SÃO PAULO — Violence has stalked Joana* throughout her life.
After surviving a brutal childhood she had to defend herself and her two children from an abusive husband from whom she eventually ran after he tried to stab her to death. It didn’t stop there.
Struggling to make ends meet in her new home in a violence-plagued shantytown in São Paulo, Joana took in a nephew in order to help pay the rent but he was lured into local drug gangs.
“They wanted to show us who was boss,” the 40-year-old black Brazilian told VICE News, cracking a smile that quickly faded. “They raped me and my young daughter, and threatened to do the same to my son.”
Sitting in a small stuffy room with black mold creeping down the walls, Joana remembered her desperation over five lonely years of near-daily violent abuse.