By Beverly Gadson-Birch
I wrote an article several years ago that caught an inmate’s attention while serving time in prison for spousal abuse and rape. His name was David and had served time in the military. He thanked me for doing the article and in his own words said, “You taught me what I was doing was wrong and I had no right to do what I did to her.” While serving time, David started a non-profit organization called CAPA (Completely Against Physical Abuse). He acknowledged that domestic violence is a growing epidemic in the United States. Domestic violence is high in the military. Recently, information surfaced on domestic violence among athletes. It’s people like David that make writing worthwhile.
There are many victims of domestic violence—too afraid to leave and too afraid to speak out. I, too, was confronted with spousal abuse in a previous relationship. Now, y’all make sure if you gonna carry a bone, be sure you carry it straight. Don’t chop on it before you get where you are going. I said previously; not present. Now, as I was saying, a former partner thought he was going to abuse me. I knew that boy didn’t have the sense he was born with if he thought he was going to abuse John T’s (that’s my daddy) daughter. No sir, that wasn’t about to happen. John T also had five boys and anyone of those boys would have made a believer out of him. I was raised in a close knit family. We live by the law; but, anyone who knows those Gadson girls knows that if you mess with one, the whole darn family will be on your doorstep.
In case you didn’t know, there are about a dozen of us “chillin”. My parents made it clear from the giddy up when those fellows came-a-calling, “don’t put your hands on my child.” I think the word got out that while those Gadson girls were refined, you had better not mess with them. We got some Annie Oakleys and militants in the family. One of those Gadson gals is a carpenter. I knew something was wrong with that one when I went to her house and she was installing a sink. I thought maybe her genes had gotten crossed up somewhere along the line but her husband vouches for her authenticity as a female. I guess that’s good enough for me. However, that gal will put any man to shame when it comes to physical labor. She is a real-life Paul Bunyan. Her husband calls her “boss”. Then the really quiet one, the one who doesn’t speak until spoken to, had a husband who thought he would abuse her mentally. There are two types of abuse—physical and mental. I don’t know which one is the worst. So bro-law was abusing my sister mentally. I thought she was going to lose her mind. No sir!! She got out of that relationship but not before he had a brief encounter with “Smith and Wesson”. In court the Judge asked Ms. Quiet One, did you pull a gun on this man to which she quietly replied, “no sir, Ya Honor”. Do I look like the type who would carry a gun?
Domestic violence is a very serious matter. It is not my intent to make light of the matter but to draw you into reality and options for escape. What the Gadson girls had at their disposal were family and education. Our parents set high standards for us. We were taught that we were just as good as the next person and to get a good education “so we could take care of ourselves” and not depend upon a man for support.
It’s important that you stay in touch with family and friends. An early sign of abuse is isolation. Do not allow an abuser to isolate you from your family and friends. Oftentimes, an abuser don’t want you to work just to keep you locked away so no one will know what’s going on. Too many persons remain in abusive relationships because they have no family support or finances to become independent of the abuser.
So, for all of the Davids out there, you can change. If you feel overwhelmed by the stresses of the world, get help. You either accept your mate as they are, or move on. You raise children not adults. As painful as it may be, you must accept that when someone says it’s over, it’s over. You can’t make someone love you or stay with you. That’s not love; that’s control.
South Carolina is ranked among the top on the list of domestic violence. This type of violence has got to stop. There is help and shelters if you feel you can’t safely walk away. The National Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233; South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1-803-256-2900; Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties, My Sister’s House, 1-843-747-4069.