Not long ago, I went “live” on Facebook after seeing a battered and bruised woman who had been beaten by her fiancé. I immediately thought, ‘how in the world did the relationship get that far.’  What I’m sure of is that physical abuse doesn’t begin with the first hit. It begins the first time a woman or man disrespected; mental abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and sometimes financial abuse can be typical precursors to the first strike. Subtle disrespect, such as name calling, gradually breaks down an individual’s self-esteem so that after a while denigration becomes the norm. Often when the abuser becomes fully confident of his/her control, it is then they give the first blow. By that time, the victim can be so broken emotionally and mentally that they may feel helpless and without strength to walk away. However, one thing I know and am fully confident of, is that if a woman or man finds enough love and courage inside of themselves to make that first and sometimes risky step to exit, there are resources available (ex: your local YWCA and/or the National Domestic Violence Hotline), and hopefully family to support their peace and recovery.

Ironically, earlier that same day I had heard a woman on the radio seeking advice from the hostess regarding her relationship.  I listened intently as the caller stated that she had been with her boyfriend for several years and that he had convinced her to participate in activities in their relationship that were clearly uncomfortable.  She said she believed that he loved her, but he had asked her to participate in activities that involved other women sexually in their bed.  She stated that she thought that by allowing him to do this it would keep him from cheating, so she complied.  The caller then said that she thoughthe loved her and wanted to marry her but she was unhappy with how he had compromised their relationship.  As I listened, I began yelling at the radio for the hostess to tell the listener to love herself and think of her own needs; the caller needed to walk away. If she would only walk away she could begin her self-work and learn to love herself. If she truly loved herself, there is absolutely no way she would allow herself to continually be devalued. Furthermore, she would discover why the affirmation of marriage to a man that appeared to have atypical views of commitment and monogamy was so important. Obviously, she needed to find her own worth to discover that she only needed to affirm herself and to find courage to live life without people who don’t value her wants and needs.

Eventually the radio hostess did encourage her to leave the relationship because it wasn’t healthy, but more importantly, she encouraged her to love herself because she truly deserved more. As a reader, you may notice that I kept the focus on the women and did not deal with the men in the above scenarios. It was a deliberate action.  Victims, both men and women, should understand that true healing takes place on the inside and that by keeping the focus on themselves there is a level of inner power that can be discovered; it’s been there from birth but sometimes when “life happens” it gets lost.  Not that legal proceedings that are necessary shouldn’t take place, because they should where appropriate in physical abuse; however, there is power in controlling what you can control and you can never control another person. One might ask how is it that I can speak so confidently on these matters, truthfully, I have experienced an abusive relationship in which an argument resulted in me being choked at the age of nineteen by a boyfriend.  In addition, more recently I had a relationship that took me to a depressed state and my own level of “rock bottom,” from which God built me back layer by layer.  In both cases, I had been ignoring my intuition, and in the first case ignored the intuition of my Mother. However, it wasn’t until I looked in the mirror, owned my responsibility in the toxicity and took my own power back, did I find wholeness.  Now that I’ve found peace and honest inward happiness independent of another individual, I am fully committed to encouraging, educating and inspiring other women to find wholeness, self-love and fulfillment.  I chronicled my experiences and included a workbook in my first published work, “The BounceBack: From Heartbreak to Wholeness.” In it, I give readers strategies to reclaim their lives and provide honest examples that were very evident in my own life.  If you or a man or woman you know is in an abusive relationship I encourage you (them) to TAKE ACTION NOW, remove your mask and walk in your truth to achieve healing. If you’re in a crisis, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1800-799-7233 or go to their website if it is safe to do so and your internet activity is not being monitored. You may also contact your local YWCA as they provide shelter and other resources that you and your children may benefit.

The BounceBack: From Heartbreak to Wholeness is available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

Be blessed and remember to BounceBack daily!