MOMMY, HE HIT ME!: Angela De Joseph details her story of abuse.
Angela de Joseph

Angela de JosephI don't know what happened between Chris Brown and Robyn (Rhianna) Fenty. But, I know what happened to me.

I got a call one day from a family friend. I remember having a crush on him when I was a teenager. I have always been a romantic idealist, so I thought the fact we had met in New York twenty years earlier and we were both now living in Los Angeles and single, meant something.

This is a long story. As a matter of fact, it is the subject of a feature film script I wrote called "What's Done In The Dark." So I won't go into all the details. I'll just give you the highlights…well the lowlights that is…

We began dating. Our families were elated. He was a double Ivy league graduate. He was part of that exclusive club of Black men, like my oldest brother, that had gone to Harvard. There were lavender roses; there was a rather large diamond engagement ring and a wedding to plan.

He called every day. Actually he called me ALL day. He wanted to know where I was and what I was doing ALL the time. He wanted to be with me ALL the time. I thought it was love. I didn't know it was control.

The first time he flipped out on me, I thought it was my fault. The second time it was worse and I thought something was very wrong. He said it was a medication that he was taking. He promised to go to the doctor and get the dose adjusted. I forgave him and moved in his house. I did not know there was name for this, verbal abuse.

The first night before I had even unpacked he terrorized me. He yelled and criticized and berated me for hours. This went on all night long. I had given up my apartment. All my belongings were in storage under his name and I had nowhere to go. He abruptly stopped yelling and became loving again. At that time I was working on a local television show, "AM Los Angeles." I was due at the studio in a few hours to do a live broadcast. He drove me to the studio and helped unpack all the clothes for the fashion segment I was doing. He made me promise not to tell anyone what had happened. I was an emotional wreck but the show must go on. I went on the air and like nothing had happened, did my segment. The host that day, Johnnie Mountain, told the city of Los Angeles the romantic story of how I got engaged at sunrise at the Hollywood Bowl on Easter Sunday. I sat there smiling on camera and holding my hand up to show off my engagement ring. That was the day I lost my soul. I was now officially an abused woman. I was now a partner in covering up his abusive behavior.

The abuse escalated. I went out for dinner with a girlfriend and he was waiting for me when I got in and began screaming and cursing at me. His face was contorted with anger and his tirade went on for hours. He threatened to throw all my belongings outside. The next day he told my mother I had stayed out too late and he was worried about me. But, my mother had been the victim of years of emotional abuse by my father and she was not fooled. There was an article in JET magazine about James Brown beating his wife with a lead pipe. My abuser apologized to me and told me he felt he had done the same thing to me that James Brown had done to his wife. He said he was sorry and asked me to promise him I would never leave him. He knew what he did was abuse - why didn't I know?

This nightmare continued. The cycle of abuse shortened. He could go upstairs in one personality and come downstairs in another. I never knew when the monster would come out. If I fell asleep before he did he got mad. If I talked on the phone he got mad. It didn't really matter. I began to live in fear of displeasing him. I was a traumatized, fragile, non-person. I clung to him when we went out so he wouldn't accuse me of looking at anyone. I ran to the phone because I didn't want to anger him if I didn't pick up right away. I stopped seeing my friends. I could barely function.

One night he went into a tirade and knocked me over the couch. He tried to drag me upstairs like the scene in "What's Love Got To Do With It" when Ike drags Tina down the hall. I tried to run to the door and he caught me and began strangling me. At some point his other personality came out and he began to talk to me and apologize. He fell asleep and I went upstairs and barricaded myself in the bedroom. I called my best friend. To this day I don't know why she didn't call the police. He woke up and tried to break the door down. Once he saw me he started crying. I had a black eye and hand prints around my neck. He got ice for my bruises. He stayed home from work to take care of me.

The next few days he was loving and very attentive. He wouldn't let me leave the house until the bruises healed. When I finally went to a friend's house she knew something was very wrong with me. She saw traces of a black eye under my makeup and asked what happened. I told her I fell. She didn't believe it. That night he called and left a message on her answering machine that he was throwing all my clothes outside. Then he called and said he was keeping all my stuff.

I finally told my friend what happened. I told my family. They were relieved I was safe and away from him. Then he called me and the next thing I knew I went back to him. I went back to the house that he had held me prisoner and beat the crap out of me. I went back!!! As I write this I can't understand it. But, it is as if I was under a spell.

My friends were livid. My mother wanted to knock his head off. My brother wanted to kill him. But, he had agreed to my terms. We went to counseling together, to church and had a weekly Bible study. Everything was wonderful again until he flipped out again.

I will fast forward here and tell you that he was arrested and taken off of me at gun point by the police. The police told me I must press charges because the next call on this guy would be a homicide. This was before Nicole Simpson was murdered so he was never brought up on criminal charges. I wanted to go to court but the judge let him take a diversion program and go to counseling. I sued him in civil court. Before the trial we were forced to go to arbitration. The judge ruled in my favor. I wanted to make a stand for battered women and to make sure there would be a record of what he had done to me. Along the way I found out he was a serial abuser. I managed to save my life and perhaps another woman's life.

So, I just want to tell women that there are tell tale signs and plenty of red flags.

Too much, too soon - wants to get you committed right away
Over communication - keeping tabs on you.
Too much togetherness - wants to be with you 24/7
Alienates you - causes strife with your family and friends.
Criticizes you - tries to undermine your self-worth
Dominates you - tries to be your parent
Flips on you - goes from loving to mean in an instant
Hot Temper - yells at service people, the dog and you
Blames you - tries to find reasons you made him go out of control

Don't wait until he hits you. First is verbal abuse, then emotional abuse and finally after you are a shell of yourself there is physical abuse. If they started by hitting you then you would leave. But, first they destroy your self esteem and rattle your sense of reality then they can hit you and you will stay!

There is no type of woman that gets abused. Woman of all races, educational levels and economic classes are being abused daily. Yes, women who are financially dependent have a more difficult time leaving, but being emotionally dependent sets you up to be a victim. It is like the Elephant that is held by a metal chain around its leg as a baby then as an adult can be held by a thin rope. Mentally, if a woman is chained she won't leave or she will keep going back to her abuser.

If you know someone who you think is being abused they probably are. I can always tell. Women act like frightened, pathetic, lost creatures when they are being abused. Call the police and go to their house. Get the family and friends together and do an intervention. They are sick. It isn't love. It is an illness. And men, get together and roll on him. Stand up for women. Men that beat up women are cowards. They will not stand up to another man much less a group of men. Call them out!

The best possibility of stopping the cycle of abuse is to get help. Both the abuser and the abused need professional psychological help. Whether they have been abused as children or feel inadequate for some reason, the result is pathological. This doesn't go away. It always gets worse. Abusers kill or are killed. Over 2,000,000 women are battered every year and ten percent of those end up murdered by their abuser. Thirty four percent of women in prison were abused and 50% of the women who commit homicides, murder their husband or boyfriend citing years of physical abuse at the hands of their victim.

I started off by saying I don't know what happened between Chris Brown and Rhianna Fenty and I don't. But, I do know that in the time it took you to read this note, fifty women have been battered and before this day is over four women will have been killed.

It's easy to judge or call a woman a fool because she stays or goes back to her abuser but if you get her the help she needs you could save her life. --- Adj

© 2009 Angela de Joseph ---



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