Last week as I was driving northbound down Lake Shore Drive, I had the disdained privilege of bearing witness to a domestic violence altercation on the side of the road.
I was dismayed by all of the evening commuters who sat parked in their cars watching this incident take place. I was inspired to write this week’s article on the topic of abuse for myriad reasons, but primarily because no one deserves to be abused at the hands of another person, regardless of the circumstances.
Domestic violence is far too common, especially in the African American community. Abuse stinks because it often comes from someone that we love and trust. Abuse stinks because it sometimes catches us off guard. Abuse stinks because it causes us to have to pick up the broken pieces of our fragmented lives.
First and foremost, you must be very clear about what you desire and deserve. It is critical that you do not authorize anyone to violate the standards and boundaries that you have established for your life. If you have not yet clearly defined your standards and boundaries, right now would be a great time to begin to put those things onto paper.
It is imperative that you do not allow anyone to disrespect or treat you like you are less than who God created you to be. If you allow any signs of abuse to leak through the seams, surely they will continue to show up in your life. Abuse stinks and therefore we should never sit on the sidelines of life allowing it to happen to ourselves or others.
There are many women who are suffering silently and no one would ever know that they were victims of abuse because they have become excellent at camouflaging their emotional and physical scars behind degrees, make-up, expensive handbags, fancy homes and nice cars. We must take a stand and speak out. We must be willing to speak out on behalf of those whose voices will never be heard. We must be encouraged to take our rightful places of power in our communities, reclaiming the things that rightfully belong to us.
Perpetrators of abuse tend to pick on those who are weaker than they, fearful and/or who lack support. Establishing communities and campaigns of support are critical to end this pandemic.
Whenever you notice that someone is trying to isolate you, intimidate or manipulate you or make you feel like you are less than, you need to move away, not toward that situation and that individual. No one deserves to be the victim at the hands of another individual. Abuse does not just show up all of a sudden—typically the signs of abuse have always been there, but oftentimes we ignore them as if they are invisible, or with the hope that they will one day disappear.
A black eye does not represent love; a kick in the side is not a sign of care and affection. Someone’s hands around your neck does not represent their ability to protect you but more so their innate ability to harm you. A person’s lack of respect and regard for you is their truth, and it is the core of who they are—accept it. Love yourself enough to close that chapter of your life and move forward. You do not have the power to change anyone, therefore anyone who believes that they have the right to cause harm of any type to others- must first recognize the disconnect within their selves and their own personal value system.
Our community has been plagued by abuse over the past few weeks as a result of domestic violence and senseless abuse. My heart is pained by the deaths of the toddler who was killed by her mother’s boyfriend, and the death of the two year old girl in Lansing who was killed at the hands of her father. I was very disheartened by the murder of the doctoral student who was killed in Georgia by her husband, and who then led police on a high-speed chase that ended Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive. Enough is enough, and we must empower ourselves and those in our communities to pay close attention to what we see—rather than being led by the emotional desires and illogical hopes of our heart.
Contrary to popular belief, we have reached a place in our communities where we would much rather not be involved in the affairs of others. Well, guess what? Unfortunately, if it affects you, it unconsciously affects me. If we do not dare risk our lives to save another, what good are we?
If you were being beaten in broad daylight—in public—wouldn’t you hope that someone would stop and offer you a helping hand? Destructive cycles in our communities continue to perpetuate themselves because we live in a society where “that’s their problem, not mine” is the premise for how we live our lives.
Bernada Nicole is the founder & CEO of The Princess Within Foundation. She is a community psychologist, educator and author. Visit her at www.theprincesswithin.org.