Letter to a Friend

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Photo by Houcine Ncib on Unsplash

I recently posted a short story I had written for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. I wrote that story because domestic abuse is somewhat a taboo subject in the Black community. My belief is that the “strong Black woman syndrome” plays a huge role. Imagine being the consummate wife, professional, mother, sister, daughter, or whatever role you play and admitting that someone is abusing you. I frequently see memes that say “Check on your strong friends.” The premise is that the strong ones are usually the ones who are fighting battles and have no one in whom they can confide.

 Just a few weeks after that post, I found myself intervening in a real-life domestic dispute involving a friend. Domestic violence is not social class, race, gender, or sexual orientation specific. Here is a letter I wrote to her regarding her situation.

Dear Friend,

Different friends serve different purposes in our lives. There are friends you call when you need a listening ear, friends you call when you need comfort, and friends you call when you are fed up and need somebody to help you fight. While I will always try my best to listen and comfort, I am definitely the latter.

Although my common sense told me that it is NEVER smart to intervene in a domestic situation, when I received the text message saying that he had assaulted you, I threw common sense out the window and came to check on you.

But if I am completely honest, I knew when I left you that day–bruised, battered, and broken—that you weren’t going to follow through with pressing charges or filing a restraining order. You are a textbook case of a battered woman who can’t see her own self-worth.

I keep asking myself why I came when I knew you weren’t ready to leave him.  More often than not, in less time than it takes for someone to intervene, the “happy couple” will be back together, until it happens again…and again…and again…and again after that. That’s why it took so long for the police to come after multiple people had called them…because they recognized the address and knew that it was “Groundhog Day”–same shit, different day. Frequent fliers. That’s what they call you. “We’ll get there when we get there” was their nonchalant attitude.

Revelation is personal. I can tell you all day long that you deserve better but until you believe it, nothing will change. You walk around a mere couple of days later with a half smile on your face, making small talk, testing the waters, acting as if nothing happened…but we both know, it did happen. I see beyond the façade that you try so hard to portray…giving your best Paul Laurence Dunbar “We wear the mask that grins and lies…”

You can act like it was just a simple lover’s quarrel. Everybody has them, right? I use the word “lover” loosely because we all know he doesn’t love you…he’s just using you. Using you for money, using you for a place to stay, using you for a ride to the job he barely has, just using you period. People who love you don’t steal from you, don’t threaten to destroy your property, don’t threaten to kill you, and don’t put their hands on you period.

Are you familiar with Aisha Fraser Mason? How about Angela Bledsoe? Surely you heard about what happened to Tamara O’Neal? They are Black women who were KILLED recently by people who once claimed to love them.

I’m trying hard not to judge you but I pray that you find your strength sooner rather than later…because I truly believe that one day it won’t be a text message telling me that he stomped you, choked you, or tried to rape you. I won’t be replaying images of your bloody face or counting the bruises on your head and neck to relay to our mutual concerned friends. I will turn on the news and see that he has killed you.

Author’s note: I am aware that people don’t leave abusers until they are ready. This is not an indictment or attack on those people or even my friend. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, please contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or http://www.thehotline.org.

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