The sting from the pain of his massive hand wrapped around my hair as he pulled me through the back seat from the warmth of the heated leather to the cold, wet concrete of the dark parking lot was immense. Only to be intensified as he landed a wooden pallet on top of the pain rushing through my head.
My world went black, from the act of violence against me by my new husband.
I suffered a concussion on that cold, rainy Georgia night. I tried to make sense of what had happened to the sweet man I had grown to trust and love. The man who pulled me out of the truck by my hair and knocked me out with the wooden pallet was so different from the nice guy I had grown to love. I forgave him and stayed with him. Determined to work together on whatever provoked this rage in him. I did not have any history of violence in the home or relationships and did not know or understand what I was up against. Of course the physical violence became a regular part of our relationship.
I believed the love of a good woman, prayer and faith would cure him of the demons that made him hurt love. To hurt me was in fact a direct assault on love in all that it gives. I stayed with him because I wanted us to work and because of some fear. The total weight of the criminal justice system in our county was there for me, the police, detectives, district attorneys office, judges and advocates. The support of these dedicated professionals was amazing. But I always went back into the storm. No matter how he hurt and abused me, I did not let go of this horrible relationship.
One day, as I was leaving while he was away because of my fear of being caught trying to get away, I thought about my ancestors, men and women who had endured slavery and all its horrors. And the country at war against itself to resolve the issue of slavery.
Being a southern woman of color, one of the most precious documents of mankind to me is the Emancipation Proclamation. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward forever free."
As I walked away from the violence that had shattered my life, I carried the knowing of many women of color who before me had endured so much to allow me today to have choices, to live a life of dignity and meaning.
We owe it to our ancestors, our children and all future generations to not let go of the grounds of freedom that now we can live our lives...forever free!