It’s been a while since I have featured an author and I thought it was time to change that. It was by chance that I heard about Author Brenda Thomas. Her story is one that I knew would be great for my readers and Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Laying Down My Burdens is her latest work and I was able to ask her some questions about her career as a writer, how domestic violence has impacted her life and how she is increasing awareness.
What inspired you to write your first novel and the others that followed?
I always wanted to be a writer but my ex-husband, under threat of death wouldn’t allow me to write. Once divorced and changing careers from corporate to sports, I penned my first novel, Threesome, where seduction, power and basketball collide.
Although your earlier writings were fiction, were there any similarities between you and a character(s)? Always similarities, because you write from what you know, but those similarities are spread across multiple characters, along with people who have been in my life, the news, media, family, friends, etc.
What inspired Laying Down My Burdens? I suffered in an abusive marriage for 15 years and knew that one day I would need to tell my story, hopefully in order to let other women know that there is hope and freedom.
Was the transition from fiction to non-fiction difficult? Yes, especially when writing about my own life. I went through so much emotional pain and at times changed my mind because I thought I was an awful person for having put myself through the abuse. Still was thinking it was my fault.
At any time during writing your memoir did you want to quit? All the time, that is until my daughter told me that if I didn’t complete, that I was still letting my ex-husband control me.
What was the response like from family and friends upon reading your memoir? Shock about everything they didn’t know. Anger at me and at him and some were mad at the light in which they were shown or in that regard, not shown. But in the end after the dust settled they were proud of me and the courage I’d shown in writing it.
How has domestic violence impacted your life? It’s impacted every area of my life because I’m always looking for it around every corner. But it doesn’t control me, I love my life, being with my family and pursuing relationships.
From publishing your memoir to now working on the movie adaptation, what types of emotions have you experienced? Is it like reliving it all over again? Yes, because as I watch the movie unfold, I too can’t believe it’s my life. Mostly though I feel bad about what I put my parents and my children through. But I’m happy to be doing it and still surprised that it’s really happening and that it was really my life back then. I’ve come a long way.
What would you say to someone who is experiencing domestic violence in their relationship or marriage? Never let go to your hope of getting out. If you’re considering leaving you need to make a plan because you will only leave when you’ve had enough. Not when your friends and family think it’s enough. Most importantly, it’s not your fault, you don’t deserve it and you can’t change that person. There’s nothing you can do to stop them from abusing you. And continue to pray to whatever God or higher power you believe in.
What is the one thing that you feel people don’t understand about domestic violence? They always think that since we often return to our abuser that we like it. And the one that bugs me the most is when people ask me, “Well what did you do?” Also people think that one type of domestic violence isn’t as bad as the other, i.e., emotional, mental, financial, vs. physical.
How are you increasing awareness? I continue to speak to women, girls and men about the affects and signs of domestic violence. It’s important that when I speak I tell the truth about what happened. No sugar coating. I’m also talking with Women Against Abuse about how best I can help their efforts to continue building the proper facilities to house women in emergency shelters.
Thank you so much for your time and showing your scars! How can my readers connect with you? You can contact Author Brenda Thomas via her website at http://www.brendalthomas.net
In 2007, Thomas departed from fiction and ventured into the difficult reality of her own past with a graphic and deeply moving depiction of her 15 year struggle with domestic violence and drug addiction, when she released her memoir, Laying Down My Burdens.
Having established herself in corporate America as an executive and personal assistant at such companies as IBM, Morgan Lewis, Domus, and Director of Player Relations at AND 1 Basketball, Thomas became a sought after speaker, appearing on such shows CNN, ESPN, Dateline and Entertainment Tonight, to name a few.
As a result of her presenting a workshop titled, Domestic Violence Behind the Mask of Addiction, at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Conference, Thomas was honored by Lift3, a domestic violence center in Solano County, California by having a room dedicated at their transitional house in her name.
Thomas is considered an honest and compelling speaker for audiences of all ages, from the classroom to the board room, and with that, it has become her mission to speak out against domestic violence nationwide by raising her voice for those who have been silenced. She plans to raise funds for those shelters in each respective city where she shares her story of courage and determination.
Ms. Thomas currently resides in her hometown of Philadelphia, surrounded by her family and friends. In addition to being a domestic violence advocate, she continues to hone her craft of bestselling author, and Executive Producer of the forthcoming movie adaptation of, Laying Down My Burdens.