Today, Carla Castro is a strong, determined entrepreneur, but she has come a long way. About 20 years ago, she was a frightened immigrant, pregnant and dependent on a boyfriend who pressured her mercilessly for an abortion. When she refused, he withheld financial resources.
“People were not talking about all the types of domestic violence during those days,” Castro recalls. “Violence is not always physical. Psychological abuse does not leave bruises, but the trauma can be every bit as painful.”
Thankfully, Castro reached out for the support she needed, but her story is not unique. Statistics reveal that approximately 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, amounting to over 10 million victims each year. One out of every three women have experienced some type of physical violence, and one out of four have been victims of severe physical violence. As the co-founder of Botoplace, Castro is determined to use her new business to empower the women who share her story.
Carla Castro is a survivor of domestic violence
Looking back, Castro remembers those difficult days. “I had no idea how to help myself or my child. Thanks to the legal support and counseling I received, I discovered a way out of the darkness and began to grow strong again.”
Despite her boyfriend’s demands, Castro returned to Brazil to give birth. Today, she thinks of her 21-year-old son and says, “I’ll always be grateful I didn’t let a man dictate what I did with my body and my life.”
As a young mother, her fight for women’s rights began all over again. “I couldn’t even apply for my son’s birth certificate as a single mother,” she remembers. “In Brazil, 10 years ago, only a married woman could give her father’s name to her child. It was a very male-dominated political system in those days.”
Castro began volunteering with the Brazilian-based organization Grupo Mulheres do Brazil. “We empowered survivors of domestic violence,” she remarks. “Every day, we watched these women grow stronger. The privilege of being part of that work meant everything to me.”
Launching the Empower Yourself Project at Botoplace
Castro returned to the US with a decade’s experience in marketing, an innovative business plan, and a commitment to continue her work with survivors of domestic violence. In August 2022, she launched Botoplace, the first-ever walk-in, flat-rate Botox clinic in the US. “When I started this business, I knew I wanted to incorporate purpose into our work,” she says. “I have been where these women are, and now it is my turn to give back and help them with my company.”
Castro believes in the therapeutic power of Botox, and she’s not alone. While most are aware of Botox’s use in cosmetic procedures, many are unfamiliar with new research suggesting it is an effective treatment for feelings of ongoing sadness and hopelessness.
The idea that Botox injections can alleviate and reduce symptoms of depression originated in a small 2006 study. A larger study in 2012 incorporated a control group and found that Botox decreases symptoms of depression significantly within six weeks. Further studies continued to corroborate these initial findings.
Botoplace’s program for victims of domestic violence centers on empowerment. Castro believes women who take care of themselves on the outside gain strength and determination to take care of themselves on the inside. She approached her three toxin suppliers: Botox Cosmetic®, Dysport®, and Xeomin® and found each company eager to lend their support.
To kick off the Empower Yourself Project, Castro also partnered with the South Florida chapter of Grupo Mulheres do Brazil — the same organization she volunteered with while in Brazil. The nonprofit recommends women who will benefit from the support Castro offers at Botoplace and sends them for a skin-care consultation and Botox treatment.
“Most of these women come to us feeling responsible for the violence they endure,” Castro says. “Grupo Mulheres do Brazil provides legal and psychological help. I follow up by sharing my story and the importance of establishing a self-care routine. Each woman receives a screening, consultation, and treatment free of charge.”
Castro’s goal is to come alongside 10 survivors of domestic violence each month. Though the program has only been running for two months, she is profoundly moved by the experience. “These women become my friends,” she says. “Many of them return the next day to give me a hug and share how our time together impacted them. Helping these women is my purpose in life.
Botoplace’s mission is to provide: “Just Botox, but more than Botox.” The company facilitates an empowering environment focused on building self-esteem.
“You can get Botox anywhere, but our goal is to change lives,” Castro explains. “Self-esteem is power and protection. We enable survivors of domestic violence to believe in themselves through improved image and self-care.”
As a survivor of domestic violence, Castro integrates purpose into her business by investing in other survivors. “We remind these women how important they are and help them make peace with themselves. Botoplace enables survivors to take a new look at themselves and at life.”