The sounds of screams, fists flying, furniture breaking and blood on clothing; are all vivid images from my childhood that still haunt me to this day. My mother left. Many women don’t. Domestic violence is not always physical. It can take many forms including sexual, emotional, verbal and psychological. It’s all about power and control. It has lasting effects.
I read this article last month on My Brown Baby entitled “#WhyIStayed: Teaching our Daughters & Sons How to Love Sans Violence” and was moved to write about this topic in October. Why? Because October is also Domestic Violence Awareness month and we need to stop blaming the victims for domestic violence and encourage them to get help and get out of destructive situations.
So, how did domestic violence affect me after witnessing it? I suffered all forms of domestic violence at one point in my life with the exception of physical, but it was just as painful. Domestic violence affected my self-esteem and made me vulnerable and susceptible to unhealthy situations and relationships. You know the kinds of relationships where you think your first name is B*tch? How about the relationships where you’re being yelled at constantly with no regard to your feelings? How about the relationships where you feel that you’re just not good enough because he likes skinny women and I’m too thick for him? How about the relationship where he forced himself on you?
Domestic violence is serious. I suffered the affects for many years. Silently. As confident as I was on the outside, I was a wreck on the inside. I thought no one cared or that it was “my cross to bear”. Suffering alone and in silence strips you of your voice. You begin to doubt yourself and realize that maybe just maybe you deserved all those bad words or things that have happened to you. But, you don’t.
Domestic violence is simply about power and control. Hurt people hurt people. You can’t change someone. You have to love you first. Loving you is the fundamental point of everything we do in life. If you can’t love you, how can you expect someone else to love you? Truth? You can’t.
You can’t change someone. You can’t heal a broken person when you in fact are broken. I know. I tried. I failed. All I earned was a broken, battered, abused heart and spirit. So, what do you do? You focus on you. Till this day, the best line I ever heard was from the comedian; Katt Williams when he says “B*tch, it’s called self-esteem! It’s the esteem of your mother*cking self. How the f*ck can I f*ck up how you feel about you…?” Vulgar and crude…Yes. But, it’s accurate and on point nonetheless.
That sketch reminded me that I’m the only one who can control how I feel about myself. I stopped waiting on others to validate me or my existence. I accepted who I am and I love me first. Think of it this way…when you fly they always instruct you in an emergency situation if the oxygen masks should deploy that you secure your mask first before helping someone else. Why? Because you can’t help someone else if you die. Help yourself first.