I tried to avoid speaking on this subject matter because of my own personal struggle with domestic abuse and violence having lived with and experienced it over the years, but something just would not let me keep quiet. I apologize for the long post and if I offend anyone but I have to ask these questions.
Have you ever been in a relationship where you were yelled at, made to feel worthless, intimidated, manipulated, felt like you were to blame for everything? Or felt like your life was or is being controlled by someone you fear or you’re walking on eggshells in your own home? Have you constantly been cussed out for no reason, called out of your name, or found yourself taking the blame for any and everything? Or physically beaten only to stay because you felt you couldn’t do any better? I ask because these are some of the warning signs of domestic abuse and violence.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have been, may be, or are a victim of domestic abuse and violence. My heart goes out to you. Please know you’re not alone. There’s help available. If you can, get out as soon as you can. We’re praying for you.
Sadly, many women have been and are victims of domestic abuse. Even sadder, I used to think it came with the territory in relationships but vowed as a child when I grew up, I would never allow a man to put his hands on me, EVER!!!
Imagine my expression after hearing the news of Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension from the NFL resulting from a tape that clearly showed physical violence he committed when he knocked out his former girlfriend, now wife Janay Rice. I couldn’t help but send up a prayer because just hearing the news deeply disturbed me. For a time, I refused to look at the tape out of fear what it would do to me. It was not until I viewed it after hearing so many people talk about it, that I immediately became sick and disgusted.
As if that wasn’t enough, to make matters worse, I heard another report of former ASU quarterback, Jack Elway III son of John Elway Denver Broncos General manager, pleaded guilty to domestic violence against his wife and NFL Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer arrested on domestic violence assault charges that allege a fractured nose and bruises to his wife’s left eye and included alleged aggravated assault on his 18-month old son. And let’s not forget Minnesota Viking running back Adrian Peterson’s alleged child abuse against his son. What’s going on NFL??? I can’t take any more. Please, please stop the domestic abuse and violence.
I also was conflicted and confused by some of the negative comments and opinions of others in response to a letter Janay penned slamming the media. What hurt me the most was when many began to lash out at her after she came to her husband’s defense expressing how this entire situation has affected her family, asking the public to respect their privacy. My heart broke.
While I will never condone domestic abuse, any person putting their hands on or abusing another in any form, I cannot help but empathize with this young lady. We must understand in her decision to marry him, even though the abuse was beyond acceptable (he punched her twice and left her lying on the floor, walked over her, and allegedly never apologized to her), she says loves her husband and as it appears, she has accepted the consequences of his behavior. All she asked was that the public respect their privacy in this family matter.
Does it make it right? No. Does it make it okay? No. Will he ever do it again? We don’t know. Some say yes. But do we really know what will happen. Is it even our business or our role to make assumptions? In my opinion, no. Because some people can change and turn their life around for the better. That’s just like saying once a cheater, alcoholic, drug addict; always a cheater, alcoholic, drug addict.
Not everybody who make mistakes become the mistakes they’ve made. It’s not fair to put everybody in the same category. Some people can and do change. And I feel if Janay has accepted the consequences of her husband’s actions and they both are taking the necessary steps to fix the problem with counseling, at least give them a chance.
In no way am I saying stay in a relationship that is harmful to your well-being or clearly puts your life in danger. It is always in your best interest to leave and seek a place of refuge; safety. However, if Ray Rice does it again, let’s pray his wife makes it out safely, leave, and gets the help she needs. If all she’s asking is that we respect her family’s privacy no matter how public the media has made it, no matter our opinions, we can at least respect her wishes.
Don’t criticize, judge, or make any assumptions about what we think, should, or is going to happen. Let’s just pray God covers them both. She needs our support. Not condescending remarks, hurtful words, or mean attitudes. What if it were you? Think about the ugly way others are treating her. Put yourself in her shoes.
This talk of abuse has taken its toll on me. I was mentally and physically drained as I began to relive the pain of my past filled with memories of emotional, mental, verbal, and physical abuse. Never once did I feel like a victim. For years I could not imagine myself being a victim because I kept it hidden.
But then, I said to myself, “Hold up…what….wait a minute?” Is this what happened to me years ago, without realizing I too was a victim? Granted I was young and naïve and didn’t realize domestic abuse was the issue. I never gave it a name. I just thought arguing, fussing, and occasions of physical violence came with the territory. And I thought because it was not ongoing and stopped after the second time, I never called it domestic abuse or violence. I didn’t consider it abuse. So I stayed. Silly me. Goodness, how naïve was I. I was young. But that doesn’t excuse it.
When I got older and it started happening again and the cycle kept repeating itself, when I found my life in imminent danger, I came to my senses. I refused to tolerate it and immediately removed myself from the situation. Sadly, no matter how much I’d run, I couldn’t escape it. Until one day, I was physically assaulted while 8 months pregnant and someone witnessed it and sought help. With the help of God, a stranger I considered an angel, and law enforcement, I fought back and never attempted to return. I never looked back. God was watching over me. For that, I’m forever grateful to Him.
I will never make excuses or take the blame for why I stayed or chose to leave. Leaving was easier said than done. It took more work than I imagined but God saved me from harm. However, I will be held accountable for not properly understanding the extent of what I experienced. Because I knew better. When I made a promise to myself years ago to never allow a man to hit on me or verbally abuse me, I failed to see the warning signs that were right in front of me.
I’m in a better place now. I consider it done! I am victorious. I am still standing. God kept me in the midst of it. I may have been beaten, talked about, emotionally, mentally, physically, and verbally abused, but I refused to put myself in harm’s way only to be broken, battered, and bruised. And not live and tell about it today. Thankful God took me out of harm’s way.
“Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical abuse is called domestic violence” (Domestic Violence and Abuse).
Domestic abuse is serious. Don’t ignore it. Know the warning signs and what you can do to help save a life or prevent it. Here are a few signs that may help you: helplessness, control issues, low self-esteem, being afraid, threats, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and violent behavior. If you suspect someone is being abused or you are the victim of abuse, it may not be easy but don’t be afraid to speak up. Seek help. It’s available. Someone is there to help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). Someone will help you get to safety. Remove yourself from the situation.
Many women have been and continue to be victims of domestic abuse. Abuse is not just physical but emotional, mental, sexual, and verbal. Let’s join forces to put an end to it. Why not begin a Million Woman March movement as voices for victims of Domestic Violence and have an open dialogue in an open forum like #OprahLifeclass to begin the healing process. As well as confront the issues to find a cure for this awful disease. Will you join me?
Domestic abuse is NEVER okay! Janay Rice, Kayla Dwyer, and others we’re praying for you.
Be blessed! -JD