*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the domestic violence survivor.
Looking at Yvonne* you would never know that less than six months ago she was fighting for her life, that less than six months ago someone had decided that she was not worthy of taking another breath. Today, this bleached-blonde pixie hairdo with a larger-than-life attitude and hoop earrings to match, sits across from us with a plea for women to gain a deeper understanding of this issue and speak up against domestic violence.
In Texas alone, 177, 983 domestic violence incidents were reported in 2011. And in 2013, cases of domestic violence continue to rise throughout the state. Domestic violence was responsible for sending 5 foot 2 inch Yvonne to the ICU for four days and an additional 26 days under hospital supervision.
We at Model Behaviors are committed to empowering women and helping put an end to this issue. That means going beyond writing checks, sorting clothes, and buying toys for victims at Christmas, it is about breaking the momentum of this de-evolution, one layer of abuse at a time.
For Yvonne, it began with a broken dish on a bad day, then the next time he threatened would be the worst day of her life, but eventually he would make good on his threat. Aside from the mental and emotional effects, there were long lasting physical ones. Recently, Yvonne suffered a stroke manifested from her injuries, partially paralyzing the left side of her body.
Cutting through Yvonne’s tears is a steely gaze of determination. Oh no, the Lord did not bring me and keep me for nothing. She slides a photograph across the table, and in that moment we realize that we are in this together.
You may remember that we began our commitment to understanding domestic violence by interviewing Debra Nixon-Bowles. She is the president and founder of Women Called Moses and rescues battered women from abusive relationships. Debra introduced us to Yvonne to give us a first-hand experience with domestic violence. Check out the rest of our in-depth interview with Yvonne as we take our floaties off and delve deeper into this abysmal issue—symbolized by the lone purple ribbon often overshadowed by its pink sister. Together, we can shed a light on this issue and silence the violence for good.
MB. How long were you and your abuser together and what is your history of abuse?
Y. We were together about a year. At first, it was good, you know? I had a good job, but he still wanted to take care of me. Then, it was like he took over everything. He moved himself into my house and I started to notice the case of beer every night. I thought, oh hell no I’m not going to marry that. I grew up in abuse. My father drank. He was a good provider, but he drank and had issues with anger. He never hit me, just my mom, but he was verbal, you know?
MB. Was he the first man who physically abused you?
Y. No, but he’s the last. There were others and other signs, but I… I won’t let those things go by me again.
MB. So would you say that you had a history of abusive relationships?
Y. No, they weren’t all bad, you know? Sometimes it was me. I turned some good ones bad too. If they weren’t yelling and fighting with me, then it wasn’t love. It’s what I knew.
MB. How was that night six months ago different from other episodes of abuse?
Y. That night was something like no other. I just remember him saying that it was gonna be the worst night of my life.
I had the gran-babies over and they were in the back room. I just remember sitting in front of the computer and watching his reflection on the screen. For like two minutes, he held a dining room chair over his head. Long enough for me to do something, but I stayed quiet. I didn’t want to make noise with the gran-babies in the other room. I just don’t know what… Then, I felt the chair on my head. And he beat me all night. And the gran-babies never came out. Thank the Lord.
I stayed calm. I was telling myself that I was okay. And I told him that I was not going to tell anyone, I just needed to go to the hospital. Then, after five hours of him beating me, he said I could call, but no police, just the ambulance. I kept repeating that to the operator, no police. But, she knew.
MB. Was he going to kill you that night?
I just wanted to survive. I don’t… Yes!
After spending one month in the hospital, I went back to the house. He was in jail, and so it was okay. I remember looking for that chair. It was nowhere. He must have gotten rid of it. Man, I searched everywhere and then I felt something above a piece of furniture, but I didn’t know what it was. It was that damn chair leg. It had my blood on it and he saved it. I left.
Leaving is the toughest part. Everyone who told me to leave had abandoned me…my church…my friends. Nobody wants to be too close to abuse. And people wonder why women stay. Sometimes, you just want to sleep in your own bed, because if you leave you’re homeless. There’s no time to heal if you’re in a shelter with so many other people with problems. And, if you do find a room at a Domestic Violence shelter, it’s too much like a business. Fill out these forms. Do these chores. Don’t talk to these people. Don’t wear your eyelashes. Don’t paint your nails.
I’m a black woman and this is me. It makes me feel good. You got to feel like you’re worth something, you know?
Thank the Lord for Miss Debra, because right now, I don’t know about the future. I know that I want to help women. That’s why I’m here. The Lord did not bring me and keep me for no reason. I just pray not to be another Deanna Cook.
You can help women like Yvonne and Women Called Moses as well as learn more about Domestic Violence, by taking a stand and saying No More. Visit our Commerce & Kindness store where 40 percent of proceeds will benefit Women Called Moses.
If you need immediate help, call:
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
National Dating Abuse Helpline 1-866-331-9474
Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN) 1-800-656-4673