I didn’t know anything about domestic violence, until I was in a relationship that drained me emotionally, physically and spiritually. I thought domestic violence was just when a man put his hands on a woman. I had already vowed that if a man ever put his hands on me that would be the end, no explaining or reconciling. I didn’t realize that his very words were the blows that would knock me out, kill my self-esteem and paralyze me with depression all while he was telling me he loved me.
But there was some familiarity there. I experienced this same type of relationship growing up, but it was with my mother. It was usual for my mother to take her frustrations out verbally on me and my siblings. She always made the attempts to make it all better by giving us anything we wanted. Quite naturally, I gravitated more towards my dad in order to shield myself from the verbal and emotional lashings. What I didn’t realize was that once the words were spoken the impact had already been made. When my parents divorced during my Sophmore year of college, I no longer had my father to take the bitterness and sting out of the verbal lashings. After I completed college, I returned home but to my surprise it was far from what I had remembered.
I don’t know if I was trying to create a family or fill a void that I didn’t realize existed. He told me everything I wanted to hear. He always wanted me around and he even played the whole marriage game early. He was playing with my heart, all the while making it hard for me to make sense of it all in my mind. I entered a relationship that took me 8 years to leave, 1 year to forgive and another year to rediscover my purpose. “I show my scars so that others know they can heal.”
The boundaries we set in relationships and friendships are learned early on through parent-child relationships. Parents you are the first teachers and the first to bring awareness. What are you teaching? As parents, we have to build up our child’s self-esteem not tear it down. We have to speak life and not death. We have to speak words that heal and not create wounds. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can also hurt me.” We have to prepare our children for the ugly world that is out there. They have to know what to accept, what to walk away from and how to recognize it before it goes to far. We have to make them aware and even educate ourselves not just one month out of the year but constantly, as infants, toddlers, adolescents, young adults and parents. What I didn’t know, hurt me.
You can read more about my story here
- Paint the Night Purple for Domestic Violence Awareness (gammasigservice.wordpress.com)
- Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Real talk on domestic violence, the pain… the shame… and the roots (thegrio.com)
- Hurt No More: No Longer A Victim (rhachellenicol.com)