This week's New Yorker helps women in violent domestic relationships sow the seeds of a better life. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
Stephanie McGraw says her greatness came when she was in her "dirt." That dirt was not mud and soil, but a violent domestic relationship.
"My greatness came when I was in my dirt, so I understand the richness of the dirt and creating a garden and creating your own beauty," she says.
She experienced many of them growing up.
"That was what we did in our community," she says. "I didn't know that this wasn't love. I didn't know that love shouldn't hurt."
After a relationship ended with a hospital visit, she knew things had to change, not only for her, but for other women too.
In 2010, she founded W.A.R.M, We All Really Matter, a nonprofit that helps women and men get out of abusive relationships.
"I know the importance of having a loving and caring and nurturing place to come and heal," McGraw says. "There's nothing like a good 'me too, sister. Me too, sister. I've been there.' I can go where someone sitting behind a desk cannot go."
"We need to really work on taking away the stigma," says Dr. Cynthia Grace, director of psychiatry at Harlem Hospital. "I think there's nothing better than helping people internalize the idea that there is something good and beautiful and wonderful that comes out of growth
The garden here at W.A.R.M. does just that, weeding out the bad roots and letting flowers grow.
"I've been a victim, well, I call myself a survivor now, of domestic violence," says Takara Bey, a member of W.A.R.M. "When you take out the roots of the weeds, you're taking out what's choking the beauty of life. I had things from my past that kind of tried to choke me, and I'm in the process of removing those things out of my life. And the garden helps me visualize those things."
In the garden and beyond, the results are showing.
"Some of these women that came in with their heads down, then, you'll see them slowly come in and raise their hand and then start sharing," she says. "When I see women's lives transformed, it's joy beyond anything I can ever express."
So, for helping women plant the seeds of a new, peaceful life, Stephanie McGraw is our New Yorker of the Week.
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