Domestic Violence Awareness Month might have ended in October, but it is an ongoing daily battle for women, men, and children. Statistics shows that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of physical abuse (examples beating, burning, strangulation). Also, statistics show that 1 out of 15 children will be exposed to domestic violence, and 90% of the children will actually witness the abuse. 20% death of intimate homicides weren’t the actual victims themselves, but the homicide victims were family, friends, law enforcement responders, bystanders, or neighbors that tried to intervene. https://ncadv.org/STATISTICS. Even though Tiffany wasn’t aware of the statistics, she was aware of what her family would do to her lover if they were aware of what was going on inside her home. For those reasons, she never told any of them what was happening inside her home for years and years. One day, her world would come tumbling down, and everything she tried to keep secret for the sake of being “perfect” would be exposed.
Abuse affects children as well. Tiffany recalls a time when Camden informed one of his elementary teachers about what was happening at their home. The principal had her to come to the school to talk about it. Tiffany denied the allegations because she wanted to protect the image of her boyfriend. Studies show that children living in an abusive home grow up as adults with certain issues (depression, alcoholism, obesity, tobacco use, unwanted pregnancies, and more). https://assets.speakcdn.com/assets/2497/children_and_dv.pdf. Tiffany had been in an abusive relationship with him for almost 8 years. Her children were about to enter high school. Their first day of school would be August 4th. Tiffany prayed to God for a way out. She told Him that she didn’t want to still be in the toxic relationship anymore.
On July 29th, Tiffany confronted her lover about a cash app card that came to their house. The name on the card said “my king.” During the length of their relationship, her lover had numerous affairs. This was the final straw for her. It meant her lover had brought the woman to their home. For Tiffany, it was the ultimate sign of disrespect. She decided to confront him about the card that arrived at the house. When he arrived home, he was angry. He was upset that she’d opened his mail. He began to choke her. On other occasions, Tiffany fought back. This time, it was no fight left in her. She made up in her mind that enough was enough. That day would be the day she would call the police. This was something she’d never done before. After he was done choking her, she hugged him. It was her final goodbye.
When he went outside, she called 911. When the police arrived, he ran away. The police were not able to find him. Tiffany’s mother lived next door. Tiffany had to let her know why the police were at her home. For years, Tiffany keep the secret that she was being abused from her family and close friends. Even though Tiffany never mentioned anything to anyone about what was going on, her mom suspected something was happening because of the bruises on her arm. She never went around when she had busted lips. With her makeup skills, she was able to hide her blacked eyes. When her mom would ask her what happened, Tiffany made excuses, but her mom didn’t believe her. In order to protect her and her lover, Tiffany made a decision. Tiffany wanted to keep the appearance of “perfection.” In order to keep that look, she made the decision to keep herself and her children away. She and the children stopped going around her family. She knew that if the kids went alone that they might have been questioned by her family. As children, they would have told what was happening inside the home. She isolated them from their family. Tiffany knew that if her family knew what was going on that her lover would be in danger. Someone she loved might have been one of the homicide statistics. After making the call to 911, Tiffany was no longer able to hide anything from them.
As in many larger families, once you tell one person, the information keeps going down the line. ☺️ A few days later, Tiffany decided to inform her oldest brother what was going on. She wanted him to hear it from her. As she was on the phone with her brother, her lover came from behind the house. She was not expecting to see him. 60.8% of females and 43.5% of men have been stalked by current or former lovers. https://ncadv.org/STATISTICS. When she saw him, she screamed. Her lover grabbed the phone out of her hand and hung up the call. Her brother, that lives in New Jersey, began to freak out. It was nothing he could do to help being that far away. The only thing he could do was call their mom and tell what happened. Her brother didn’t know if her lover had taken her away or what. As Tiffany recalls the incident, tears form in her eyes. Her children heard her screaming, but they were afraid to open the door. They didn’t know what was going to happen if they’d opened the door. The police arrived, but he ran off again. What Tiffany suspected about her siblings was right. When she told her siblings what occurred, they wanted to retaliate and do bodily harm to him. She didn’t want them to do that because they had families on their own. Therefore, she told them not to do anything.
I asked her why did she stay in the relationship for the eight years and endure all that she had. It was because of the love she had for him. If she had him to leave or made him leave, “she would have let him come back.” Tiffany said that God had to harden her heart because “when it was over, it was over.” That was the end of their relationship. Tiffany did not take him back.
Tiffany said that being in an abusive relationship is a generational thing. Her grandmother went through it. Her mother went through it. She went through it. Studies have shown that children that witness abuse in some fashion are likely to repeat the same pattern. They are either victims or the abusers. https://assets.speakcdn.com/assets/2497/children_and_dv.pdf. Tiffany wants to break the cycle in order for her children. She does not want them to endure an abusive relationship. She asks them all the time “are they mad at her for staying so long.”They said “no momma. We’re not mad at you. You did what you had to do.” Tiffany said even though she went through a lot that “they went through a lot too.”
I asked her what things she was doing in order to make sure they don’t repeat the cycle. Did they have counseling or etc? They haven’t been to counseling, but Tiffany has open and candid conversations with her children. Tiffany said she was raised not to talk about her feelings. Her family is well known around the community. Therefore, it was forbidden to discuss anything that goes on in your home. It was important to keep up the “facade as being perfect Christian people.” Tiffany said life is not perfect. She said that (keeping secrets) is not the way she and her generation are raising their children. They made a choice not to be like the older generations of their family. If something is bothering them, they will talk about it. Tiffany said she has told her children that “she has nothing to hide. There is nothing that anyone can come to you about me that I haven’t already told you. I am an open book. God seems who I am. I’m not perfect.” She is vocal to her children about what happened to her and apologized to them for putting them through it. This is the first time that she is she vocal to the world about her experience. She wants to help someone that might be going through the same thing to not endure it any longer. She wants she/he to get help.
Regardless of the topic, I always ask the person I’m interviewing what advice would you give someone that is dealing with what the same situation. Tiffany says, “to anyone (male or female), you have to love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to love you? Love is not supposed to hurt. It’s not someone putting their hands on your physically. Mentally abusing you. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it. If you are going through it, prayer will work, but talk to someone. Don’t hide it. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get out. Get out now!”
As Tiffany reflects on having gone through this traumatic experience, it helped her realize that she does not have to “be perfect.” In her mind, she has struggled with thinking that she has to look a certain way to be accepted by family, friends, and lovers. She began wearing a full face of makeup at 16. That’s why she was good at hiding the black eyes that her ex placed on her. She is able to put on makeup with perfection.
All her life, Tiffany said she was more of a bigger girl. She was considered “fat.” She was told by family members that she needed to lose weight. When she left the house, Tiffany would wear three girdles in order to have the “perfect shape.” Even though she didn’t want to do these things (wear a full face of makeup or wear girdles), she did it for approval. Tiffany knows that seeking love and approval from her ex is another reason that she endured the relationship as long as she did with him. It wasn’t until last year that she felt comfortable in her body and to love her shape. If that man can not accept her body for what it, he can get the deuces.
She is still a work in progress. She is still working on not having a full face of makeup each time that she goes out. One day, Tiffany said she is going to be all natural. It will take all her courage to walk out of her front door without any makeup, without a wig, or without lashes. Now, Chloe is 16. She has told Chloe that is ok not to have a desire to wear makeup. All Chloe wants to wear is eyeliner, and Tiffany loves the fact that her daughter is comfortable in her natural beauty. She loves the fact that she knows that she doesn’t have to look “perfect” for the approval of people because being “perfect” almost got her killed.