The month of October is dedicated to raising awareness for several causes. While many of us know that October is Breast Cancer awareness month, it’s also domestic violence awareness month. Today, domestic abuse survivor Tangie Jackson shares how she overcame abuse and a stint in jail, to take back her life and raise her kids. As told to Keyaira Kelly. See more tales from our Survivor Series here.
Back in 2009, I fell in love with a man who became my youngest daughter’s father in 2011. I call him my dark past lover. In the beginning everything was great in my eyes. The dark past lover made sure I had a car and the little things that was necessary for my livelihood. Looking back, we used to have so much fun together. He was my defender and honorably provided for my three children and I at that time. I was happy because he had his own place, and I had mine. We used to take trips together in and out of town, and he treated my children like they were his.
But my sunny optimism quickly turned cloudy when we moved in together and our financial circumstances began to change. He was getting frustrated because he didn’t have any money, and I was becoming the full provider for all of us. At one point I told him, “Man, I know if I can get out there and do it, I know you can too. And it’s not fair for me to be out there by myself. You’re my man. You’re supposed to be my provider.” And suddenly, he snapped. He started choking me. I feared for my life and the life of our unborn child because I was pregnant at the time too. He choked me while screaming, “I could kill your dumb ass.” He took the car after the attack and left. That’s when it got real.
It was hard for me to let go of the dream I held for my life at the time. A lot of the girls I was in church with were young, and they were married. I wanted to be just like them, because I was always told ‘God don’t bless mess, He blesses marriage.’ And yes, we were living with each other, but we weren’t married and I was embarrassed about it. I loved this guy. I loved him. And I knew he could change because he wasn’t always like that.
But things came to a head weeks later when I gave birth to our child. I was in the hospital and my friend had offered to bring me money, and I quickly hid it under my mattress because I knew he would steal the money from me. He barged into the room after my friend left the hospital, demanding money. I lied and told him I didn’t have it yet. As I lay in the hospital bed, he beat me and choked me while our newborn baby laid in the crib.
Abuse like this went on for months, before my breakthrough came in the form of an unspeakable nightmare. One particular night of violence brought me to my knees. After he tried to drown me, I found myself on the side of my bed praying, crying out to God, “Lord please save me. Can you help me get up out of this without someone getting hurt.”
Unfortunately, no one in the house would get out of the situation unscathed. Days later, I was sitting at in my bedroom while my cousins fixed my computer, when I heard a “pow” sound in the next room where my children were playing. I ran to my kids to find my son screaming, jumping up and down and crying. My daughter was just sitting there saying, “Oh mom, my back.” She had been shot. I told my abuser to “get this sh*t out of my house,” referring to the gun.
I got my baby to the hospital, where the police visited me repeatedly, questioning me about the incident and who owned the apartment where we were staying. The police ultimately decided to arrest me, early in the morning, while I was staying bedside by my daughter while she recovered.
I ended up being convicted of child endangerment, obstruction of justice and tampering of evidence, even though I had no idea he had a gun in my apartment. I served two years in jail.
In the midst of being incarcerated, that’s when I was able to find Tangie. I learned that I didn’t have anyone but God to lean on in the midst of the dark hour, because I was dealing with a whole bunch of different demons. I felt like I was in the bottom pits of hell. When you’re dealing with the CO’s, and all the women locked up with you who don’t know who they are, and looking for love in any type of form just to say they have something, you have to find yourself. I was able to say “My name is Tangie,” and be proud to say my name is Tangie and hold my head high. One saint in my prison time, was Ms. Young, who was an addiction counselor. She told me that addiction can come in many forms, and I learned that I was addicted to wanting to be loved and accepted by a man. My addiction was to him. I didn’t know that until I entered Ms. Young’s classes and she started digging and pulling at the root of the problem. Getting to the source of the problem is the only way to start making your way towards healing.
For women going through this, you don’t have to sit there and go through it alone. You can’t make anybody change. You can’t make anybody love you. And you have to be able to recognize the red flags. Listen to them talk. Sit and listen to them talk so you can know who they are for real. That’s how you know.
Just recently, my daughter, the one who was shot, she looked at me and said “Mama, you are stronger than what you thought you were. I remember you kept telling us, you were going to fight. And you fought. Every time someone told you no, you fought for us. You got us back like you said that you would.” And that made me feel amazing. It helped push me to know I can overcome anything.
When I look at myself to this day, I don’t see hurt no more. I don’t see pain. I don’t see ugly. I don’t see Black. I don’t see fat. I don’t see weak. When I look at me today, I see strength. I feel stronger than ever. I see more than a conqueror. I see beauty. I embrace my nappy hair. I embrace my curves, all my dents, all my cellulite. Now, I look at myself, and I fill it with love. I feel so good that I can look at myself in my panties and my bra with my hair standing up and still see the Queen inside of me.
So keep fighting.
If you are a woman in the Southwestern Ohio region who is the victim of a domestic abuse situation, please contact Women Helping Women