On Monday (2/9/13), I became aware of a public Facebook outing of an “alleged” perpetrator of Domestic Abuse. I was deeply saddened for a number of different reasons. What got me really thinking was my own story and personal attitude toward Domestic Abuse. What I knew from experience and what I knew professionally.
Here is my story…
Domestic Abuse within has always been a challenging one for me, as I grew up in a home where I witnessed it, I knew of aunts, who experienced domestic abuse as well so it became dare I say the word “normal”. Yes I knew hitting was wrong, of course I did, however I became so accustomed to it I suppose in a way I even “accepted” it. I was nineteen, in 1993, when a boyfriend first assaulted me, he kicked me after we had an argument and I asked him to leave. I felt really bad as I must have driven him to do that, I went to his house to apologised, during that two year relationship I experienced two bruised eyes, a bust lip and numerous bruises, I remember attending a children’s birthday party in the winter sporting sunglasses. Surely because of that experience I must have KNOWN what Domestic Abuse was…I must have been able to recognise the SIGNS, in actual fact I did not, as I said it was kinda normal. Fast forward to the year 2002, I have been married for just over a year, I am unhappy, depressed and deeply miserable in my “Christian” marriage I decide I wanted a career change and began working at the local Women’s Centre, I was surround by various women support groups and I loved it, granted they were for the most part, raving lesbians but they sure did know their stuff about Women rights. I enrolled on a Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence course and it was there I realised I was experiencing what we were learning about. I went to my Pastor and told him my husband is abusing me, his words were “Pray” for six years I continued “praying” in my marriage, at the same time questioning why I spent so much money on my wedding, my husband was a Trustee in the church how could I expose him, what about my family, were would me and my son live? I muddled through praying screaming, literally going down the alter and SCREAMING, and believing a “change was gonna come”. Its 2006 and I am working in the DV (Domestic Violence) Sector, and one day, I was working with a woman and as I sat there advising her on her rights, and listening to her story, I realised that I was going through the same said thing. I left my husband, with no support from the church, just a foreboding reminder that “divorce” was not an option. Fourteen months later I went back only to divorce him within three months, the abuse never stopped.
So by now I should be fully aware of the SIGNS, no? I mean I was now training the Police, the Courts, the Medical Profession, Public and Voluntary Sector Organisations on Domestic Abuse. So what was I doing going into a relationship with a known perpetrator? Granted, I had just gotten divorced, lost my home, exceed my overdraft and every credit card I owned, and my cousin suddenly died and we were not speaking at time, yes I was somewhat down and vulnerable. But here came a friend I had known for 10 years, telling me that “everything was gonna be alright” and I thought, “he is not going treat me like how he treated his “wife” surely? I am TOO strong for that…two weeks into “our relationship”, I was hiding in my house after he threatened to come with his WIFE to “Chop my bloodclar*t and bring f*cking drama to my door”. Our relationship lasted two years, the losses I cannot count, He attended my workplaces with his wife, places I raved, my home with his wife, and he bad mouthed me to my friends and my family. I just wanted to die.
Now I was at a very low place, I’d lost my self respect and professional reputation, I mean a high profile Domestic Abuse Worker, in a relationship with a known criminal and perpetrator of Domestic Abuse, it just doesn’t make sense, did it? I just felt it was all I was worth. Its now 2012 and I am in another crappy relationship same old, same old, I am here again with some who say’s all the right things but, no, I am not being hit, but I am being shouted at, I am being talked over and down too, I’m controlled, and not even my name is pronounced correctly, but I guess this is ALL am I worth. I f*ck up so I guess this is just the result of another f*ck up, I know this is mistake, I know I need to just call it a day to end it and walk away, and one day I decide to leave. I go out with a friend we party hard, we celebrate that I have finally made a good decision, we drink like drink is on rations and we have to get as much as we can in the shortest space of time, I am having a great time, a ball, thankh GOD, I AM FREE, and then I end up in a situation which totally changes my life… I am raped. I blame myself, I tell myself this is sum amount of my worth, this is it I am nothing more than a piece of meat and all my life I have put myself in situations where I am abused…something is wrong with me and therefore I deserve this. I am told by the man I said I was leaving that is is my fault, and I MUST accept responsibility, he tells my family, his family and friends, that I have been raped, all without my permission. He tells people on facebook, it doesn’t stop there, he says that I am telling “half truths”, and HE doesn’t accept my version of events. So HE has his version of events, (but HE was not there) He says the police have told him I am lying, my friends have told him am lying my family have told him I am lying. He goes into facebook groups and tells people, HIS version of events, again I am lying, I am called a “fake rape victim” I am called “mad” and for the most part I think, “am I mad”, I want to die.
I am subjected to bullying in facebook groups, my experience is discussed and picked apart, its the topic of discussions, then my family are in-boxed by his friends. I felt like I am being constantly violated over and over again and I have NO power to stop it. I am accused of things I have no knowledge of. I want to die. I continue with life trying to mask the pain inside the feelings of shame and need to heal, I tell myself I can just pick myself back up, its ok but I am leaking, I hit out, I cuss, I rant, I am angry. I end up in another mad crazy situation, being assaulted by someone I thought was a good friend, grabbed by the neck and thrown in a toilet booth. I refuse to go down without a fight this time. I want revenge I want to hit and punch so hard for all the years of abuse…it take three bouncers to remove me. This is it, now I feel all those emotions that I tried so hard to bury coming up…so I have BREAKDOWN…puff and so it is I want to die again. All I could do was cry, there were no words, words could not explain this deep and dark place…the only words I could find were “what is the point”…and the tears flowed and flowed and flowed….this feeling of sheer dismay just loomed over me, and the tears kept falling, try as I might to stop them they fell…I remember going to see my doctor and just sobbing. The crisis team arrived at my home, thankh god for my friend Karen I owe her so much, as in all truth they were coming to section me…It was her presence there ensured that this was not the case. I just needed to rest to stop trying to fight life and to being to allow myself the RIGHT to be HEALED.
One thing I can say is I am still here, and I am stronger for all my experiences. I decided to allow myself the privilege to heal, to give myself the space to say its “it’s ok, its not your fault,”, which was hard because deep down I believed it was. And so the process began…I couldn’t have made it through if it were not for tapping into the spiritual…I gave libation, I did rituals, I cleansed my soul, I cut codes, I did crystal therapy, I called upon my ancestors, I cried out to Aset, Bast, Hathor, and Sekhmet. I spent about month just sleeping (literally healing internally). So much work needed to be done and it could not be done with me being physically awake. The crisis team diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress, and gave me drugs upon drugs, drugs to function, and drugs to sleep, drugs not to panic and drugs to counteract the side effects of drugs they were giving me. Never before have I felt so slowed down, I stopped taking them as soon as they gave them to me, however they sussed out what I was doing and came EVERYDAY to give them to me on the spot in front of them, it was 3 months before they stopped doing that…and the drugs hit the bin. I was in weekly counselling where I was able to open up and begin to unpeal the layers of misinformation, lies, and fears there inside of me was a little girl who was so afraid of being. I was able to look at how I coped and why I did what I did. It was painful and it hurt, I felt weak and broken. And then one day, I remember sitting in my garden and looking at the trees the leaving were falling off, and the Spirit said to me “Trees don’t mourn the leaves that fall”…Thus my healing began to manifest. Leaves were just falling but I would stand just like the tree unscathed.
Women, no matter who they are, what job they do, still need educating about the SIGNS of Domestic Abuse and how easy it is to succumb to being known as “prey”. Without dealing with those inner issue, without correcting those inner thought patterns, without addressing who they are, and what they are worth WILL still go into abusive relationships, and will continue to put themselves at risk. There is no easy road, its a painful one, its a hard one but in the long run its a worthwhile one. I would never say that its our fault and that we must help ourselves. What I would say is this, we OWE it to ourselves to ensure that we are HEALED. Domestic & Sexual Abuse can happen to anyone at any-time…whether its one incident or more than one, it can happen. You cannot change an abuser, they must choose to change themselves, the key for women is to get help, and never be afraid to ask for help, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence is NEVER your fault, no one EVER has the right to demean, humiliate, steal, abuse, hit, rape, attack or assault you. And NEVER let anyone to tell you YOUR story, if they TRY too its simply ease their own conscience and justify their own bad behaviour. Whilst the road hasn’t been easy I really can say I have come through the other side, a stronger, wiser, and with a healthy attitude, yes I’ve lost things and people along the way, BUT if I can do it, to anyone reading this going through the similar experience you can too. So be strong it might seem daunting at first, it might seem even impossible but even impossible says “I’m possible” so you too can stand, I say it again, YES you can.
With much love to: My Mum & Dad, My Sun, My Brothers, and Louise Bolam, Karen Allen, Jude Freeman, Errol Gee, Simon Spence, Elemental Essence, Sharon Thomspon, Leon Mcleod Nubia Alison, My Counsellor Debbie, My Refuge Worker Victoria Aajayi, Prezzie and last but by certainly by no means least my partner Sekou Aniweta, THANKH YOU ALL for supporting me through and on this journey you are wonderful souls and beautiful beings.
If you have experienced, or are experiencing anything I shared here you can get help here:
Women’s Aid: http://www.womensaid.org.uk/
Rape Crisis: http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/
Southall Black Sisters: http://www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/
Check out my “Confessions of a former Drama Queen”