I wanted to take a moment and share my article “NO LONGER THE FACE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: NOW THE FACE OF A THRIVING SURVIVOR which was posted in “Nailed Magazine” on December 29th. Please read and share your thoughts!
About thirty-three years ago, I was an eight-year-old child of an abuse victim. For days, nights, weeks, months, and years, I witnessed my mother be a victim of abuse. My mother’s face would be beaten beyond recognition, and I would often hear my stepfather threaten to blow her brains out, or beat and kill her.
After the beating and he was gone, I would crawl into bed with my mom and spoon her with my little but warm eight-year-old arms. I would lay next to her while she whimpered silently. I did not know why my mommy allowed this man to beat her, but I did know why she stayed.
My grandaunt and grandmother advised her to stay because she was married, and as a Christian woman, divorce was not an option. However, to my mom’s better judgment, she left my stepfather and pursued the path of being a single mother, raising two children.
I did not realize that almost a decade later, I would be facing the same circumstances. My father was never present in my life, and the only male figure that I was familiar with was the one who beat my mother.
As most girls require, I did not have any male influence in my life nor guidance for how I should allow a man to treat me. The absence of my father and the memories of an abused mother set the tone for what I would encounter and for what I was willing to accept in the coming years.
Around the age of sixteen, I met a young man who was about five years my senior. He was a drug dealer, woman-beater, and thug from the opposite side of town. His entrance into my life was solely by chance, and upon his introduction; I did not realize that I would embark on a relationship that would hurt my body, heart, soul, and spirit.
It was not until I was around eighteen years old that we became intimate and involved. At that time, he used my insecurities with my complexion and my weight as a pawn to break me down and then build me back up. Verbally he would abuse me and then love away the pains of his words; it was a cycle. He constantly accused me of cheating on him, and made me feel ashamed of my absent relationship with my father.
Then around the age of twenty years old, the abuse began. He would jump on me for saying something in the wrong tone, denying him something such as sex, cooking a meal, or because I did not respond the way he wanted me to.
I remember one day, he came home with one of his friends and he told me to cook breakfast; it was the afternoon. I told him, “No, I just got off my third shift job, and I’m tired.” He immediately jumped across the sofa and began beating me in my face, punching me, and yelling.
He did not even think about how disrespectful he was being to me in front of his friend, or about the love he claimed to have for me. He humiliated me, beat me, and all of this in front of his friend. The sad thing about it is that his friend did not even try to help me.
After he finished beating me, he left me right there on the floor in tears, hurting and humiliated.
Later that evening, he returned and admitted to me that he was “geeked-up” on coke (cocaine), and he did not mean to do it, he was sorry and loved me. The result of that beating that day was a black eye, a cracked lip, and a broken heart. That time was the worst beating he had ever given me; he was out of control.
The beating that day, mixed with the fact that he had given me Chlamydia a week prior – and then meeting the other woman, a white and young girl who he called his dope Fein (also known as his chick on the side) – sent me spiraling out of control.
Our relationship was a senseless, erratic decade of heart and soul crushing emotional and physical abuse. I was determined to find a way out of this situation, and my way out was to relocate to Marietta, Georgia in 2003 while he was away at prison.
Yes, I went back once after the beating had happened, but that time only took me two days to make sense of the situation – that I could not waste any more time being someone’s emotional and physical punching bag.
I am grateful to be out of that relationship, to have one beautiful child who isn’t being raised in a traditional mother and father household, but more importantly, she is also not in a home that is filled with emotional, physical and mental violence.
Today, I am a certified victims’ advocate, and I hold degrees in Human Services Counseling with a focus in Addictions and Recovery and have established a platform to help domestic violence victims and their children, Women of Virtue Transitional Foundation, a nonprofit and 501c3 approved organization.
Women of Virtue Transitional Foundation Inc. was established to end violent crimes of intimate partners and to empower victims through mentoring/coaching, advocacy and support services, poetry and art therapy classes, and comprehensive support services. We seek to create and nurture partnerships with like organizations to cohesively fulfill our overall goals: to end domestic violence, to serve and support victims and their children, and to encourage healing. Through these programs and services, together with community collaboration, we work to assist domestic violence victims with their transitions back into society as self-sufficient survivors.
I am blessed to be the CEO & President of this organization, which was established on February 25ththis year. Through my books, Perfectly Imperfect: Moving Above and Beyond the Pain and Heaven Rain on Me So That I Can Be The Strong Black Woman God Destined Me To Be, I have created platforms that can be used to educate and communicate my experience with other survivors and victims of abuse.
Helping victims is my passion. God directed me to this and I have no regrets about the experiences, hardships, and battles fought to get here. Services such as those offered by the National Domestic Violence Hotline are not optional; they are key to the health of victims and their children. The hotline arms victims with a resource that can help them break free from their abuser and connect with organizations like mine to obtain resources, services, and advocacy that will help them go from being a victim to becoming a survivor to actually thriving in life.
I am living testimony that domestic violence can break you, but you do not have to stay broken. If you surround yourself with positive people and resources and are armed with education, empowerment, and encouragement, then the possibilities are limitless.
+ + +
Header image courtesy of Zak Smith. To view his Artist Feature, go here.
Sonya McKinzie, CEO & President, established Women of Virtue Transitional Foundation Inc. (WOVTF) in February of 2016. Sonya is a single parent of a very beautiful 5-year old princess. She holds MA and BA degrees in Human Services Counseling and Business Administration. Sonya has Victim Advocacy, Human Resources Specialist, Leadership and Management Specialist certificates as well as is a self-published author and avid blogger. As a thirteen-year survivor of domestic violence, she will apply her education and experience to fulfilling her passion and purpose to help survivors renew their self-image, regain their voices and power. Learn more about Sonya McKinzie on her blog.
WOVTF looks to make a positive mark in communities by fighting to eradicate domestic violence and build partnerships with like organizations to ensure victim’s voices are being heard. Treating clients with compassion, respect, and maintaining confidentiality are important keys building client/service provider relationships. Our focus is to empower victims through creative healing techniques, mentoring/coaching amid numerous other services. You can learn more about the organization on the website.