Suffer the Little Children: the Effect of Domestic Violence On Kids
By TIKEETHA THOMAS
Growing up in an abusive home, I saw the face of domestic violence in my mother. I saw it in my aunts and in my cousins. The need to love a man that is broken because you have no idea what love is. The desire to fix or heal that part of him because you think that is what marriage or relationship is supposed to be. The women in my family were “ride or die” before I even knew what that meant. They were literally willing to die at the hands of their man.
Each October we spend so much time focusing on Breast Cancer Awareness by turning everything pink, but what about turning it purple? Purple is the color of Domestic Violence Awareness. Which is also in the month of October. How many of you actually knew that? Not me. Not until recently.
The last eighteen months of my life have been about an evolution of change. Growing, learning and striving to be better. I’ve been digging up the roots of my past and trying to figure out why I am who I am. It’s been a journey of self-discovery and immense pain. The pain of violence that I had hidden away and didn’t want to share. Until now.
I grew up in a broken home with broken people. Love was shown through busted lips and bloody noses. I watched my momma love a broken man until I turned nine. That’s how old I was when my momma decided she’d had enough. She put my daddy out and chose us over him. I rejoiced a little. No more violence. No more acting like my furniture was broken because it was old. It was broken because my daddy pushed my momma into it.
She fought back too, but does it matter? What kind of life was that for us to grow up into?
With her escape and choice she became my hero. She chose to raise her children alone than in an abused situation any longer. I was proud. I was also affected. I don’t think she knew it. Counseling wasn’t something “black people” did back then so it was kind of hard for her to see that her girl was damaged by the violence.
I remember my momma telling me that “If a man ever puts his hands on you, I will kill him.” Calmly. After dinner one night. She was a lion protecting her cubs. But, she didn’t know that a man was already violent towards me.
It wasn’t physical violence but pain inflicted through sexual assault, emotional and psychological abuse. I was made to feel inferior. Less than a woman. Someone with no rights whatsoever. I had no voice. I hid behind baggy clothes to make myself less flattering and unattractive to men and everyone. I fooled people with my cocky and confident persona because I thought that if you looked too closely you could see the cracks in my relationships.
The last eighteen months of my life have seen me entering a new territory. A territory where I have found my voice, renewed my faith and shared my testimony. One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime. We need to bring awareness to this topic now. It shouldn’t take a football player cold cocking his fiancée for you to care. You should care every day because there are too many nameless women out there who need you to wear purple too.
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For more information about and help dealing with domestic violence in the African American community, check out the following organizations:
The Institute On Domestic Violence In the African American Community
The Feminist Majority Foundation (has a great list of national domestic violence advocacy groups)
National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-SAFE (7233))
National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673)
National Sexual Assault Online Hotline
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Tikeetha Thomas is a full-time working mom with a six year old son who is the apple of her eye. She resides in Maryland and when she is not working and catering to her little boy, she is busy working on her unnamed novel. You can follow her on twitter at @MsKeeinMD or read more about her life at her blog, A Thomas Point Of View.