“After a year of passionate romance with a handsome, charismatic man, I was stunned when he began to abuse me,” said Brooke Axtell.
“I believed he was lashing out because he was in pain and needed help,” Axtell continued. “I believed my compassion could restore him and our relationship. My empathy was used against me.
“I was terrified of him and ashamed I was in this position. What bound me to him was my desire to heal him. My compassion was incomplete because it did not include me. When he threatened to kill me, I knew I had to escape.”
Brooke Axtell concluded her speech with a message to encourage others who continue to suffer in the throes of abuse.
“Authentic love does not devalue another human being,” she said. “Authentic love does not silence shame and abuse.”
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) February 9, 2015
In an interview with Slate, the Austin-based activist and performance artist shared her story of being trafficked by her nanny at age 7.
Later, as an adult, Brooke Axtell was involved in the physically and emotionally abusive relationship that she spoke of in her Grammys speech.
— Brooke Axtell (@SurvivorHealing) February 8, 2015
Katy Perry followed up Axtell’s speech with a beautiful performance of By the Grace of God.
“It’s an honor to collaborate with Katy in this way. She has been very devoted to various aspects of female empowerment,” Brooke Axtell told People magazine earlier this week of the performance.
“It’s going to bring a lot of encouragement and freedom to those who hear my story and know that they are not alone in this,” she added.
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) February 9, 2015
Brooke Axtell is the director of communications for Allies Against Slavery, a nonprofit organization that fights against human trafficking.