I grew up being bullied. It occurred at the park, at home and at school. It broke my spirit and it was constant throughout my life. I couldn’t get away from it. It was what I knew. Over the years the abuse that I endured, the words I heard echoed in my head over and over again, like a violin singing a song. Only this voice was negative, constant and demeaning. It broke my spirit. It would come as no surprise that I had very little self esteem.

Looking back, regardless I still always found the positives, in life. More trauma came my way with the death of my father at an early age, this brought on more darkness, low self esteem and sadness. Further putting me on a spiral downward. It stayed with me.

All I wanted was to find happiness, feel loved and to be needed,

My past of being bullied turned into seeking a partner who was abusive towards me. I was not aware that abuse came in many other forms then physical. He used intimidation, to ensure that he was in control and emotional abuse to put me down. He would tell me I was not good enough, embarrass me in front of others and told them how little I made. It was constant and demeaning. Jealousy was used as a form of isolation to mark that I was his and his alone, and that I had no voice. I was constantly blamed for everything that went wrong, if we were late, it was always my fault. Eventually this behaviour led to the physical abuse. It wasn’t until I saw one of my children doing the same behaviour that I snapped and knew I had to make a change.

All of the above are signs of abuse

I had enough! This led to a messy divorce. A week after I left him I lost my job. I felt the walls begin to cave in. How was I going to manage my house, while raising two children? I still do not know how I managed it. I slowly slipped unknowingly into a depressive state. I didn’t know how to seek the help that I needed. At this time I had suicidal thoughts thankfully I never acted on them. It may have been my children and my boyfriend at the time (who is now my husband) that kept me a float.

I persevered through it and I became a better person

I found myself in my journey. Along the way I launched Stacey Hanlon Photography, specializing in portraits of women. It was through this business that I realized my love for empowering and educating women be their best self, yet I felt that I needed more than taking beautiful portraits of women. One day I woke up and said I have to go back to school. This April I will graduate with my Social Service Worker diploma. I am very lucky to have an amazingly strong husband who empowers me to be whoever I want to be.