By Jenn Rockefeller
For International Women’s Month, Break The Silence Against Domestic Violence is celebrating inspiring women who create and champion change. One such woman is Ashley Cornelius.
“Change is such an important part of the work I do because it is needed in order for society to move forward. I am focused on creating inclusive and diverse environments for creative self-expression,” said Ashley.
The driving force in her desire to create this change comes from experiencing feelings of being different and not good enough when she was growing up.
“I had issues with self-esteem, confidence, drive, and motivation. All of these things contributed to the idea that I wasn’t enough, which was reflected in unhealthy and toxic romantic, friendships and even work relationships,” she said.
Ashley is driven to change the way society sees leaders and other adult figures because it can shape the way young minds, especially young girls, view themselves. So often, she said, young girls are taught to believe they aren’t good enough to achieve their dreams. Ashley wants to change this.
“I aim to help young girls, specifically, to unlearn the internalized oppressive rhetorics that we hear daily, [like] ‘you’re too fat, not pretty enough, not strong enough,’ and empower them to live authentically. All of these narratives are tied into the way we seek and stay in relationships and provid[e] education and support to understand what healthy relationships should and can look like,” said Ashley.
Part of how Ashley will accomplish such change is by becoming part of BTS. She recently joined BTS as part of our Speakers Bureau, saying that she feels that “being a speaker for BTS was another way to continue to speak up and out for myself and for those who have continually been silenced.”
Ashley’s background in poetry education and workshops, as well as lecturing on how poetry can be used as a healing tool, has equipped her with the knowledge to help others in their journeys. She advocates for using writing and our voices as tools to effect the change we seek. Her poetry background also helps the younger generation process things through their writing. Ashley’s master’s degree in international disaster psychology, as well as her being a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate (LPCC), aids in her work on an adolescent inpatient psychiatric unit in Denver.
Her journey with BTS really began nearly one year ago when she met BTS founder, Kristen Faith. In their meeting, Ashley said she learned that the work BTS does is “inclusive and supportive of all individuals who have been in abusive, toxic, unhealthy relationships and I saw the amazing work that was being accomplished and I realized spoke to my own life story.”
From there, Ashley was invited to host a writing workshop at the Survivor Sister Retreat in 2017. Her workshop focused on empowerment and self-love through writing prompts and round table discussions.
Part of that self-love also means self-care. For Ashley, writing is her go-to self-care activity. She explains that it allows her to just “process and flow onto a paper without any expectations.” Other modes of self-care she enjoys are saying no when she cannot commit to something, taking herself out on dates, and enjoying pedicures and bath bombs. “For me, I love all of those modes of self-care and they allow me to be pampered and not worry about anything else but myself,” she said.
Join BTS in celebrating strong, inspiring women like Ashley.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.