I decided to sit down with three friends from the ages of 29-35 and hear their stories regarding abuse. Of course, abuse can stem from many forms whether it is physical, emotional, and mental. With these forms of abuse and the entire roller coaster dynamic that is known as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), it is interesting to see how these forms of abuse have plagued the lives of Black women for years. The point is to bring these stories that are usually swept under the rug to life. Their stories are important and deserve to be told.
The first story features Regina who we’ll call “Energetic” Black girl. She recalls many times where abuse played an active role in her life. When it came to her friend, abuse was a normal act of her day. Day in and day out, when her friend and her boyfriend would argue, her boyfriend would turn and beat her senseless. It would get so bad that she would be on the verge of being unconscious. At the same time, the boyfriend used to berate her and talk down about her weight and her looks, mentally scarring her. He would always compare her to other women women who were unattractive and put her in the same category.
When it got to a breaking point of dealing with the stress of the abusive relationship, the cops got involved after seeing her face bloodied and battered. Even as they took her boyfriend away, Regina's friend decided to not press charges and stayed at his house. There were times she had left her child in the care of family to go and be with her abuser. She chose to leave when she contracted an STD from his many affairs. That seemed to be the final straw. Yet every other day, they were back together. At this point, Regina, the energetic Black girl had to leave her friend where she was at. The only way to stop the negative actions from happening around you would be remove yourself completely from the situation. For Regina, abuse played an integral part in her upbringing dealing with her father and her mother. Her father was physically and mentally abusive.
In Regina's life, she saw up close the consequences of IPV. After her mother's abuse, she was put in foster care and became part of the system as her mother and father further became addicts. Being in and out of the system was hard on her and she didn’t know what happened to her mother until years later when she died of an overdose. Even after years of being beaten, attacked, and verbally assaulted, Regina's mother followed her father until it was too late. Her father ended up suffering the same fate battling his own addictions and died of a heart attack. Regina didn’t find out about his death until she was invited to the funeral.
For Regina, these life events motivated her to never tolerate any type of IPV from anyone, so much so that she placed a restraining order on her child's father. Today, that restraining order stays is part of her records and often feels like it can never be a closed chapter since it keeps following her.
The second story features Zuri. We can call her “Proud and Driven Black Girl.” One of her friends was constantly dealing with a situation of abuse from her boyfriend. An argument at a party got so intense that he almost threw her off the roof of a rooftop party. This started a series of episodes where he beat her and berated her as a form of control and dominance. When Zuri asked her why she keeps dealing with him, why she keeps going back, her answer was chilling: “He don’t love you unless he hit you.” Hearing that was enough for Zuri to distance herself from that toxic relationship. As much as it pained Zuri to say this, you can’t help someone who chooses to stay or doesn’t want to be helped. All it does is bring more stress to you.
My last interview was with my friend, Annamae. I’d like to call her “The Nurturer.” Her stories highlight the impact of constant cheating as mental and emotional abuse. Annamae watched her own brother leave the country time and time again and always came back to his wife like nothing was wrong. The brother had completely different families in different states and countries. Finally, Annamae's sister-in-law kicked him out. While it is good to see a Black woman leaving this turmoil, Black women carry the burden of their friends' and families' pain. Witnessing these traumas also impacts the Black women who are acting as supporters and confidants.
A Black woman’s mental health and physical well being matters. These stories are meant to be told and heard and shouldn’t be swept under the rug.