All Articles Tagged "domestic violence"
“My Dad Slapped Me In My Face When He Found Out I Was Pregnant:” Joan Wright Good Suffered One Abuse After Another
The story of Joan Wright Good as told to Michelby Whitehead
May of this year I had the honor of being recognized by the White House under the leadership of President Barack Obama as 1 of 5,000 women who are U.S. State of Women Game Changers. As I sat in the presence of other great women and government officials, a lot ran through my mind. I didn’t think about my talk on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, I didn’t think about the success of my Career Mommy and Child Conference, I didn’t even think how lucky I was to be at the White House with Oprah and Shonda Rhimes…
I thought about how getting my butt kicked for no reason pushed me to start a business with only $125 to my name.
My pain was the sole navigator towards my purpose. If I was in my comfort zone and living life easy I would not be on the path that I am today, liberating and empowering women and helping to birth visionaries and business owners.
My name is Joan Wright Good and I am a domestic violence survivor. I knew abuse since I was a child. I witnessed my mom suffering verbal, emotional , and at times physical fights with my stepdad. In one of these fights she burned him with a pot of hot cornmeal porridge. I thought it was the norm for people to live that way, so I was always saucy, defensive, and on edge in my relationships.
Life was bitter sweet living in Jamaica. On one hand I had the innocence of running around carefree almost half naked as a child in the “ghetto,” unaware of the ills that belied me. I enjoyed the culture that is Jamaica—the sun, sea, food, music, and people of Jamaica. I was born in the inner city where life was about gun violence, big jam sessions with loud speakers, weed-smoking, and single moms making ends meet.
Sadly, I found myself in a foster home at age four, roaming the street aimlessly late one night. At age six I was sent to the country where I was raised as a Christian farm girl. We had church every day and in between church and school I had to go with my grand aunt to the the sugar cane field or the pimento field. We raised pigs, goats, chickens and cows. I was 11 years old when my innocence was stolen on campus at middle school (considered high school in the United States.)
You see, I had a really good friend who I would eat lunch with everyday. Her uncle was a teacher at our school who lived on campus, like many other instructors who were from out of town. One day my friend was absent from school, and I went to his quarters for lunch alone. I was raped by him and from there my life took a nose dive. I was sent back to Kingston to a life filled with the unknowns. I dropped out of high school at 17, had a baby and became homeless soon after.
Being a pregnant teen was horrible. The degradation that comes with being such a “disappointment” was hard to get over. I was a very bright kid who society now deemed a loser with no chance of a future. I had become one of the statistics from the inner city. For a long time I was known as the girl who got pregnant in school. I had no support, I was homeless until my child’s father decided to take me in and make me a part of their family.
Things only got worse from there because I felt so broken. I faced domestic violence in my first relationship at 17. It was emotional and psychological torment and it didn’t help that my “dad” slapped me in my face when he found out I was pregnant. So again things went from bad to worse as physical abused surfaced in the next relationship, and in my first marriage.
The first marital beatdown happened during the engagement, but I felt ashamed and deserving because I did something he told me not to do. I was too ashamed to tell anyone and those who knew were Christians and kept it hush-hush (love covers a multitude of sins is what we were told). So I learned how to live in pain.
The turning point for me happened when I actually filed for divorce. I was sick and tired of life, church, people, being “punked”— just tired of everything! I threw up my deuces and said goodbye to the Joan who was fearful, bitter, ashamed, rejected, abused, and downtrodden. I was ready to start anew, to start walking in purpose without fear of what people thought about me. My ex-husband was a local celebrity and when I recognized that hardly anyone believed me, or wanted to help me through my pain, it reminded me that God created me to make an impact. I was not here just to exist, but to thrive. People did not owe me anything—not even sympathy. Therefore, the change had to begin with me, for me…by myself. And that it did!
I quickly discovered how to encourage myself through prayer, scripture, and my five diva sisters who are there to lift me up. Every woman needs a Fab 5! Sometimes I read sections of my own books to see how far God has brought me or to encourage myself as I encourage others. It’s good when a doctor can take his own prescribed medicine, right? You don’t need money to leave; you need your sanity and self worth. A lot of women stay because they don’t love themselves enough to see their worth or their way out. When women recognize who they are and who they were created to be they will refrain from being abused. Some women really don’t want to leave. At this point the problem is no longer just the abuser, but the victim. Many people have lived with dysfunction so long they are unable to thrive where it does not exist, but I’m an example that you can.
To learn more about surviving domestic violence, visit joanwrightgood.com for resources.
Seeing or hearing your mother being abused by her significant other can be disheartening for a girl of any age. This is certainly the case for New Yorker Regina*, 37, and LA native Raveen Battee, 30, whose experiences growing up in a violent household made them vow to never end up like their mothers.
“The reality is any person that is in an intimate relationship can be at risk of domestic violence,” said Courtney Howard, MD, a psychiatry resident at Montefiore Medical Center. “But it is most frequently found in relationships where substance abuse, particularly alcohol and cocaine, are involved or in relationships where a person was abused as a child or witnessed domestic violence growing up.”
The latter explanation is what has caused women like Regina and Raveen to be independent and single — not for lack of dating so much as leaving men at the first signs of controlling, jealous, or angry behavior, heavy drinking, or any other abuse red flags.
“I’m like hawk eyes. If you even look at me funny I’m like ‘no’,” said Raveen who saw her mother physically abused as a teenager. She also turned down an otherwise ideal guy over his drinking. “Although, he’s the sweetest guy I ever met, and I don’t believe he would hit me I just couldn’t take that risk because he drank so much alcohol.” Her mother’s abuser was an alcoholic, and witnessing her abuse changed their relationship and the way she viewed her mom forever.
One evening while sitting in the living room watching television, Raveen heard her mom arguing in the bedroom with her boyfriend. The next thing she heard was a slap, and a loud noise from her mother.
“I will never forget the moment I realized it,” Raveen said. Up until that point she had revered her mother as a strong, independent woman who didn’t take anything from anybody. It had always been the two of them since she was younger, but the abuse caused a huge strain on their relationship, leaving Raveen confused.
“I loved my mother, but [the abuse] quickly got to a [point] where I didn’t understand her and why she would allow it to continue.”
Regina experienced her mother’s abuse at the hands of her father at the young age of six. Her father was an alcoholic with anger issues, and he would always be upset with her mother about what or how she cooked, along with other domestic tasks like cleaning up.
“I remember them fighting a lot,” Regina said. “I never saw it, but I would see her call the cops on him and things like that when I was younger.”
Seeing her dad throw a whole turkey on the floor like a “bowling ball” because it wasn’t seasoned correctly made it clear to Regina that she wanted to be an independent career woman. And she’s become exactly the woman she dreamed of being — independent, working in corporate America, and taking care of herself without relying on a man.
“These women come to understand their self worth and their value in a way that their mothers may not have been fortunate enough to fully understand and appreciate,” Howard explained about what distinguishes women who don’t follow in their mother’s footsteps of abuse from those who do. “This understanding of their value helps propel them to go on and become self-sufficient independent women.”
Still, this self-awareness doesn’t stop such women from attracting men with abusive qualities. Regina has a pattern of attracting men who are angry and jealous, including the father of her son.
During their short-lived romance his anger and jealousy slowly became evident. Two months into their relationship his true colors began to show, he was angry, arguing with his mother, and often playing the victim. Then his jealousy crept in and before she knew it she was newly pregnant and walking away from the relationship.
“When I was pregnant we were arguing and I said I was done because I realized he wasn’t going to change,” said Regina of the moment she decided to be a single parent.
Raveen, on the other hand, finds herself closed off to dating at times after experiencing her own emotionally abusive relationship. She remembers it beginning like a typical romance-turned-thriller. The guy did everything to make her feel special, went out of his way to see her, and made her feel like the only girl in the room until she felt secure in the relationship.
“Once we got into the relationship he turned into this whole other person that I didn’t get into the relationship with,” Raveen said, admitting her self- esteem was low at the time at that’s how the man got his in.
“Many abusers are charming in the beginning and know just what to say to satisfy the longings of women’s hearts,” Howard said. “Believing that they are entering into a relationship with a man that is loving and treats them well, the relationship progresses but the woman slowly but surely starts to recognize very vividly things that are reminiscent of the behaviors she witnessed from her mom’s abuser as a child.”
Both ladies remain hopeful despite their dating challenges and mishaps. They believe in love and that they will have healthy, meaningful relationships with men.
“I need understanding, love, lots of laughter, and spontaneity,” said Regina about her ideal man and relationship.
Raveen has similar needs, “easy on the eyes, intelligent, with a good sense of humor that doesn’t want to hit people.”
Regardless of the details, they’re both clear about one thing when it comes to love: it doesn’t hurt or make you feel bad.
There were several questions I had when I heard that Michel’le was releasing a biopic through Lifetime. Much of it was how did she go from Dr. Dre to Suge Knight. The biopic Surviving Compton answered that question and so many more. Check out the things we learned from the made-for-tv-movie.
Eazy E was trying to get at her too
When Michel’le first met the men of N.W.A., it wasn’t just Dr. Dre, her future boyfriend and father of her son, who was trying to put the moves on her. Eazy E was also interested in adding Michel’le to his roster. And while she eventually ended up being with Dre, she and Eazy were able to maintain a brother-sister type relationship.
I really do tire of writing stories of jealous, possessive men killing their partners when they can no longer control them. But I believe they serve a purpose, in raising awareness to the issue of domestic violence, mental health issues and the fragile nature of masculinity as we now know it.
The latest incident of an untimely and unnecessary death comes out of Chicago. Six months ago, 27-year-old Julia Martin broke off her engagement with her boyfriend of the past three years, according to The Chicago Tribune. Martin and Harvey had made arrangements for her to return the engagement ring. When he showed up at her home to collect the ring, he forced the door open and stabbed her repeatedly before jumping to his death from her apartment window.
When Harvey killed himself, Martin was still living and she tried her best to save her life. She grabbed her cell phone and called police and asked them to send over an ambulance for her. She gave them them Harvey’s name and claimed he stabbed her. Afterward, she called her father.
Julia’s father, Derrick Martin told The Tribune, “Not only did she call me, she texted me while she was going through all this. She was calling everybody, saying that she wanted help. She called another friend and she was panting over the phone, trying to get her breath. He thought it was a prank and he hung up on her. He feels so bad.”
Martin didn’t see the text message that read, “Call me ASAP” until much later.
Julia Martin was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead from multiple sharp force injuries at 7:37 p.m.
Harvey was pronounced dead at 7:18 at the same hospital.
Harvey’s family has set up a Go Fund Me page to help cover the costs of his funeral.
One of his parents, wrote this in the description box.
Rodney Jr. was our first born son. He died unexpectedly on October 7, 2016. He loved me, his mom, but was sometimes deeply troubled. You never expect someone you love to die so young. I saw my son, Rodney just last week and he hugged me so tight I almost couldn’t breathe. I didn’t break the hug. “I love you, Mom” he said. I hope I was always there for him.
We didn’t expect Rodney to die. Please help us to properly put him to rest. All donations will go towards burial expenses and memorial services. We will also be donating a potion of the donations to various charities related to mental health, domestic violence, and suicide prevention.
Help spread the word!
So far, the fundraiser has exceeded its $4,000 goal by over $2,000.
Julia, who was originally from Detroit, graduated from Michigan State and worked as a human resources supervisor at a local architecture firm. As far as her father knew, there was no reason to worry that Rodney was dangerous.
“I never would’ve though that in a million years.” Martin said of his daughter’s relationship.
Just last weekend, Martin drove from Detroit to spend time with Julia.
“She never went into that much detail about how bad it was, she was just telling me that they had broke it off and that she was planning on giving the ring back.”
The father and daughter went to a winery. “God works in mysterious ways,” Martin said. “He must’ve known it was going to be my last time to see her.”
Diona Clark On Surviving Shot To The Chest By Abusive Ex-Boyfriend: “I Could Literally Hear The Blood Coming Out”
Dayton, Ohio native Diona Clark is lucky to be breathing after being shot in the chest at point blank range by her ex-boyfriend in 2006. The fact that she is alive with a healthy lung after it collapsed from the bullet is a miracle — one that she doesn’t take for granted. With the support of her mother, and the rebuilding of her self-esteem, Clark has discovered her purpose.
Thanks to her mom’s persuasion, she was able to find her voice again through Zumba. Clark has since become a Zumba instructor and started the organization Live Out Loud to help other women find their voice and advocate for domestic rights and gun laws.
Clark spoke honestly with us about the long-term effects domestic abuse has had on her and her family ten years after her nearly deadly attack and how she’s healed over time.
What were your thoughts about domestic violence before you entered into an abusive relationship?
I wasn’t too concerned about domestic violence before. I know my aunt experienced it, but it was never in my immediate family. I knew people who experienced it, but it wasn’t a big issue for me.
How did your relationship begin and transform into abuse?
I met him in 2005 in Columbus, Ohio, its an hour away from my hometown of Dayton. My sister resided in Columbus and I would drive back and forth to the city just to get a feel for it and visit my sister. At the time I was considering moving to Columbus.
I was at my nephew’s football game and this guy happened to be there. It was the cousin of my sister’s husband. He was a nice looking guy and I asked my sister about him. She told me that he asked about me also. From there he and I switched numbers. We kept in contact, and I would still go back and forth from Dayton to Columbus.
I remember there was a time we went on a date and he asked to see my phone. I let him see my phone and he went through it. He told me “the next weekend that you come up here all the numbers of your male contacts better be out of your phone.” I thought to myself that it didn’t sound right and didn’t feel right. When I got back home, I called and told him, “At this time I don’t think this relationship should go any further because I feel uneasy about you saying, ‘I need to have all my male contacts deleted by next weekend’ and we haven’t been dating that long.”
He apologized and said he would “never go through my phone again” and that I didn’t have to worry about it. He told me when I come back up the next weekend he would take me shopping and I’ll get to buy whatever I wanted. I decided to put on my blinders, forgive him and moved ahead in the relationship.
Eventually, I ended up moving to Columbus for the wrong reason: to be with him versus for better opportunities. My mother pleaded with me not to move in with this man, but I did it anyway. When I got to Columbus tI noticed he drunk a lot of alcohol. I ignored that, but then we began to argue about little small things. He stopped working because he felt that he and I didn’t spend enough time together. This left me to pay all of the bills and take care of a lot of things financially. He began telling me what I should look like and what I should wear. I allowed it to go on for a long time.
Even going back to Thanksgiving that year he said to my family, “When I get through with Diona she’s going to be better than all of you guys.” My sister asked if I heard what he said, and even though I did I played it off. When we got back to Columbus I was uneasy about that comment.
He spoke negatively about my family and I let those words get to me too. I began to cut them off and act different towards them. I allowed him to manipulate me and separate me from my family.
I was never afraid of him until one time I went out with his sister. I told him I was going out with her, but when I got back home he was in the living room sitting in the dark drilling me with a bunch of questions. It didn’t feel right because I told him what I was doing and where I was going. I went up to the bedroom and felt like I really needed to get out of this relationship. He was controlling me. I no longer thought for myself, and I was moving through the relationship without a brain. Everything I did was based off of his way, and what he wanted me to do.
How did the relationship finally end?
One day, I told him I think we should separate and he agreed to it. I got my own place to stay, and he helped me move. A week later, he called while I was on the phone. I told him I was on the phone with someone and couldn’t talk to him. In a matter of minutes he was knocking at my door.
I was actually on the phone with my mother. When he came over my mother said, “don’t answer the door.” I said, “It’s okay he’s not going to do anything.” When I cracked the door he ended up pushing his way through and searched my home to see if anyone else was there, then he left.
My mother said, “you need to get a restraining order in case this man tries to kill you.” I said, “No momma he’s not going to do anything.”
Sure enough that following week he told me he wanted to come over and get some dishes he let me borrow. I got off work and he was in the parking lot. I noticed he was drunk so I told him to come to the house when he wanted. He comes and goes upstairs, comes back down, and starts to argue with me. I told him I didn’t want to do this right now and he could leave.
He pulled out a gun, and I ran to my door. He pushed it back in and pinned me up against it so I wouldn’t get out. I was screaming, yelling, and crying while he told me to be quiet and said he didn’t want to live anymore. He said he wanted me to “See what you’re doing to me.”
“You left me, and I don’t understand why. I really wanna be with you,” he said.
I’m still crying saying, “You don’t want to kill yourself.”
He said, “Yes I do. I can’t take it anymore.”
We went back and forth for an hour and a half. He finally let up off the door I went to grab it and he shot me twice at point blank range- in my left hand and chest. I ran out to look for help while the blood was gushing out of me. I could literally hear the blood coming out. A neighbor finally answered their door and I’m screamed for them to call the ambulance.
My left lung collapsed, and I had to have micro-hand surgery on my left hand because there was nerve damage. The detective said with the cases he’s seen like this the victims don’t survive. I’m thankful to God I’m still here.
Now I stand against domestic violence and what it’s doing to not only women, but children that are involved mentally and emotionally. The scars heal but the emotional and mental effects are still there and last longer.
What happened to your ex-boyfriend?
Come to find out he shot himself in the head. He was on life support for a month. He survived, but the bullet is still lodged in his brain and he’s paralyzed. I went to the rehabilitation center where he was and told him what happened. He didn’t know what happened. I told him I forgave him. He apologized.
How long were you in the hospital after the shooting?
I was in the hospital for seven days. Those seven days were extremely hard because I was in shock. After I was released from the hospital I went back to see the lung doctor and he told his assistant from the picture my lung looked normal. His assistant had to explain to him who I was. He said, “Wow she healed up pretty fast. I don’t need to see her anymore. Her lungs are perfect.”
Although I healed pretty quickly when I got home I couldn’t bathe myself or even sleep alone. I was sleeping in the bed with my mom for two months. I had nightmares and was afraid that someone would come to my house or he would come to finish what he started. It was the emotional and mental part that I struggled with the most.
Did you get counseling?
Its funny that you ask that because when I moved back to Dayton I went to counseling one time. The counselor told me,“It seems like you’ve mentally compartmentalized everything successfully. You sound and look good.” I interpreted that as I didn’t need to go back and see her.
For a long time I didn’t go back to counseling. I talked to my mother and she was in such a state of shock that she didn’t force me go back. But about two years ago I started counseling again. I went into social work and I was dealing with families with domestic violence. Certain things with these families started to trigger emotions in me and I wasn’t doing my job effectively. I took a mental break from work and started to go to counseling. It has helped along with other self-help programs to overcome those feelings. I still see my counselor every other month.
What other self-help programs do you do?
I do imaginary thinking. I listen a lot of CDs, and one CD stood out to me by a psychologist who had his students imagine that they were in a certain place or experienced something. When it was something you were trying to overcome he’d have you think of something different then take your body through that different experience. When certain things trigger me I take myself through that process and the outcome is totally different. I no longer have the anxiety that I would normally have.
I also have affirmations all around my home to remind me to always think and be positive. Speaking on domestic violence is another outlet for me and keeps me positive.
Zumba is also a big part of your life and recovery, how did you get started?
I was home and depressed, staying to myself a lot. My mother knew I liked to dance and she said, “I heard there’s this new exercise where it’s all dancing.” She and I took some classes and I found an instructor I really liked. After a while of participating my mother suggested I become an instructor. I got certified and began to teach my own classes.
Through participating in Zumba it took my mind away from what I’d gone through. I was able to channel the negative feelings of that experience through exercising, and when I became an instructor I put a little twist on it.
Instead of women coming there and experiencing only something physical I wanted women to come in and have a change mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I made the environment conducive so that could take place, and the women could feel invested in. After you dance I’m going to pour into you and inspire you through words so when you leave you change your eating habits, become a better mother, or go back to school. These were the type of reports that would come back to me.
Women would tell me “I listened to you after class and those words were so inspiring that I built up enough strength to leave this man who did me wrong for so many years.” I’ve even had a woman tell me “I don’t have to take my blood pressure medicine anymore” because of going to the class.
Because I know I could’ve died it makes me feel like I have a purpose in this life, and I can affect somebody in a positive way. I don’t just give 100% or 110% when I teach. I always give 200%. It could be 5 women or 100 women, I’m going to give my best because I keep it in the back of my mind the experience I went through. I look at it as I didn’t go through this for me, but for somebody else.
What’s your organization, Live Out Loud, about?
Live Out Loud came from my experience of being a passive, shy, quiet person with low self-esteem. I didn’t live my life to the extent that I could’ve because of that. I let other people’s thoughts and opinions of me override everything, and felt like I was lower than the bottom of someone’s shoe. A shoe steps on any and everything, and that’s how low I felt about myself.
My mother and father separated when I was going into the 9th grade, and the presence of my father wasn’t there because we weren’t able to see him a lot. In high school, I missed out on forming that relationship at a time when my dad would’ve been able to show me and make me feel the way I’m supposed to feel when I’m around a man. I would’ve been able to gauge better when things weren’t right.
I’m not blaming anything on my father, but there was an effect on him not being there. When it came to men I was with them for all the wrong reasons.
Live Out Loud is investing in other people by building them up and making sure they know they’re worth. Not only know they’re worth, but understand it’s not based off how other people perceive them and the things they have, but what they make that mean for themselves.
The domestic violence aspect is giving women the space to speak up and say “Hey, I’m being beat up by my boyfriend or husband, and I need help.” I feel like it’s my job to be there for that woman that’s afraid because I was that woman. Now that I’m out of it I’m going back to that place and community where women are experiencing domestic violence and saying “There is a way out and I’m going to show you.”
I’m meeting people going through domestic violence where they’re at and not shaming them, but showing them the way.
With gun violence.I was shot at point blank range. I feel like with everything that’s going on in the world every time you turn around somebody is getting shot, whether it’s by the police or black-on-black crime. A gun is always involved. Guns are easily accessible, but if there was a longer process that people had to go through before being given a gun maybe a gun wouldn’t be put in the hands of a person that has the intent to hurt or kill somebody.
Compare dating before your abusive relationship to how you date now
Dating in my younger age I fell prey to whatever I felt a guy wanted. Now I have standards, values and I’m willing to express what I require for you to be with me. That’s just what it is.
Now as far as me thinking “Is this man going to kill me?” Yes, that’s always in the back of my head. What I do is look at them, not hunt for it, but when certain traits are displayed I know it’s time for me to make my exit out of the relationship. I don’t want anything like that to happen to me again.
Also, I want to be an example to other women. I’m not saying I’m perfect or expect a man to be perfect, but I know when certain things are shown it’s time for me to back up.
In addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence isn’t just an adult problem; teens find themselves in abusive relationships, too. Here’s how to know if you should be worried about your child.
When people find out that I’m a domestic abuse counselor, I can predict that they will react in one of two ways. Either they will show outward signs of discomfort, i.e. shifting nervously or going out of their way to avoid the topic, or they bombard me with a number of questions.
“How are you able to do that type of work?”
“I bet it’s hard to hear the stories you hear, huh?”
While many of the questions are general in nature, some can be very specific, with others completely catching me off guard. One of those questions is, “How do I know if my daughter or son is being abused by their significant other?”
This question is a tough one for me as a counselor, but also as a parent. It’s not an easy task to just look at a relationship from the outside and diagnosis it as being abusive or “normal.” And it’s definitely not easy to do this as a parent. That being said, I’ve compiled a brief list of signs that may alert you to the possibility that your child may be in an abusive relationship.
Your child’s significant other is controlling. People mistakenly believe that control or jealousy is a sign of love. “Oh, my boyfriend would kill me if he knew that I was going out tonight” or “My girlfriend doesn’t really like me to hang out with my friends anymore. She says they’re bad influences.” While people hearing these statements may joke about the teen being “whipped,” the fact is that abuse is real and not a laughing matter. This may be a warning sign that is easily missed.
Your child has inexplicable changes in mood, behavior or demeanor. Anyone who has ever had or worked with teenagers know that they can be moody. Everything from hormonal changes to peer relationships can cause them to be unhappy little creatures. That being said, don’t mistake a cry for help for normal teen emotions. Is there sudden onset of crying or angry outbursts since the commencement of your teen’s relationship? Is your child, once confident and strong, now jumping at the slightest touch or raised voice? If so, it may be time to dig deeper into what’s going on behind the scenes.
Your child places the blame on him or herself for the behavior of their significant other. Most people in relationships have a tendency to defend their mate and for the most part, that’s okay. However, when it comes to placing the blame on oneself for the way that the significant other is acting or treating them, that’s a red flag. Statements like, “She only ridicules me because I make stupid mistakes” or “He only yells at me because I make him angry” are tell-tale signs that your child may be in an abusive relationship.
Your child becomes withdrawn and no longer participates in activities/events that they used to enjoy. Healthy relationships allow room for individual activities and interests. And while a teen’s interests will undoubtedly change , at least a few constants are the expectation. When a teenager decides to drop all of his or her interests due to a relationship, this could mean bad news. If it’s because the child no longer finds interest in the activity, great! Let’s move on to something else. Or is it because the significant other would prefer that all extra time be spent with him or her? If so, it’s not so great and definitely something to be discussed. As always, the key is observation and communication.
While this list is not meant to be exhaustive or all-inclusive, it does provide a starting point for recognizing abuse and starting a conversation. It’s important to know that abuse goes beyond the physical. Having a clear understanding that abuse can be sexual, mental, emotional or financial can mean the difference between your child being a victim or a victor. With over 30% of teens in America admitting to being victims of some form of abuse, it’s imperative that parents stay informed. And the number one way that parents can do that is by knowing their child. Know the child you raised and know when something is wrong. Just trust your gut.
Printed with permission from Vaneese Pattman
James Fortune On Finally Realizing He Was An Abuser: “My Controlling Behavior Was The Real Root Of My Problem”
Gospel fans were shocked when recording artist James Fortune was accused of striking his wife with a bar stool in October of 2014. Six months after his arrest, Fortune plead guilty to assault and was sentenced to five days behind bars, five years’ probation, and 175 hours of community service. “Per the plea bargain, he will also be required to complete a ‘batterer’s intervention’ program and of course, he must stay far away from his wife,” we reported.
In anticipation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, Fortune wrote an essay for Essence.com, explaining how the batterer’s intervention program changed his life and helped him come to terms with the fact that he was an abuser in many forms. he also spoke about the effort he’ putting forth to rebuild his family and make sure his son doesn’t continue his cycle of abuse. Check out the piece below.
As I’m sitting in the back of the cop car, I watch officers bring my children out of our home. My wife is at the hospital, where she reported my assault. We had just gotten back from a trip to South Africa. My wife and I had an argument and I decided to physically remove her from our bedroom. In doing so, I assaulted her. I abused my wife physically. I pleaded guilty. I wasn’t guilty of all that was reported, like hitting her with a bar stool, but I was guilty of assaulting my wife. There’s no excuse. Part of my probation was a group class with other men cited for domestic violence. That class changed my life.
I thought that night when things became physical was the extent of my being an abusive husband. Once I started therapy, I realized I was worse off than I’d thought. In the last few years, I discovered there are many forms of abuse that happen in relationships—and only one of them is physical. As I began to look at myself, I saw so many different forms that I had perpetrated against my wife that affected my kids.
I originally thought, I’m here because I lost my temper. I won’t do it again. Anger is a secondary response to a primary emotion. We feel hurt or betrayed and we respond in anger. But the real issue is power and control. I had a big problem: I had to be in control. When you’re not in control, you become anxious. You respond sometimes in a rage and you’re on edge. My controlling behavior was the real root of my problem.
Psychological and emotional bullying, isolation, intimidation, coercion and threats are all abuse. Economic control is a huge form of abuse, in which one partner in the relationship takes charge of the money to control the person.
For me to get the help I needed, I had to take down the defenses to accountability, which are minimizing, justifying, denying and blaming. Two years ago I would have been making a lot of excuses and making light of what happened.
Someone doesn’t have to hit, grab or push you to abuse you. Putting you down, intimidating you or making you afraid are all abuse.
I grew up the son of a pastor, and I never saw my father hurt my mother. I thought an abuser was only someone who beat women. All the men in my counseling room say we always said we would never hit a woman and we despised any man who would ever be such a coward and put their hands on a woman. And yet, there we were.
We’ve been trained as young boys—even from the church—that we have to be the man and that women should submit. We are told to run our house and that whenever we’re not in control of our house, we’re not being the man of God that we’re supposed to be. That’s a lie.
If I felt I lost control, I didn’t have to touch my wife. I would intimidate or demean her. Using kids is abusive too. I would say things like “You’re not thinking about the kids” or “A better mother would do things differently.” I didn’t realize the impact that was having on my wife or how deeply words hurt. That type of communication is abuse.
To anyone who’s thinking about getting out of an abusive relationship, know that the violence is most dangerous when you’re trying to leave: The person feels a total loss of control. Make sure your exit is thought out and you can be protected and safe.
In all of this, a previous incident involving me has also been reported.
My stepson and I were home alone in 2001 and he was hurt in a bathtub. Even though it was an accident, I was still negligent. I was 22 and my attorney advised me to plead guilty for probation and it would go off my record. Thankfully, my stepson and I were able to build a relationship.
This season was the lowest time of my life and I brought it all on myself. It’s one thing to go through a storm privately. When it’s all over the news, it’s tough. I could not see my wife or my kids for months, I wasn’t welcome at a lot of churches. That’s when you feel you have nothing to live for and the suicidal thoughts begin. When I was contemplating ending it all, I had to talk to myself: James, you’ve encouraged everybody else to trust God, and now you have to believe.
I apologized to my wife, family and everyone affected by my decision. I told my son James he’s going to be a much better father and husband, and I’m teaching him to not make my mistakes. We are going to break the generational curse, but it takes more than prayer. The Bible says, “Faith without works is dead.” We have to be intentional about getting help.
It took a while for me to admit I was an abuser. I wouldn’t be healed if I didn’t take accountability. I realized that I’m an abuser and I may never be forgiven or trusted again. When you release the shame, you can live again. God still has a purpose for my life.
What do you think?
“Most Abusers Come Across As Nice Guys” Tanee McCall Responds To Claims Columbus Short Is “A Nice Guy”
Last week, we wrote about the interview with Columbus Short and Raquel Harper from TMZ. When we wrote about the story, we focused mostly on Short speaking about his fabricated relationship with Karin Steffans. And while Raquel was hard hitting with other questions, like Short’s drug use and his termination from “Scandal,” when Short said that he’d never put his hands on a woman, Raquel skated past Short’s very long wrap sheet when it concerns domestic violence. Instead, she said that she would always rock with him because he seemed like a good dude.
I watched your “Raq Rants” interview with my abuser.
Long after the screen went black, your laughter and his voice echoed in my head. I tossed and turned for several nights with so much anger and hurt weighing on my chest that it was hard for me to breathe.
Then I finally asked myself the key question: What about this interview triggered me? What made it such an emotional and psychological land mine? Why was it so different from the one when The Defendant sat down with Billy Bush or with Tom Joyner? What made it so different from when D.L. Hughley called me a “thirsty b–ch?” Those incidents unearthed a lot of painful feelings best left buried, but nothing a good Tae Bo class didn’t cure.
What was it about this particular interview that caused such inner turmoil for me?
And you know what I realized? I realized that it was you, Raquel—you were the toxic variable for me. I have grown accustomed to The Assailant not taking any responsibility for his violent actions toward me and other women; I have learned to brace myself against his gaslighting. I have become numb in response to relentless misogynist attacks on women in general, specifically intimate-partner violence survivors.
But you, sister, you look just like me. You mirror the countless women who provided loving shelter for me and my toddler when we were left homeless—when that last instance of abuse finally shattered our twisted normal. You look like the queens who watched my child when I became an Uber driver, taught dance classes, and took any temp job I could find—and at one point worked six jobs at once—just to find a way to provide for my child post-Scandal. You physically embody the sisters who helped feed, clothe, love, heal, empower and guide me while I stitched my torn self-esteem back together bit by bit over the past grueling years.
That is why I am writing to you, so that I can let you know from the bottom of my heart how disappointed and hurt I am that you flirted and fluttered your way around for almost 15 minutes with a man convicted of beating me.
And I do realize that this is bigger than you—this is bigger than me. Intimate-partner violence is an uncomfortable topic, but just like race, the deep and pervasive ugliness must be excavated from the darkness and laid bare in the light. It took me a very long time and painful self-reckoning to even admit that I was a victim of domestic violence. I didn’t want to admit that to myself, let alone to the world. I didn’t want to be a victim, but it is time to call a thing a thing. I have survived being victimized, but there are many, many women who do not.
Moving forward, Raquel, it is my hope that you will handle this topic with more moxie and care. To that end—and in case your dangerous assumption that “you can’t see” how such a “nice guy” could abuse his wife was simply ignorant and not malicious—I want to enlighten you on a few things.
Most abusers come across as “nice guys.” Just like some pedophiles come across as being amazing with children. It is part of the grooming process for these people. They are charming and charismatic. They can make the whole room light up when they walk in. They are engaging and seem to be the antithesis of a “wife beater.”
We have to begin to be very clear about the defining characteristics of an abuser. They don’t look like the bad guy/girl portrayed in the media. Again, the child molester isn’t always the person that is lurking on the park bench alone with no children. They are the sports coaches, teachers and religious leaders in our communities. They are the people we trust, and they are masters at hiding who they really are.
“Nice guy” or not, The Parolee you sat down with physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally and financially abused me for years while we were married.
Don’t fall victim to a patriarchal and misogynist society/media that silences, abuses and objectifies women. We live in a racist and sexist society. Women have had to fight not to be seen as second-class citizens—and black women have had to fight to be seen at all. Intimate-partner violence should matter even when you’re not the victim, Raquel—even when it’s not someone whom you love or even know. Right is right, and wrong is wrong.
I am growing tired of seeing people—mainly women—being dragged for filth after surviving one of the worst experiences one can have in this lifetime. When I finally filed for a restraining order after years of abuse—because The Violator attempted to murder me in my own home while my daughter slept—the fallout was indicative of how our society views women. I was called “liar, whore, b–ch, stupid” and every other name but the one my mom gave me.
D.L. Hughley did not just call me a “thirsty b–ch;” he did an entire segment on his radio show about me. He mocked my pain and my very real experiences as I was hiding out at a friend’s house—homeless, hurt, heartbroken, scared as hell, with a 2-year-old baby girl who had witnessed most of the abuse I barely survived. The arduous steps it took for me to even file the report in the first place were almost halted by my scared inner-child—the part of me that said I deserved it because I wasn’t good enough. The part of me that said I should stay because who else would want me?
The parts of me that my abuser spoke to daily in order to continually inflict pain and hurt in my life…
You can read the rest of Tanee’s letter over at The Root.
Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.”
A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about the teaser for the new Lifetime biopic, “Surviving Compton.” As we reported earlier, this one tells the story of singer Michel’le, her rise in the music industry, becoming the “First Lady of Ruthless Records” and her abusive relationships with both Dr. Dre and Suge Knight.
In the trailer, Lifetime promises to keep it real.
“Behind the men who changed Hip Hop is the woman who knows the truth.”
From what we can see in this new trailer, Rhyon Nicole Brown, who will take on the lead role, sounds just like Michel’le and seems to embody her spirit.
Check her out below.
“Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Michel’le” is set to air on Saturday, October 15.
Veronica Wells is the culture editor for MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.”
Last month when water enveloped Louisiana’s capital of Baton Rouge, many found themselves homeless due to the property damage. Deborah Harris and her sons were no exception, as water flooded their home and car at a rapid rate, leaving them with no opportunity to escape the premises. Although she was in pain and could barely walk, Deborah still managed to save her family instead of succumbing to the bodily pain her ex-husband put her through during the past year.
After a whirlwind romance, Deborah married Anthony McKinney two years ago, telling ELLE Magazine her ex-husband was the “sweetest, charming-est person.” Unfortunately, his persona turned out to be a façade. Over time, McKinney became increasingly argumentative and violent. He even pulled out a gun on Deborah several times in front of her children and would start fist fights with her son Daniel. Inevitably, McKinney’s behavior became even more erratic to the point Deborah couldn’t comb her hair to go to the store without McKinney becoming angry and accusing her of seeing another man. “It’s like I was on a roller coaster,” Deborah said, “and it wasn’t stopping.”
Anthony’s abuse came to a frightening head last September when Deborah came home late one night. Upset by her tardiness, Anthony cursed out his then-wife in front of their home. When Deborah tried to take Anthony’s key and stop him from entering the house, he hit Deborah over the head with the door lock. After the incident, Deborah reported McKinney to the police but he was only held in custody for three days and released on a $210 bond.
The day after his release, McKinney came back to their house and was determine to kill Deborah. He stabbed her 42 times and was later shot dead by police when they came to rescue Deborah. Advised by doctors to keep her on life support, Deborah’s son Nathan shared how emotional it was to see his mother bloodied and bandaged after the attack. Deborah stayed on life support for three and half weeks— she lost three pints of blood and her heart stopped multiple times while she was in the hospital.
Since recovering from last year’s attack, Deborah now has a metal plate in her chest and has to use a walker because the injuries to her spine and hip have weakened her ability to walk. She also has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. But while Deborah makes moves to rebuild her life again, one storm after the next, her resilience shines through as she prepares for her son Nathan to start Louisiana State University next year and enjoys spending time with her grandson, Zechariah.
Read her compelling story in its entirety at ELLE.