My journey that lead me to meet the team of Two-Lifestyles, Inc. and ultimately to create, ‘Beyond the Light,’ has been a humbling one. I remember my early childhood days, the horrendous beatings my sweet mother endured, and how she slaved away working to pay for my father to attend law school. I recall the countless nights she would wait for him to return home to us, and how she would retire for the evening in a cold empty bed in solitude. I remember the look of sheer betrayal in her eyes when she answered the phone one day, only to realize it was one of my father’s numerous girlfriends on the line. I remember the many attempts we made to leave the house after his drunken rages. I remember begging my mother at the tender age of three not to take Father back when he wept, that he would only repeat his actions. I remember each time my mother granted my father one last chance, and how said chances always turned into several dozen. I remember the night I was violated, the night I was forever changed. I remember the day Father’s wrath was finally directed at me also. Oh, how I remember still.
Growing up, I held such resentment towards my mother. I was angry at her for failing to protect me. I was angry at her for not leaving my tyrant of a father those countless times I begged her. I was angry at her for loving my father still, despite her knowledge of the deeds he dealt me. Most importantly, I was angry at her for never being the mother I so desperately needed her to be. Many an occasion I felt as though she chose my father over me, and to this very day, I honestly know not as to what the extent of her love for me actually is.
As a child, I never believed I was loved, never felt wanted, nor needed by anyone. I was a problematic child, experiencing emotional outbursts often, due to the trauma I endured for so long. Consequently, I was bestowed numerous psychological diagnoses throughout my childhood, and my many psychiatrists experienced great difficulty settling on any one diagnosis in particular. My sister on the other hand, was always well behaved; she was highly favorable, whereas I was unfavorable. How I, too wished to be favorable, to feel lovable. My mother most certainly loved me, yet, despite her best efforts, said love was not able to reach me. There was a deep void in my soul that I desperately longed to be filled. Said void ultimately set the stage for history to repeat itself, and for the cycle of domestic violence to continue into my generation.
I had always sworn that I would never permit myself to be in the same situation my mother had been in during my early childhood. I remember boldly declaring to her that I would never repeat her mistakes, that I would never be like her. If only I knew how wrong I was. I now deeply regret those statements I threw her way, for I now know just how painful they must have been. Surely my words were daggers twisting into old wounds that never quite healed. If only I could take them back.
I met the man that was to be my abuser in the year of 2008, at a Christmas party. He was exceedingly charming, and had the ability to make you feel as if you were the only one present in the room with him. He displayed such a sweet disposition, and had a certain charisma about him, making me feel as if, for the first time in my life, I might actually be wanted by someone. All my life I had yearned for a sense of belonging. I had never truly felt as if I belonged anywhere, and that innermost desire to feel accepted led me to make a devastating mistake, the very same mistake I had vowed I would never make.
Looking back, there were so many red flags present at the very beginning of our relationship. Within a mere week of meeting him, he asked me to become his girlfriend, to whom I foolishly agreed, despite it feeling rushed. Only one month thereafter, he asked me for my hand in marriage. Again, I foolishly agreed; at this point I was feeling almost as if I was suffocating. Everything was moving fast, so very fast, much too fast! Yet, I chose to dismiss this fact.
For the first time in my life I felt wanted, needed, loved, cherished, and important. Thus, I willingly placed a veil over my eyes, choosing to ignore the alarm bells ringing in my subconscious. Each passing day, I was slowly loosing myself. His goals became my goals. His dreams became my dreams. My income was relinquished to be controlled by him. My gifts and talents were used solely for his agenda. Day in and day out, I watched as I lost what little freedoms I had left, until I no longer even had a voice.
My abuser began to degrade, and belittle me, claiming that no one else would ever love me. He knew all of my innermost secrets, all of my insecurities and weaknesses; by verbal means, he was destroying my very soul. Nothing could ever please him, despite my best efforts. I was constantly walking on eggshells, just wishing to keep the peace. The verbal abuse continued all throughout the pregnancy, and birth of my beloved daughter. It wasn’t until my little one was eight months of age that my abuser first struck me.
That fateful morning, my abuser had instructed me to finish writing an essay he had started, and asked me to submit it to his college professor by school email while he went on an outing with his friends. I did as requested, submitting the finished product to his professor by email using the college website as he had instructed. When he arrived home later that evening, however, he was exceedingly fretful that the document didn’t send properly. I attempted to calm him, assuring him that everything was taken care of; that’s when he first struck me, the object of choice utilized to administer said strike being a frying pan.
I was in shock, completely bewildered at what had just occurred. It almost didn’t seem real, as if I was dreaming. I just couldn’t believe it. My distraught abuser then threatened to commit suicide if I was to leave him. He displayed such extreme sorrow for his actions, and I dearly wished to believe in his promises. All I could think about was my baby girl, how she needed her father. I never wanted my little one to grow up in a broken home, and I never wished to subject her to the same environment I had experienced as a child; yet, that is exactly what I did!
Again, second chances became third, fourth, fifth, and so on. I had vowed to never repeat my mother’s mistakes, yet here I was. I never before realized just how domestic violence ensnares its victims, how it ensnared my mother; I was in shackles, not just on a physical level, but emotionally. As the violence continued, each battering episode increased in intensity. It wasn’t until my abuser’s wrath was finally aimed at my sweet daughter that I finally left; I have never looked back.
I am so grateful God did not permit my abuser to succeed in harming my daughter, that he was not allowed to follow through with his plan. As I shielded my daughter with my own body, my abuser wrapped his hands around my neck, and the world around me grew dark. I prayed a silent prayer, repeating it over and over again like a mantra, “Please, don’t let him harm her!” Just when I thought I was going to pass out, I was released. I fled with my daughter in a desperate attempt to move her to safety that very afternoon, something I should had done long before.
I discovered Two-Lifestyles, Inc. from a pamphlet I received whilst in the Forensic Services Unit of Antelope Valley Hospital. When I first enrolled in 2015, I was completely lost. I had left my abuser a week prior, and was raw from the searing pain of my daughter’s removal with the involvement of DCFS. I was heartbroken and distraught. I felt as if I was drowning, my world engulfed in a sea of darkness. Yet, amidst this very darkness, there was a light.
It was at orientation that I met a beautiful woman that would forever change my life, my dear friend and mentor, La Toyia Conway-Hampton. The first thing I took note of was the warm, comforting aura in which she exhibits. I felt safe, akin to returning home after venturing on a prolonged voyage. She was so inviting, and I was inspired upon revelation that, she herself, is also a survivor of Domestic Violence. With the loving assistance of her guiding light, and the vital tools I obtained through attending her program, I was able to finally get acquainted with my true self properly, breaking the faulty beliefs that I had long held that led me to my abuser.
Two-Lifestyles, Inc. taught me that there is a light beyond this dark tunnel that all survivors travel… No matter how far beyond your current range of sight, there is ALWAYS a light! It was this very revelation that inspired the name of, ‘Beyond the Light,’ and said revelation is what ultimately ignited its creation in the first place. I encourage each and every one of you to push forward. Forfeit not your battle! It is pitch black, and you cannot even distinguish the palm of your hand before your face… I understand full heartedly, for I have traveled that very tunnel. No matter how implausible your circumstance appears today, I promise you, there IS a light! You shall persevere, and you shall conquer! Let us break the shackles together… Let us be silent no more!