Growing up, Elizabeth witnessed the impact of abusive relationships on her family. She recalls vividly a culture that tolerated the power of men over women. She worried that she too would find herself in an unhealthy relationship, powerless, and with no control of her life and her future. These beliefs affected her self image and confidence in both school and sports. “I knew if I didn’t find my voice, I would be trapped in this world of male dominance and superiority.”
Elizabeth got involved in Girls Inc. of Orange County her freshman year in high school. At Girls Inc., she learned about the cycle of abuse and began to recognize the red flags in unhealthy relationships. Girls Inc. also encouraged her to shift the standards for women in her culture. She began to share the knowledge and information she gained with both the women in her family and girls her age. Her message was that everyone deserves respect and should be valued and that abuse is not normal.
At Girls Inc. Elizabeth also found the confidence to release the doubts and insecurities she held about her body. Learning that other girls struggled in the same way made her feel safe and supported as she took steps to live a more healthy lifestyle and, as an athlete, make an impact on the soccer field. With a stronger sense of sense, Elizabeth was also able to embrace her leadership abilities. She became a mentor at her school, and used her artistic talents to work on a mural project that celebrated her heritage as a Mexican-American.
Elizabeth’s experiences at Girls Inc. helped her discover her passion for helping others. She is currently studying Forensic Psychology and Criminal Justice as a freshman at Cal State Fullerton. She plans to eventually pursue a Doctorate in Psychiatry. Girls Inc. made the difference for Elizabeth, and she will be the difference for others as she moves forward in her career.