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There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Norma, a survivor of rape and kidnapping, shared her harrowing story of abuse with 450 guests at Tahirih’s 6th Annual Houston Gala.

“The hardest moments are those that are not written” began Norma, “like the moment where my son was taken and hidden from me for 12 years.”

Norma escaped her first abuser, a man who kidnapped and raped her daily. She fled to the United States, in search of a new life, but instead found herself trapped again, this time in an abusive marriage. After three good years together, her husband began shaming and beating Norma, even using her children’s undocumented status as a way to manipulate and abuse her.

Alone, she was at his mercy, but when a woman at her church offered her a free place to stay and connected her to a domestic violence shelter, Norma began to hope again. The shelter connected Norma to Tahirih who fought for her protection under U.S. law, and finally, Norma’s voice was free.

After recounting her experience to the crowd, Norma focused on the way we can all contribute to the empowerment of women – she herself using her voice to speak with everyone from  domestic violence survivors to prisoners, reminding them that “they are worthy; they need not be silent as victims of violence. They can speak up.”

Norma represents thousands of heroic women and girls who are demanding freedom from violence. Her story of courage and hope demonstrates the remarkable journey Tahirih clients face each and every day.

“God led me to people who helped me feel hope again. That hope turned into feeling that I was worth something. That hope turned into strength and courage. The courage to share my story, to give hope to others”

Read Norma’s full story here.