For years, I struggled to find my voice. The man that I planned to spend the rest of my life with would control me, manipulate me, hit me and ultimately control me sexually. I thought I had met my soul mate. When we met -- he told me everything that I wanted to hear. It was almost like a fairytale; he was so attentive to me! Once we were engaged and I was pregnant, he changed little by little. For five years, I wore a mask. I would put my make up on and walk around with a smile. I would laugh and make jokes but deep down inside -- I was hurting. No one knew the pain that I battled every day once that clock hit 5:00 p.m. Reality would kick in every Friday while everyone around me grew in excitement about their plan for the weekend. Suddenly, I would get sad and depressed --
I knew my endless nightmare would begin. He isolated me from my family and friends and before I knew it, all my friends had left me and went on with their life. I feared criticism, being alone, instability, and becoming another single black woman statistic. Over time, my only purpose was to survive every day. I tried to stay attentive to his every need -- to attempt to keep him happy but as each day passed, a part of me drifted away. Nothing worked. I lost who I was. I lost every inkling of common sense. I was blinded by a man who I thought loved me and my kids. I was so focused on keeping my family together that I didn’t realize that my kids were suffering. On the evening of Christmas (December 25, 2009) -- I almost lost my life. I knew that I needed help. I knew that I couldn’t face this journey by myself anymore. I came to a place where I had to choose ME. I made the choice that I wasn’t going to accept any more "I’m sorry; I love you" or to subject my children to any more mental, physical or emotional abuse. I had to get to a point where I loved ME.
In seeking therapy, I reached out to Dr. Shana Lewis with Living Well PCS and HER VOICE. The unlearning process was VERY difficult. HER VOICE created my voice and simultaneously helped me to realize the power to change my circumstances and to help those around me who are secretly suffering: women and teens who desperately needed to reclaim and take back their life. Today my VOW is to help women, teens and families identify healthy relationships versus toxic relationships. In 2016, I created Vision Opportunity & Work (VOW), a domestic violence program that advocates on behalf of women and youth in toxic relationships. We believe that every person has a right to feel safe and be free from violence. Our mission: "to break the cycle of violence by providing crisis intervention, emergency shelter, advocacy, treatment, prevention and education." Our services are free and confidential; we can assist in creating a safety plan and connect you with local resources. YOU HAVE A CHOICE.
Meet Beth Veals
Being punched in the face and plunging down concrete stairs wasn't anything I thought was possible in my life. I was young and thought life held endless possibilities. So being a young Airman in the Air Force and my husband standing over me brutally kicking and beating me was a shock and realization all at once. I had never heard of abuse or "domestic violence." My happy life was changed into a life of constant fear.
The next year held constant beatings. They were random and could not be predicted. I searched my mind and could not find any reasonable explanation as to why this could, why this would happen to me. How could a person that told me they love me slap me, ABUSE me? I decided that love would not allow a person to do this to me! Thank Go for counseling, family, and friends that supported me.
Leaving had become a constant thought. Leaving safely was a major concern. Twelve months earlier I gave birth to this mans daughter and I would not let her live a life thinking this is the way a man should treat a woman. I had not yet decided how or when to leave when one
night he came in and began slapping me . It would only get worse from there. He had me pinned against the wall in our daughters bedroom room. There was a knock on the front door. He pointed his finger between my eyes and said , "You better not move!" When he called me to the door I was still in the spot he'd left me. I cautiously walked to the door. To my surprise it was two police officers. They l looked at me and asked, "Are you okay?" I asked him, "Am I okay?" The police officer said let me ask you like this, "If we leave would you be okay?" I looked at him and asked, "If they well I'll be okay?" He said, "I don't know, will you?" I told them, "I want him to leave!" By then my neighbors were coming home and saw the police there, as they had many times before. The female neighbor asked me to come to their house. I walked over to her apartment. We were looking through the peephole. A while later my front door slammed shut. Minutes later the police officers were bringing him out in handcuffs. It was the last time I saw him for many years. I asked for early out the Air Force. My parents and brothers came down, packed me up and moved me from Mississippi to Michigan.
I know the journey I went through as the abused and was elated when I was offered an opportunity to become a mentor with Her VOICE, founded by Dr. Shana Lewis. It would take me hours to describe and talk about the beautiful lady and her cause. As a mentor with her voice it enables you to help someone who is going through the process. It may be as simple as listening, a gentle touch, or suggestion, the without advising. It can, however, open up old wounds and allow you to delve deeper into self-awareness. It is encouraging, empowering, and inspiring. Her VOICE allows my voice to be heard and I am grateful.