She's Been a Victim Too
My sister Brittany contacted me to do a shoot with her for Domestic Violence Awareness. She's a makeup artist who wanted to utilize her talents to create images depicting the struggles many of us have encountered from personal experiences as the victim or the onlooker.
I didn't realize how much emotion this shoot was going to evoke within me.
While shooting, it ignited something within my heart, and past pain surfaced from what I've experienced as the victim and onlooker. It's interesting because I remember always being in denial of such a title.
Victim, me? No way!
These memories of domestic violence started for me as a little girl when my mother told me my biological father wasn't around because she chose to leave because she felt he was going to one day kill her.
It makes me think of the domestic issues I had in previous relationships. You know the, “I hate you,” “Fuck you,” “You aint shit,” arguments with some pushing and mushing. The ones many of us don't classify as being domestic. Sad thing about it is, they are exactly that. This is the beginning to a road which leads to mental or physical death.
I remember my childhood best friend being in an abusive relationship with a guy who was once a good friend of mine. They had been dating for a while at this point; I was off at college, so she and I only hung out when I would come home and visit. One night, we went out to T.G.I. Fridays for couple of drinks, and we went back to her house afterwards. We walked in laughing and joking when she says, “I think he may be asleep. Let’s go check.” So we go upstairs to their room, and he appears to be asleep. She says, “Shh. We have to be quite; he will get mad if we wake him.” Me being me, I didn't understand how and why she was so scared of him. I was ignorant to this world of domestic violence because I never experienced it in this context, so I thought it was simple to stand up, voice your opinion, and defend yourself. So after she said be quiet, I said, “Girl, he is fine. We are having a good time, and we aren't even that loud.” He wakes up asking me “what the fuck” I said. At this point, we were standing at the top of the stairs. I looked at him and said, “Who the fuck are you talking to. You've gone crazy!” Then he pushes me down the stairs. He comes down gets on top of me and starts punching me. I fight back, and I'm able to get away to call the police. Of course, he leaves, and in doing so, he throws a brick through the windshield of my car. My friend supposedly tried pulling him off of me, and in doing so received a busted lip. As we were waiting for the police to arrive, she says, “I got a busted lip for you.” I’m sure my facial expression said a lot more than what was spoken in that moment. I looked at her and said, “You didn't get a busted lip for me. This is what you choose to live with on a regular basis.” I was angry for some time as those words replayed in my mind, “I got a busted lip for you.” She really believed this to be true.
I remember vividly the abusive relationships I encountered on the street as a police officer. I remember locking up both lovers because they were mutual combatants, and for some strange reason, the women thought they are untouchable. They could say and do whatever they wanted and not be held accountable. Unfortunately, that's a misconception.
Then it reminded me of ME! November 2016, the day I thought my significant other was going to kill me. He placed both hands around my neck and started slamming my head on the stairs. I was defenseless. Nothing in me could fight back; I didn't know how. The man I trusted and loved had me in a position I had never been in. It's easy to fight someone you don't know, but to fight the person who’s supposed to protect you is something completely different when it first happens. What do you do when your lover unexpectedly attacks you? When it’s the person you love who’s supposed to protect you? I froze!
My life to flashed before my eyes; the only things I thought of were my two boys and how they needed me. I don't know what triggered him to finally let go, but as soon as he did, I called the police. He got locked up. I felt like complete shit. How did I not fight back? How was I, of all people, defenseless? Me...Christyal, who’s been a fighter all her life, spiritually, mentally, and physically, had no strength in that moment. How did we get to that point in our relationship? Why was the first thing I thought to do calling the police? I wrestled with these and many other thoughts. What are people thinking of me? How could I be so weak? Am I weak? This wasn't supposed to happen to me! Scenario after scenario continued on replay. That's when I realized this domestic violence stuff is real. The things that go through your mind about yourself, about your significant other are on a constant flow. You hope that it won't ever happen again. You blame yourself for why it’s happened in the first place, and you try so hard to make sense of it all in some way, shape, or form. Although he never put his hands on me again, our relationship remained toxic. Recognizing that is hard though. It's hard to let go of something you’re believing and hoping will change or get better. It’s hard to stop fighting for something you think you want! We tried to work things out for almost a year after this occurred. It didn't work out for various reasons. I know the struggle of why people stay, but it’s not worth it! It will NEVER be!