Domestic violence is an epidemic that is sweeping the nation. I am grateful to those who have taken a stand to increase the awareness and advocate for those who are suffering in silence. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to interview Author Deborah J. Sheppard-Monroe. She is not only an advocate but also a survivor of Domestic Violence. In this interview, she discusses her relationship that almost cost her life, her organization and how you can also get involved in your community.
How did domestic violence affect your life?
I am a survivor of domestic violence. I was in an abusive relationship for 3 years. The abuse ranged from physical, emotional/mental, financial and sexual abuse. I would be called names such as stupid, ugly, pathetic, fat, b***h etc. I supported him financially and if I decided that I did not want to give him money, he would make me feel as though I was the most horrible person in the world. The manipulation was so strong. The physical abuse would be a mixture of being punched, slapped, choked, having my head bashed into the wall etc. Sometimes, while trying to defend myself we would end up fighting like cats and dogs. The most frightening experience was when he held a loaded Smith & Wesson gun to my head.
What was the response from family and friends like when you published your book?
There was mixture of responses. All of my friends were very supportive and encouraged me to get the word out but I only had a few family members (like 2 or 3) who actually supported my book.
How did you build up the strength and courage to leave your relationship?
One day I just decided that enough was enough. I could not take it anymore. I had lost my identity, put on over 50lbs, I feared for my life constantly and it became just too much. I could not cheat my future husband and children out of a wife and mother.
How do you stay involved in your community as a domestic violence survivor and advocate?
I founded an organization called VICTIMIZE ME NO MORE and I use this organization as my platform for advocacy. We do programs with schools, churches, other non-profits and community organizations to spread the message of HOPE and to ENCOURAGE everyone to help fight this epidemic.
What would you say to someone who has or currently is experiencing domestic violence within their relationship?
Wow. This is a really good question. I would say to them: I know what it is like to want to leave but feel like you can’t. I know what it is like to want to change your mate but nothing seems to work. I know what it is like to love and hate at the same time. I know what it is like to lose yourself and family/friends all at the same time. I know what it is like to cry and feel like nobody hears me. I KNOW!!! Never feel like you are alone and never feel like this is your fault because it is not. You are a beautiful individual who deserves happiness, who deserves to laugh, live and love. You are stronger than what you think. Use your strength and courage to step out of this relationship and live the life that God has ordained for you. Happiness and true love is waiting for you. Don’t make them wait any longer. Most importantly, don’t waste too much time because that extra day you decide to stay could be the day your abuser takes your life.
Why do you think there is a lack of discussion within the African American community about Domestic Violence?
One thing that I have learned and it hurts to admit but things such as abuse (child abuse, domestic violence etc.) in the African American community is often sweep under the rug. We have adopted the saying “Stay out of other people’s homes”. This motto has cost people so many lives.
How do you envision changing the level of awareness and discussion with the African American community?
My dream is that the men and women who are big in the African American community (celebs, reality stars, athletes etc.) who have been victims of Domestic Violence will speak up about it. We live in a society where people with a platform don’t always use it in a positive manner. Our generation looks up to these powerful men and women and what better way to use that power by promoting awareness!!
What suggestions do you have for someone that wants to get involved in their community and increase the awareness of domestic violence?
GO FOR IT!! SOMEBODY HAS TO DO IT!! Make a plan, connect with people, schools, churches and different organizations in your community and find out what the needs are. Find the stats of victims in your community and make those people your target audience and start from there.
What feedback have you received from your readers about Hurt No More?
The number one thing readers tell me after reading HURT NO MORE is “I can’t believe you were that transparent in this book” I always laugh and say, “why not? People have to know that they are not alone and the only way other victims can take me seriously is by knowing my story”.
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