I have been raised by strong women, I am related to strong women and I am friends with strong women; and because of these women, I am strong too. Challenges and hardships make you strong, and sometimes it takes a moment of weakness to remind you how strong you truly are. 

I was raised by my grandmothers, they taught me forgiveness is strength, and holding a grudge is weakness. They taught me to hold my head high and never be ashamed for where I come from. My mother has always told me that I deserve the very best, and if I'm not happy to make a change, and while that may be easier said than done for some people; she is living proof that you can and so is this beautiful woman below...

When my cousin Stephanie approached me about this project, I knew it was something that I had to think about for a good long time because it means something to me. Domestic abuse hides in a lot of unsuspecting places, and while I know the signs very well, many do not, many don't even realize they are in an abusive relationship until it's too late. Stephanie asked me to photograph her "rebirth" after she left an abusive relationship. This chapter has closed for her after a court process that was far too long, and she is finally ready to move on to bigger and better things. She has found the beauty in the wreckage.

"I learned the hard way, don’t let a broken person continue to break you. You might be their target, but you don’t have to be their victim. Never accept abuse. You deserve to be respected. Love isn’t supposed to hurt. It is supposed to heal. Never let a person make you feel bad for choosing not to tolerate their disrespect anymore. There is nothing wrong with respecting yourself. I never knew how heavy the final straw would be. Escaping a toxic relationship can feel like breaking a piece of your own heart off. Leaving is never easy, but sometimes it’s necessary to save yourself and others." - Stephanie

So today, on International Women's day, I am celebrating Stephanie, her courage, her growth and her new beginnings. 

Photography- Alexandria Photography

Makeup- Tiffany Wolter Makeup Artistry

Hair Colour- Batzy from Cabello Salon