Sometimes as women, we don’t realize the enormous strength we possess. We allow ourselves to be used, abused, and misguided with thoughts that there is no way out. As I watched the video with NFL Star Ray Rice, delivering the knock-out punch to his then fiancee, Janay Palmer, I saw myself over and over again. And yes, I cried.
My abuse ended more than ten years ago and although the physical pain has vanished; the memories are still fresh, the emotions still raw and the hurt and pain still there. This video brought back so many memories of my life. I remember the slaps across the face, the punches, the kicks and the knock-downs. When it all started, I was too ashamed to tell anyone. I wanted so much to hold “my family” together. After all, he was a nice person and he “could change.” After many years, and that “change” was not forthcoming, I had had enough.
That’s when I realized the enormous strength I possessed. That’s when I realized that I could have left long ago and would have been okay. That’s when I realized that the fear that I had was only in my head. I was resilient beyond my wildest imagination.
Growing up, I witnessed so many abuses of women. I remember my neighbor ruthlessly beating his girlfriend one day. My sisters and I stood behind the fence and watched. We laughed. Two days later she was back at his house. We thought she was stupid, that no one could ever do that to any of us. I also remember another neighbor whose husband used to beat her constantly – day and night. She had five children and never left.
It was not until I found myself in those women’s position that I realized how difficult it is to leave. The fear, the shame, the feeling of emptiness, the feeling of being not good enough and most of all the feeling of guilt was what kept me there. If I just learned to not argue so much, I told myself. If I just try to not be so concerned about his infidelities, I told myself. If I just be a more submissive wife, I told myself. But would all those things changed my husband’s behavior toward me? Probably not!
He was an angry person. He quarreled for everything. Nothing pleased him. He was tormented and it did not matter how much I tried to be a good mother and a good wife, it was not good enough for him. My husband used to tell me that I was “meagre” and looked like a “crow.” The women that he was involved with had big butts and meat on their bones. This killed my self-esteem.
He was not the only one who made me feel insecure. I grew up believing that I was “ugly.” My mother reinforced this thought in my head. She used to tell me that my face was “big and broad” and that my mouth was “big.” She used to beat me mercilessly for everything. I never really feel loved and secured – I was always a sad child.
But after I finally gained the strength and divorced my husband, I realized a marriage did not have to come with so much heartache and pain. That I was beautiful and smart. That I deserved better. That I could stand on my own two feet and not have to depend on anyone! I went back to school, got my degree and moved on with my life.
After every dark cloud, the sky clears and the hope of a bright day begins. I did it and you can do it too!