I got involved in church and prayer
and my friends were by my side.
That’s what helped me to survive.
-Victim of Domestic Abuse
Q: Have you ever been involved in or have gone through a family or domestic abuse situation?
A: I was in both kinds of domestic abuse situation. My parents were abusive to one another and when I became older I found myself repeating the same pattern my mother had formed. So growing up and watching my mother get beat down trickled into my own life from 18 to 21 years of age.
Q: Was the violence verbal, emotional,
sexual or physical abuse?
A: In my relationship with my son’s father, the abuse was verbal, mental, and physical. He often cheated on me and when I would catch him and confront him, he would lie and become very offensive and hit me. He liked to put me down a lot, call me ugly, and I was never allowed to dress like a woman in fitting clothing. I always had to wear baggy jeans and oversized sweatshirts and sweaters. I couldn’t look at other people. I would always walk with my head down. He would hit me, beat me, slap me, and choke me . . . whatever he could do. It’s interesting because I can look at another woman or girl and know they are in abusive relationship just because I can recognize what it looks like.
Q: Have you told anyone about the abuse?
A: Yes, I told my mother years later when I turned 30. I’m 35 years old now, but around that age we went to a therapy session. She was very upset with me because she didn’t know that I was going through the same things she went through. However, it was hard for her to recognize the signs because she was focused on dealing with her own hurt and pain. My mother is the type of person who holds on to things, and she has built a wall so thick that she has a hard time expressing her love for her children. She has hard time displaying her emotions. Still this day, she can’t tell us, as her children, that she loves us.
Q: Have you ever called the police or 911?
What was their response?
A: I’ve called the police when my boyfriend at the time and I had gotten into a street fight. I was living in Elizabeth, NJ at the time. My
boyfriend admitted to the officer that he was beating on me. The officer was white and all he could say was to go home. My boyfriend went to his house and I went to mine. We did not live together. What I cannot understand was that the officer made no arrest. I couldn’t believe it! I thought for sure my boyfriend
would get arrested, but it didn’t happen.
Q: Have you ever used a domestic violence
shelter or service? Was it helpful?
A: No, I’ve never been in a shelter for domestic violence.
Q: Have you fought back? What happened?
A: I would fight back when my boyfriend would hit me. I remember one time when he was drunk and he raped me. I had to fight him off. I grabbed anything I could find and throw it at him. It could be a knife or another object. I was so angry I wanted to kill him. Another time was when he hit me in the stomach while I was pregnant with our son. If I could have successfully hurt him, I would be in jail.
Q: How did you survive the abuse? What did you do?
A: The last straw was when my son was born and my boyfriend stated to pull an “Ike and Tina” on me while I had my son in my arms. After that I knew I had to get out of this relationship. I would have flashbacks with my father hitting my mom. I left him and went home to my mother’s house. I got involved in church and prayer and my friends were by my side. That’s what helped me to survive.
Q: Do you abuse alcohol or other substance?
A: I didn’t abuse alcohol, but I did drink. My last drink was when I turned 31 and I threw up. I was like I can’t do this anymore. Still, to cope with the pain, I became very promiscuous. I would sleep with everybody at my job or
sometimes I would be with two men with protection, of course, and later in the week found myself in another man’s bed. I did this because I did not feel loved and these men were giving me attention that I’d never received from my boyfriend. These men were calling me beautiful and my boyfriend would constantly tell me how ugly I was. He was cheating on me, so I decided to cheat on him.
Q: Have you ever thought about or tried to
hurt yourself or someone else?
A: I’ve never hurt myself, but I’ve tried to my boyfriend. I would just get so enraged that I’ve tried to run him over with my car, or even choked him with a chain around his neck. I was trying to kill him.
Q: Do you often think about the abuse you
have been in?
A: No, I don’t think about it as much. Now that I am talking to you is causing me to relive these memories, but really I just think about my son
not having his father in his life. I’m in a good relationship now with a good man who loves my son. Still, he would never be my son’s father.
Q: What has made it difficult for you to
keep yourself safe?
A: At first it wasn’t about safety. It was about how I loved him; I went into serious depression, but he wanted to control me using reverse psychology to make me feel bad in our abusive relationship. He would cry after we would fight and tell me he didn’t mean to do it. I would fall for it because I loved him. He messed with my confidence, and I saw myself becoming my mother. I found myself getting very upset with my parents because my mother never taught me about sex. I had to go out a d learn that on my own. My father had never been a father to me or his 11 other kids. I have so many half brothers and sisters.
One of my brothers is not abusive and the others follow after my father and beat their wives and girlfriends, and my sisters are in abusive relationship except for me because I was able to get out of it.
Q: Have you survived or are you still a victim? How and why?
A: I’m still learning to forgive my father and my son’s father. It’s not easy because they both do not see the roles they have played in the abusive relationship. They are always trying to blame someone else for their actions, but I’ve learned that I had an experience and that not all men are the same. If I’d allow myself to think that I’d never be with anyone, I’d still be stuck in the pain and the hurt both emotional, physical, and mentally. I got myself out because of my son. I didn’t want him to grow up and see me in an abusive relationship where he might grow up to continue the pattern. I had to break it somehow, and I’m just glad that I had enough sense to get out. I’m grateful to still be alive because I could have been dead.
Nikia L. Richardson is a sophomore student at Monroe College in New Rochelle, NY. She is also a basketball player for the Mustangs and is majoring in Criminal Justice. In her spare time she can be seen hanging with her friends.