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Domestic Violence affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men.

It is an epidemic, and awareness needs to be spotlighted because no one should feel like they are alone or trapped.

Kerri Davis is someone who not only survived domestic violence, but she passionately advocates for victims and survivors.

As a former pageant queen, having held the dual titles of Ms. Madison County Plus America 2015 (1st runner up to Ms. Alabama Plus America), and Ms. Nevada Plus America 2015, Kerri has a strong platform speaking out against domestic violence and abuse. She effectively works in her local community by serving as a member of the Board of Directors for Crisis Services of North Alabama.

Kerri, a longtime resident of Huntsville, Alabama, is a graduate of Alabama A&M University. She is employed by NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center, and holds the titles of Plus Model and Brand Ambassador for Full Figured Fierce – a locally established but globally recognized plus size women and men’s community – Kerri is currently working on adding published author to her resume, with the release of her first book entitled “Beyond Existence – The Purple Passage”.

Check out her inspirational story below:

Natasha: How did you get into pageants? 

Kerri: I was introduced to pageantry by a friend of mine, who is the Alabama State Director for the Miss Plus America Pageant System. She encouraged me to participate, so I prayed about it as I never had aspirations for pageants. I never saw myself as that “pageant girl”. What ultimately motivated me to proceed was my desire to share this platform. I knew that expanding the reach of my voice would only benefit my ability to bring awareness by sharing my story. In this opportunity, I was able to interact with civic, spiritual, and community leaders. So the pageant joined with my purpose proved to be a beautiful marriage. It created a great opportunity to talk and connect with people.

Natasha: Do you find pageants to be empowering? 

Kerri: Prior to competing, I didn’t see them as necessarily empowering. I saw them being mostly about beauty standards and poise. But after becoming personally involved, I began to see how they can empower, especially in the plus community. Many plus size women have lived with self-esteem issues and are sensitive about their appearance. But this particular pageant allows the “plus size” community as a whole, to come together and support each other. I made many new friends, with equally important platforms, businesses and life goals from across the nation. They all have stories of overcoming life challenges and gaining their voice while participating in the Miss Plus America Pageants.

Natasha: Share your story with domestic violence and abuse.

Kerri: I recall the primary incident I experienced with my ex-husband just before our second anniversary. It was a Sunday afternoon, and he started drinking after we came home from church, which irritated me. Things escalated verbally and I left for about 45 minutes. When I came back home, I began packing a bag to leave and give us space from each other for the night. He got belligerent and assumed I was going to another man’s house. He began taking my clothes out of the closet and throwing them at me, still on the hangers. He punched and kicked me, hit me in the mouth, and slammed my head on the dining room table. Scared out of my mind, I kicked and screamed to get him off of me. After chasing me into our bedroom, he then threw me on the bed and sat on top of me for 20 minutes, attempting to calm me down. When he finally got off, I ran to my car barefoot, with only my cell phone, and called my sister.

He was arrested that night but despite what he did to me, I wasn’t worried about myself or my injuries. I just didn’t want him to go to jail. I actually even got him out of jail three days later. When I initially spoke to him, rather than being remorseful, he said: “I can’t believe you let them take me to jail.”

After that ordeal, I stayed with him because I wanted my marriage to work. We went to counseling for six weeks but never talked about the physical abuse. I convinced myself it was a one-time incident that would never happen again. The physical battery never did, but for the next six years, he was able to do way more damage with his words, and his need to control and slowly isolate me. He allowed me to go to counseling years later in our marriage, but he refused to join me. That was the beginning of my self-discovery!

I heard the voice of God telling me to sever my ties to him. But because of my fear of judgment from others, the stories he would likely tell people about me, and the mind games I was sure would ensue, ending it scared the crap out of me. In the end, he left and I started to rebuild my life. When asked by my divorce attorney, I chose to keep my married name as a reminder to myself of the choices I made without talking to God.

I am thankful that my faith in God has allowed me, and my child who is now himself a man, to walk away with our lives, and start to live it more abundantly. I believe a big contributing factor to how I ended up in an abusive relationship is the fact that I did not have a relationship with my biological father. I only met him once at the age of ten. There has been a sense of loss and lack of validation by not being connected with what I feel is 50% of who I am.

Natasha: What are your sources of personal inspiration?

Kerri: I have a really strong relationship with God, and I feel that He knows me better than anyone. I trust that he will lovingly guide me into the full realization of my purpose. Connecting with others who believe that as well, gives me the daily interaction and encouragement we all find ourselves needing.

Natasha: What advice do you have for others in domestic violence?

Kerri: If you are in immediate danger, contact law enforcement and community resources in your area. Tell someone… just start talking! Know that you are not alone. You are not the only one, and there is non-judgmental assistance available to safely walk you through the entire process of freeing yourself. A happier, purpose-filled life awaits. It only takes you knowing that your life is worth more than being on the receiving end of another person’s pain, for that life to begin.

Kerri’s story is all too common these days. Her courage to share her experience as a survivor of domestic violence and abuse is one step towards creating a more open dialogue about this serious issue. The more women speak out against domestic violence, the stronger we all become. Your story may just be the strength someone needs to make a change in their life.

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