What goes on in the mind of a battered woman?
NOTE - This is a reproduction of an interview that took place 7 years ago
Several years ago, The Examiner reviewed RadiKal Publications, “Twisted Pleasures” by author Shirelle “Diamond” Hogans. The book told the story of five women who were all the victims of domestic abuse. Today, I sits down with four of the five women who will tell their story in detail, providing answers to questions that some of you may have. How did she get into her situation? Why did she stay? If she went back, what was the reasoning? And most importantly, how did she summon the strength and courage to finally leave and start her life anew?
Today, author Shirelle “Diamond” Hogans and contributors Tanisha, Jenelle and Shivice will tell their stories as only they know how in an effort to prevent their experiences from being repeated. This will be the first of three installments. Now more than ever, their stories bear repeating. Consider the sobering statistics below:
One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.
Between 600,000 and 6 million women are victims of domestic violence each year.
Women of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner.
Intimate partner violence affects people regardless of income.However, people with lower annual income (below $25K) are at a 3-times higher risk of intimate partner violence than people with higher annual income (above $50K)
JL: Can you briefly describe what your life is like now? How are you doing and would you mind telling us your current relationship status?
SHIRELLE: My life now is a happy one. I never thought I would be "here". My relationship status is "drama free". I'm single. I've been single now for the longest period in my life. I was always with someone in the past. The past few years of discovering me almost drove me crazy, but I'd rather be alone than be unhappy.
SHIVICE: My life is good. I am now an author of a book called "Rape... The Ultimate Forgiveness" scheduled for release this summer. I am currently working on a poetry album. I am currently single and am still aware of some of my past issues. I don't let my past control my future.
TANISHA: My life has lots of ups and downs. It's been a struggle for me since 2008 when I lost my job. I am a graphic design student and I try my best to keep busy! I recently secured a position so now I'll be working a full time traditional job while doing my photography and taking a lighter load for the school fall 2011 semester. I am now divorced. Currently I am single BUT I am a good thang waiting to be found! (Smile) I would like to be in a relationship eventually. The wait is rough, but I definitely don't want to botch it up like the last time so I ask the Lord to get me ready and get him ready. Preparation is indeed necessary. A premature anything is risky!
JENELLE: My life is great. I am happily married with 2 boys (one from a previous marriage). I am working in ministry with my husband. I never thought I would be married to a pastor but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I am also modeling and acting. I’m currently filming a pilot for a TV series call End Game Dark Pawn. I can honestly say I am truly happy.
JL: What were some of your previous relationships like?
SHIRELLE: Very unhealthy. Looking back, I can’t recall ever feeling loved. Tolerated…yes. Strongly liked… yes, but not loved. Even with my ex-fiancés…we were just playing house until something better came along. I am a giver...and that seemed to be a magnet to people who were takers. I'm not bashing any of them. It’s just that we were young and trying to discover what love was...only to conclude we knew what love WASNT.
SHIVICE: I struggled in my relationships. I had trust issues. I was emotionally unattached and used men at their emotional expense. My method was to hurt them before they could hurt me… even if their intention wasn’t to hurt me. If I felt anyone getting too close or if I thought they were starting to have some type of feelings for me, I would push them away.
TANISHA: Before I got married my previous relationships were just sex. It seemed like I was the only one putting forth any effort. I wanted so badly to be LOVED. I always ended up choosing men that were takers. They took the sex and that was it. They weren't interested in committing, and I know now that I allowed that. There were no wine and dine experiences, movies, walks on the beach, trips, NOTHING! Back in the day I remember paging dudes and waiting on them to call back. Man, that was the worst! They dealt with you when they wanted to. I gave them too much control and didn't exercise putting my foot down or cutting them off. My ex-husband was actually my first "real" relationship.
JENELLE: Some of my previous relationships were controlling and manipulative. It was controlling in the aspect that I had to maintain a certain level of beauty in order to stay in a relationship with some of the men I dated. If I gained weight, I would get dumped. If I wasn’t looking perfect at all times, I got called names such as ugly. My kindness was taken advantage of by a lot of guys I dated. I had money stolen from me several times. I was used because I had my own car and my own place.
JL: What were some of the characteristics that you were looking for in a partner at that time? What are you looking for in a partner now?
SHIRELLE: Back then I was looking for fun and comfort from a lifetime of pain…Someone to protect me from the "boogey-man" so to speak. They had to have some height and be physically strong. Back then, I didn’t have a laundry list of requirements. I wanted to be safe and I wanted to laugh, and I did anything to get it. My list of things I wanted in a man began to grow after every bad relationship. I eventually crossed off the "thuggish" type of man and replaced it with a man that has strength and character. Now, I am waiting to meet the man that can caress my heart with his words and ease my mind with his actions. I am awaiting someone who knows and values my worth as I have fought to discover. What I'm looking for now is someone confident about who they are and doesn’t make jump through hoops like I'm a circus act for their love and affection. I guess I want someone that will never make me cry (unless it’s because of something good). SHIVICE: Because my father wasn't around, I was looking for a father figure…someone to guide me, love me and hopefully take the pain away. But the simple reality was that always became the fairytale dream…unrealized.
TANISHA: You know what? I use to want to date hustlers. And I LOVED me a thug! Timberland boots, saggy jeans, nice ride with rims, loud music and of course money! This is what attracted me! I was so materialistic. Money outweighed the looks too. I would date an ugly man if he had money. So sad but true.
JENELLE: At the time, I was looking for someone who was honest and truthful. I was looking for someone who truly cared about me and didn’t use me for money or for material possessions. I wanted someone who liked me just the way I was and didn’t try to change me in any way.
JL: Did any of you experience any emotional, sexual or psychological trauma at an early age?
SHIRELLE: Yes. I experienced all the above…past emotional/physical/sexual abuse -abandonment issues with my father, estranged relationship with my mother even though she raised me and we lived in the same house most of my childhood. I was molested by family members and "extended" family members. I was raped by a man I thought was my blood uncle, and I am just discovering now that he's not who I thought he was. All of this and some insecurity and self-worth issues played a part in my choice of men in my life.
SHIVICE: Yes. I was molested at the age of 9. I was raped at the age of 13 and then at the age of 17 I was raped in the custody of my foster parent.
TANISHA: For me, my father not being around was emotional. I was so angry! I was mean and did not have even the slightest residue of love in my heart for anyone! I always said, "I don't have a daddy." I was hurt because his family didn't know about me…that he only came around a few times a year and my mom struggled to take care of us and he barely gave her anything to assist. Like she made me on her own! Don't get me started… LOL! There was no LOVE...he never told me he LOVED me, showed me he cared. I don't remember hugs, spending ANY time with him outside the house. Like who are you? So I really felt like that played a huge part in what I was seeking from men.
JENELLE: No I never experienced anything like that at an early age. Well let me say I don’t remember. After my rape when I was 17, I learned to block a lot of things out of my memory.
There are so many reasons why our women make the choices that they make; and by “our” women, I mean all of our mothers, aunts, daughters, sisters, cousins and nieces regardless of race or ethnicity. Some of what the women that agreed to participate in this interview has to say are graphic and to the point. They make no apologies for it nor should they. It is intended for you to see what goes on in the minds and hearts of women all over the world who have been in this situation. If you have any comments, please feel free to post them at the appropriate section of this page. Also, please join us for the second installment of this eye opening interview. If one woman can be spared the pain that the participants in this discussion experienced, then it will be worth it.
Domestic Violence Resource Center – www.dvrc-or.org
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence, July 2000. The Commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns Across a Woman’s Lifespan: 1998 Survey of Women’s Health, 1999
Rennison, C. (2003, Feb). Intimate partner violence. Us. Dpt. of Justice/Office of Justice Programs. NXJ 197838. Straus, M. & Gelles, R. (1990). Physical violence in American families. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers. Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000). Extent, nature, and consequences of intimate partner violence. National Institute of Justice, NCJ 181867.
Bureau of Justice Statistics, Violence Against Women: Estimates from the Redesigned Survey, August 1995.
Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.