"He Loves Me Not, But I Love Myself!
A young woman's guide to understanding and conquering dating violence"
by Tamika Johnson
He Loves Me…
He Made Me Feel Pretty
“Come here blackie!” Swish! Goes the bitter wind as it rolls across the playground and cuts into the skin of the young girl being whirled around by a group of three boys.
Obeying the orders of her mother, the dark skinned girl has buttoned up, and her hood is tied securely around her neck. Her mother would never know that the very instruction given to protect the young girl from the cold Utah winter was being used to humiliate her. One boy, the ringleader, has his hands wrapped tightly around the strings of her hood and is swinging her around and around on the thick ice. She whimpers as other hands feel her budding breasts through her coat.
Crack! The ice begins to break.
“Why are you so black?” The ringleader asks as he releases his hold and sends the girl flying through the air. The ice cuts into her fingers as she skids to a halt.
“Leave me alone!” She screams struggling to stand up and run from the milky white hands grabbing at the collar of her winter coat. Her knees hurt from hitting the ice; her lungs burn as she fights to catch her breath. Blackie, Whoosh! Swish, Crack, Blackie! The words and the wind mix with the sound of the cracking ice and the girl’s screams of terror. LeavemeAlone!LeavemeBlackieAlone!LeaveME!Whoosh!Crack!Alone!
Thud! Her foot connects with something hard. It seems all activity halts, and everyone stops what he or she is doing to stare at the young boy writhing in pain on the ground. The outside teacher appears suddenly and yells at the girl for fighting. She finds it strange that the teacher did nothing to stop the group of boys from grabbing her and throwing her around the ice, but now they are sending her to the principles office. No one seems to care as the young girls stutters to explain the nasty words said to her. “I don’t care what they said to you!” the teacher exclaims as she tries to soothe the ringleader.
The ringleader is holding his jaw and crying. The girl looks down at him tossing to and fro like a fish out of water. Her toe is stinging from the cold and the impact of her foot connecting with his jaw. She finds it odd that instead of feeling fear or remorse she is strangely calm and feels victorious. For the first time in her young ten years of life, she has stood up for herself. “I think you broke my jaw you B---!” He screams as the teacher runs into the building to get the principal.
“I hope I did break your jaw, I bet you won’t mess with me anymore will you?” the young girl says as she walks away, to sit at her desk, and wait…
That was me fifteen years ago waiting for someone to understand my dilemma; to see behind my smile and confident façade and rescue me. Looking back on my childhood I do not have many memories of looking in the mirror and liking my reflection.
Sure, I have wonderful parents who told me I was beautiful, but I did not believe it. What I remember is an overwhelming sense of shame. The feeling of disgust one gets from being touched inappropriately at the tender age of five. The feeling of suffocation one gets from being kissed without permission. I remember feeling “unpretty” as the TLC song says.
By the time I met him, this self-awareness (or lack thereof), was evident in my outward appearance. I either wore clothing that was tight and revealing or three sizes too big in an attempt to hide my body. He made me feel pretty.
We spent every free moment together during the school day, sometimes sneaking out of class to meet in the hallways to steal kisses and caresses. He made me feel pretty. With him, I wasn’t “blackie” or the “only black girl in her class.” With him I was beautiful and envied because all of the other girls wanted him.
There are many reasons why young women find themselves trapped in abusive relationships. I have narrowed them down to three:
Everyone else is in an unhealthy relationship, so abusive relationships seem normal.
I hate to sound like a parent when I say that teens aren’t experienced when it comes to relationships and that almighty L-Word, love. However, I am able to say this with merit because I was in an abusive relationship. We learn what is acceptable and unacceptable by experience. In other words, we live and learn.
Have you ever wondered why it is so easy to “cut off” a friend who has betrayed your trust? The answer is because you have had many more years experience in the field of friendship. You have been developing friendships since pre-school or kindergarten, and you have learned the differences of a good friend versus a bad friend.
Now what experience do you have with dating? Not much. And again, I don’t mean to be the parent, but your friends haven’t had much experience either, so if you are getting advice from them, or looking at their relationships, you are probably not receiving an accurate picture of what a healthy relationship looks like. A healthy relationship is one where both partners are able to:
· Be respected, mind, body, and soul.
· Have opinions and ideas and express them without fear of being ridiculed by the other.
· Have needs and know that they are just as important as the needs of their partner.
· Live without fear, verbal, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse at all times.
· Spend time with friends and family without being pressured by their partner’s jealousy or insecurities.
· Have disagreements that do not result in violence or hurtful exchange of words.
Female competition causes young women to put up with unhealthy behavior.
Why is it that when a female walks into a room, she is immediately sized up by the other females in the room? Have you ever looked at a female and felt a sense of competition? “Her hair is too long,” or “I look better than she does because I’m thinner than she is,” or “She thinks she’s cute!” Isn’t it funny that all of these thoughts go through our heads, and we may not even know the female?
You would be surprised at the number of teens that tell me they stay with an abusive partner because “all of the other girls want him, and I’ve got him!” Truthfully…when I look back on my relationship, this is one of the reasons why I stayed.
Lack of Self-Confidence.
Another word for self-confidence is self-value. The message behind self-value is this: what you value, you take care of. You don’t allow people to destroy the things you value. If a young woman has a lack of self-confidence or self-value, then it is easy to see why someone who makes them feel pretty would have so much power and influence in their life.
It is easy to see why a young woman with little to no self-esteem would be easy prey for an abusive boyfriend as I was.
Once you have finished reading this book, my goal is that you will understand that your past does not define your future. You may have legitimate reasons for having a low self-esteem. Things may have happened in your childhood as they did in mine; people may have told you that you wouldn’t amount to anything or that you were worthless, but know that you do not have to be a victim for the rest of your life…this is not your destiny. You were born for greatness. You were born to achieve and triumph…to be a conqueror.
By reading this book you have taken the first step of conquering your situation, you have chosen to educate yourself.
Let me be the first to say, “YOU GO GIRL!”