Cycles from Alicia Afshar on Vimeo.

“People can make you feel like a slave,” says Maria Perez on Ventura Avenue in Ventura, California, as she watches rain go down the gutter.

“He was telling me, ‘Oh its good that you tell her to go away, because she doesn’t want to see how I’m gonna kill you,'” says 42 year old, Maria Perez.

She married a man who physically and verbally abused her for 18 years. She had a daughter with him at 20-years-old and a son four years later. After divorcing her abusive husband in 2009, she holds a restraining order against him despite living within a few miles of him in Ventura.

Her daughter, Elizabeth, has also found herself in an abusive relationship, resulting in her becoming quiet and submissive. Elizabeth is now 21 years old and has a 4-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy with her abusive boyfriend. Her boyfriend was also beaten as a child.

“People alone cannot change. If they don’t get help, they’re going to do the same thing again and again,” says Maria. Domestic abuse is a vicious cycle that consumes entire families, generation after generation. Maria’s ex-husband was physically and verbally abused as a child and the cycle has continued throughout his life.

Maria battles with falling into the same cycles over and over, and being in this kind of relationship is almost an addiction in itself. Maria watches her mistakes happen all over again in her daughter’s life. She has chosen to let her voice be heard in an effort to prevent innocent women and children from sharing her pain,

“When you have hope and when you believe in yourself, life is going to change, and it’s going to be a better future,” Maria emotionally reveals, “because if we come here, it’s for a reason.” This piece explores the question as to why these women go back to their abusers, and why we care for those that hurt us.