Asia Hilario, voted Women on the Rise’s 2019 Woman of the Year, shares about overcoming trauma from childhood abuse and learning to see God as a loving and ever-present Father.
Growing up in a physically and emotionally abusive household, Asia Hilario once felt abandoned by God. She questioned where He was in her darkest time of need; then during her college years, she walked away from the church completely. It wasn’t until two years ago that Asia began to see how God was using her painful story for a purpose – to help others suffering from trauma, anxiety and depression. She tells us more about her powerful testimony and the impact she’s making as a self love coach and mental health and wellness blogger.
Q: You didn’t have the easiest life growing up. Can you tell me a little bit about those early years?
A: I was abused for years as a child – physically and verbally. I went to school with black eyes and arms full of bruises. I had to wear long sleeve shirts, even though I lived on an island and it was always hot, just to cover up the marks. Ever since I was little I felt like God was punishing me. I always questioned him like ‘Why would you do this to me? Why are you picking on me?’ Because I just felt like life was so much harder for me. I lacked self esteem from being abused as a child and had no self love. I also found my short and long term memory was affected by the abuse. I was also drawn to toxic relationships because of it.
Q: How did your journey take a turn – when were you able to start taking care of your mental health and wellness?
A: Just in the last few years have I started to get my mental health in check and really pay attention to what’s going on. That’s when I started to implement the tools and educate myself on overcoming childhood abuse. I read self help books and just started to consume all this knowledge. I felt like girls and women needed to know this information, because it helped my life so much. That’s when I started a blog, Isla Honey, just sharing my story and tips. I launched my blog in March 2019 and it took off immediately reaching people in 150 different countries.
Q: How about your spiritual health, was that broken too? If so, how did you heal that area of your life?
A: I grew up Catholic, all my life, but then once I went to college I just fell off. I wanted to keep my relationship with God, but I didn’t. To be honest, I didn’t really feel a connection with Him. Then after I started my blog, I was invited to church with a woman whose conference I was speaking at a week later. The word from the pastor that day was about speaking life and how your words can really impact and change lives. The conference I was scheduled to speak at coincidentally had the same exact theme: ‘speaking life’. That’s why it felt like the pastor was talking directly to me. After that day, I actively tried to strengthen my relationship with God.
Around that time I was reading books and listening to podcasts and just continued to do the inner work. All of it made my vision more clear that God wasn’t picking on me, He was using me and my testimony to change the world. That’s why I won Women on the Rise’s Woman of the Year award last year, which is so crazy to even just say out loud. Women saw themselves in my story, and I’m just so transparent with everything I’ve been through and it just, it really makes sense.
Q: How has your relationship with God grown since then?
A: Overall, I see my life and situation so differently now. God knew that I was going to come out on the other side and change lives. He used one life to change thousands and thousands of lives. In the last year, I’ve actively tried to strengthen my relationship with Him. And despite everything, it’s just been a crazy good year. I went back to church and now lead a Bible study. My friends have just been pointing out like, ‘Hey, your faith has just been so strong, and I see God working in your life’. And that’s probably out of all the compliments I’ve gotten in the last year my favourite. I’ve been featured everywhere – on podcasts and in articles, but when people say ‘I see God working through you’, it really touches me.
Q: Have you seen any specific instances of God’s hand in your life over the past few months?
A: Since last December I’ve been going through a break up. I went to church for the first time last October and the breakup happened soon after. Honestly, I thought I was going to feel lonely after the breakup, but there were times I almost forgot I was even going through anything. God has been with me the whole time. This is my first time going through a breakup in a healthy way – and it wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t strengthened my relationship with God first. He’s been teaching me trust and patience.I have anxiety, so it’s around the clock that I’m either going backwards in time, or thinking about the future, it’s never in the present.
It’s usually a constant battle. But it’s so crazy that when you strengthen your relationship with God, you naturally just come back to the present. Because you know that He’s weaving everything in place for good. My anxiety has calmed down and I’ve felt so much inner peace, like I’ve never known.
Follow Asia @asia.hilario or www.asiahilario.com.