Survivor Turns Her Life Full Circle
She spent her 21st birthday — with her three-month-old and 18-month-old daughters — in a domestic violence shelter. Since then, Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant Courtney Taylor Weil has turned her life full circle — from an emergency shelter resident escaping domestic abuse with only the clothes on her back to one of the shelter’s key supporters. Read how she’s helping other domestic abuse survivors and about her own harrowing journey.
So many doors opened for me as a result of being active in my community and running my Mary Kay business the past seven years. I've had so much opportunity to give back to The Mary Kay Foundation℠ and my local community. It’s been phenomenal!
Locally, I’m determined to make a difference for the residents of The Spring of Tampa Bay, Inc., a domestic violence shelter that gave me life-saving assistance and emergency housing 25 years ago as I and my two daughters escaped an abusive relationship — through a window with only the clothes on our backs.
I feel a kinship with the residents at The Spring. I’ve walked in their shoes and have been where they are!
Every 45 days, my team and I host a class at the shelter: Love The Skin You’re In! We teach women how to take care of their skin and the importance of taking three-five minutes for themselves each morning to wash their face.
At the end of class, participants take a pledge, “I promise to love the skin I’m in!” Each woman receives full-size donated Mary Kay® products: cleanser, moisturizer and foundation, lipstick and mascara so she can continue good skin care and have makeup to wear to job interviews.
We encourage women to see themselves as beautiful and practice self-care. As they nurture themselves, the residents become more open and begin to care more about each other too.
My team and I also make holidays special! We donate items to set up a special gift store for the residents where the moms can select gifts for their children and the children can chose Mary Kay® products for mom.
Walking Her Purpose To Change Lives
Mikki Petit-Frere, health and wellness champion at The Spring of Tampa Bay Inc. in Tampa, Florida, comments. Mikki’s role is to help domestic violence survivors with medical and wellness concerns. (Editor’s note: The Spring received a Nature Explore Classroom in 2015 from Mary Kay Inc,. The Mary Kay Foundation℠ and the Arbor Day Foundation, and also received a shelter grant from The Foundation in 2009.)
I love Courtney! She is walking her truth and making a big difference in this community. She is a thriving survivor!
When we started the health and wellness program four years ago, she proposed the Love the Skin You’re In! class. This therapeutic class has become our most popular offering and has created a buzz in the community.
The women love Courtney! She gets where the survivors have been because she has been there. She shows them how to love and care for themselves.
Learning self-care gives them permission to be good to themselves. Courtney truly has a gift for empowering women!
She also shares how running her Mary Kay business changed her life and allows her to spend time with her family and to volunteer in the community addressing domestic violence issues.
Her message is powerful. She knows where she was, where she is and where she is going. She is really walking in her purpose and changing lives!
A Family Comes Full Circle
Now, my daughters, Christina, 26, and Capriana, 25, and my son Taylor, 19, and I take an active role to raise awareness of the epidemic of domestic violence and create positive change.
Twenty-five years ago, The Spring gave us critical sanctuary and helped us rebuild our lives. My children and I are proud to be attending the 27th Annual Gift of Peace Lunch benefiting The Spring on Oct. 5, 2017. We’re deeply committed to helping.
This will be the first time we are all together as I share my story. My message will show the successful impact of getting myself out of a violent situation and giving my children an opportunity to grow up in a peaceful home — becoming strong, happy, successful people instead of statistics.
I believe when you speak out, you take power away from things that are bad and allow them to be changed to something good that may help other people.
My son also has become a male advocate against domestic violence. He participates in events where teens are educated to recognize the signs of unhealthy relationships and domestic abuse.
My children and I are extremely fortunate. Together, we have truly come full circle!
Editor's note: Below is Courtney Taylor Weil's original story, published in 2013.
Inspiring Women Toward Brighter Futures
In her own words: Independent Senior Sales Director Courtney Taylor shares her journey of thriving after escaping the cycle of domestic violence
When my children and I finally got out of life-threatening situations and built solid lives, I knew I wanted to give back to other women. I want them to know they can be successful and have a brighter future.
My experience with abuse started with mental abuse from my mom when I was a child.
I come from four generations of mothers who had difficult relationships with their daughters.
I thought I’d met my “prince charming” after I started college to pursue my goal of becoming a doctor. He wanted to know my hopes and dreams. He seemed so caring and attentive toward me, unlike what I had experienced growing up. Unfortunately, he later used those hopes and dreams to alienate me from my friends and family.
We had a fast courtship, and I unexpectedly found myself in a highly controlled situation. My ex dominated my life. I could not go anywhere or do anything without him. I had to leave behind my dream of going to school, and I became pregnant at 18.
At first, I experienced only mental abuse and anguish in my relationship. That suddenly changed when I was nine months pregnant and my baby was overdue. My ex got angry and hit me in the face until it was black and blue.
The abuse escalated when our daughter was a couple months old. I had to call a SWAT team to help me and my infant daughter escape. My dad came from Montana to help us. He took us to Montana to live with him.
My ex and his parents begged me to come back. He said he was in counseling and committed to continue to that. I believed him, and wanted to keep our family together. I moved back to be with him. But the violence started again the first night I was back, and he kicked me in the stomach.
It took me another year before I could escape because my every move was controlled and continuous terrifying threats were made against me and my family — I was a captive. During that year I became pregnant through a forced sexual encounter. My ex-husband wanted me to abort the baby but I could not go through with it.
After my second daughter was born, he would not allow me to hold her or feed her while was he was around. Every time he would leave, I would rush to feed and nurture her as much as possible. Eventually she got ill and was diagnosed with failure to thrive syndrome.
People around me at my waitressing job noticed I was showing signs of domestic violence. When anyone got physically near me, I would instinctively be startled and flinch as a reaction to living in constant fear. My colleagues suggested I get help from The Spring of Tampa Bay, a domestic violence shelter. I got the courage to call the shelter, and shelter counselors helped me create safety and exit plans so my daughters and I could leave.
One night when my husband came home drunk he beat me up — cracking my skull and spraining my neck. After he passed out, I grabbed my two daughters, then 3-months and 18-months-old, and we crawled out the window with only the clothes on our backs. We made it to the police station and got transportation to the shelter, where I spent my 21st birthday.
The shelter was safe and clean. The employees were blessings. They clothed and fed us and took us for medical care. They got me an attorney, individual and group counseling and opened so many doors. The Spring continued to give us help even after we were no longer residents.
After my daughters and I got resettled, I fell in love again, married and had a son. My career blossomed with jobs in restaurant management and aviation training. My husband and I had 10 good years together before he got injured, became depressed and turned to alcohol. We moved our family to Arizona, and I began working as a counselor a residential facility for at risk 12‒18-year-old girls.
As I helped the girls at the residential facility gain self-esteem and living skills, I also grew stronger and stronger. Unfortunately, my husband’s alcoholism resulted in three DUI convictions, and he was imprisoned. My children and I then moved back to Florida.
When my oldest daughter turned 18, I wanted to give her the gift of good skin care — a gift I had never given myself. I found Executive Senior Sales Director Vicki Piccirilli, and hosted a party for my daughter’s birthday. Vicki arrived in her pink Cadillac, and we were all wowed!
I enjoyed hosting the party and by the end of it, my friends, my daughters and Vicki said I was a great hostess and should begin a Mary Kay business. I thought they were all crazy. But when I woke up the next morning, I knew it was the right thing. I wrote a check for $100 to get started.
Even though I was working in insurance marketing, we were barely surviving. I started working my Mary Kay business part time. My car broke down after a party, and I didn’t know how I could buy another car because my credit had been damaged by my ex-husband.
I turned my face to God, not knowing what would happen next. With Vicki’s encouragement, I set my mind to earning a car, which I did in three and a half months. And one month after that, I became an Independent Sales Director! That was two years ago.
My life is great now. I get to help women find their beauty again. Through Mary Kay, I learned to be proud, to love myself and to take good care of myself. I always wanted my children to be proud of me. It's a blessing to have achieved this. My son spoke at my Director debut and said he believed I could accomplish anything because I set my mind to earning a car, and I did.
My three children are thriving and experiencing success now! My Mary Kay business has given me the opportunity to show them accomplishment and leadership by example.
Earlier in life I wanted to be a doctor to help people. Now I get to help women. I love that about my business. Every day, I watch women support and love each other. We have an amazing Mary Kay community and fellowship.
It’s been an incredible journey. God protected my heart through all of my trials. Now, I have a wonderful, close relationship with God.