PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Domestic violence survivor Neisha Himes is using her voice to empower women or men to leave toxic relationships.

“I have been kicked. I have been hit. I have been broken, but I have never ever been beaten,” said Himes.

She admits it was a hard-fought battle to get here. In 2012, she left a toxic relationship after years of extreme jealousy and name-calling.

“If you’re told every day, ‘you’re worthless.’ If you’re told everyday, ‘you’re not going to amount to anything [or] you’re stupid. Nobody is going to want you,’ you start to believe it.”

During the relationship, the mom of two became homeless. Shortly after Himes moved in with her boyfriend, at the time, he began to attack her.

“He came at me like I was some random man off the street. I fought back, I remember being in between the space from the bed and the wall. I was laying down and he’s choking me. I’m thinking, I’m going to die in this space and nobody knows where I am.”

She said she felt embarrassed to tell her mom and sister who live in New Jersey.

“I was too ashamed to call my family. I was too ashamed to tell my friends what was going on. I couldn’t accept what was happening. So, I dealt with it.”

The isolation and abuse caused her to have suicidal thoughts.

“I remember writing letters to my family saying, you know what, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ I was making instructions on where my children are going to go, writing letters to my children saying, ‘Mommy can’t do this anymore.’ I would pray to God, don’t wake me up.”

The physical assaults stopped after he broke two of her ribs and gave her a concussion.

“That day I didn’t fight. I was making a decision [about] what to cover. Do I cover my face? Do I cover my stomach when I’m being kicked? Do I cover my neck when I’m being choked? Do I cover my head when he’s throwing me into the wall?  What do I do?  I just gave up.”

Although the physical abuse stopped, her abuser was still very verbally abusive. Himes left the relationship after he used racist language toward her family.

“He called my mom and my sisters the N-word. I always say this part last, it was an interracial relationship. For me, that was the final straw. It was one thing for me to not stand up for myself, it was another for me to not stand up for the women that I love most, and they were not there to defend themselves. I was done after that.”

She started sharing her story through spoken word poetry, something she was forced to give up years earlier. “Spoken word saved me. It’s God, my kids, and spoken word.”

Then she found her passion to help other victims become victorious!

“People started coming up to me saying, I’m going through this. My daughter is going through this. My son is going through this.”

She started speaking at events and became a victim-witness advocate. In 2016, she created the Girls Recognizing Our Worth or G.R.O.W nonprofit organization to empower abused victims. She prides herself on hosting unique awareness events like boxing, discussion panels, poetry plays or taking ice cream to children living in shelters.

“I knew I did not go through that just to go through it. I’m supposed to take that and help someone.”

The team of eight works tirelessly to mentor victims, and assist with emergency shelter and finances. 

In three years, the groups helped more than 50 families.

Her next project is to publish an adult coloring book called ‘Crowns and Couplets: Healing Through Color and Poetry.’ 

The book is dedicated to survivors of trauma and domestic violence. It includes statistics and several poems written by Himes. 

She partnered with illustrator, Disha Kedia Gupta of Not Just Doodle. Gupta also has a heart for empowering women.

‘Crowns and Couplets: Healing through color and poetry,’
by Neisha Himes, illustrated by Disha Kedia Gupta

The book will be available in January 2020.

For more information on the G.R.O.W Foundation call (757)-384-0294.

For Domestic Violence Awareness month, Kiahnna Patterson will join WAVY News 10 Today every Wednesday morning to start the conversation and share programs around Hampton Roads to help break the silence.

Here are some local and national resources for victims in need of help.

YWCA South Hampton Roads in Norfolk

  • Phone: 757-625-4248
  • Offers counseling, youth and crisis services.
  • 24-hour Crisis Hotline: 757-251-0144

Avalon Center in Williamsburg

  • Phone: 757-258-5022
  • Offers transitional housing, emergency shelter, youth services, legal advice, and counseling.
  • 24-hour Crisis Hotline: 757- 258-5051

Samaritan House Inc. in Virginia Beach

  • Phone: 757-631-0710
  • Offers counseling, emergency shelter placement, and safety planning.
  • 24-hour Crisis Hotline 757-430-2120

HER Shelter in Portsmouth

  • Phone: 757-485-1445
  • Offers emergency services, court assistance, shelter, employment, housing assistance.
  • Hotline: 757-485-3384

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233