My mother was abused by my father. I was so little I didn’t notice. Soon after he physically abused my mother, he also abused my sister and me. My sister’s nose was broken, and my collarbone was fractured. My mother eventually left him. I was about 10. That’s when I started working as a maid in a house, but the abuse continued. I was only allowed to go home once a month. I would leave the money I was paid with my mother (about $15 a month) and return to the house where I was fed very little and forced to sleep on the floor. After six months, my sister and I were totally exhausted and couldn’t take it anymore, so we returned to my mother’s house. By that time, my mother was living with another man. The first days were amazing — he treated us well and we went back to school. Then he started to get upset when we were there. We weren’t allowed to turn on the lights to study, and when we arrived after school, he’d throw away all of the food. My mother was supportive of him, and when our neighbors saw what was happening, they fed us.
I lay on the floor trying to understand what had happened…To this day, I have flashes of that moment even though I’ve tried to erase it from my memory.
Dancing has helped me fight this big monster that’s been at my side. When I danced, I grew bigger and stronger than the monster.