May 1, 2008
As tears stream down my face I search through my make up to find concealer to cover up the black eye I received the day before. Looking in the mirror I ask myself why I stay, and the answer is always the same. I stay because of my children. Not wanting to walk in my mother’s footsteps I suffer in silence. “Are you ready, it’s time to go to church,” my husband says as he comes up from behind and kisses me on the neck.
Cringing inside, I force a pleasant smile and say, “Yes dear, I’ll be right down, make sure you don’t forget your sermon.” “What are you trying to say, you think I’m incompetent?” he says as rage gathered in his eyes. Not wanting to get hit by whatever was in reach, I jump up and hug him while rubbing his back. “No baby, I just wanted to make sure we didn’t forget anything,” I say softly. Roughly grabbing my arm, he pushes me away and tells me to hurry up because the children were ready and he was tired of me always making him late. Standing in the bathroom mirror, I dry my tears and continue applying my make-up. After finishing, I carefully inspect my face to make sure I covered every bruise. Heading out the bathroom, I grab my shawl to help hide the large, red handprint on my arm. After helping the children in the car, we ride in silence all the way to the church. A ritual I’m use to, I was once a woman who loved to be in the house of the Lord. Now I dread going there because I hate having to smile like everything is o.k. Isn’t the purpose of going to church to feel the presence of the Lord? All I feel when I’m there is emptiness. Looking around the sanctuary I’m baffled by how these ministers who claim they have the gift of discernment can’t discern the silent hell their leader is putting our family through. Looking up, I notice my husband looking at me. Smiling, I hesitate a little trying to make sure I nodded when I’m suppose to, saying Amen at the right moment—anything less would bring dire consequences. Going to church has turned into a job; I have to look and act the part, and make sure the children act accordingly. I have been doing this for ten years and everyday it gets harder. As the years pass, the beatings get worse. Not wanting my children to grow up without their father I deal with the abuse and feel like it’s my duty to stick it out, which was the vow I took, right? I feel like my home, beautiful, everything in its place, but dead on the inside. I wish I could talk to my mother about the abuse, but I don’t want her to see me as a failure. This week has been a quiet one with no incidents. My mother came and picked up the children so my husband and I can spend some much needed time alone. Let’s pray this is a step in the right direction, 6:32 pm.
That was her last entry. As I’m sitting here reading my best friend’s diary, all I can do is cry as I imagine what took place that dreadful night. I can see her preparing her husband’s favorite meal: fried catfish, okra, rice and buttermilk cornbread. Turning on the stereo and lighting the candles, she’s asking herself why she should put forth the effort even though she knows she’ll never have the healthy marriage she dreamed of. I can hear her calling out to him as she hears his footsteps in the foyer. “Baby come here, I’m in the dining room,” she probably said full of excitement as smooth jazz played in the background. With an angry expression on his face, he probably wondered what was with all the soft music and candles. I can hear her telling him how she wanted to do something nice since they haven’t spent quality time alone in a long time, especially since she knew how hard he had been working at the church.
“Look, I’m tired and the last thing I want to do is hear a bunch of noise. All I want to is lay down,” he probably said with his nostrils flaring. She probably stood there in complete shock at a loss for words. Knowing her, she reached and grabbed his hands and guided him to his chair. “Here Baby why don’t you just sit here and eat your dinner then you can go lay down,” she said trying to calm him. From the crime scene photos, it seems as though she was turning to leave the room when he slapped her. The impact was so strong she fell into the China cabinet. I can see him standing over her with balled fists yelling at her. “I’m sorry!” she must’ve cried out in a fetal position, trying to protect her body as best she could. Reaching down, he grabbed her by her neck and choked her. As she tried to pull his arms away he only squeezed harder while yelling and asking her why didn’t she respect him. Why she never listens to anything he says. And at that very moment, as her breathing became labored, I know all she could think about was her children….
Are you suffering in silence? Just like my friend there are so many women who are living this exact same life not knowing where to turn especially if their spouse is held in high regard. Many of them are repeating the cycle they have seen played out as little girls watching Mommy being abused. They have low self esteem or have found themselves getting caught up and don’t know how to get out. If you are reading this and you are in an abusive relationship or you know someone who is, don’t be the silent victim. Go to the nearest shelter, open up to that friend who you think might look at you different and know that in telling them you will be taking the first step to freedom. Statistics show that 1 in 3 women report being physically or sexually abused by their boyfriends or husbands. More than 32 million Americans are affected by domestic violence each year. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women. Please seek help immediately if you have found yourself in this situation. Call the National Domestic Hotline at 800-799-7233or 800-621-HOPE. You can go to www.joyfulheartfoundation.org and www.nyawc.org to learn about the different signs of being in an abusive relationship. You are not alone, DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE!!!
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