Guest Post from Bonnie Harris Price
My story of domestic abuse starts in Memphis. I was 22, living in the projects, but attending community college to become a paralegal. I was introduced to my abuser through a mutual friend. I hardly knew the guy but after falling out with my mom a few months before and feeling like a total loser for dropping out of real college, it was no surprise I quickly connected with this boil on the butt of humanity. He was funny, appeared to want to do something with his life, and seemed to like me. It didn’t take me long to figure out he was just another nobody, but I continued to stay with him because the only option left was lonely.
The piece of sh*t continued screwing his ex-girlfriend, wasted any money he had on drugs and refused to get a job. On his sober days, he convinced me to stay home from school to spend time with him only to vanish later. When I’d had enough the monster reared his ugly head. This asshole liked to call me bitches, fat whores, and liked to slap me around. I hid in a closet once just so I could hear what he really thought about me (as if the name calling wasn’t proof.) I listened to him tell his buddies I was a stupid bitch he was using for a place to live. Yes I confronted him and no I didn’t throw him out. I quit school, got pregnant, suffered a stress related miscarriage only to find myself pregnant again 6 weeks later. I didn’t want the second baby, but I was too stressed and broke to do anything about it. One night during a heated argument I asked him to leave; he pulled a gun on me. I don’t remember how I talked him out of shooting me, but it happened. The next day, I waited until he left and I fled to the nearest abused women shelter on foot. The day after I came back, I was signing a police report with my best friend standing by me. He went to jail and I never looked back.
I was lucky to get out alive. Thousands of women do not get the chance to leave a relationship unless it involved a casket or a lengthy jail sentence. With all the madness going on in the world, it seems as if women’s issues are taking a backseat. We could blame the current Commander in Chief since he made it cool to grab women by the pussy. We could blame too much sex and violence in the movies, lack of God, lack of morals, Red Dye #40 or any of those things, but the when it comes down it the numbers don’t lie. Women are beaten, maimed and killed all over the world. Trouble and violence don’t care about your color, income, neighborhood, or religion. Chances are we all know someone who has been touched by violence. The question is how do you help these women survive?
I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but what I do remember is the kind female police officer who caught me in the heat of the moment. Officer Cindy was the eye in my storm. Sitting in a squad car with snot flying out of nose, my best friend trembling in front of me and an infant pressed against my womb, she handed me a pen and said, “Here sign this.” Those three words gave me a new lease on life, but in the moments before is what kept me from making the foolish mistake that a lot of women in our situation continue to do. Officer Cindy kept me from changing my mind by acting quickly before I allowed my low esteem to take him back.
When I look back on that horrible experience, there were four things that saved my life and kept me from being another statistic. Today I’m 46 years old, married to a great guy, have two beautiful children, and a granddaughter I adore. I can’t imagine what my life would have been had I stayed with that lunatic. The reason I bring it up now is because two women I know and a friend of a friend have suffered at the hands of a maniac. While I can’t save the world, I hope someone finds this post and take immediate action to save their selves from a life of pain. If you’re being abused, please get help. You are not alone.
- Find a safe to hide
- Tell a trusted friend of your location
- File a report
- Make a plan
As soon as it is safe to do so, get the hell out of there and get to a safe place. You want to go somewhere your abuser wouldn’t think to look. Forget your BFF’s place or anywhere else you frequent because this is the first place the monster looks. Abusers tend to isolate their victims first. When he said he’ll follow you anywhere, he wasn’t enamored, he was staking his claim. Somewhere in your relationship you probably remembered feeling smothered and criticized when you didn’t spend every available moment together. This was just a ploy to keep you away from the people who love you and limit your access to help when things go awry. Your safe place is where you can get yourself (and kids if you have them) together, physically heal if necessary, and away from more abuse. A frightening but scary fact is abusers tend to hurt those you love in the path of their destruction. When you leave, alert your loved ones that the abuser may be on the war path. We all remember the heart crushing murder of Jennifer Hudson’s nephew, mother, and brother by her sister’s abusive ex. Don’t be tomorrow’s headline.
Once you are safe, call someone who won’t sell you out. In the autobiographic film What’s Love Got to Do With It, Tina Turner’s mother revealed her hideout to Ike because he bought her loyalty with a brand new house. If you want to end the relationship, getting your ducks in a row includes a confidante. There should be someone who won’t betray your trust or judge you for not leaving sooner. Whether it’s a code word, burner phones or a secret location only you, your friend and Jesus can know. This friend can bring you money, supplies, or help you file paperwork for a divorce or restraining order. This friend can keep a log of the abuse, pictures of bruises, etc. If you don’t trust anyone, you can always hide things in plain sight. Trust me when I tell you there is some place your abuser would never look or go.
File A Report!
Be all about the paper. A paper trail links the monster to his dirty work. The most common way to bring a bastard to justice is to start a paper trail. Filing a police report or restraining order and sticking with it creates a record. A record creates problem for the abuser. Do not misunderstand, it is not a magic wand that will make the fucker disappear, but it will stay on his record. Since the trial of the century, domestic violence and the way the courts handle swung the pendulum in victims’ favor. Every time you call the police, a report is filled out and kept on his record. It builds a case against the abuser should the situation require more legal action. The biggest mistake you could make is rescinding the report because all you will do is improve his case while making yourself look weak. Don’t let your abuser win. Too much has been taken from you already.
Make A Plan!
A goal is wish without a plan. You can’t wish it would stop, you have to make it stop. The longer you stay connected to this jackass, you become a participant and not a victim. I know that sounds harsh but it’s true. Not only do you make a plan to get gone, but stay gone. Most women won’t leave because of children, legal delays, and lack of support, but I’m telling you from experience, I chose spending the night with an elderly nun in a room that smelled like mothballs than spending another minute with him living in fear. Shaking to death in the squad car, I made up my mind that I wasn’t going back. If that meant living in a cardboard box, I was ready. Plan your escape with the resources you have. Do not wait until you save more money, get a better place, see if you can child support, or if your abuser will change. Get gone. Stay gone.
Love is not supposed to hurt. Even in the heat of the moment, violence has no place. People who physically, verbally, emotionally, sexually, and financially abuse others do things for a myriad of reasons that have nothing to do with you. It is not your fault, you didn’t cause the abuse. There is something in them that has been permanently damaged and all the love you in the world can’t repair. If they truly want to fix it, they will get help. I will be honest with you I don’t know any couple who came back from this kind of madness. If you want to have the life you deserve. You must escape. Now.
This guest post was written and shared by Bonnie Harris Price.