This month is Domestic Violence Awareness month and it is definitely needed and deserves attention. More recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with some women who have experienced it. While DV impacts both men and women, so far professionally I’ve primarily worked with women. People seem to be always quick to judge this population and I have to admit that women quite often catch the short end of the stick in the court of public opinion. There’s an opinion that women who stay with cheating spouses are just doing what is expected of them and in many situations men aren’t questioned when they leave a relationship if the tables are turned. The truth is that it’s not always easy to get out. Abusers often control finances and seek to isolate their victims from close family and friends. It’s even more complicated when children are involved and there are questions about next steps and potential custody battles. It’s also important to realize that abuse doesn’t always have to be physical. It can be emotional and verbal as well. In order to make a plan to leave the relationship, one has to come to the understanding that it’s an unhealthy/abusive situation. I’ve had women tell me that every marriage has ups and down and that they don’t want to be quitters by leaving when it gets tough. Many have been encouraged by pastors and faith leaders that they should just submit to their spouse and just bear their cross. It’s important to understand that most victims don’t leave their abusers on the first attempt AND that they are more at risk for increased violence when they try to leave. This is why it’s important to be a supportive friend because you don’t know what someone is going through. Many times women won’t open up to their friends or relatives because they feel ashamed and may feel like they have failed in the relationship and/or marriage. Be present, be aware, be supportive. Learn and recognize the signs of an abuser and don’t give second chances.
I hate moving but I love traveling. There’s always more to think about when you’re relocating and carrying your belongings with you. A little more than a year ago I gave up my apartment, put my stuff in storage, and moved across the country for an adventure. More recently I’ve moved back to my home state and into a new apartment. I love my own space. One thing that’s been helpful in all my moves through the years is that I have a great mother who always wants to help (take over). I’ve flown her in to help me out because I’m on a tight deadline. She’s amazing at being organized but bad at listening to instructions. She likes the moving in process and will inevitably bring in things she likes with the explanation that I don’t have to like them but she’ll use them when she visits. It’s a fair price to pay for the assistance. I don’t know where I’ll be next but maybe soon I’ll put down some roots.
One thing that helps me to relax after a long day or to mentally prepare for the day in the morning before work is music. Lately I’ve found myself listening to music I heard a lot as a child. For some strange reason it’s really calming for me. I found a classic and you can listen to it here. I don’t know why but I really like this song and it’s been on repeat all week. It’s the definition of Christian R&B and it’s a great jam.
While I’ve always known it to some degree, I think there’s some merit to doing what you want to do whether or not you have a significant other. Recently I was talking to someone older who did not look like me and she told me how much she admired black women because they’re so strong and independent and don’t need a man. Now naturally I wanted to provide the scholarly answer and educate her based on my years of research and the fact that my dissertation focuses on black women. But I didn’t and decided to keep it moving. It was still intriguing to me how that mindset is still so active and alive even outside of our own circles. Don’t get me wrong, companionship can be a great thing but being with the wrong person can be worse than being alone. I was talking to someone else this weekend who has resolved not to ever travel outside the country–or outside of the Southeast until they have a significant other. I just don’t feel like that’s a good reason to put all your goals on hold. There’s always something that can be done to have a better quality of life that doesn’t involve someone else. Regardless of whether or not someone shows up for you to spend your life with, you still need to have something to show for your life. Even if it doesn’t consist of parenthood with 2.5 kids, a dog and a picket fence. While I’m not an expert on living your best life, I can honestly say that sometimes you absolutely have to step outside of your comfort zone.