This month’s #SurvivorSunday feature is the fearless Evangelist Detra Williams. A walking testimony of faith and resilience, Detra shares an excerpt from her book ‘Wounds to Wisdom: The Survivor Series Volume 2’, taking us on her journey from childhood sexual abuse to domestic violence. Her transparency and passion will leave you near tears for the girl she once was, yet applauding the woman she has become. **TRIGGER WARNING**
I was born May 24, 1966, in Longview, Texas in a small area of town called Fox Hill. My mother was the youngest of 12 kids, and she was only 17 years old when I was born. When I was only 6 months old, my mother married the man that later became my father. I may not have his blood running through my veins, but I am every bit his twin. He moved the family to Dallas, Texas along with his mother (my grandmother). Later, there were 2 more children born from this marriage. Life as I remember started well. Parents and grandmother worked, we ate the best food, and we lived in a very nice neighborhood. But like any other family, there was a dark secret; things were not as it appeared in public because behind closed doors life was Hell. My parents were alcoholics, and my father was an abuser. He would beat my Mom with whatever he could get his hands on. But mainly he would break the broom handle and beat her with that, or he would be so mad that he would sometimes use the butt of his gun. They would always send us outside. But of course, we could hear everything, we would pretend that it did not bother us. He would not beat us as he did our mother but we sure did get some serious spankings. With all these family secrets, you would think that was all. However, at the young age of 7 years old, my life was getting worse. It was late in the midnight hour in early spring of 1974. A few months before my 8th birthday; as I slept in my bedroom that I shared with my baby sister, who was 3 years younger than me, I felt a light touch shaking my big toe. I woke up to see a dark figure standing at the end of my bed waving for me to follow him. A brief time later, I returned to my room crying and shaking, not understanding what just happened to my body.
A few months had passed, and that light touch was still shaking my big toe to wake me up. Not knowing what to do and since this had gone on for months, I decided to ask that one question, “Why are you doing this to me.” The answer was very shocking. “If you were my REAL niece, I would not be doing this to you.” Because he knew that the man that was raising me was not my blood father; he felt that it was ok to do these things. At the age of 12, I began to feel sick in the morning, and I could not hold down food. I went from an active teenager that loved playing sports to a teenager that only wanted to sleep. My mother decided to take me to the doctor. At the Doctor’ office, I overheard my Mother say, who would do this to my baby? How could my 12-year-old daughter be pregnant? But she didn’t ask me. However, a few days later she took me to another doctor’s appointment at a different office. There was a weird smell, and people just looked at me. We went to the back, and about 30 minutes later the procedure was over. I cramped and bled so badly that all I could do was lay down. We arrived home, and a male detective was sitting in our living room. He introduced himself to me and talked to me about sports, and foods that I like. The Detective asked me who I had been having sex with. I looked him straight in his eyes and said: “a dark figure and his name is E.W.” My mom screamed, my grandmother cried, and my father was ready to kill. He was sentenced 25 years to life (due to prior criminal history and disclosure from another child down the street). I was not prepared for the effects that this would have on the rest of my life. Before and after he had gone to prison, no one talked about what happened. No one told me that I did nothing wrong. No one even gave me a hug or said that everything was going to be alright. I began to not care about myself. I felt dirty, nasty and all I wanted to do was have sex with and anybody that wanted it. Sometimes it was 2 or 3 boys in one day. I did not care. There were no emotions attached. I felt lost and empty. At the age of 19 years old, I got married, not because of love, but because this was a way to get out of my Dad’s house and on my own. I had my first child at 20 years old and divorced at the age of 22. I was right back in my Dad’s house, but it was ok because he mainly lived with his girlfriend.
While trying to get my life back on track, I was working as a Receptionist at Allstate Business College. One day this young man came to my desk and gave me a Dr. Pepper; this was my favorite drink, and I had one daily. He smiled, said that I was beautiful and he wanted to do something nice for me. I thanked him, and he walked off without telling me his name. I really wasn’t sure if he was a student here, but I did know that he made me smile. Smiling was something I did not do much of those days. I had the same daily routine; got off the city bus in front of the building, went to the vending machine, got my daily Dr. Pepper, walked to my desk and was ready to work. A few days had passed since that nice young man came to see me. One day I looked up and there he was; standing in front of me. My heart was beating so fast, that I felt it through my clothes. He said, “hello there beautiful, I have something for you.” I told him that I already have a Dr. Pepper and he said that he had something better for me. He said that he noticed that I rode the city bus and he wanted to give me a bus pass. I was immediately taken; no one had ever done anything for me and not want something in return. He asked if he could walk me to the bus stop after work and I told him sure. I finally asked him his name, and he said L.D.; then I asked if he was a student here. He said that he was, but he was going to quit because he could not concentrate on his school work knowing that I was sitting downstairs. He said that he wanted to spend all of his time with me, and boy did we spend a lot of time together. A few weeks had passed, and we became intimate with each other. Oh, My God, it was the best I ever had. His endurance lasted forever. He demanded sex every day; we would have sex in the bathroom, under the stairs, behind the building, and in empty classrooms. This man made me feel as if I was the only woman in the world. He ensured that I was always sexually satisfied. Never did I realize he was beginning to control me. Months had passed, and he was still walking me to the bus stop, bringing me flowers, candy and gave me whatever I wanted. I never asked him if he worked or how he got his money, I just knew he wanted me, and there was nothing else important. He met my son and they immediately connected. He began to bring him toys and always wanted all of us together as a family. I met his family, he met my family and we finally moved in together. Shortly after that we were married. I loved and admired everything about this man. He knew how to treat me, he loved my son, and he was willing to take me away from my dull, lonely life.
It wasn’t long after we married that things began to change for the worse. One evening we were visiting his sister’s house, having a really good time. It was getting late, and I had to go to work the next day. It took us a while to get home on the bus. I kept telling him that I was ready to go but he was laughing, drinking and smoking funny smelling cigarettes (later learned that it was marijuana). This was a side of him that I had never seen before; I went over and tapped him on his shoulders. What in the world did I do that for? The next thing I know he had his hands around my throat and pushed me against the wall. Everybody there just looked and was just as shocked as I was. He told me to sit my ass down, and that we would leave when he was ready to leave. I was in shock and did not know what to think. All I could do was cry and thank God, my son did not see this. The next day, I was still in shock. I was quiet and cried off and on. I had promised myself that I would never be in a relationship like my Mother and allow a man to hit me. He looked at me, said that he was sorry and that he would never do it again. He leaned over and kissed me like he had never kissed me before. I called out of work but still took my son to daycare; we spent the rest of the day in the bed having sex like never before. Never did I know that sex could be this good and last so long. I had no clue this was only the beginning of my horrible ordeal.
There had been so many, from a fractured nose, bruised ribs, fractured arm, black eye, busted lips, 3 miscarriages, attempted suicide and a swollen jaw. But if I had to choose the worse one, it would be the very last time, and when I knew for sure, I was going to die. It was on a Sunday. I had gone to church, and for some reason, I had a strange feeling the whole day. All I could do was sit in church, cry and pray to God that if he got me out this time, I would stay out and never look back. See, I had left several times but only to return. Church that Sunday was great! I felt the presences of the Lord all over me, and I worshipped God like never before. We went home, I cooked a great dinner, and he and the boys were playing. We were a very happy family. It begins to get late. He had bathed the boys and put them to bed. He was an excellent father to the boys. He did everything for them. I was in the kitchen cleaning up and singing, “Because he lives” (which was my favorite hymn). He came into the kitchen, got some water and asked me to sit down. I was still smiling and just loving life; he looked at me and said that God told him to kill me today. I did not respond. I just looked because I was shocked at what he just said. He looked me straight in my eyes and said, “You are going to die tonight.” Then he slapped me so hard, he busted my lip, and it was gushing blood. As I was sitting there holding a hand full of blood, he kept looking at the picture of God that we had hanging on the wall, he kneeled down and said, “God, I hear you.” I was still sitting in the chair, holding the blood in my hands. He told me to go into the bathroom, and he followed me. He got a towel with cold water and was cleaning the blood off my face and held the towel on my lip. We went into the bedroom; he closed the door and told me to get out of my clothes. I stripped down to only my socks. Then it begins! He slapped me, hit me in the stomach, and hit me again and again all over my body. But what was so amazing was that I could not cry or scream, and this made him mad; He tried to grab the iron that was sitting on the edge of the dresser, but he could not get it because it was plugged in behind the dresser. So, he grabbed a can of clothing starch and began to hit me in the head. He had hit me so hard that I really thought I was going to pass out, but I never did. Again, I could not scream nor could I cry; this escalated him even more. He kept saying “bitch you gonna die.”
During the entire time he was beating on me I did not say a word. But that time I cried out for help; the man opened the door and took one look at me and said get in here. Now, remember I was naked but it did not faze him at all; All he saw was a woman that was bleeding from various parts of her face and body. He immediately got me some sweatpants and t-shirt to put on. He did not ask any questions, and he called 911. The police arrived. The pushed this nice man against the wall and were beginning to handcuff him, and I say “No! It was not him, he was only helping me.” I explained what had happened and by the time the police got to the apartment, he was gone, and the kids were still in their beds. They were fine but had been crying. Two days later I appeared in court for my protective order. The judge looked at the pictures that were taken by the police, and then asked to see my identification. I asked him why? He said look at these pictures and look at you now. You are not the same person. To be honest, I wasn’t the same person in more ways than one. The night of the incident my face was so swollen that it was two times its size, my head was swollen for being beat with the can of starch. The judge asked me what I did. I told him that I did not do anything that it was all God. He looked at me and said, I told the truth.
Now my new life slowly begins.
The most important lesson that I learned was if he hits you once, he will hit you again. I don’t care how much they say I’m sorry, or I will never do it again. I don’t care how good the sex is, when the honeymoon is over, well it’s over, and the abuse will begin again. This cycle never ends. It will be your life or theirs, but most of the time it will be yours.
I know it is not easy to see the bright light at the end of the tunnel when you are in an abusive relationship but there is a bright light, and it is there to lead you out of Hell. People will never understand domestic violence unless they have gone through it themselves. All of the negative comments, the eyes rolling and backs being turned. It’s Ok as long as you know that you have God on your side. You must want more for yourself, and you must be willing to put in the work to be a better person. I often say, if I had to do it all over again would I? Sounds like a hard question but it’s not. I don’t think I would have changed anything I had gone through. Although it was not pleasant and I almost lost my life many times. I do believe I would not be the person I am today if I had a different pass. There is so much more to tell, but most importantly, I am a survivor of domestic violence, and I don’t look like what I have been through.
To purchase this book, please visit http://savedbygrace.ecwid.com/