Domestic violence survivor says 'Never again' at Love Her fashion show
Love Her is a nonprofit organization that hosts programs and events to empower young girls.
Last Sunday, Love Her hosted its Unmasking Your Truth fashion show, honoring victims who have survived toxic relationships.
The event raised awareness for domestic violence, and each survivor shared her story to support and uplift the younger generations.
Natasha Vatley, 33, had no experience when it came to dating before meeting a man in her adult years.
“I grew up in a strict Carribean household where I couldn't date or even have guys call me,” Vatley said. “It wasn't until I was living on my own at 21 that I started to date.”
Vatley met a man who offered her time and attention. Little did she know, her first love would be the one to physically abuse her. After three months of living together, Vatley’s boyfriend started isolating her from her friends.
“He started deciding what I should wear, making me more exposed to what I was wearing, covering up stuff and having me wear boy shorts and sneakers. I'm not even a sneakers type of girl, you know?” Vatley said. “He just slowly started changing the way I look, the way I communicate with my friends and family.”
The first red flag Vatley noticed was when he grabbed her by the wrist. At first, Vatley thought nothing of it.
It had never happened before, and she assumed that he really cared about her and was taking their relationship seriously.
“I was so motivating and all about Black women empowerment, so when I did have friends that were in abusive relationships, I was like, ‘Don’t let no man put their hands on you, you can do better than that.’” Vatley said. “But then here I was, living with a guy and I end up in that same situation.”
Often the first signs of an abusive relationship are not seen as abusive at all. Instead, the abuser’s actions seem sincere and caring.
Eventually, Vatley realized that the man she loved only wanted to control her.
“I looked at him, and I saw darkness in his eyes,” Vatley said. “Something in me said no. That’s it. I went to my mom’s house and I was there for a week or two.”
The Love Her organization shows support for women like Vatley. The fashion show brought attention to the survivors and how they were able to escape toxic relationships.
One main reason that abusive relationships can last as long as they do is because of the fear rooted in what may happen if the victim were to leave. Threats, and even physically abusive actions, can occur.
“I got back with him,” Vatley explained. “Then I went to the hospital three days later to try and get stitches for my open wounds, but I waited too long, so I had to wait for them to naturally heal.”
Vatley left the hospital with a scar on her chest that she soon decided to cover with a tattoo of a butterfly. She felt as though it were a part of her she couldn’t hide, and she wanted to turn a tragedy into something positive.
“I walk into the room and I know people see it, and it is my reminder. Never again,” Vatley said. “For the women that didn’t make it, and for the ones that did, never again. I own that.”
By Elvanice Previlma, Sofia Jas