At the age of 18 years old, instead of being happy, eager and excited about attending college, I was battling with myself about what I was going through.
I was outcast by family because I was dating an African American man. Being Latina, I wasn’t raised to see color, but it had become apparent that my family didn’t want me dating an African American man. My grandmother had told me that black men were no good, but I didn’t understand why she’d say that. I went against her wishes and continued to date my high school sweetheart. The sweetheart part didn’t last so long. Before I knew it, I was being abused and had little to no support from my family who’d outcast me. I had a difficult time understanding why I was going through the abuse. I finally realized that long before the physical abuse, I was already being mentally abused.
After three years of abuse, I finally left and went and stayed in a domestic violence shelter because I was so embarrassed to let my family know what I was going through. I didn’t want to give them the chance to say, I told you so. I stayed at the shelter for one week. I left and said to myself; this will not be my life. I went into survival mode and made the decision that I’d make a way for myself. I worked as a waitress for a couple of years, but I knew that that wasn’t going to be my life either! I was a broken woman, but I refused to let that define me.
Then that fateful day of January 19, 2010, five years after I left the shelter, I met my now husband. He is an African American man as well, but he has shown me and my family that every individual is different, and skin color does not define a person. He has treated me with great love and care and my grandmother and family love him very much for it.
Our relationship, was rough at the start because mentally I wasn’t prepared for a man like him. I didn’t realize that even though my bruises were gone physically, I was still bruised mentally. But by the grace of God, he had equipped him and designed him for me. He took me to receive counseling, and he loved and cared for me. He didn’t just tell me that he was different, but he’s shown me. This helped in my healing process. Had it not been for my husband to show me that he was there to love me, rather than hurt me, I feel that my healing process would have taken longer. I finally felt like I could be loved, respected and cherished.
He has always invested in me, helping me create an online store, Eloisa Boutique. I felt God used him to pull out all of my most significant qualities. He continues to be such a blessing for me. In 2015, together, we started our party bus business. I’ve taught myself how to build websites, search engine optimization and marketing skills, etc. Along the way I’ve also taken courses on grant writing and research which has led me to create my first nonprofit organization, Flower Child Foundation.
Throughout my journey, I kept my faith strong, and I always reminded myself that better days were coming. What I’ve chosen to do is to be a smart woman, an ever-evolving woman and a woman who supports and uplifts other women.
If I could tell my younger self-something when I was being abused, it would be:
- It’s okay to tell someone.
- Reach out to an advocate program.
- It’s not your fault.
Things do get better once you leave.
About Stephanie Jennings:
Born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras but live in Houston today as a personal assistant for Houston Diamond Outlet. My husband and I also own a party bus business, S and T’s Party Bus Houston, where I manage all website editing, booking, social media, and marketing.
Having recently launched my own nonprofit organization, Flower Child Foundation, which is an organization designed to empower of women of all ages and races through education, support, mentoring, and financial management, I want to share my goals and passions of a more empathetic and supportive world with as many people as possible. I’ve started my mission with a vision board party, which has been a tool for women to have a physical picture to focus on.
Stephanie’s Instagram: @mrs.flower_child