The road Jaslene Gonzalez traveled to become America's Next Top Model's eighth season winner was apparently a long one, as she had to overcome an abusive relationship prior to conquering the catwalk.

"Before I got into that relationship, I had a good head on my shoulders and walked with my head up high," said Gonzalez in the July issue of Seventeen, People reported Monday.  "But during that relationship, things went down little by little. It was such a dark moment in my life. It was horrible!"

The 21-year-old online college admissions advisor from Chicago, IL said the relationship could have completely set her back from achieving her dream of winning Top Model, but she wouldn't let it.

"I wasn't having my rest or eating the food I wanted to eat. So I mentally gave up, but I still did what I had to do," she told Seventeen, according to People.  "I think perseverance is the key to success. There were so many roadblocks for me, but I overcame them all."

In addition to receiving a management deal with Elite Model Management, a $100,000 contract with cosmetics company CoverGirl, and the six-page fashion and beauty layout in July's Seventeen magazine for winning Top Model 8, Gonzalez now finds herself in a situation to help others in abusive relationships. 

"I can give so much advice, but it starts within yourself," she told Seventeen, according to People.  "You need to get help. Talk to somebody, because once you talk about it, you hear it, and then you understand what you're going through. That's what it took for me to let go."

Gonzalez is living proof that the strength gained from overcoming past difficulties can help you achieve your goal in life, as she had always aspired to become a model.

"I couldn't believe how mature, strong, and confident I've grown," Gonzalez told Seventeen, adding her journey was not an easy one even once she made it as a finalist on Top Model 8.  "I definitely broke down along the way though."
About The Author: Christopher Rocchio
Christopher Rocchio is an entertainment reporter for Reality TV World and has covered the reality TV genre for several years.