A project celebrating the incredible staff working together to help survivors rise above violence. Our sources of strength. The shoulders we stand on.
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I stand on the shoulders of the many generations of women that surrounded me, laying every brick in the foundation of who I am. They are artists, creating with their hands my clothes and curtains with the same care they wove and stitched the fibers of my being. They are comforters, using the language of home-cooked Korean meals and affectionate embraces to translate their love in a way that words would fail. They are silent leaders, quiet and subdued but unwaveringly clear in their convictions of compassion and kindness toward others. I hope to be the shoulder for others to stand on because the women before me survived through it all to ensure that I stand tall.
I draw my strength from my children and my clients. My children’s unconditional love gave me the courage to stand up against domestic violence and fight back. When I left my abusive marriage while I was 8 months pregnant and with a 2 year old daughter, she never once complained about any of the hardships we were going through. Instead, she always smiled and reassured me saying, “Mommy, everything will be fine."
As I navigated my new life as a single mom, I was also blessed with unconditional support from the organization where I was receiving services, too. Eventually, I became a staff member at that organization: Womankind, then known as the New York Asian Women’s Center. When I pick up the helpline and hear my clients’ voice, it reminds me that I should never stop fighting for my and their right to live a violence-free life. My clients’ courage inspires me every day.
I draw my strength, today and everyday, from queer and trans women of color, who have dared to live for themselves and for each other.
They continue to imagine a world of infinite possibility beyond violence and hurt, creating language in places waiting to be dreamt into existence.
Because of them, I can breathe into every truth in my body.
Above all, they are my strength because they have given me a home for my past, present, and future.
I am my own hero! I never knew how much courage and hope I possessed until I realized what was happening to me was wrong. Everyone around me said I couldn’t do it, but my parents told me I deserved to be happy and should follow my heart. Looking back, it’s very clear that the best decision I made was to leave an unhealthy relationship. I draw my strength from my pain and my wonderfully supportive parents.
Survivors need a supportive network to recover from trauma and to realize their worth. Now I remind myself and my clients that being a woman does not mean that you have to settle for less and accept any kind of abuse as your fate. I am proud to support them and be a part of their journey towards empowerment and independence. Hopefully one day, I can proudly share my story with my children, too.
I draw my strength from the amazing individuals of the LGBT+ community who have done more for me than I’ll ever be able to fully appreciate. I draw my strength from my desire to emulate these individuals and continue to tread new paths. I draw my strength from those around me who encourage me to be best that I can be. I draw my strength from my loved ones, who have been there for me at every corner of my life. I draw my strength from the other women in my life, who have welcomed me with open arms. Lastly, I draw my strength from myself, as these positive figures in my life have taught me that I am worthy of doing so.
I draw my strength from my moments of weakness. I remember for a long time living my life paralyzed by a fear of failure, of falling and breaking if I took a leap over a hurdle I couldn't quite cross. Living with a mental illness, I felt unworthy and incapable of building the life for myself that I really wanted.
Fortunately, my parents have always empowered me to persevere and to live a life of meaning. Over time, I have learned that I can't lose, that every experience I have is either a win or a lesson - never a failure. Knowing this gives me the strength I need to persevere, to rally and to succeed.
My life is not simply my own - I intend to live it compassionately, uplifting and empowering others. It is for them that I am strong.
I draw my strength from love that is patient and kind. Love that does not boast and is not proud. Love that does not dishonor others and is not self-seeking. Love that is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. Love that does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. I draw my strength from love, that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.
I draw my strength from life itself— the beauty, energy and the life changing experiences that shape me to be the woman I am today. My late mother’s spirit lives within me.
It’s often that when we are faced with loss, we can more clearly appreciate the gift of life. The power of creation. A new beginning.
As I reflect on my hardest moments of despair, I’m also reminded of the most blissful moments of joy, like when I cradle my newborn son. And with that in mind, I celebrate each new day and lead with deep gratitude in my heart.