Domestic Violence awareness month is a time to recognized how problematic abuse is in our society. As domestic violence awareness month comes to an end, we should be enraged daily because this behavior is not going away. Three women are murdered each day due to domestic violence. While it is not gender driven, women are 85% more likely to be victims and 15% of men are victims in the U.S. We feel better if we hide it because there is nothing more shameful than being a wife beater, an abuser or having people ask you, “why did you stay, if it was so bad?” Domestic violence is not a singular incident, it’s a hideous behavior problem deeply rooted in our culture. Violence may grant temporary control, but it ultimately ruins people, families and society. Physical abuse, verbally abuse and everything in between. What happens in our house, stays in our house. Not any more! That’s the good news.
There have been many stories, reports and biopics about domestic violence. The one that sticks with me is the LifeTime Biopic, Surviving Compton, which, highlights R&B Singer and Ruthless Records recording artist, Michel’le Toussaint. The story is about her relationship with Dr. Dre and Suge Knight and how she survived abuse while making her mark as a promising recording star back in the early 1990’s. Her voice was credited for establishing Ruthless Records with a mainstream sound. My first reaction after watching the movie, was shock and gut wrenching intensity. What I saw was abuse on steroids. I will not give a blow by blow analysis, but will comment on a few things. Michel’le’s story evoked a disturbing reality. There was no adult responsibility or direction provided while young people during the 1990’s L.A. NWA environment made decisions about their day-to-day life, but there was structure and guidance with the making of the music and promotion of the new hip hop sound that emerged from this era. So, it was okay to live with a young man at the age of sixteen or have 5 baby momma’s at the age of 18 and fight with no purpose while living with no solid principles as long as you didn’t miss rehearsals or studio time.
The second comment I’d like to share is that the storm inside of us encouraged abused. Men will be men; if he beats you, just try to fix it and do so quickly. These were the comments Michel’le Toussaint heard from the ELDERS while growing up. When I was a teenager I remember my mom and aunt talking about how my aunt ended up in the hospital due to her boyfriends hands in unwanted places. I too, ended up experiencing an abusive relationship. The good news is that I removed myself from that situation and I have had conversations with my daughter about how under any circumstances, abuse is unacceptable! The big elephant in the room is this; Abused people and people who abuse deal with confusion. We must intervene by reporting abuse, being direct in our opinions against abuse and telling our story. God has blessed Michel’le, Dr. Dre and Suge Knight. All are alive and have an opportunity to help others see the repercussions and dysfunction domestic violence causes. Pay attention!!! No matter how difficult it is to raise your head up, you must do so and you must move forward. Click here.
What’s love got to do with it? Self love is the ability to love selflessly. Love the good and bad parts of our God given DNA. It also means loving others the way we would want to be loved. Not sexually or emotionally, but wholeheartedly. Sacrificial love is not based on a feeling, but a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own. But this type of love does not come naturally to humans. No one can make us feel happy about ourselves. We have to create the space to do this on our own. The one thing that is clear is based on many recent incidents happening around the Country, is that Agape Love is absent. Do we even know what it means and how to change our mindset so that it’s in the forefront of everything we do?
I struggled in my mind because I was always concerned about what other people thought of me. Was I feminine enough, did I look attractive, was my nose too big, was I tall enough, etc… I experienced feeling ashamed of the agenda God gave me and tried to re-create my own agenda. I also had what I called an explosive reactive attitude. If you messed with me, I’ll get you back! That didn’t work! I have consistently worked on these issues over the years. Confusion persisted! It wasn’t until I took the time to understand Agape Love did I settle down. Of course I dealt with hard core lessons learned and embrassing situations that led me to change. I continue to work on accepting me and life as it comes. Love is more powerful than hate. Making a difference in spite of tragedy takes a strong mindset. It also requires Agape Love.
“It will make you mad, and then you will sing with us…” Living In The Black, the stage play
The stage is a powerful platform. It is the untold truth! A place where live music and real interactions tell a story and create surprise, laughter, sadness, suspense and triumph! It’s so emotional because you will feel the actors pain and rejoice when they triumph. The book, Living In The Black is about the silence of domestic violence. This is a topic no one wants to talk about at the kitchen table. What inspired me to write Living In The Black is the fact that I was a victim and now a survivor, but was embrassed to admit it. As I watched my daughter grow up, I knew I had to be honest. Not admitting it or brushing it under the rug meant acceptance. I didn’t want to create confusion and allow my daughter to think that it was okay. So, my writing experience with Living In The Black was explosive!! Thank you Seraph Books and Alyssa Curry!!! Local actors and muscians will bring the book, Living In The Black to “life” on May 9th at 7pm at the Henderson Fine Arts Center in Henderson, KY. Playwright Stanley Jackson of SJM Productions takes sections of my story and re-creates scenes on stage. He says this play is more dramatic than some of his other stage plays, but that you will go through every emotion! You will think, cry and laugh. Then you will get mad, and sing with us! Can you imagine this on stage? Well, Playwright Stanley Jackson has the magic touch and will allow you to experience his artistry and ministry on May 9 at the Henderson Fine Arts Center!!! Click on this article from the Courier Press to get details!! If you want to read the Book, you can get it here!!!
The NFL has implemented stringent guidelines for players who commit domestic violence against women.
The recent video of the aftermath of an altercation between Ray Rice and his then, girlfriend (now wife), Janay Palmer, went viral on various media outlets. It also prompted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to re-evaluate his organizations rules for punishing this type of behavior. I am not sure if you have seen the video, but here is a synopsis: The elevator doors open and he drops her. She falls to her knees, and then to the floor, but her feet prevent the doors from closing. The man is holding the woman’s purse as he tries to move her unconscious body out of the way using his feet, but she won’t budge. His struggle to lift and move her body from the floor does not appear that he’s helping her, but is as if he is exhausted from lifting a heavy pile of trash. He tries picking her up again, but unconscious bodies can be heavy, even for a 5-foot-8 208-pound running back in the NFL. The video ends.
This scenario saddens me. I am certain that this was not the first incident during their relationship. Many women and men want to keep this sort of thing a secret because it is embarrassing and of course it wasn’t meant to happen, but things got out of control. What concerns me is that this happened when Janay Palmer was Ray Rice’s girlfriend and now she is his wife. I am certain that they love each other and that they have worked through this ordeal. My message to this couple is that love is not suppose to be painful, violent or inflict pain in this manner. I understand the shame of experiencing violence. Missing the cautionary signs that something is wrong is not something to be proud of, but if you have a second chance, please recognize the signs and take action. I pray that this never happens again and that the topic of domestic violence is discussed more openly. Avoid #livingintheblack.
I am also sharing my story of #livingintheblack. Our choices are abundant. We just need to use our inner strength to make the right choices. Click here to learn more.