All Articles Tagged "domestic violence"
As Romina Sevilla stood at the bus stop with her new girlfriend she was slapped in the face. At 18 years old, she experienced something 50 percent of lesbians have or will experience in their lifetime: domestic abuse at the hands of their same-sex partner.
For Sevilla, the physical violence didn’t stop at one act, it only got worse. “With my first ex I found myself in a situation where she would beat the crap out of me and I’d be too afraid to fight back,” she said. “I was really young and this was my first relationship.”
Not sure of what she was experiencing or who to talk to about it, Sevilla isolated herself from friends and family, though her family had already cut her off because of their disapproval of the relationship — not because of her homosexuality.
“I felt judged and was ashamed. I was also unaware that the issues we had were so bad. I was oblivious that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal, even though I never saw that in my household.”
Unfortunately for Sevilla, staying in that relationship meant the violence escalated from a slap to not being able to perform basic functions. “That person would beat the crap out of me to the point where I couldn’t swallow the next day or she would completely bruise me from the neck down.”
Today, Tishawn Meredith can admit she was emotionally and mentally abusive to her former best friend-turned-girlfriend, but back then she thought her behavior was normal. She and her ex moved in together with their children from previous heterosexual relationships and Meredith confessed, “I became the sole bread winner so I manipulated the situation to where she needed me financially. Once I got that control she did whatever I told her to do, and if she didn’t I would yell and abuse her verbally.”
The verbal and mental abuse eventually turned physical when Meredith started showing her ex-girlfriend pictures of the women she was cheating with.
“I was so abusive psychologically that I would show her pictures of other people and say ‘you wish you looked like this’ and in that situation she punched me in the nose. I didn’t expect her to punch me, but she did.”
Neither Sevilla nor Meredith ever reported the abuse to the police which is typical in same-sex relationships due to discrimination and a lack of knowledge by police, which often leads to both parties being arrested, especially if the one being abused fights back. Figures indicate as little as 17% of lesbian women report having been the victim of a least one act of physical violence perpetrated by a lesbian partner, the highest estimate being 45%.
In Sevilla’s last relationship they got into a fight after her abuser shoved and hit her, eventually punching her in the face. When the cops showed up, the first thing they asked when her violent ex-girlfriend who opened the door was “Where’s your boyfriend?” It’s a common assumption made on the part of law enforcement when responding to calls of domestic disturbances.
“I stayed in the room because I had a black eye, and didn’t want to go to jail because we would’ve both been arrested,” Sevilla explained. As she hid in the bedroom, her ex-girlfriend dealt with the police in their living room.
In same-sex domestic violence cases, you can’t assume the more masculine partner is always the abuser. Tamara,* who’s considered femme, became verbally abusive during her former five-year relationship. Entering her first lesbian relationship at 28, her frustrations led to constant berating of her girlfriend. Initially, she was unaware that she was being abusive because the relationship moved so quickly from a casual friendship to dating and living together. But eventually her trust issues came to the surface and abuse became the default.
“I’m a very nice person, but I turned into a different person when I dealt with her. I was very abusive, verbally, and doubting her all the time. I couldn’t trust anything she said, and I had no respect for her. I wasn’t thinking about if it was right or wrong. I started to realize what was happening and would apologize, and then it would happen again.”
For Meredith, once she broke up with her first partner and began a new relationship she realized bad habits die hard. This time, though, her abuse wouldn’t be tolerated. ”I tried to do the same thing with the other person, but her self-esteem wasn’t as low as my first partner’s. I wasn’t allowed to do things I was accustomed to doing.”
The allure of financial stability that Meredith held over her ex’s head is also what drew Sevilla to her first abusive partner who, at the time, was eight years older and much more established.
“I dated girls in high school, but that was it,” she said. “[My ex] was very much an adult with her own place, own car, and she was independent. She had qualities I wasn’t finding in people my own age. Her following girlfriend, who was 18 years her senior, appealed to her for the same reason, but she was also verbally abusive.
“She had cars, and things, everything you would want in a partner. I thought I hit the jackpot with that one, and felt like it was a come up.”
That feeling is exactly what allowed Meredith to turn her ex-lover into a victim. “When you’re self-sufficient you tend to attract certain types of women and they may stay there because they are benefiting and that plays a role in [the abuse] as well. That’s where the power and control comes from, you don’t have to hit them or be physical if you threaten to take their lifestyle away from them.”
Although Tamara didn’t knowingly use being the head of the household as a means to control her partner, the frustration she experienced as a result caused her to verbally abuse her ex-girlfriend on a regular basis. “I had a lot on my plate. I was in school, working, maintaining the household, and I had to deal with whatever she couldn’t do which was a lot.”
Now that’s it’s been several years since the abuse, Tamara can see the error of her ways.
“I’m in therapy and it helped me to realize what was going on, and what I need to do going forward I have to accept people for who they are and where they are in their lives, and if it doesn’t work for me that doesn’t give me permission to abuse them.”
Similarly, now that Meredith understands the psychology of her behavior she no longer finds women who accept her abuse attractive.
“Now, I meet the same type of women, but I’m turned off by them. It will make me revert back to my old behavior and I don’t want that. I don’t want to abuse anybody or manipulate them.
“For a long time I felt my lifestyle was wrong, but it was what I felt inside and it could’ve had a lot to do with my anger and how I treated women,” Meredith added, saying she believes a lot of lesbians feel this way, which may explain the high rate of abuse in these unions. “Some people have self-hatred because of that and who will you take it out on? The person closest to you, which is your mate.”
After three abusive relationships, Sevilla is finally in a place of healing, not only from the abuse but also several miscarriages she endured while trying to have a baby with her last partner. Being open with friends and family about her abuse has helped, and now she’s looking to start a support group in San Antonio, TX, for other lesbians who have suffered through domestic violence as well.
“We’re trying to pull together resources to create a space, specifically for women of color, to gather, talk, and share in a safe place. When stuff like this happens where do we go?”
While in law school in London, Armania Embaye found herself immersed in a fun romantic relationship that quickly became a nightmare that haunted the Eritrean beauty for years. Seen as a strong, smart young woman, being in a domestically abusive relationship was something neither Embaye nor her friends and family ever saw coming. But after being involved with a violent man for six months, she spent another seven months fighting to get out of it and even more years letting go of the fear of dying because of it. Now the human rights attorney takes us through her journey of survival.
How did you meet your abuser?
In a nightclub. He tried to talk to me and I ignored him because the way he tried to talk to me by grabbing my arm was obnoxious. He should’ve introduced himself in a proper manner. My friend who was visiting hooked up with his friend and we decided she would get her luggage from my place and spend the night with him then go straight to the airport.
We were getting ready to leave in this tiny red car, then comes this nice, black, shiny Mercedes. The driver rolled the window down and it was him. He and the guy my friend was with waived at each other and I asked “do you know him?” Turned out they were friends so I asked to ride in his car because I was squished in the tiny car with my heels and everything on. We switched cars and he drove us all to my place and we talked as a group during the 15-minute drive. When my friend went upstairs to get her stuff I waited in the car.
He told me the battery on his phone died and asked “do you mind if I send a text from your phone?” I let him and then I said goodnight; my friend left and I went to sleep. The next morning he texted me “hey, I called my own phone yesterday, and would like to meet up with you today.” I had been going through a lot in my life with moving, issues I had with my previous roommate, and being in law school in London. I wasn’t interested at all due to everything going on.
I called a good friend and told her what happened. She said “You need a good time, even if you’re going to have a semi-pleasant time you should go out with him.” She was tired of me being miserable. So I decided to go out with him that night and it was one of the best dates I ever had. We went to dinner and just talked about everything. I felt like he was there with me.
How did the relationship progress?
Things moved very quickly with us. From our first date we hung out literally every day. We met in February and for Valentine’s Day we went to Barcelona for the weekend. After that it was obvious we were a couple, this was a week and a half after meeting. He wasn’t the man I was going to marry, but it was definitely us for the moment.
Did you see any red flags?
Yes, within three weeks. The first argument we had was about a male friend of mine that was coming to visit and stay with me. This was planned several months before meeting him. My friend would be sharing my room and bed, which wasn’t an issue for me because we are just friends, but when he found out he wasn’t having it. “A girlfriend of mine is not sharing a bed with another man. That’s so disrespectful.”
It was foreign to me because in past relationships my partners trusted me and whatever I said was taken as the truth. I never had to justify myself or reassure someone else. He broke up with me because of it for about five days. I knew in my mind it didn’t feel right and it wasn’t the type of relationship I wanted to be in, but at that point I already had very strong feelings.
What about the abuse? When did that start?
It became physical toward the end of the relationship, but it was emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse the majority of the relationship. We met in February 2009, broke up in March 2010, and our first physical altercation was the December prior. It’s sometimes hard to acknowledge it as physical violence because I wasn’t punched, kicked, dragged or anything like that, but it was more in a threatening way.
One time we were arguing and he called me a slut so I slapped him because that’s what I was taught to do when a man disrespects you. He held my arm down and I don’t know how it happened but I got hit in the face. There were instances when he would hold me down on my bed, he would hold knives against me. The worst part was that I believed he would harm or kill me, not necessarily that he did it.
He didn’t care about the circumstances in which we were together, he just didn’t want us to break up. I saw panic and control in him. He was freaking out because he didn’t have control or was trying to gain control. I was trying to navigate myself out of the relationship after the first six months. He would show up at my door without me inviting him. He even took it upon himself to pay a lump sum of my tuition to be a part of my life. It was a tool for him to control me and say that I owe him money. When he felt like I was slipping through his fingers he would try to get his things back so that I had to communicate with him. This went on for months.
Did this affect you being in law school?
I literally had my final exams for my law degree on Tuesday, was in court Wednesday, and had another exam Thursday. Our breakup resulted in a criminal case because I called the police on him. Things escalated to the point where I couldn’t watch television or keep the lights on because then he would know I was home. He had a friend who was my neighbor and would call and ask him to look and see if there were lights in my window. I would have to run out of my house, jump in a cab and go to a friend’s house because he would threaten to come over.
What incident caused him to be arrested?
I felt terrorized. I went home to Sweden for two weeks during my semester. He was sending horrendous messages to my phone 20-50 times a day. When I got back to London he knew within 48 hours. He came to my place screaming from downstairs for me to open the door. I had a panic attack and didn’t know what to do. I called a friend and she told me to call the police.
While on the phone with the police I felt compelled to go downstairs and try to calm him down because I believed I was the trigger and the remedy. The woman on the phone told me not to, but I had to. I opened the door and told him the police were coming so he needed to calm down. He went ballistic. I had on a bath robe and he pulled the collar on both sides in opposite directions and pushed me against the wall.
Then he tried to drag me upstairs but lost his balance and we fell. Within seconds the police were there. I was so glad I told them not to put on their sirens because he didn’t notice they were there. The scary thing was as soon as he noticed and we stepped out the corridor he completely changed his behavior.
The police were used to this kind of behavior, but I was scared that he was going to manipulate them and nothing would happen. When they separated us the police told me “I see he’s acting calm, but I know something happened. His heart rate is up, he’s freaking out but trying to keep calm so we don’t suspect anything, but we know something is wrong here.”
He was charged with harassment and common assault. He was arrested that night and had a no-contact order against him. He breached that twice and every time he got re-arrested.
We had two court dates, one was in magistrate’s court that dealt with the criminal case, and the other was civil court where I got a two-year restraining order.
How was the legal process as a woman in a domestic dispute?
The detective on the case would arrest him then release him without notifying me. They misplaced documents, took my phone for evidence for a long time and still didn’t retrieve it. It was frustrating because my phone was my life line, especially not being from the UK with my family abroad. It was a huge compromise to not be accessible. It was difficult, especially as someone informed of my rights, because you can tell police get away with things with people who are not as informed.
The criminal case was thrown out. He hired a lawyer and I had a prosecutor of the state who spoke to me maybe 10 minutes before the case started. There were a lot of things that weren’t handled well and the judge said it was a matter of a bad breakup. It was a punch in the stomach after doing what is supposed to be the right thing and not even getting acknowledgement that something might’ve happened.
What did you do after to protect yourself?
In December I moved back to Sweden because I didn’t have a life. I was too scared to go out at night and would always look over my shoulder because I didn’t feel safe. The impact of that relationship tarnished other relationships in my life because I was in a bad head space.
One year later he contacted me while I was in Sweden. The no-contact order was still in place so I went to the police to file a report. Even though it was in the UK the police in Sweden had to do something because of the EU (European Union), but they didn’t know what to do. There’s a great lack of knowledge when it comes to how to deal with domestic violence matters.
I realized I’m probably not going to be protected by any institution so he and I started communication because I was trying to confront this big, bad wolf. I also started going to counseling through a non-profit that helps women who have suffered domestic violence. In 2011, I went back to the UK and met up with him. It was emotionally difficult but it removed that extreme fear I had of him. I realized he’s a troubled person, but still human.
When you go through something extremely traumatic with a person, even if it’s their fault, they’re the only one who has somewhat of an insight on what happened. He was still verbally abusive because he wanted to get back together but I could never justify or be proud of that relationship.
You mentioned that the abuse was more psychological and emotional, what kinds of things would he do?
One very scary situation was when he said he was outside my house and I was trying to leave before he saw me. That was a fail! He told me to get in the car and threatened to make commotion if I didn’t. I got in and he lost it, banging his head on the steering wheel, saying “you don’t understand what you’ve done to me.” I started hyperventilating and he’s screaming “Why are you doing this? You’re ruining everything for us,” and said he would take me to the woods right now, cut me up and nobody would find me. I was in a state of shock. At some point we calmed down.
He would look through my trash bags, my phone, my papers, my bags. There would be times I’d come home and he’d cleaned my whole apartment. I knew he didn’t clean it for it to be clean, but because he wanted to go through things.
It was very psychological where I was terrorized by the threat of it, believing [violence] was the next step — like when he would hold a knife to my skin and say “what if I stabbed you?” I began to hurt myself to distract me because my panic attacks were so bad. Then he’d say, “you want to hurt yourself I can hurt you too.” It got to a point where it was better to have him close than away and just imaging what he was up to. I would think he was behind a bush or at my school.
My ex would tell me he’d pay someone to kill me. That’s another reason why I was paranoid; I wasn’t just looking for him to kill me, but having thoughts of who might be payable to kill me. I was looking around like who can stab me, throw acid on me, and kill me. He was very clear he could pay someone to kill me. You never know. I was petrified, especially when I moved back to Sweden because the country is so transparent.
Where are you now with dating?
It wasn’t until recently that I realized no guy has ever had a chance after my ex. I’ve dated, but unsuccessfully because I couldn’t trust them. Every time I met a guy, in my mind, the main question was “what is the likelihood of this person ever killing me?” So it’s been difficult because I give guys just enough to feel safe, which is very little. If a guy would touch my leg I would jump. My reflexes were still very much there. I was very jumpy. I told a few guys what happened but never expressed what it did to me as a person.
I’m dating a guy now and I recently told him that I thought he was a jealous psychopath that is going to kill me because he looked at my phone when it lit up at a bar we were at. Luckily, I don’t think that anymore and, more importantly, I trust myself to trust him. No matter what happens I’ll figure it out and pick myself up from it. I feel so much better because I’m in a space to try something unlike before.
What about your career?
I became stubborn when it came to my career. When I went through the abuse I was like “oh no, he’s not having that, he could do anything else, but my career oh no.” I finished law school even though I didn’t make the marks I wanted, but got them raised due to extenuating circumstances. I was in a funk for a year, but I got into action and did a couple of internships, then landed a job I enjoyed, and started working with UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) of Stockholm. That’s where I found my passion to help people who are suffering dramatically and I have the skills to help them. I have personal experience because my parents are originally from Eritrea; I really enjoy it.
What was it like for your friends and family to find out all of this happened to you? What advice do you have for how people should handle their loved ones going through domestic abuse?
My younger sister was extremely worried; she was 14 at the time. I had a few friends say “I never thought that would happen to you, you’re so much smarter than that.” People have to be careful and understand that it can literally happen to anyone. Abusive men don’t come with a t-shirt and a sign on their forehead. They usually come in a very nice package. The package is beautiful, that’s why you buy it and put it in your purse.
It’s important for friends, family, and your surrounding community to not put an identity on what you look like to be in a relationship like that because it creates a barrier in communication. I shut down communication with people. I was in a new type of relationship that I’d never been in before and it was hard navigating through the complexity of emotions. When it became chaotic I lost even more control.
I knew it was wrong from the get-go, but I never knew it would get as bad as it did. It had nothing to do with a lack of confidence but it was a matter of people are scary and by the time you know them it can be too late. When I hear about stories like this now from friends I’m always in a place of no judgement because it happened to me and I know what it is to be in a sh-tty dark place, not understanding what to do. There was a lot of shame with it. It was too difficult to deal with at the time, and I still had things to do. When you tell people you’re going through something difficult you end up consoling them.
I told a lot of my friends after because they saw me as this strong, intelligent woman. For them, since they have clear images of what a person in that situation looks like ,it was a problem. I was the person who broke the mold in that regard.
I think every child should learn to have the confidence and strength to let their word be their word when they break up with someone because it’s so easy to get stuck in a relationship because a person makes you feel like your decision was not good. It was hard to get out then after a while it became dangerous. Friends and family can have more of an impact than they think.
The story behind the story told in Straight Outta Compton is coming to the small screen.
According to Variety, Michel’le Toussaint has partnered with Thinkfactory Media to produce a scripted television biopic about her life.
There’s not much information about the network where the film will air but there is a working title: “Girl From The Hood.”
The biopic will focus on Michel’le’s rise to fame, the domestic abuse she endured at the hands of both Dr. Dre and Suge Knight and its aftermath.
Michel’le, who shares children with Dr. Dre and Suge Knight, has recently been quite vocal about what she experienced at the hands of both of these men.
In addition to the biopic, Thinkfactory and Michel’le will also work together on a documentary of her life.
In a statement, Michel’le spoke about the collaboration.
“I am so excited about my partnership with Thinkfactory Media. For many years I was unwilling to share my personal experiences. I am now ready to open up about my career, relationships and family.”
It should be interesting, to say the least.
Will you watch?
“5 Minutes Turned Into 4 Hours Of Being Held Hostage With A Gun:” How Jennifer Whyte Escaped Her Abuser
Jennifer Whyte, a successful actress, writer, and producer, known as Jenn Pinto, originally from Brooklyn suffered through four years of an abusive relationship after meeting her boyfriend through a friend at 17 years old. She used her strength and wit to finally escape her violently, psychotic abuser and discovered who she was again after hiding the abuse from family and friends. Although, Jennifer was able to find her way, her ex-boyfriend never did and things ended tragically. This is her story.
How did you meet your abuser?
One of my best friend’s and I were working at this catering hall and this guy started working there; he was best friends with my ex. He’d always be like “you have to meet my best friend you guys are so funny and cool, you’d get along.” We started dating from there. I was having issues at home with family stuff and I became one of those an angry teens. I met him living in an environment where all you know how to do is sell drugs and hustle, that’s what I grew up around despite my dad doing an amazing job as a father I was still raised in the hood where that’s all I was exposed to.
How did things evolve?
At 17 I moved out of my parent’s house and was dating this guy. He introduced me to fast money. One of the first times we went out he took me and my best friend on a shopping spree at the Woodbury Commons (Central Valley, NY). I was young and got caught up in the money and wanting to impress people with clothes and fancy cars. I started helping him sell drugs and cocaine. His father was actually a big kingpin and got him involved in it to help his mom keep the house and everything while he was in jail.
It was a lot of fun and we had a great time, but I started seeing how he was changing, and I began to see the most evil side of this person. I don’t know what caused that change but something shifted. I didn’t know who he was and what he would do. I was embarrassed to go back home and prove my father right.
The first year things just got really ugly with infidelity and then it started with verbal abuse; towards the second year it started getting physical. It became a battle because I knew I didn’t want to stay, but I also knew I wasn’t dealing with your normal abusive person. I was dealing with someone who had serious psychological problems. It wasn’t as easy to say “hey I don’t want to be with you,” because he wasn’t just going to let me go.
Did you tell anyone?
If I would’ve told anyone he was beating on me they would’ve told me to stop lying because it’s something that nobody would’ve expected. He was the life of the party, everyone looked forward to seeing him. He was always the funny guy and we had a great relationship in the beginning.
I was embarrassed and had pride. I wasn’t going back home and I was embarrassed to tell my friends because I was always the strong girl in the crew, always helping everyone else. I didn’t want to seem like the weak one. I also didn’t tell them anything because I knew I wasn’t strong enough to leave. I’m not the type of person to say I’m going to do this and that then next thing you know I’m right back with him. So why cry and say all these things when I know when he does his little talk and sorry act I’m going to fall for it. I wasn’t there yet to walk away so I didn’t want to share this information then put everyone else at risk.
There were several threats to my family made to me so I stayed two more years after that just to protect my family and to psychologically find a way to leave him.
How did you hide all of this?
I acted like I was very happy, but wasn’t around family often. I distanced myself from my dad who is really my best friend because I knew he could see right through me. It was one of those things if he’d ask me “are you okay?” I would’ve broken down and cried. I didn’t want to do that, or worry him, or have him try to kill this man. I avoided him as much as I could.
I remember we got into a fight on New Year’s Eve and my dad was having a party. My ex kicked me out of the house. We were in the car, my stuff in the trunk, and I was planning on telling my dad I’m coming back with my stuff but when we got into the fight in the car he punched me in the face and busted my lip, threw all my bags out, and left me in the streets. I showed up at my dad’s house, he showed up there too. I had to hide my lip and front the whole night like everything was fine. I was trying to fix my face and crying in the bathroom. My dad knew something was off. Situations like that is why I avoided my dad.
What kind of things would he do to you physically and mentally?
He had to have control. He would buy my clothes and tell me what to wear, made me dye my hair a certain color. He made me into the doll that he wanted to create. If I didn’t follow that model it was a problem all the time.
He began seeing another woman and told me I had to be okay with. He would see her and I would hear him on the phone with her every night. He told me I had to pretend I was his sister. He said he had to do this because he never had sex with a black girl and I needed to be okay with that if I was the person he was going to marry. I went along with it until I could find a way to leave.
At times I got fed up with the situation and he got violent. Then things became physical for anything. He would send me to the store and if I didn’t buy exactly what he wanted it would turn into a physical altercation. I’d be thrown down stairs, kicked in my face, dragged by my hair in the streets. There were several times when a gun was pulled on me.
I would just try to study him because he would become so violent then after break down in tears hysterical, begging me for help and telling me, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, you’re the only one that understands me.” it was to a point where I felt maybe I can help him, but I knew I couldn’t save him.
I would try to tell him that he was holding on to a lot of things he went through as a kid. He made certain agreements with himself and lost himself in those agreements because they’re aren’t morally right. He let anger take control of him.
How did you finally leave?
Basically, I took a chance. I decided to study him more than anything as opposed to trying to fix the relationship because there was no fixing it. I figured the best way to leave was to pick an argument every single day even if it meant getting hit every day. I felt like if I did this I would convince him somehow that we needed a little bit of time apart because we were fighting so much. Psychologically, I thought this would work because I knew how to calm him down when he would get really, really crazy. I decided to do it and got beat up every day. Then one day it just clicked and we had a long talk after getting into a stupid fight over a real world episode. I remember looking at him and saying “I want to go home. I want to go back to my dad’s house.”
He said, “You’re not going anywhere.” I started packing my stuff and called my best friend. I gave him the hope that we’d be back together. I told him, “we’re fighting a lot, I love you and want to be with you for the rest of my life, but I feel like this is the only way to fix it because were butting heads too much.”
It worked. he said, “you know what you’re right we are fighting every day and this is not us we’re so happy.” I played that whole mental game with him and he let me go to my dad’s with the impression we were working things out. We weren’t broken up I was just going to stay with my dad for a little time.
I showed up at my dad’s with a bunch of garbage bags and he opened the door and my room was still there. After a week or two me ex started saying things like “I think you’re playing with me. I don’t know what you’re doing, but if you’re thinking of leaving me then you’re going to be sorry. You’re never going to find somebody like me.” Then it got more aggressive. He would say, “You f*cking b*tch. Hoe. You ain’t shi*. I made you.” Then it turned to a psychotic desperate cry “please be with me, I can’t live without you.” He begged me to see his mother. I was still torn about whether I was doing the right thing or not. I was only 20 years old at that time.
I called his mom to make sure he wasn’t there because I didn’t want to see him yet. She said he left, but he showed up. He walked up to my car and asked for five minutes. We got into the car and it turned into four hours of being held hostage with a gun. I had to call my best friend and beg her to tell him to let me go home. He wouldn’t let me leave. At first he asked, “why are you doing this? What did I do to you?” I explained that we just needed some time apart. Then he said “don’t do this,” and the gun came out. My best friend convinced him to let me go.
There was about two months of this back and forth where he wouldn’t leave me alone. He got in touch with my mom and my dad. Next thing I know he called me randomly and said he met somebody. I was so relieved and said “I think you should get to know this person even though I think we have a future together. We need to explore other people because were very young.” I was lying but he fell for it and got with that girl.
How did you cope with the abuse while hiding it from everyone?
I wrote a lot and was in college. I wrote letters to God breaking down everything I went through. The abuse, how much I hated him, and how I was only there because I was scared for my family and my life.
I would stay at the college because I dreaded going home. I knew when I got home it was a fight every night. I had a lot of friends, but I didn’t hang out with them so there were a lot of times when I became suicidal because I didn’t know what to do anymore. I didn’t have anyone to talk to or actually hang out with and writing only did so much.
When I hung out with people in college I didn’t talk about it. I just hung out for long periods of time. I would make excuses like I have a meeting for this group or club I’m involved in. I drowned myself in school, work, and writing.
There were things I used to do in my career that I didn’t do anymore because it caused an argument. For example, if I had a kissing scene in a movie, I didn’t even want to deal with having a discussion so I’d reject the role. I let myself go in many ways and went through a very dark point in my life when I was with him.
When did you finally tell your friends and family?
When I left him, I sat my friends down a month or two after because they didn’t know what was wrong with me for all those years. I was distant and weird. I told them and we cried.
Where is he today?
Three years later I randomly got a call from his family saying he was in the hospital very sick and kept calling my name, saying “I want to see Jenny because she’s the only person who understands me.” I told his family I was sorry about what he’s going through but I couldn’t save or help him. I’ll pray for him, but I’m not going to visit him.
Three months after that call I got a message from his brother saying he was shot and died. His brother didn’t give me too much information. I called my best friend and told her “I don’t know what happened but he’s been shot and his brother said he died.”
She did some research and pulled up a Daily News article from the day before saying he shot the girl he got with after me. Apparently, he was doing the same thing he did to me to her and she tried to get away. She had an order of protection and got the cops involved in many ways to distance herself. He followed her to her brother’s place in the Bronx and at 5 am they were arguing in the streets. He shot her in the back of the head, he went back home, called one of his best friends and told him what he did and said he was about to take his life.
He told him to do different things, one was to tell me “I was one of the strongest women he’d ever known and he knew I was going to be big one day and he was sorry for everything he did.”
When the cops busted in his house at about 7 pm he had put a bullet through his chin.
I was confused about what to do and my boyfriend who is now my husband said I should go to the funeral and have closure.
I went to the house, showed my respect to his mother and brothers because they actually knew what I was going through and tried to help me, but at the end of the day that was their brother and son. When I went to the basement where I used to live with him there was still a little blood splatter and there was the letter with my handwriting.
It just so happened that when I moved I left my journals and one of the letters I’d written was on top of his computer desk the day he committed suicide. They thought it was a suicide letter, but when I picked it up I said “no this is my letter.” When I read it chills ran through my body. It’s like he never forgave himself for what he did to me. He would tell me that at times when we spoke.
I would tell him that I forgave him and he needed to let it go. He called my job (he didn’t have my cell number) when he and the girl broke up. “I’m doing to her what I did to you and I don’t know what’s going on with me,” he said. I told him he needed help. He said “I’ll never forgive myself for what I did to you, you didn’t deserve it.”
He had a lot of demons to face and it took a toll on him. I knew he was capable of snapping. The system doesn’t always protect us so we have to find a way to protect ourselves in many ways and that’s by being mentally strong and understanding the psyche of people. Its weird because I look at the woman who got killed and how she did what you’re supposed to do: tell your family, tell the cops. I chose not to go that route — not to say hers was wrong and mine was right — but I think you have to realize what type of person you’re dealing with or you can cause more harm.
How were you able to get back to yourself after you left him?
This is probably the dumbest thing, but to me it meant so much. My ex had me dye my hair bleach blonde. On March 4 I went and dyed my hair back to my natural color. That was the biggest thing ever because I knew it was something he didn’t approve of.
Also, he bought all the clothes I had so I threw out 90 percent of them. I left everything materialist because I just wanted myself back. The other thing I did was book a trip to California for a week by myself. My friends didn’t understand why I was going by myself but my dad understood. I had to take that trip because I was 21 years old and didn’t know who I was. I knew who he made me to be. What do I like? What do I want to do with my life? Who am I?
Then I started exercising and doing different things to find what resonated with my soul. I got back into acting, and booked a gig at the Laugh Factory as one of the only comedic actresses in an all-male comedy troupe.
Really all I did was get back into everything I started doing as a kid to find myself. Those were the things that made me happy. I also started opening up more to my friends and my dad. I was no longer afraid.
I forgave him and myself because I beat myself up about it for so long. When things didn’t go right in my career I would blame myself because I took off four years and wasted time, but then I realized I didn’t waste any time. I went through an experience that helped me become who I am today.
What did forgiving yourself look like for you?
Forgiving yourself is a priority before you even forgive the abuser because our worst enemy is ourselves. I chose to be in that relationship, I made that decision. When things got ugly I chose to stay so I had to come to terms with that. Everything in life is a decision we make. I realized the decisions I make are going to come with repercussions, whether good or bad. I look back in a journal I had and there were so many red flags before the verbal abuse that I overlooked.
What were those red flags?
It would be little arguments. I would see how angry he would get. I wrote in my journal “he got so mad and doesn’t want to talk to me and now I have to go to the store at 3 am to make him happy and stop being mad at me.” What kind of bull sh*t is that? I am 17 and this man is sending me to the store at 3 am to get him some candy because earlier I pissed him off because I accused him of cheating. It would be little things like that and I would see this control. There were a lot of red flags that I ignored, that women choose to ignore.
A lot of times we say “I don’t know how this happened.” You know how it happened you just choose not to acknowledge it, and you can’t change anything you choose not to acknowledge.
Rihanna On Trying To Stay In An Abusive Relationship: “Maybe I’m One Of Those People Built To Handle Sh*t Like This”
In an extremely candid interview with Vanity Fair, Rihanna opened up about everything from her sex life to being assaulted by ex-boyfriend, Chris Brown. It appears that the “Monster” singer held nothing back as she explained why she tried to make things work with Chris, who she says was her last official boyfriend, after he began abusing her. Check out some highlights from her interview below.
On why she doesn’t have no-strings-attached sex “for fun”:
If I wanted to I would completely do that. I am going to do what makes me feel happy, what I feel like doing. But that would be empty for me; that to me is a hollow move. I would wake up the next day feeling like shit.
When you love somebody, that’s different. Even if you don’t love them per se, when you care enough about somebody and you know that they care about you, then you know they don’t disrespect you. And it’s about my own respect for myself. A hundred percent.
On media speculation about her love life:
Sometimes it’s the first time I’m meeting this person—and then all of a sudden I’m ‘with them.’ It freaks me out. This industry creates stories and environments that can make you uncomfortable even being friends with someone. If you see me sitting next to someone, or standing next to someone, what, I’m not allowed to do that? I’m like, are you serious? Do you think it’s going to stop me from having a friend?
I’m the worst. I see a rumor and I’m not calling [them] back. I’ve had to be so conscious about people—what they say and why people want to be with me, why people want to sleep with me…. It makes me very guarded and protective. I learned the hard way.
On men of today:
I always see the best in people. I hope for the best, and I always look for that little bit of good, that potential, and I wait for it to blossom. You want them to feel good being a man, but now men are afraid to be men. They think being a real man is actually being a p*ssy, that if you take a chair out for a lady, or you’re nice or even affectionate to your girl in front of your boys, you’re less of a man. It’s so sick. They won’t be a gentleman because that makes them appear soft. That’s what we’re dealing with now, a hundred percent, and girls are settling for that, but I won’t. I will wait forever if I have to … but that’s O.K. You have to be screwed over enough times to know, but now I’m hoping for more than these guys can actually give.
On her uneventful sex life:
That’s why I haven’t been having sex or even really seeing anybody because I don’t want to wake up the next day feeling guilty. I mean I get horny, I’m human, I’m a woman, I want to have sex. But what am I going to do—just find the first random cute dude that I think is going to be a great ride for the night and then tomorrow I wake up feeling empty and hollow? He has a great story and I’m like … what am I doing? I can’t do it to myself. I cannot. It has a little bit to do with fame and a lot to do with the woman that I am. And that saves me.
It is lonely, but I have so much work to do that I get distracted. I don’t have time to be lonely. And I get fearful of relationships because I feel guilty about wanting someone to be completely faithful and loyal, when I can’t even give them 10 percent of the attention that they need. It’s just the reality of my time, my life, my schedule.
I’m fine being with myself. I don’t want to really let anybody in. I’ve got too much on my plate, and I’m not even worried about it.
A very extraordinary gentleman, with a lot of patience, will come along when I least expect it. And I don’t want it right now. I can’t really be everything for someone. This is my reality right now.
On the person who leaked her bruised and battered photos to TMZ following the Chris Brown assault:
A very nasty woman who thought a check was more important than morals. That shocks you? A check trumps morals by miles.
On being pulled from the Super Bowl ticket because of the Ray Rice scandal:
You’re punishing me for what happened with Ray Rice? Well, I just never understood that, like how the victim gets punished over and over. It’s in the past, and I don’t want to say ‘Get over it,’ because it’s a very serious thing that is still relevant; it’s still real. A lot of women, a lot of young girls, are still going through it. A lot of young boys too. It’s not a subject to sweep under the rug, so I can’t just dismiss it like it wasn’t anything, or I don’t take it seriously. But, for me, and anyone who’s been a victim of domestic abuse, nobody wants to even remember it. Nobody even wants to admit it. So to talk about it and say it once, much less 200 times, is like … I have to be punished for it? It didn’t sit well with me.
On trying to work things out with Chris after the assault:
I was that girl. That girl who felt that as much pain as this relationship is, maybe some people are built stronger than others. Maybe I’m one of those people built to handle sh*t like this. Maybe I’m the person who’s almost the guardian angel to this person, to be there when they’re not strong enough, when they’re not understanding the world, when they just need someone to encourage them in a positive way and say the right thing.
[I thought I could change him] A hundred percent. I was very protective of him. I felt that people didn’t understand him. Even after … But you know, you realize after a while that in that situation you’re the enemy. You want the best for them, but if you remind them of their failures, or if you remind them of bad moments in their life, or even if you say I’m willing to put up with something, they think less of you—because they know you don’t deserve what they’re going to give. And if you put up with it, maybe you are agreeing that you [deserve] this, and that’s when I finally had to say, ‘Uh-oh, I was stupid thinking I was built for this.’ Sometimes you just have to walk away.
I don’t hate him. I will care about him until the day I die. We’re not friends, but it’s not like we’re enemies. We don’t have much of a relationship now.
For better or worse, Wendy Williams is always quick to give her opinion. Whether you like it or not. Most recently her name is all over headlines because of some comments she made about “Empire” front man, Terrence Howard.
In case you missed her show, Williams said that Howard’s personal life is starting to overshadow his character on the show. She means his person drama.
To be specific, she said:
Here’s what disturbed me about last night’s episode and you can agree or not agree. I’m tired of fighting with you all. Terrence Howard’s flow when he rapped was great. It brought me back to “Hustle and Flow” times. And I get that he’s like a Master P-ish type of character, you know he’s made this Empire and stuff but even Master P doesn’t need to rap anymore…I don’t want to see Lucious Lyon as a rapper on the show. He’s too old for that number one. And number two, Terrence Howard your personal life has taken over to where, if by chance, they took you off the show, I would be happier than mad. There! I said it.
I feel like between him being allegedly abusive to women in his personal life, him giving an 18 page nutty interview to “Rolling Stone” magazine where he talked about all kinds of nuttiness. He made up his own math, he remembers being in his mother’s womb, going back to the way he treats women. It has usurped his whole situation at “Empire” and the show could do without Terrence Howard. I’m sorry, it’s the way I feel.
You can watch the clip in the video below. Her comments about Howard start around the 3:48 mark.
Howard caught wind of Williams’ comments and issued this statement via his Twitter account.
I have been a fan of Wendy for years. Shame on anyone who speaks without knowing the truth… What she did was irresponsible and hurtful!
— Terrence D Howard (@terrencehoward) October 3, 2015
@terrencehoward I forgive you Wendy… Thank you for loving the show and supporting Taraji! To the Empire!!!
— Terrence D Howard (@terrencehoward) October 4, 2015
Terrence sounds a lot like Sean Penn to me, calling Wendy irresponsible. Penn’s attorneys made similar comments about Lee Daniels when he referenced Sean Penn’s “allegedly” abusive past.
If you ask me, Wendy was kind in her analysis of the situation. She used the word alleged; but in Howard’s very public divorce, he himself admitted to being abusive, attempting, at times, to rationalize the behavior. It’s been a topic of discussion for some time now, with both Lee Daniels and Taraji P. Henson coming to his defense.
And that is very distracting when you’re trying to watch a Lucious Lyon character with his own issues with misogyny and all around evil.
You need look no further than last week’s episode where Lyon rapped about a “Snitch Bitch.”
The lyrics don’t exactly paint a pretty picture.
“Now the picture’s faded bitch, I’m done witcha”…
You aint nothing but a snitch bitch, snitching ass Bitch…
I’ll never trust another single one of y’all…
Backstabbing bitches get you knocked off…”
When my coworker was playing the song in the office, someone who had yet to see that particular episode, asked if this was Lucious or Terrence speaking. And really, that’s a shame. But based on some of his actions, it wouldn’t be too hard to believe.
I’d be lying if I said I disagree with Wendy. Lucious is a great character and Howard plays him well. But let’s not front, Cookie is the star of the show. Taraji P. Henson could easily carry it. And with all the hell Lucious raises, there are plenty of people who would want to take him out. It would certainly make sense in the context of the story.
That being said, I don’t believe Howard should be fired. I believe he should seek help. And in the meantime, he should absolutely chill in his personal life. I would hate to see him go the route of a Columbus Short.
What do you think could “Empire” survive without Lucious Lyon? Is Terrence’s personal life getting in the way?
It’s Complicated: The Cycle Of Domestic Violence And The Women Who Stay Or Never Got A Chance To Leave
The face of domestic violence has no specific look, success level, ethnicity, economic background, or age. This harsh reality hit Carl Bryant like a ton of bricks in 2012 when he got the call that his aunt, Johnette Pratt, was missing. Later he found out she was murdered by her boyfriend at 44 years old.
She was found in the church parking lot in her car set on fire. The autopsy report would later find that she was strangled to death from behind. It was difficult for him to understand how his aunt, a smart, successful woman, could die at the hands of a man she loved and trusted.
“My aunt was an independent woman, she had her own car, bought her own house, always supported herself and her daughter, and was very strong. When she passed the way she did I was upset,” Bryant said.
Black women are almost three times as likely to experience death as a result of domestic violence than White women, making up 22% of the homicides that result from domestic violence. It’s for that reason that domestic violence is the leading causes of death for Black women ages 15 to 35, a report from TIME pointed out last year. Pratt’s life ended tragically at the hands of a man she was dating for only eight months while out of town for a church convention where her killer was being ordained a minister.
Elaine Evelyn, 56, knew her abuser from her hometown in Georgetown, Guyana, and reconnected with him during a visit to Canada. Soon after he came to New York a relationship between the two blossomed.
“I didn’t see any initial signs or red flags in the relationship. He was a slickster with an ulterior motive and it wasn’t until that motive was threatened when I really saw the signs of abuse,” Evelyn said about realizing her boyfriend was only with her to get a green card into the United States.
She almost lost her daughter and her own life to her daughter’s father after deciding not to get an abortion when the man she was preparing to marry attempted to stomp her baby dead inside of her. Fortunately, the baby survived, but both mother and daughter were put back in harm’s way when Evelyn’s mother told her not to call the police and slowly moved her back in with her abuser.
“My mom didn’t want me to stay with her and she would invite him over to see my daughter which I was totally against,” Evelyn said, recalling how her mother, who was also almost murdered by the father of her children, pushed her back into the arms of her abuser. “He found a place and set us up in the Bronx where I almost lost my life.”
Once again her abuser attempted to kill her daughter by throwing her out of a window. “While trying to save my daughter’s life I ended up having my face rearranged and having to get surgery to have my nose put back onto my face.”
Evelyn’s daughter did fall out of the window, but thankfully landed in a chair outside next to it. Because the father had her daughter while she was hospitalized Evelyn was too afraid to tell doctors or police what really happened. Instead, she told them she fell.
“He threatened me and said if I told anyone what really happened I wasn’t going to see her anymore and that he was going to make sure I didn’t breathe anymore.”
Even after getting away from her abuser Evelyn experienced stalking for a number of years. Her abuser would appear at the train station threatening to push her onto the train tracks and she was afraid to walk down the street with her child. The harassment didn’t stop until he met another woman.
“I got out of that situation, but lived in constant fear of my life and my daughter,” Evelyn recalled.
The statistic that 1 out of every 4 women has been in a violent relationship leaves out the many women like Evelyn who don’t report abuse. Kandee Lewis, CEO of The Positive Results Corporation, a nonprofit which teaches leadership, character development, and healthy relationships to youth, young adults, and their families, has found the numbers are much higher in communities of color.
“During my work I found out that, especially in communities of color, [that number’s] almost closer to 2 or 3 out of 4,” said Lewis. Through her work in domestic violence prevention among teens she notes that violence often starts in the womb with 36% of pregnant women being beat.
“I’m not talking about slapped. I’m not talking about cussed out. I’m talking about pushed in the stomach, pushed down stairs, burned, beat up, and hurt in a very devastating way,” she said. “If a person is beat while pregnant their child is also beat.”
For some women having children causes them to stay in abusive relationships; for others their children becomes their motive to leave, much like Evelyn and Madeline McCray, co-founder of New Legacy Leaders Project, a wellness initiative that expanded to include domestic violence in 2012.
“For me, my mind was made up for my children that I cannot have them growing up feeling that this is who they’re supposed to be,” McCray said. “I loved their father and I knew that their father loved me and loved his children but the bottom line was he had problems that he needed to deal with and it wasn’t up to me to do those things for him.”
Watching someone you know endure abuse can be a painfully frustrating experience, but it’s important that loved ones are approached delicately due to the embarrassment and shame the victim likely already has about their situation. Reminding them that you love them, how great they are, and that you are willing to help are ways to go about assisting victims leave their abusers.
“It’s important to empower people and give them understanding of the right language to use, how to stay supportive, and how to stay safe because it can be very dangerous if you’re intervening,” said McCray. “It requires a great deal of patience and understanding. Domestic violence is very, very complicated.”
Jackie* a successful woman in media and the music industry has been married to her abuser for 13 years and suffers from emotional and mental abuse more than physical. As the relationship continued to grow she admitted that she became scared of how he would treat her day-to-day.
“I got used to the back and forth, and became hot and cold because I was scared of where he was coming from,” Jackie said referring to the time when she and her partner first decided to move in together. “We got into an argument one day and he called me a cunt.”
When they first started dating she saw the red flags, but was convinced this was the man she was supposed to marry after a thought came to her. “I had this weird feeling in my spirit that we’ll get married and be together for a long time, but we’ll have a lot of problems.”
Already in her late 30s at the time, she was used to overcoming things in her life as a strong, independent woman. Despite him playing mind games, throwing a brick at her, and constantly doing things she asked him not to do in their relationship she stays. Her husband has even sabotaged her success as an entrepreneur throughout the years. Recounting the first time he put his hands on her, Jackie* said “He came in late and I said something to him about it and he threw me against the wall and that’s when it started. I went to let him know you don’t do that and he threw me near the stove and on the floor again.”
Over the years she’s been able to hide the horror in her home as she takes on projects with high-profile celebrity clients and corporations, travels the world, and remains socially engaged. “I’ve numbed it out because I’m always working and staying out late.”
Although still in the relationship, Jackie* is growing tired of the abuse and uses self-healing like working out and meditating as a way to really love herself. Most of all she’s ready to truly have a family, something her husband has deprived her of over the years. Her biggest regret of staying with him is now being too old to have children, a dream she’s always had.
“I know me, I’m a smart woman, but I also don’t want to be alone either,” she said, contemplating where the relationship might go in the future. “I feel like I’m at the end of the storm whether light is going to be we stay together I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, Bryant is still mourning the loss of his aunt. In May, her killer went to trial and confessed to murdering Pratt three days in and was sentenced to 30 years in jail. Bryant’s family would also find out that he shot his ex-wife in the head and served 15 years in prison before meeting his aunt along with other accounts of abuse to other women.
“I want people to know that it can happen to every woman. She doesn’t have to be punched in the face or dragged down stairs,” Bryant said.
On the other hand Lewis offered, “If someone tells you they’re going to kill you, believe them every single time.”
She also said going to a shelter for women dealing with domestic abuse is the safest place when leaving. “The best thing to do is to go to a shelter completely out of the way of your area and ask them for help. They have all the help you possibly need- legal, medical, and financial.”
For help for you or someone you know in an abusive relationship, reach out the the domestic violence hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
These days when we talk about injustice in the legal system, the conversation is usually centered around race. But if stories like the ones about Marissa Alexander, Shanesha Taylor and now Tondalo Hall, tell us anything, it’s that the courts also suffer from victim blaming and misogyny. Particularly, when it comes to Black women.
Unfortunately, Tondalo Hall is experiencing this right now. In 2006, her then boyfriend Robert Braxton Jr. pled guilty to breaking the ribs and femur of the couple’s 3-month-old daughter. Braxton served two years in prison.
There was no evidence that Hall had caused any harm or injury to her children, but for failing to protect them from Braxton she was sentenced for 30 years in prison.
The American justice system at work.
In 2004, Hall noticed that her 20-month-old son’s leg was swollen. Braxton, her then-boyfriend and farther of two of her children, told her he didn’t know what happened. For days the swelling wouldn’t go down. So Hall took him to the hospital. Doctors determined that he had a fractured femur and other broken bones. After examining him, they found similar injuries in his 3-month-old sister. Both Hall and Braxton were arrested.
Hall is still in jail while Braxton has been free since 2006, for time served.
Sadly, the children weren’t the only people Braxton was terrorizing in the home.
Hall has alleged, on more than one occasion that Braxton physically abused her as well. In court documents, obtained by BuzzFeed, she stated:
“Robert regularly choked me, blackened my eyes, threw objects at me and verbally assaulted me while my children were in the home. I did not escape the relationship out of fear that Robert would file for custody of our children and I would never be allowed to see them again.”
Braxton continued threatening Hall during their court proceedings.
Hall frustrated prosecutors who believe that she did not provide enough details on the witness stand about how Braxton abused both she and the children. The judge faulted her for being “less than candid” about Braxton’s actions though he did note that she seemed afraid of him.
Hall, who has been in prison for ten years now and still has 20 more years to serve, has tried to get appeal but she lost. She has requested that her sentence be modified but it was denied.
And earlier this week, a request for clemency, a process that would release her from prison, while not absolving her of her crime, was denied.
According to BuzzFeed, an Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 5-0 against her application for a commuted sentence.
Hall is set to remain behind bars until 2030, when she will be eligible for parole. Board members provided no rationale for their decision but during the hearing, where Hall appeared through a video-conference, Vice Chair Patricia High “grilled” the 31-year-old, asking her if she knew about her children’s injuries and when.
Hall was often choking back tears as she responded.
When High asked her how she could have not noticed the child’s leg was bothering her, Hall said, “She cried but I didn’t– I thought it was because she needed to be changed or fed, you know.”
“So as soon as you were finished changing her or feeding her, she just calmed right back down?”
“Um, yes ma’am.”
When asked if the day at the hospital was the first time she’d noticed her children had been hurt, she said, “No.” She claimed that by then Braxton was already hitting both she and the children.
One other person spoke during the hearing. It was Marsha Travis, the chaplain at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud, where Hall is in prison. She pleaded with board members to commute her sentence, saying she has heard remorse in Hall’s voice.
Hall herself said: “I know I failed as a mother, and I’m just asking for a second chance.”
Women’s Rights Advocates have been following this case closely and assert that this is another way in which survivors of domestic violence are victimized all over again in the court system. There is a lack of understanding when it comes to the mental, emotional and psychological turmoil an abuse victim endures. Particularly in Hall’s case where Braxton’s threats of taking the children while she was in jail, came to pass.
Instead of offering counseling and services to get women out of these dangerous and dysfunctional situations, they merely throw them in jail, separate them from their children and take away opportunities for them to find freedom and independence in a real world setting. It’s anything but justice.
Lee Daniels has to be one of the best bosses ever. Even when you’re dead wrong he’ll defend you against the public “backlash.”
And while Terrence Howard might appreciate his support, it’s gotten Lee into a bit of trouble.
Last week, after Howard admitted to beating several women in a Rolling Stone interview, people began discussing the issue. There have been allegations about his abuse of women for years but hearing Howard himself describe the horrific incidents disturbed quite a few people.
In his own interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lee Daniels expressed the sympathy he felt for Terrence Howard. He said that because Howard is Black is he being unfairly demonized in the public eye.
“That poor boy,” Daniels said. “[Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f*ck*n’ demon. That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”
Well, Sean Penn, like Howard has been accused of not being able to keep his hands to himself either. But Penn has never admitted it and took issue with Daniels referencing his name in all of this.
He’s suing Daniels for $10 million for defamation of character.
According to TMZ, in his lawsuit he wrote, Daniels’ comments were “reckless and malicious” and Sean has “falsely for years been the subject of scandalous, scurrilous, and baseless attacks.”
Penn was caught on video attacking paparazzi and was prosecuted for it. But there is no hard proof when it comes to his abuse of women. There have been numerous reports that he allegedly beat Madonna in the late ’80’s with a baseball bat and tied her to a chair for nine hours and beat her. Many publications report that he was charged and convicted. But Madonna never pressed charges and TMZ reports that he was never charged.
The lawsuit continues:
“Daniels’ defense of Howard (and his improper invocation of two of the greatest actors and humanitarians of our time, Brando and Penn, in doing so) is apparently part of a misguided campaign to profit and further bolster and brand his show “Empire.”
Whew chile! The White folks are mad, honey.
I have to be honest, I’m giving every last person involved in this story a severe side eye and offering them a seat in the time out chair, located in the nearest corner.
Lee’s defense of Howard was just wrong. I don’t see how he’s being demonized any more than any one else who admitted to beating a woman. In fact, he’s not being demonized at all. People are just asking him questions. And perhaps that, in and of itself, is the take away from all of this foolishness. Howard has admitted to beating several women, yet he still has a job on a hit television show, he recently presented an award at the Emmys, no one’s taken anything away from him. He’s good. So I really don’t understand why Lee was so crunk.
Are Black men and White men often punished differently for the same offense? Yes. But most times if that offense is against a woman, whether its physical or sexual abuse, and not caught on camera (i.e. Chris Brown and Ray Rice) then the men involved, whether they’re White or Black, get to walk away scott free. And I really wish that instead of Daniels taking this as an opportunity to turn and point the finger at society, he expressed some type of desire to get Howard help for what is clearly a habitual problem.
Instead, he referenced White men who did it, as if White people doing it makes it alright. No, it doesn’t. His comments just further seem to perpetuate the sick and twisted behavior of holding ourselves up to some kind of White standard. White is not inherently right. We cannot look to Whiteness as any type of standard of morality. We’ll be lost. If any man, of any color, is beating a woman that man deserves to be punished for it. Period.
Sean Penn and his lawyers are also out of their minds. Listen, I don’t know for certain whether Sean Penn beats women or not, but if these types of allegations keep finding you, there’s a good chance that at least one of them is not completely fabricated.
But what tickled me was the contempt in the lawsuit’s wording. “Two of the greatest actors and humanitarians of our time” and “part of a misguided campaign to profit and further bolster and brand his show “Empire.”
You mad that Black ass “Empire” show continues to breaks records and barriers?
Penn’s lawyers are guilty of doing the same thing Lee did by lifting up these White, male actors as some sort of pinnacle of morality. That hyperbole is on fleek. Even if Brando and Penn are as great of men as Penn’s lawyers make them out to be, they are still flawed people, privy to making mistakes just like any other human being. They seem to assert that Daniels’ words are unfounded when they just aren’t. For all of his talent and activism, particularly in the Civil Rights Movement, Marlon Brando, the man, was very troubled. And based on the fact that there are accounts from law enforcement and many others about Penn’s graphic and morbid abuse of Madonna, I’m sure he’s not perfect either, though there might not be official legal charges to prove it.
The point is, instead of trying to determine who’s better or who was punished more, it would be nice for men, bosses, friends, families and society too to hold all abusers accountable for their actions and stop trying to look for a way to point the finger at someone else.
In an extremely blunt interview with Rolling Stone, Terrence Howard spoke freely about witnessing his father kill a man. Howard was two years old at the time, and waiting in line with his 21-year-old father, his pregnant mother and two of his siblings when a man reportedly accused Howard’s father of cutting in front of him. The altercation took a violent turn, and Howard’s father, Tyrone Howard, used a nail file to repeatedly stabbed the man until he collapsed. Tyrone fled the scene but later turned himself in. The crime made national headlines as the “Santa Line Slaying.”
“I was standing next to my father, watching,” Howard recalled. “Then stuff happened so quickly — blood was on the coats, on our jackets — and then my dad’s on a table and then my dad is gone to prison.”
Howard then went on recite ideologies drilled into him by his father—including that society is no longer equipped to handle men.
“My daddy taught me, ‘Never take the vertebrae out of your back or the bass out of your throat. I ain’t raising sheep. I raised men. Stay a man.’ But being a man comes with a curse because it’s not a society made for men to flourish any more. Everything is androgynous, you know? The more successful men now are the effeminate.”
And speaking of his upbringing that apparently taught him that a man should never back down, the “Empire” star also candidly addressed the time he was arrested for hitting his first wife, Lori MCcommas (pictured above), in front of their children.
“She was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids,” he said. “Her lawyer said it was a closed fist, but even slapping her was wrong.”
As for the incident where he was accused of assaulting his second wife, Michelle Ghent, in Costa Rica, Howard had this to say:
“She was trying to Mace me,” he says, “and you can’t see anything, so all you can do is try to bat somebody away, and I think that something caught her. But I wasn’t trying to hit her.”
Howard also discussed his mother’s reevaluation of her initial decision to abort him and offered a bizarre tale about his first heartbreak that he says was initiated by his childhood girlfriend’s participation in group sex.
“She ended up having a gangbang and called me laughing with her friends on speakerphone, and I was crying because of what had happened to my girl, not knowing that this was something she wanted. Before Mira, I always picked the wrong women,” he said.
Read Howard’s full interview here. Brace yourselves.