Recently while speaking with my Mom, I was reminded of my very first voting experience. The year was 1964. I was 18 months of age when my Mom placed me next to my sister Tracey, who was age 2.5 yrs in a double stroller, taking us on a Detroit City bus. We would accompany her to vote in the Presidential Election with candidates Lyndon B. Johnson (D) and Barry M. Goldwater (R ).
From the age of six, my mom and her siblings were cared for by her grandmother. My great grandmother Mary Eliza was born in 1879 and was a strong-willed woman, who had learned to fight for her life in cotton fields. To this day, Mom’s personality mirrors that of her no-nonsense grandmother. I didn’t develop these character traits until much later in life with the help of therapy. Yes, I believe that one can have God and also a therapist.
I married young. Matter of factly, I married someone who was reared in his native country and at age 11, his family migrated to the United States (U.S.). They arrived in the U.S. with very few belongings. What they did bring, was a learned behavior from back home: Domestic Violence/Abuse.
Continuing the cycle of abuse
This posted photo shows me at a younger age and was taken by my former husband on our honeymoon in Toronto, Canada. My former husband has a large number of family members who migrated to Toronto. While we visited the area, I was introduced to a few family members who had not attended our wedding. Upon returning to our hotel room, he had slapped me across the face. He stated that he didn’t like the way some guy, to the best of my knowledge neither one of us knew, had looked at me while we were out sightseeing.
This type of demeaning and irrational anger began to increasingly occur throughout the almost ten year marriage. We didn’t have a successful pregnancy until nearly the 7th year of marriage. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Why did I stay with him for so long? I believed him each time he’d state “ I’ll never hit you again”, only for the behavior to only continue but intensify! Also, I did not want to be a single parent.
In retrospect, I believe that my former husband had begun to sense that I wanted out of the toxic relationship. He would often state after beating me, “if you leave me, NO ONE would ever desire you, you’ll be on welfare, you’ll never complete your higher education goals, and I’ll kill you if you try to leave me.”
In late October 1990, with the very scissors that he utilized to cut the phone cord so that I could not contact the police in our municipality for the umpteenth time, he used those same scissors to stab me in my leg while our three-year-old daughter and our almost one old son viewed this abuse. I’ll never forget that hot Fall day that I walked from our suburban home to my mother-in-law’s home in Detroit. I shared what had occurred earlier and received the following message in broken English “You need to go back home and stand by your man!”
On November 5, 1990, I left my former husband with our two small children in tow. He tried on several occasions to lure me back into his life. I’m so thankful that in these almost 30 years, while I have forgiven him so that I could release the pain, I’m not interested in any type of relationship beyond being grandparents to our beautiful granddaughters.
“Victims Blossom and soar once the shackles of domestic violence are released.”
In the short 10 minutes that it will take for me to completely draft this blog, #200 individuals will have been involved in some form of Domestic Abuse. Every year, right around 10 million people become victims of domestic violence, which equates to just about 20 people every minute. Domestic Abuse has no respect for demographics. The abuse occurs with women, men, and children, of all different races, ages, sexual orientations, social-economic statuses’, religions, and cultures. No one is immune to the damaging impact that domestic abuse may have on one’s life.
How can you help?
There are numerous documented cases of domestic violence all over this world, including mine. Another alarming statistic for us to look at is that as many as 3 out of 4 Americans know of another person that has, or is being abused by another individual, but a lot of times nothing is done about it. Action needs to take place, where an advocate is willing to speak up when others can not.
If you know of someone that is being abused, are you willing to stop turning away and stand up to domestic violence and tell the violence enough is enough?
During the month of October, please make sure that you support domestic violence survivors and help to get the word out about the destructive threat that domestic violence has on so many homes all across America. On or before November 3rd, PLEASE exercise your right to vote. I take all opportunities to vote not only as a RIGHT but also as a PRIVILEGE. Because my ancestors fought and did not give up the fight, I can!
This election is not only an election to either continue with the incumbent President Donald Trump or vote in Vice-President Joe Biden as President, please remember that you will be voting on issues within your municipalities, higher education trustees, Supreme Court Justices, State Senate, and more. Please note that when you don’t exercise your right to vote and do not vote with an understanding that the individuals who are voted into office, make decisions that impact the lives of others. This includes which laws get passed, funding quality educational programs, for resources within the communities, criminal sentences, including someone who may have taken a life through domestic violence and/or abuse while their children viewed such a horrific incident. Domestic violence and/abuse of any type needs to cease!
Six degrees away from separation.
Most of us know someone who has been abused and may be a survivor or someone who may be currently living a life of walking on eggshells, knowing that at any given moment their abuser, will begin attacking, creating constant fear and an unsettled mental state of mind leading into depression and an increased possibility of suicidal thoughts and actions. When children live in environments where the mental state of the adults is unstable, children too become depressed.
How I help
I began my own prevention nonprofit organization Emerging Young Leadership, Inc. to support the healing in others while through sharing my story, we assure individuals that you’re not alone. We also provide professional development Seminars with options to cater to a specific group, while providing an understanding that domestic abuse is not a normal way of life and it’s now punishable by law.
HAVEN of Oakland County https://www.haven-oakland.org/
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
For Male Survivors of childhood sexual abuse, visit 1in6’s Online SupportLine: 1in6.org/men/get-help
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
To find local resources and information about domestic violence, search domesticshelters.org’s online database.