Every Sunday we share a survivor’s story for our #SurvivorSunday series. Recently, a follower of the series reached out to me and asked why I, as the founder of G.R.O.W., hadn’t yet shared my story. I answered that I often tell my story at various awareness events and that I really just wanted other survivors to feel encouraged to share their testimony. This is true. But if I was to be completely honest, it is still difficult at times to see my story written out. Especially when you know that no words can truly capture what it means to experience something as heartbreaking as domestic violence. I am sharing today because I can’t ask something of a fellow survivor that I am afraid to do myself. With that said, thank you, “S”, for pushing me to use my voice and to those who will read it and hopefully be encouraged to do the same.- Neisha H.
We were introduced through a mutual friend; a friend who believed we would be “perfect” for each other. She invited me to a birthday party where he was set to attend and through her contagious excitement, I became excited too. The night of the party I was miserably sick. Coughing, sneezing, stuffy…everything that NyQuil commercial warned us about. I arrived late with the intention of not staying long but changed my mind once she introduced me to HIM. We talked, laughed and danced for hours until he eventually asked for my phone number. I declined; citing the fact that I recently ended a long term relationship with my youngest child’s father and didn’t think I was ready. Hours later I reached out to our mutual friend and asked for his number anyway to which she obliged. Years later I would wonder if that same friend realized it was that moment that changed everything.
Here we were, two months after the birthday party, and I was just as smitten as our first conversation. He seemed to be unlike anybody I had ever dated before. Outside of the obvious difference, (this was an interracial relationship), he was different in the fact that he appeared to have his life together. He had a great job, was a great father himself, and was on the right track to a great future. It was during this time that he confronted me about some text messages he saw in my phone between myself and my ex about a possible reconciliation. He was hurt understandably and in his words, felt I betrayed him. I found myself having to make the choice between trying to fix an old relationship and leaving my past behind in the hopes of starting a future with him. I chose him and never questioned the fact that he had gone through my phone.
We continued to date, eventually deciding to make our relationship exclusive but it was too late because he never trusted me again. If he called and I let it ring too many times, or God forbid, didn’t answer, I was cheating on him. If I cancelled a date for any reason, i.e., lack of a babysitter or working late, I was cheating on him. According to him, I was either sleeping with my ex and all of my male friends or wanted to. My 2nd job as a part time waitress at a local sports bar caused many arguments to the point he would show up posing as a customer to watch how I interacted with other patrons. Any free time I had outside of my children became consumed with him until I wound up alienating my friends, family and any hobby I had, including my passion for writing and performing Spoken Word poetry.
The first time he hit me it was with a pillow. We were sitting on the bed arguing over yet another accusation. The name calling and verbal abuse, which had been going on for two years at this point, was worse than ever before. It was only so many times I could hear “stupid cunt, dumb black bitch, worthless whore” etc etc et damn cetera. I was preparing to leave when he picked up a pillow, hauled off and slapped me in the face with it. He did it so hard that I fell off of the bed. I don’t know what I felt more, surprise, hurt or anger…but whatever it was I couldn’t do THIS anymore. I jumped up, crying and squared up as he charged at me, threw me to the ground and begin kicking, hitting and choking me. I fought back with everything I had in me but I was no match for his strength or rage. I was left with a broken spirit and bruised body but it would be many more incidents like this one before I would leave for good.
March 26th, 2012 was the last time he put his hands on me. This would be the day that I would suffer two broken ribs and a type 2 concussion. This would be the reason that I would go to my job once again hiding bruises but this time also pumping a doctor prescribed asthma inhaler to prevent me from getting pneumonia as a result of the rib fractures. At this point, the weight of everything I had been going through began to catch up with me and I was suffering from severe depression and suicidal thoughts. I had lost my home about 6 months prior due to financial hardship, temporarily sent my children to live with my daughter’s father and I was living with the man who was abusing me while simultaneously trying to get back on my feet. He eventually began counseling and promised things would be different but while the physical abuse had ended, the verbal and emotional abuse had not. I left for good several months later after he called my mother and sisters a nigger during an argument.
Five years later, I stand here before you as a strong, bad-ass and unstoppable survivor, mentor and advocate; often sharing my story via my gift of Spoken Word poetry. I am the founder of this amazing 501c3 non-profit organization, G.R.O.W. Foundation (aka Girls Recognizing Our Worth), which assists victims and survivors of domestic violence with the resources needed to lead a safe life independent of abuse. I am also newly wed to an amazing man who loves me wholeheartedly and respectfully. But most importantly, I stand here as a woman who loves herself and values her worth wholeheartedly and respectfully. I ask this of anyone who is or may be going through an abusive relationship. PLEASE talk to someone. You are not alone and do not have to fight this battle by yourself. You are NOT worthless, you are priceless. Love would not force you to choose between the two. I’m here if you need to talk.