For years, we’ve heard about all of the negativity surrounding singer Tyrese Gibson and his ex-wife Norma Mitchell. In addition to a pretty messy divorce, the two have had their share of legal disputes surrounding their 7-year-old daughter, Shayla. Their most recent run-in involved the actor Furious 7 claiming that he feared his ex would not bring their daughter back to the States following their upcoming vacation to Israel. The courts eventually ruled in Norma’s favor, as she and Shayla are set to take the trip later this week, but according to the artist and single mother, this has only been one of several of Gibson’s attempts to terrorize her.
“I just have come to a point where I felt that I really want to have a voice and speak up for myself,” Mitchell told MadameNoire regarding her decision to finally speak out. “It’s been a long time that I have been going through this and I just want to move on and move forward.”
Considering that this isn’t the first incident that has landed the former lovers in court, the single mother expressed that she didn’t have much of a reaction to last week’s fiasco.
“I’m not a flight risk. It was sad for me seeing myself called ‘Satan’ in the press. It really hurt my feelings. I would never take my daughter to live in a different country away from her father. And if I were going to do that, I wouldn’t be asking for her passport.”
Norma adds that it’s interesting that Gibson would even question whether or not she would return with Shayla. Apparently, there’s a clause in their custody agreement which was added on August 28 that prohibits both of them from traveling to countries that are not governed by The Hague Convention. Israel happens to be governed by The Hague.
“The Hague Convention protects against child abduction,” she explained. “For me to run off with my daughter to Israel is ludicrous. I wouldn’t even live there. I’m a British citizen. I feel like that wasn’t explained.”
The 7-day trip to Jerusalem will more than likely consist of celebrating Passover and catching up with relatives—including Mitchell’s mom, brother and grandmother.
“I’m just going to see my mom. My mom is from Israel and she’s in Israel with my grandmother who is too old to travel. Sometimes we only get to see them once a year. The last time we saw them was three years ago,” said Norma.
News of Mitchell’s upcoming trip to Israel led to many negative comments from misinformed people who have only negative views of the country. But the London native, who bears both Trinidadian and Israeli descent, expressed that the trip will be a safe one. Their itinerary includes visiting the Mount of Olives and going to temple for prayer.
Despite the continuous hardships faced while attempting to co-parent in such a hostile environment, Mitchell hopes to reach out and help someone else with her story.
“Seven years [of silence] is long enough. It’s not in my nature to try to harm someone else. I’ve always tried my best to keep it moving and keep to myself, but I’ve also become very aware that there are other women out there who are going through similar situations.”
She intends to provide this support through her women’s empowerment campaign, “Because I’m a Woman.” In addition to helping to build the self-esteem and confidence of these women, Norma hopes to equip them with information to assist them in understanding the court system here in America.
“There are a lot of women who are going through what I’m going through and they simply don’t have the resources to help them move forward and overcome the things that they’re going through.”
And who better to help guide these women than Norma, who represented herself in court against her ex-husband’s attorney—who sources say is paid approximately $900 an hour to handle his custodial disputes?
“I will do my best to make it known that emotional violence, verbal abuse and mental abuse is something serious and it happens to many women. A lot of men are using the legal system to control women and to put them in a state of fear. A few of the things that have happened to me that I know have happened to other women is being followed and surveyed. That’s not something fun. It makes you anxious. You know, just provoking you and harassing you with emails. That overwhelms women and it puts you in a fear state.”
For years, there were rumors and reports of domestic abuse in the former couple’s marriage. Mitchell confirmed to us that there definitely were some abusive moments.
“Yes, there was [physical and emotional abuse in my marriage]. Definitely. If you have this conversation with many women, they can tell you the exact same thing. Sometimes it’s so covert that you don’t know it’s happening until it’s happening.”
Because she never spoke out about her experiences, she admits that situations like the 2014 incident involving former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice made her feel a bit guilty.
“I felt so irresponsible at that moment because I wasn’t taking responsibility as a woman and using my voice to perhaps alleviate those blows. It starts with words and then it becomes physical, but the words are what linger. The physical abuse heals quickly, but the emotional keeps coming back because you’re so unsure of yourself.”
Sadly, abuse can sometimes even continue once a relationship has ended. During her time spent in court feuding with her ex-husband, Norma recalled seeing countless women in distress that became emotionally unraveled out of fear that their children may be taken away.
“A lot of men with money and more power, especially with passive women, are using the legal system to abuse these women. Then they can point the finger and say, ‘Look at her, she’s crazy,’ because one day you just explode and can’t take it anymore.”
We were also able to discuss how the public nature of the divorce and custodial woes have impacted her personal life. The single mother admits that all of the negative media coverage makes it difficult to do every day things such as promote her business and even to date.
“People Google people. People research. People look at that stuff and they believe it. It’s not okay, but I know that it happens.”
As for what she tells her daughter about all of the reports about herself and her ex-husband, Norma had this to say:
“I explain to her the reality of what media is. You just have to say, ‘The media puts a lot of stories out there. Don’t pay attention.’ I’ve talked to her about it and have educated her on other stories of people who have negative things in the media. She has an understanding that it’s like watching a movie. It’s not reality and that what we go through in our personal lives only makes us stronger.”
To learn more about the “Because I’m a Woman” campaign, visit YourFreeMind.org.