WACO, Texas (FOX 44) – April Hernandez-Castillo is a girl from the Bronx who dared to follow her dreams and in her memoir, ‘Embracing Me‘, she shares her story of growing up in the tough streets of the Bronx during the Crack Epidemic Era, as well as being in an abusive relationship.

April Hernandez-Castillo shares parts of her life with complete transparency in her memoir ‘Embracing Me’ where she was able to fully embrace herself.

“I was ready to share it freely, without shame, without any guilt, because I understand the power of story, especially from a Latina,” says actress/author April Hernandez-Castillo.

April is best known for her performance as “Eva” in the hit movie, Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank. She starred on TV shows such as Person of Interest, Law & Order: SVU, Dexter, and New Amsterdam to name a few.

But behind the scenes she shares in her memoir, the many challenges she’s overcome in her lifetime, including the abusive relationship she was in for almost three-and-a-half years, beginning when she was just 16.

“It was a very tough time in my life, especially being so young and and being afraid to talk about it,” says Hernandez-Castillo.

April hid the abuse from her parents, as talking about domestic abuse has become taboo in the Hispanic culture. April says it took her almost ten years to open up to her family about the relationship. She says it was hard for her to finally share something so intimate.

“I think the goal is breaking the stigma, especially in the Latin culture. We don’t talk about things, you know, they don’t talk about Bruno and Encanto, it’s like that,” says Hernandez-Castillo.

For the past twenty years April has been using her platform to advocate for intimate partner violence. Connecting with other victims and letting them know they’re not alone.

“Once you begin sharing your journey, you really understand how many people are suffering in silence. And that’s the that’s the biggest thing that abuse does, is silences your voice,” says Hernandez-Castillo.

Being a survivor of an abusive relationship April knows the signs and wishes parents would take notice, like changes in their child’s behavior.

“You see that their personality all of a sudden begins to change, or their graves where they become when they’re around this person that they’re intimate with or they’re dating, you notice that maybe they don’t act like themselves,” says Hernandez-Castillo.

You can watch here for the full interview.