October marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I’m thankful that healing has taken place and that I am able to share my story of survival. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year. Allow me to share my story of surviving domestic violence with you.
I will never forget the day I met him, it was March of 1989. I was hanging with some friends that I had recently met in my new neighborhood. One day we were casually strolling, when one of the girls said as we walked by his house, “girl there is
He walked us to the back, and from the looks of it, we must have interrupted his grooming process. Yes, he had a grooming process. His boxers, t-shirts, and sox were ironed to perfection. He must have spent at least 30 minutes shining each gold tooth. His waves were kept perfect by his black wave cap and all of his shoes were in order by brand name and color. His professionally dry cleaned clothes stood up in the closet like soldiers. He began to make small talk and asked what we were up to. He seemed really friendly and down to earth. He appeared to be a really cool person. We must have stayed for a couple of hours. Just before we left, he asked my friend who I was.
Eventually, I introduced myself to him. After that meeting, I would sneak over to his house. All hell was breaking loose at home, so in some way, it was an escape or more like a trap looking back. We were in the early stages of the crack cocaine epidemic and it was doing a number on the members of the community. I was just satisfied with the attention. I eventually lost my virginity to him. Too afraid to tell anyone, I held that secret close to my heart. I was 14 doing things reserved for grown folk. I went to see a man about a dog and got bit. My cousins were angry at me for hanging out so late, If only they knew. Eventually, my secret told
THE UGLY TRUTH
So there I was, 14 and pregnant from a guy I had only known a few months. At the beginning of my pregnancy I weighed 89 pounds. Even at 9 months I was trying to process what was going on in my life. Regardless if I understood or not, my son was ready to come.
Okay Ms. Wright, we are ready for you. The prepping process for my C-section was now complete. After I gave birth to my son, I was scared, confused and worried. All 112 pounds of me had no clue how to be a mom, my family was in shambles at this point and I was still a child myself who barley had a roof over her head. So, this young man whispering sweet nothings in my ear made things seem okay, if only for a moment. He was at the hospital for the birth even purchased me some gifts.
The violence didn’t show itself until after I had my son. His controlling nature and jealousy when around other men were the first major signs. Then tight grips around by neck while kissing me soon followed. Accusations of me cheating and hanging out with other men were frequent. All of this seemed strange because I was a virgin prior to meeting him and had not known any other men. As word began to spread that I had a child from him, the rumors began to swirl. Rumors of him being a womanizer and abuser were chief. Unfortunately, those rumors weren’t rumors any more. One day we were hanging out in the back while the baby was up front with his mom. I’m not sure what I said, but whatever I said set him off. I remember him punching me so hard in my chest that I lost my breath momentarily. He didn’t stop, it was one punch after another. I never backed down from him, but I knew that I couldn’t beat him. His mom heard us fighting and rushed to the back of the house. She snatched the telephone off the wall and began to beat him with it until he stopped. As she pulled us apart, she cursed him out and told him she didn’t want him putting his hands on me anymore. She told me, that I needed to just leave him alone, but I couldn’t. This violent man had become the love of my life, or so I thought. I couldn’t leave. On his good days, he was so sweet and charming. I just caught him on a bad day, at least that’s I would tell myself; or maybe I should not have said what I said to set him off. Besides, he was my son’s father, so I couldn’t just leave him alone. He was my first, the bond was just too deep. I made up so many excuses and totally disregarded the safety of my son in the process. I just wanted us to be one happy family.
Things would cool down and appear to be okay. As soon as I would begin to have hope that we would be together and happy, the violence would appear. One day I was waiting on the cab to pick me up from his house. I must have unknowingly said or did something again to set him off. I was sitting on the arm of the sofa with my son in my lap and he was sitting across the room. He picked up a heavy glass ashtray and began tossing it in the air. Then he dared me to say another word and he would throw it at me. He didn’t care if I was holding my son, he would have aimed high enough to hit me. As things began to escalate, I heard the horn of the cab. I let out a deep sigh of relief and hugged my son tightly, then hurried out of the door and into the cab. One would think that I would have stayed out and away from him but I didn’t. We continued to date and the violence continued both publicly and privately. My aunt whom I was living with at the time, didn’t like him. In fact, she banned me from seeing him. Torn and full of rage, I became rebellious. Despite the abuse, I wasn’t ready to leave. Being without him was painful, so painful that I tried to end my life. My aunt thought I did it to spit her, but that wasn’t the case. In my mind the one person that I believed loved me and whom I shared a child with, I could not be with, tore me to pieces. That along with feeling abandoned because of the breakdown of my immediate family was a recipe for a meltdown. I ended up leaving my aunt’s house and moving in with my grandmother. By this time, more people knew of the abuse and I didn’t care. More people knew that I had his child and would waste no time in pointing out his indiscretions, I didn’t care. I stayed and clung to the notion of false love. Besides, any attempts at moving on and seeing other people were met with violence by him. So, there I stood in life, needing to move on, but being too afraid to do so.
THE WILL TO LIVE
One night my friend and I were hanging out at the teen club and he spotted me. He called me to the bathroom and I was nervous because I knew how he could flip at the drop of dime. So I went and the threats started. I should break your break your mother fucking neck. You know I can kill you right now….I panicked because there was nowhere to go. He tell me this as his hand is around my throat. Thank God his friend was nearby and got in between the both of us. I left that night, not even thinking anymore about it. Later in the week he had asked to see his son. I obliged.
To this day I don’t remember how things started, but I do remember how they ended.
……Say something bitch, yeah I got the knife now.” The words rang loud as I lay pinned down to the ground, while my son’s father straddled me. His sweat dripped onto my face as his dark brown eyes filled with rage, pierced my soul. As my back touched the warm sand, it seemed as if my heart was beating a thousand beats per minute. Through my tears I asked him, so you’re just going to do this? So you’re just going kill me in front of my son, because he is watching. I had to say something. I was 17 by this time, but in my spirit I had a strong feeling of tiredness. It pained me to look to my right, only to see my son yelling and screaming at the tender age of two. He watched as his father held my life in his hands as if he were some type of God. On that day, my son’s grandmother wasn’t there to stop him, like she had so many other times. His best friend wasn’t there to stop him, as he had often done so many times. No one it seemed was there, but I was wrong. I wasn’t ready to die, but I didn’t want to continue to live with him in my life. I had finally had enough. Domestic violence would not be my legacy.
Suddenly, someone yelled out his dads name and he dropped the knife. The police and ambulance were called. The paramedic came first and checked me over. I was advised to leave because I drew the knife first. According to the paramedic, because I didn’t have any wounds on me and he had wounds on his chest, I could have been arrested. I left his house with my son in a daze, but thankful that I was still alive. I thought that was the end, but he wasn’t done. Although, I maintained my distance, I would still see him in the streets. He would attempt to start fights and make threats of violence towards me.
As time passed on, the scars healed and my attachment to him lessened. My love for him was a lot harder to let go of. I really didn’t understand at that time, just how traumatic the relationship was. I am eternally grateful that I survived because I know many women that weren’t so lucky. I gained so many lessons from that relationship; most importantly, the ability to recognize signs of an abuser. Unfortunately, I also became verbally abusive. My mouth had become a vicious weapon. I was filled with so much bitterness, anger and pain. As years passed, the physical abuse that I endured and my issues of abandonment built up. The undoing of the abuse was a very long and sometimes painful journey. I received my breakthrough many years later. One day while at home, I became so disgusted with myself. In tears, I yelled out to God that I needed help in learning how to love the way He does. I needed help to become a better person, one that was capable of building people up instead of tearing them down. My change did not come overnight, but with His help, I became committed to being a better person. Today, with much confidence, I can say that I am that woman that I cried out to become. The woman that speaks life and one who looks often through the lenses of compassion. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I am adult enough to right my wrongs in the event I do offend.
I firmly believe that even our negative experiences in life do not have to break us. In fact, negative experiences can be the driving force behind us becoming who are truly meant to be in life. If you need help, please don’t suffer in silence. Domestic violence can be deadly. Reach out to a trusted individual and gain your freedom. Self-love is the best love. Thanks for allowing me to share my story with you. Take care.