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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – To an outsider, Valerie has a picture perfect life.
She has a new apartment, a job she’s passionate about and four beautiful children. But the path to the peace she feels now was often filled with pain.
“The Valerie back then was lost. She didn’t love herself. She was struggling to find her purpose in life. She was just struggling,” Valerie said.
Valerie is a survivor of domestic violence.
She says she was mentally, emotionally and physically abused, even while pregnant, at the hands of a man who claimed to love her.
“I saw a lot of red flags. I saw the red flags and I ignored them because I was like ‘Oh I’m so in love’,” she explained.
After repeated abuse and countless calls to 911, Valerie says one day she realized she’d had enough.
“I went to go put the baby down on the bed and somebody grabbed my ankle from underneath my bed. And I ran. I grabbed the kids and ran out the door. And he ran out after me,” she recalled.
After that scary encounter, which ended with another call to authorities, Valerie never looked back.
She contacted multiple shelters and abuse hotlines, but was turned away due to overcrowding and lack of funding, until finally, Somy Ali answered the phone in Broward.
“Valerie is one of my favorite survivors,” Somy said. “She’s my role model. She’s my hero. She has come from nothing to unbelievable progress. Unbelievable success.”
Somy is the founder of “No More Tears”, an organization created to help victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.
“Nobody should be a victim of abuse. Nobody has a right to hit you, disrespect you, verbally abuse you or sexually abuse you. You do have options,” he said.
It’s that passion that inspired Valerie to leave her home in Missouri and move to South Florida to start her new life as a survivor.
“I said, ‘Okay, I’m gonna go. I had no idea who this woman was. No idea what was going to happen to me or my children. But I knew if I stayed there I was gonna die. And my children needed me’,” she said.
Now, Valerie is giving her children the life they deserve, and she’s proving she herself is worth fighting for.
“I’m going to rise above that not just for myself and for my children, but for other victims and other survivors,” she said. “I want them to see that there is a way out and there is hope. If I can do it, then you can do it. Just take that first step, the scariest step of your life, and everything else will fall into place.”
Valerie hopes to become a registered nurse, and continue working in the medical field.
To help other women like Valerie become survivors, check out “No More Tears”.