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Black woman abusedI am a thirty-six year old single african-american woman who is also a mother of two beautiful boys. I’ve been a mother since I was twenty-four years old. My next opportunity to do the mothering thing all over again came about in October 2011. That was the time I discovered that I was going to be a mother again. Approximately ten years since I’d had my first son. To give you some perspective here, I’d fallen in love quickly and deeply with a man. He didn’t promise me the world, but we committed to each other that we’d be a family.

There were mixed emotions. I’d always thought that I wanted other children, but 10 years is a long time between children. I was almost half way to freedom from my oldest son so I was a bit hesitant.

I talked over the pregnancy with my partner and we committed to being a family, having the baby and living happily ever after. We’d had our share of disagreements, but never bad ones. Anytime we had a disagreement, in the beginning he’d always pack his overnight bag and prepare to leave in silence. Just to give you some context here, I wasn’t raised by my mother or father. My father walked out of my life when I was about 6 months old and I never saw him again. My mother was always involved in my life but I was raised by an Aunt and Uncle. Whenever my partner got mad and left, it opened up wounds I didn’t know I had of a feeling of abandonment.

In one instance of a disagreement on a Sunday, we were on our way to church and in the car there was silence. When we came back home to my place, he proceeded to start backing his bag to leave and go to his place. I stopped him and told him that everytime we had problems was not the time to pick up his things and leave. I’d told him that if we were going to be committed, we could not walk away everytime something didn’t go well. We had to learn to stick out and work through it. Thinking about that conversation makes me laugh now, you’ll understand why later.

The next month was Thanksgiving. One of the things that he’d told me when we initially met was that he was very family oriented. I lived 12 hours away from my family, but his family was about an hour away. When Thanksgiving came around, he invited his family to my home for the holiday. It was one of our happiest days. I cooked, we played games, watched movies, etc. I thought it was a first for us of many to come.

A couple days later was the first instance of abuse. While I didn’t recognize it at that time, looking back on it, I am fully aware of what it was now. We’d just had this wonderful family gathering and were in the beginning stages of a pregnancy. He had a child from a prior marriage and I had my 10 year old son. My 10 year old had gone away to a friend’s home for the weekend and I was beginning to experience severe morning sickness. He was going to be working for the weekend. He insisted that I keep his child from the prior marriage and I didn’t feel like it. I was sick and my own son was away so I thought that time would give me a break to just gather my thoughts and feel better. This caused an argument. An argument that lasted the entire weekend. On that Sunday, he decided to gather his things again and his child and go back to his own place. This time I didn’t stop him. I needed a break.

Once I picked my son back up, we were in the house basically enjoying the quiet and he began to call. I didn’t want to talk because of the argument. I was tired of arguing. So rather than answer the phone, I ignored it. He decided to come over to my home. He knocked on the door and I answered the phone and told him we needed some time apart. This wasn’t what he wanted to hear so he continued to ring the doorbell, knock on the windows, etc and refuse to leave while calling over and over. I at this point didn’t want to allow him in the house, especially not with my son at home.

I walked outside and locked the door behind me. I told him he could not come in because he was acting irrationally and we’d have to sit outside and talk. Things went way left. I can’t even recall all of the physical aggression but I do recall him grabbing me and pushing me and trying to force his way back into my home. At some point my son opened the door because he was worried. There were things in my home that were caught in the chaos and were broken. Picture frames shattered off the wall, a vase knocked down and me trying to calm everything down because I didn’t want my son to be exposed to this. While we were outside, a neighbor’s teenage son saw what was going on and alerted him. He called the cops.

At some point, the cops showed up with sirens blaring and knocking on my door. He freaked out and accused me of “calling the cops and trying to ruin his life.” I opened the door and had no idea why they were there because I hadn’t called them. I told the cops I didn’t need them. They told me that I had to let them in because someone had called and saw me being physically assaulted. And when I opened the door, glass was all over from the picture frames and vase being broken and no matter what I said, they were arresting him.

That was the first real instance of the physical abuse. I ended up not pressing charges and asking the prosecutors not to pursue the charges. My reasoning: He didn’t really hit me, it was a misunderstanding AND we were expecting this baby and we were going to be a family.

What I didn’t know at the time was that this wasn’t his first time having the cops show up. He had been married before and the cops were called to their home numerous times. He’d also had a prior girlfriend get a restraining order bc he’d slashed her tires.

My story ended about 1.5 yrs later with him. Well the relationship that is. The story of course is ongoing because we have a child together.

Who was affected by the abuse? Our children. My oldest son, his son from his prior marriage and our baby together. How were they affected? These are all little boys. Little boys who observe how their mother is treated by this man and who learn from our actions what is healthy and normal. In telling him early on that we didn’t run away and abandon each other when things got rough was something I believed, I just didn’t knoiw that meant it could cost me my life or the future of my two sons if I continued to stay.

After I had my son the following summer, a couple months in, I looked around and realized this isn’t what I had imagined. This wasn’t the type of family I’d envisioned. A man who kept me in tears more than with a smile. A man who caused me to miss days of work b/c if we were arguing and I was trying to work, he’d take my computer apart or remove my work telephone so I couldn’t use it. I had been a strong independent woman and here I was feeling trapped in my own home. A home that I’d been proud to purchase on my own. And yet, during those months of living with him, I’d rather have walked away from it than live here with him.

One of my most embarrassing moments came when I received a call from my son’s school telling me that he was sick and I needed to pick him up. I scrambled trying to find someone who could do it for me, not because I didn’t have a car but because I had just been hit so hard in the head that a huge lump was showing and I didn’t want anyone to see it.

There were numerous times I’d come up with a plan for him to leave. I’d try asking him to just leave. I’d give him 30 days or 60 days whatever time he said he needed to save money to get aplace of his own. And yet that time would come and go and nothing would be different. He’d tell me that since I didn’t have a father in the home, I should want more for my son and we’d have to work it out. I’d felt guilty about that because I did want my son to have a father in the home but it came to a point where he’d have a father but he may not have had a mother.

The police and legal system were not really useful in my leaving this man. Whenever I’d try to lock him out and move his things to the garage so he’d pick them up, the cops would come over and tell me that I had to let him in because I couldn’t “legally” evict him without going through the courts. So they’d basically give him permission to come back in and the cycle would continue. One of the final times, I told them that I’d do what they said, but the next time they came back one of us would be dead.

The final breaking point, I’d grown a little stronger. I’d changed the locks and I’d let him come and go but wouldn’t give him a key. I wouldn’t allow him to sleep in my room anymore. I’d learn to let him take things from me and not care. My eyeglasses, my keys, my books that I’d study with. Whatever he wanted to take was fine as long as he left me alone. But if you have ever dealt with a controlling person or an abusive person, you understand this makes them angrier. One Friday night we argued all night bc I wouldn’t allow him to go through my cell phone anymore. I’d locked it and todl him he could have it, destroy it, whatever but I wasn’t opening it for him. I wanted him gone. So all night he took things, he twisted my nipples, he broke my fingernails, he poured soda in my head. He refused to let me take a bath or go to the bathroom alone and would take the door knobs off the door. But the final straw was him baricading himself in my bedroom with a knife and teling me that I was going to work it out with him or else.

This time I pressed the panic button on my alarm system and the police came. There was no more protecting him and saying he didn’t mean it. I was tired of living this life. Either he’d have to leave or I’d have to die. Those were the only two options I had in my head. They didn’t arrest him, they made him leave and told me to go press charges and then he’d be arrested. But he continued to show back up two more times that day to talk. I iddn’t want to talk, I’d had enough. I was afraid I’d kill him if he came back. I did press those charges and request a protective order. And I moved everything he owned out of my home into a storage unit. That was the last day he ever stepped foot in my home.

It has been a year and a half since this occurred. We have a child together and the coparenting relationship is rocky. One of the things during and after the relationship was that he’d never own up to things he did. He’d always accuse me of trying to ruin his life. He went months wout communicating with me after I got the protective order and didn’t contact me again to even ask how his son was doing until it was time for our court date. And he then wanted to know if I was going to go through with the charges.

I do not define myself as an “abuse victim.” Yes, I was in a relationship with a man who physically and emotionally abused me. However, that is not how I define myself – it’s simply apart of my story. My story is much bigger and my life has much more purpose than surviving a couple years of hell on earth. I strongly believe that you tell your own story, you determine how you are defined and what you are called.

I’ve done lots of reading on domestic violence and what’s amazing is that perputrators have similar methods. Blaming the “victim,” wanting them to not tell any of their loved ones or close friends anything that has occurred under the name of, “privacy in the relationship.” Also, wanting to control every aspect of your life and alienating friends and family. So while my close friends suspected things, they never had a clue of everything that went on inside the walls of my home.