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Posts tagged ‘awareness’

Pulling Back the Layers via Akilah Brayboy

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:19)

I now realize why it was so hard to write this article. I thought it was just writer’s block, but actually it was a self preservation tactic; not wanting to pull back another layer in which God wanted to heal me. I was not willing to look at how being exposed to domestic violence had impacted my emotions in the past, present and in my behavior today.

As I am typing, I can feel tears welling up because this is a topic I have never felt led to discuss. Moreover, we rarely hear of it in Church or among family. Yet it is a very real issue in our communities. Over half of the women in prison are in there for taking matters into their own hands against their abusers.

At four years old, I remember my Mom lying on the couch depressed with a black and blue eye that was swollen shut. I walked up to her wanting to talk, but she did not smile or rise to greet me. She just laid there, quiet, still and hurt. My Dad in a rage expressed his anger through violence against my Mom. It is one thing to be upset; it is another thing to strike another human being. Needless to say, it did not end there. I also watched my Step-Mom abused by my Dad. I would see him hit her with his fists and with hangers. I overheard them fighting many times and I always found myself caring for her after the ordeal. I believe I was nine years old at the time, but I wanted it to stop. I remember praying and asking God to help my Dad and deliver him from drugs, which were a huge part of the domestic violence in our home.

When I married my first husband, violence was how I dealt with my anger. I remember being so upset that I charged him with my fists, hitting him until he restrained me. I realize now that this was a learned behavior from my childhood, but I needed God to help me control my emotions.

Sitting in church one Sunday, my Pastor said we do not resolve our issues in the flesh through arguing, fighting and throwing things. We must walk in the love of God no matter how much we hurt because violence is never the answer.

I love my Dad, Mom and Step-Mom today. I have forgiven my Dad for his choices and I have learned to appropriate my anger by walking in love. I am happy my Mom was strong enough to start her life over again. But it is sad when people allow themselves to remain in abusive relationships. They feel trapped. I am sure they are afraid and believe no one else can love them. Yet the love they believe they are experiencing is actually control. We can open the Word of God to find out what love is really about. This has to be the measure in which we express our emotions. The Bible says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7


Father in Jesus name, I lift up every person reading this prayer who has endured domestic violence in one degree or another. God may your living waters flow into every heart. May You love, mend, protect, guide and keep families together. Cover all children who were exposed to this type of pain. In Jesus’ name.


I Gave Myself Roses – via K. Dawson


As a newly legal young lady- I knew it all. But instantly realized I was without a clue. Not to mention falling in love was fairly easy for me. See, as a child I had no recollection of any domestic abuse taking place in our home. Until my very own encounters which brought forth the low-down on the violent men my mom had previous relationships with. Her warnings came with mixed emotions. I felt as if she just didn’t like my boyfriend at the time while also being burdened with the feeling I was partially responsible for his hitting sprees.

Nonetheless, I didn’t leave.. Now don’t get me wrong he was never like this before as most men aren’t. In fact he was very attentive, loving, thoughtful and always knew just what to say. That was until I discovered he had an undercover addiction that caused him to become violent-deranged at times. Fast forward, I was now expecting… And couldn’t bare the thought of knowing this little person (that I am now beginning to feel) could become just a memory if I didn’t get away from him. Mind you he hadn’t hit me while I was expecting YET! It was bound to happen though.. Out of fear for what would happen to my child I left and from that day to this one I never looked back! Was it easy? Of course not! Worth it? Absolutely!! I encourage anyone who is in an abusive relationship rather it be physical or emotional to REMEMBER YOU!!! Often times people don’t understand the seriousness of a thing until it’s too late. Don’t be that person!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.” ~Marianne Williamson

“As you become more clear about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you- the first time around.” ~Oprah Winfrey

Hurt No More…

Courtesy of Shepherd Door

Today marks the first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence or intimate partner violence according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.

Growing up, hearing about or seeing a woman being hit by her partner while not common place didn’t seem a serious enough issue to be up in arms about. Of course we were all taught boys should not hit girls; however that was easier said than done when the boys that were hitting were mimicking their fathers.

Growing up, and being a typical teenager who thought I was so crazy in love didn’t give a second thought to the phone calls asking about my whereabouts or the suggestions on who my friends should be. I chalked it up to a jealous boyfriend not control or psychological abuse i.e. intimate partner violence.

I was sixteen the first time I was struck. I remember being untruthful to those who loved me when questioned about a busted lip. I remember making excuses for the heated exchange. I remember going back. I remember never leaving. I remember… Still the seriousness of this public health issue did not resonate.

Fast forward to May 2000- post a few more black eyes, verbal assaults, and foolishness. Intimate partner violence reared its ugly face and caused devastation that can be felt to this very day. You see it came this time with a vengeance that sunglasses couldn’t hide, time couldn’t heal or a thousand apologies couldn’t erase. This time it took the life of my mother. Shot seven times in a fit of drunken rage- domestic violence cancelled her existence.

And again the questions of what she did or didn’t do sought to validate or make sense of this crime. Even today when we hear stories of celebs and violence we pick and choose who we support, we find a way to justify why it happened instead of seeking to eradicate the root of it all.

Taboo, common place, not your business or you wish a n**ga would- however you categorize the issue- I challenge all that’s reading this post to not accept the status quo, don’t turn a blind eye and don’t judge. Violence against anyone man/woman- boy/girl is unacceptable.

I am dedicating my blog all month long to raising awareness about the issue. Share your stories of healing and triumph from either side of the fence. Your story could be the one that breaks the cycle for a woman/man that doesn’t know how to get out. 

“Live your life from your heart. Share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal people’s souls.” ~Melody Beattie


Enough- Breaking the Silence of Domestic Violence


Safe Horizons

Broken Chains- What my (-) HIV Status Means to ME

I never really took the time to think about what my HIV status meant to me. Being negative seemed enough; at least for a young black sexually active teen in the early 90s. The most that my friends and I were concerned about was not getting pregnant or folk finding out that we were doing the do; some with multiple partners. The idea of being labeled a “hoe” was more important than not behaving as such. HIV? Even as a young person the face that I associated with HIV didn’t look like me. Nor did the information given about HIV include those who looked like me- black women, black girls. Unknowingly to those outside of the public health realm a shift was taking place with who was becoming infected.  This undercurrent seemed to go unaddressed for years. Which begs a few questions: would the rate of infections for African American women be where they are today if they were informed? Would behaviors be differently? Would we still be paralyzed by stigma and shame?

Being HIV negative brings about a myriad of questions and thoughts as I ponder the real significance-the larger context. As educated as I am and as knowledgeable as I am about the disease; I still feel anxiety and pressure rising when I discuss my own status.  The fight for my own life is real and has been real.

Will it be my fault if I contract the disease? Am I lucky? Am I better than the woman who is positive? Should I live my life in fear? Will I be the 1 of 32 black women infected with HIV in her lifetime?  The infallible/human part of me poses these questions every time I hear HIV/AIDS even though I know I have total control over my body.

And I am quite sure these are some of the same questions many other women who are negative have, yet it does little to change behavior, self reflect, or position them to not become infected. Maybe they are living life much as I many do with the mindset that it can’t happen because it hasn’t happened.

Having a negative status does not make one less vulnerable or any safer. The rules of engagement have changed, inciting fear in some and ignorance in others. It causes some women to be guarded- side eyeing every brother- because he just may be on the down low and we all know they are the reason women get it (insert sarcasm).  You see this very ignorance continues to imprison us to the point that it hurts us. Being a society that consumes content –written and spoken, we have to become educated about this disease; we have to begin dialogue with our family, health practitioners, and community. In the words of Frederick Douglass, “If you teach that nigger how to read, it would forever unfit him to be a slave.” The more you know about the disease coupled with the removal of physical and social determinants, things can change tremendously.

Being HIV negative should come with a sense of EMPOWERMENT- a sense of being in charge of your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional body. So I continue to challenge you- my sista girl to get tested, know your status, know his status, and stay protected!  








The Silent Killer: HIV or Self?

Everywhere I turn; my ears, eyes, and mind are inundated with sex, from sex scandals in the church, to schools, to child trafficking, and porn on the internet and television.  Television alone is near porn with the salacious videos of skimpily clad women showcasing their body parts while gyrating to sex laced lyrics to actual simulation of the act. I get in the car and “you want to see some ass, I want to see some cash” comes blaring through the speakers. Changing the station doesn’t get any better because a young self proclaimed panty droppa boasts “he can lay ya done, but I’mma beat it up” which prompts me to insert a CD. It feels as though men are walking around with constant erections and women panty less waiting for the next conquest. Gone are the days of Studio 54 where on any given night people engaged in orgies and wild sex acts with complete strangers in the open with very little consequence. Fast forward to 2010 and we are faced with an epidemic-HIV/AIDS; one that does not discriminate between age, race, or gender. Yet we continue to partake in risqué behaviors from one night stands, to swinging, to inviting other’s into the marital bed, to male and female prostitution compounded by the lack of protection or education. Sexual activity is as natural as riding a bike… for some, but we can’t negate the responsibility involved (here is where I say sex is for married adults- but foregoing hypocrisy and backlash I will leave that up to you and the Creator). Screwing recklessly like wild animals is not the solution. And here is why: HIV/AIDS in the African American Community has become a desperate issue. What I find to be the most tragic as I learn more about the disease and get in the trenches of the fight is that few women “own” their sexual health. It is evident that there are some deeply rooted, self esteem, generational issues lurking. How can one’s maxim be “I am woman hear me roar” or “I’m a strong black woman” and when it comes to your sexual partner one becomes totally vulnerable and weak? The discussion about sexual history, status, or condom usage is ignored or dared to be trodden. We have overcome too many struggles and injustices to do ourselves an injustice and be wiped out due to ignorance and fear.

The bottom line- Know your status for your life as well as others. Skyy luvs ya and needs you to survive!