By Mary Bowman
On October 29th at 10:23am, I had an epiphany. Six days before the epiphany my office, The Women’s Collective, was saturated in purple for ‘Purple Thursday’ in recognition of Domestic Violence (DV) awareness month. It was amazing to watch women going back and forth sporting everything from purple clothing to matching purple jewelry. I even adorned a mad hatter styled purple hat. We took lots of pictures and posted all over social media in an effort to bring awareness to something that one in every four woman will experience in her lifetime, DV. That plagued my mind for days. One in EVERY four women will experience DV in their lifetime.
On the morning of October 29th I was reminded, with flashbacks of my father’s fists to my face, my mother’s eyes watching helplessly, and screaming in the middle of the street for help, that I was that one in every four woman. I had experienced DV and didn’t even think to call it what it was. I wasn’t the child that was physically abused by her parents throughout her childhood and I never had an intimate partner DV situation. My father only physically attacked me once so; I assumed I was exempt from the title of DV survivor. I thought, wow, how many other women walk around with these stories in the attics of their minds? How many other women or even men don’t realize that they are a survivor of DV.
Thankfully there are women in the community who are not only survivors of DV but advocates of DV Awareness by sharing their own personal stories. On October 30th I accepted an invitation to an event called ‘Break The Silence’. I went representing my organization but I ended up standing in solidarity with fellow survivors and pouring libations for those who we have lost to DV. The event was held at a community center in the Benning Park area of South East, DC. Guests, both women and men, arrived on time with their families and friends eager to find solace, support, and information about DV. There were two main speakers one of which was Ms. Queen Afi, a compassionate, no nonsense, straight forward and candid mental health professional who experienced firsthand the unspoken dichotomy of DV. She was not only a survivor of DV but through the toils of life’s experiences, became an abuser as well.
After the speakers finished the guest enjoyed catered food, raffle getaways and even belly dancing to help change the mood after the exchange of DV stories. I connected with Queen Afi and have plans to work with her as we here at The Women’s Collective seek to bring awareness not only to DV but also gender based violence using the trauma informed care approach. Attending the event settled by emotions that followed my unexpected epiphany. It allowed me to see that DV comes in different shapes and sizes and with my new outlook on DV I am better equipped to help bring awareness and support to others who are survivors just as I am.