• Bettye Thomas-Gilkey, Senoir Staff Writer

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month


Bea’s first sign that Karl was abusive was realized when they attended an amateur boxing match. She was seventeen. He was twenty-seven. It had been an enjoyable evening and her first time ever attending live boxing. Bea was excited!

She marveled at how the mist of perspiration made the boxers’ bodies shine and at how streams of heavy sweat actually flew upon impact from glove to skin. Although she’d seen it on television, it was still a fascinating phenomenon to experience. Bea winced often as the deep jabs met pounds of flesh. Not once, though, did she second guess why Karl brought her to a boxing match. Her mother found it strange, however. “Who takes a pretty girl to a boxing match?!” Mama asked. “Couldn’t he find a nicer venue for a date? Going to a boxing match seems like something he’d do with the guys. I just find it very unusual.”

Bea thought about it momentarily and then pushed it out of her mind as she found a new annoyance; that being the bevy of beautiful, bikini-clad women who took turns strutting around holding placards high in the air, announcing what round was about to begin.

“Now THAT is annoying!” she thought. “And very sexist.”

From that point forward, Bea began viewing and analyzing the boxing experience from a different colored lens. It was a view of insight and intrigue. When she mentioned it to Karl, he bristled and seemed to take offense saying nothing was wrong with it. Bea was slightly turned off by his response but kept it to herself.

When it was time for intermission, the couple walked to the concession stand together. Along the way, Bea saw two fellas from class. Being the outgoing person that she was, Bea waved and called their names until she got their attention. They walked over to her smiling and asked what she was doing there. Together they laughed about her “hanging with the fellas” and hugged before going their separate ways.

She looked up at Karl to tell him how much long they’d been friends and how much fun they had in school but he looked angry. Bea tried to imagine what she could have done to upset him but nothing came to mind. When asking him what was wrong, he gave her the silent treatment so she just left him alone and said nothing more. She didn’t have the sense or insight to know that Karl’s anger was only beginning to seethe. All of a sudden he stepped out of line, grabbed her arm and started walking rapidly through the crowd of men and a few random women. They hadn’t even ordered anything yet and Bea had no idea what was going on. But by the time they got outside, he shoved her against the

concrete wall and grabbed her face so hard that she bit the inside of her jaw. She was too startled to be afraid or even angry!

“SO WHO ARE THOSE GUYS TO YOU? WHICH ONE ARE YOU MESSING WITH?”

Before she could answer, he slapped her hard across the face!

“ANSWER ME!!!” He yelled with eyes full of rage. Bea was afraid. She had never felt the level of fear that was overcoming her. Quickly, she tried to process what had just taken place and why he was behaving this way. What could she have done or said to make Karl think she was remotely interested in Herbert or Aubrey???!!! They were classmates, for goodness sake. When she tried to tell him that, he wasn’t listening and he slapped her again.

“IF YOU WANT TO ACT LIKE A TRAMP, I’M GOING TO TREAT YOU LIKE A TRAMP!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME???!!!!! NOW. WIPE THOSE DAMN TEARS FROM YOUR EYES AND GET YOURSELF TOGETHER SO WE CAN GO BACK INSIDE. IF I SEE YOU SHOWING YOUR TEETH TO ANOTHER MAN I’M GONNA BEAT YOUR BUTT RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME??!!”

Bea quietly walked back inside the arena with her head hanging low. She remained several feet behind him, just in case he wanted to hit her again. She was silent and dazed for the rest of the evening. Something in her died that night as the CYCLE OF ABUSE was birthed in that relationship. It lasted for three more years until she ran out into the cold, snowy November night air to get away from Karl’s physical/emotional abuse that she’d endured one time too many. It’s only by the grace of God that somebody didn’t get killed in that relationship…I’ve lived to share this story with you. Will you be as fortunate?

“More than 12 million people are affected by domestic violence each year. One in four women or 25% have experienced it in their lifetime. Many believe it is a sign of love. It’s not. Other’s believe it will stop. It doesn’t. So many keep it to themselves. Not a good idea.

The Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) Hotline advocates are available to chat daily from 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.

#DomesticViolence

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