The father of my four children, Alberto, was 10 years older than me. He was my first relationship.
At the start, everything was “calm,” but when I started to work, about three years after we had met, the aggressions started.
I worked in a hardware store across the street from the Nicoya hospital and he would always go there. He would bring me a soft drink at 8am and an apple at 10am. At noon he would pick me up, then he would bring me coffee. I thought it was all for love. I never thought it was for control.
I became the manager of the hardware store and even won an award for sales that I went to pick up in San Jose with him. There, in front of everyone, he grabbed me and slapped me. I remember him saying to me, “That’s how I wanted to grab you, slut.”
After that moment, if we were walking together and he was bothered by something, he would slap me.
Alberto had a problem because he used drugs. He would show up high and abuse me, and even raped me. I remember, when he used to tell me that he wanted to go out, I would tremble and cry of fear just thinking that when we got back I would endure the beating of the century.
That would all happen and then he would show up crying, asking for forgiveness and I would believe him. Days later it would happen all over again. Nothing would change .
Guanacaste prepares, little by little, for a future without gender violence. It’s not easy, but its crusaders are not giving up.
After 10 years of being with him, one day I got up and said, “It ends here.” What I didn’t know was that I had one last beating coming my way, one of the worst of my life, and one that made me leave him forever.
On a Monday, December 1, two months after leaving him, I left work and went to Pali to buy some things. He followed me around the whole supermarket. When I left, I remember someone touching my shoulder (Alberto). I turned around and he hit me twice. I work up at the Hospital Mexico with six fractures in my face. I didn’t eat for a month and spent a year in rehab.
After that, I had two more relationships, one with a Frenchman and another with Enrique, with whom I would start my true transformation.
With a leather strap, Enrique grabbed me two years ago and hit me so much that I had to sleep face down because of how badly he left my back. But that day I didn’t beg him to stop hitting me. I realized that I had the bravery to leave.
I filed a complaint and they sent me to victim protection, and a friend took me to Inamu where I talked about things that I had kept quiet about since I was 16.
I started to take my life back at a point when not even I cared about myself. I got involved in politics, I make chili pepper jars, I make preserved goods and I sell them. In fact, I’m awaiting support to strengthen my small business. I’m president of an association for adults with special needs, I work with a group of at-risk women in San Martin. What I want most is for women to feel empowered.
But now I know that I have the right to a life, to trust again and to fall back in love with myself.