would be miss-treated.”
Denisia participated in women's groups, in capoeira, feminist groups and it was in a conversation of these groups that she heard about the Reference Center for Attention to Women Loreta Valadares.
“I said that I was tired of going to the police station so many times and not seeing things moving, not seeing anything happening, and doing everything by myself. When I was told about the center, I discovered that there was a lawyer, psychologist and a support network that I never had in my life."
It was at this center that Denisia met the lawyer who gave her the following advice: the more police reports you make, the better.
“As I was alone and had nowhere to go with my daughter and son, so I decided to stay there, facing that guy and trying to make him respect me. One day, I remember walking through Pelourinho, and I had the intuition to go back to the house, and when I got there, he was using cocaine with another guy, and my daughter was at home, I went crazy. It was the second time that he held the gun and said he was going to kill me at that moment ”.
It was time to leave the house. With nowhere to go and with the young daughter, Denisia returned to stay with her friends, moving from house to house, and suffering threats.
"I was threatened until the day the guy died."
Among so many violent experiences, Denisia highlights the lack of empathy and help within the police stations and discrimination suffered for being a black woman.
“ I arrived at the police station screaming, demanding protection, telling them about the aggression and people asking me what had I done? Asking that to the victim. I understood that I had to arrive tidy, well dressed, talking quietly and slowly, talking about my lawyer, in order to get better service. Because people who are black are already raised like this: always walk clean, tidy, so you won't be mistaken with a criminal, the reality is that black people are marginalized without reason.
When the white woman arrives at the police station, she always arrives with someone like a lawyer, the treatment is different, now the black woman who arrives, as in my case, disheveled, with a punch in the eye, a broken face, crying, the reaction is : sit down and wait.”
According to Denisia this is why women give up seeking help.
“My luck is that I work with therapy, I work with what I love and I believe in life, because that's why woman gives up. After so many police reports my case never reached the judge, I never had a hearing for the violence caused to me. This only happened after an aggression he did to my daughter.”
To Denisia, empowerment is not just passing on information, but also disseminating the work, talking about her, exposing who needs to be exposed and extolling those who deserve it.
“I am not a poor thing, I am not a victim. These were choices that I made, when I didn't know how to observe. It is not just making a basket and giving a donation, but teaching how to fish. I don't want the fish."
With a 100m restraining order, out of the house, Denisia had to find a way to survive.
“In the beginning I sold freshener sachets on the bus, recited poetry, sold hats on the beach. I turned around, I never wanted to be the poor thing, I don't want someone's money or things.”
For many years Denisia was disturbed by her daughter's father, even though she was in another relationship. A month after going to court - just because or the aggression he did with her daughter, because he had never went to court because the violence he committed on her - he reacted to an assault and died.
“Everything that happened in my life got me here. I found myself in therapeutic massage, I started eating natural food and studied about these things, and then I put self-care as a priority.”
Today, at the age of 44, with 4 children, Denisia works with Ayurveda massage, yoga and has training in Access Bars.
“I see myself as a very brave person, who accepts no less and I really am strong. I have my goals, I can supply myself, I can live my life alone, I can come, I know my body, I love myself so much. I can do anything."
One of the greatest goals of Denisia's life is to become a great example for her daughters, so that they become strong and determined women, like her mother.
“I am not afraid or ashamed to talk about this subject, it is not a trauma that I suffer or hurt when I go to this subject because I had to react at the exact moment. I only grew up after I left the guy's house and I heard him saying the opposite, that I would not survive alone."
For Denisia it is extremely important that women help each other, that there is sorority, where women who observe their friends in abusive relationships, suffering violence, have information, know how to welcome, until they open their door if necessary. It is necessary, first of all, to know what violence is and how to act in such a situation.
But above all, it is important not to give up, be resilient and continue to believe in your goals and your strength.
“I think it's great that I haven't lost the ability to love. Because, from what I went through, I could have become a bitter, traumatized woman who doesn't want to hear about men, but instead I continued to believe in love.”
Denisia resides in New York City and today works with:
- Ayurvedic yoga massage;
- access bars;
-crystal sounds & meditation;
If you are interested in hiring the services it offers please contact: