In 2005, Ilianexy Morales was savagely attacked by her ex-boyfriend. Six days after she broke up with him, he came to her apartment saying he wanted to talk. Morales let him in never suspecting that he was planning to attack her with a knife he had tied to his sock.
"One day I was young, beautiful and healthy, then suddenly I was slashed everywhere, my face disfigured and my teeth were gone. All because one person, who I've known for three years, felt he had the right to do this to me," Morales said. "I was stabbed and slashed over 40 times, all over my body, face, head, neck, breasts, stomach, arms, hands, legs and feet, and my teeth were shattered by the knife as well."
Morales barely survived the attack. She was in the hospital for three months, half of that time in an induced coma. Since then, Morales has had over 20 reconstructive surgeries, and she credits Dr. Andrew Jacono and Dr. Laura Torrado for giving her, her face, smile and life back. Morales's daughter, who was 6 years old when the attack happened, was her main source of strength and motivation to get through such a horrific ordeal. Morales's mother has been bedridden for 13 years and is also dependent on her. "My daughter and mother needed me alive and well," she said. "At the beginning it was very tough to accept the way that I was left disfigured and traumatized, but I knew I needed to be there for my family. My mother heard the whole attack but was unable to help, and to this day still is haunted by it."
Morales's horrific ordeal was brought to my attention by Aryn Quinn, the founder of Beauty Cares. Beauty Cares is a nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic abuse against teens, women and children that has been educating young women about the early warning signs of abusive partnerships. Morales has given invaluable insight and support to the organization. Quinn nominated Morales for a day of GLAM4GOOD pampering and told me, "Ilianexy embodies the founding spirit of Beauty Cares by taking something terrible which happened to her and turning it into an opportunity to empower others. She's strong, lovely and generous with her talents and hard learned lessons. Domestic violence shreds a woman's spirit and I knew this GLAM4GOOD experience would be a celebration and a powerful step to wholeness for Ilianexy."
As we started our day honoring and pampering Morales with GLAM4GOOD, she told me that her boyfriend was never violent in the past but was extremely controlling, jealous, insecure, obsessive and smothering. "I was 23 years old at the time, he was 38," she explained. "I was isolated from family and friends and constantly followed by him when I was in school. I could not go out of my house without him or do simple tasks like going to the grocery store." She continued, "I had to be controlled by him. He threatened to kill himself and me if I decided to leave him. I was never the submissive type and always had a strong personality, but I did give in to many of his demands thinking he was a good man in spite of everything else. I knew getting out of that relationship was not going to be easy, but I never thought that my life was in jeopardy." Morales's ex-boyfriend was arrested at her apartment the night of the attack and was sentenced to 15 years in prison; he will be out in 2020.
"My message to women who are currently in abusive relationships is there is no excuse to stay in such a situation. You deserve better, you deserve to be treated with respect and love." Morales wants women to know there are so many organizations that work hard to protect, shelter and counsel women and their children and help them escape from their abusers. "Seek therapy so others can help you understand that this is not the life you deserve," she says. "To women in situations like mine, that have survived an attack and are hiding and ashamed and don't know what to do, I want you to know that there is help out there for you," she says. "It first starts with acceptance; your scars, injuries and everything else can be treated by amazing doctors that donate their time to help, but you are in control of what's inside." Morales feels very lucky to be alive. "There are women being killed every day by their partners. I barely escaped with my life. Do not let it get this far or worse -- you must take action now for yourself and for your children."
GLAM4GOOD is honored to support Ilianexy Morales, Beauty Cares and their powerful message and mission. Domestic abuse is one person engaging in behavior to gain power and control over another. Here are the Beauty Cares eight signs of domestic abuse. How can you prevent domestic violence?
Know The 8 BEFORE It's Too Late!
1. INTENSITY: Someone you just met exhibits the following behavior: lying or exaggerating; insisting you move in/get married/have kids immediately; trying to win over friends and family; over the top gestures like expensive gifts/dates, extreme love letters; sweeping you off your feet; bombarding you with texts and emails; behaving obsessively and non-stop calls.
2. JEALOUSY: Behaving irrationally when you get a promotion, job or new friend; becoming angry when you speak to the opposite sex; persistently accusing you of cheating; resenting your time with friends, family, coworkers or activities; demanding to know private details of your life.
3. CONTROL: Telling you how to dress, when to speak or what to think; showing up uninvited at your home, school or job; checking your cell phone, emails, Facebook; going through your belongings; timing/following you; controlling/withholding money; sexually coercing you.
4. ISOLATION: Insisting you only spend time with them; making you emotionally, psychologically or financially dependent; preventing you from seeing your friends, family or children; forbidding you from going anywhere or speaking to anyone; keeping you home.
5. CRITICISM: Calling you overweight, ugly, stupid or crazy; ridiculing your beliefs, ambitions or friends; claiming they're the only one who really cares about you; making you feel bad about yourself; brainwashing you to feel worthless; accusing you of being a bad parent.
6. SABOTAGE: Making you miss work or school by starting a fight or having a meltdown; being needy when you're busy or doing well; making you believe you're crazy, alone or helpless; hiding your money, keys or phone; stealing your belongings; destroying your self-esteem.
7. BLAME: Making you feel guilty and responsible for their aggressive or destructive behavior; blaming the world or you for their problems; always saying, "This is your fault" or "You made me do this."
8. ANGER: Overreacting to small problems; frequently losing control; violent outbursts or severe mood swings; drinking excessively, threatening to hurt/kill you or loved ones; fighting; sexually abusing you; making you feel afraid for your life/your children's lives.
If your partner threatens or physically abuses you, which includes pushing or shoving, there is no justification and it will only get worse. Tell your family and call the national domestic abuse hotline immediately. FOR HELP:1-800-799-SAFE.