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A Mental Health Moment

By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPC, NCC
Certified Grief Recovery Specialist

Domestic Violence Against Women:

It was quite some time before I understood the word and term privilege.  As I grew into an adult black woman I began to struggle with differences of pay between not just gender but of race.  Today, I truly understand and vividly see that, unfortunately, black women are the least privileged human beings on this planet. 

Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPC, NCC
Certified Grief Recovery Specialist

The quote, “Being a strong black woman,” did not create itself into existence by mere political or social means.  Becoming and being a strong black woman takes unfortunate experiences and life lessons depending much upon one’s geographical location, religious beliefs and policies of law.  Being a strong black woman holds different full- fledged definitions of foundation for all but one thing in common is that strong black women fight.  They fight for what they believe in, they fight for what they need/want, and they fight to defend themselves. 

Women in general, most will agree have a lower place in our society.  We are the fairer of the sexes, usually smaller in statue and build and some agree more emotionally charged.  Domestic violence has taken the lives and livelihood of women for way too long.  Statistical reports of many types show shocking numbers such as every 9 secs a woman is a victim of domestic violence.  Much worse are the reports that display how many women remain in relationships where they are a victim of domestic violence much to a timeframe of fatality. 

As a black woman and a counselor, I have had numerous clients who were victims of domestic violence and, from my side as a therapist, the reasoning, the thinking and the justification for remaining in relationships where they were abused physically, sexually, emotionally and mentally is alarming and difficult to treat. 

I wish it were as easy as to say, “girl, get your kids and go, you can always start over and even find a relationship in which you are treated as a queen.”  Even if the victim agrees and states that just what they are going to do, it often does not happen for many reasons that most of us cannot understand. 

So why is this?  We shake our heads and say what’s wrong with them, who stays in a home where they are being abused?  Usually, when someone is in a relationship as a victim of domestic violence there are certain characteristics shared within their emotional and mental health.  Many of these women suffer from depression, low self-esteem, unhealthy attachment styles and much more and to them it is not as easy to take our most logical advice and say yes let me leave now because I no longer wish to be hurt. 

If you are a woman in a relationship as the victim of domestic violence there is help and there are many women who do successfully leave and lead happy and healthy lives.  I am one of those women.  When I was pregnant with my second son, my partner became very abusive after learning of my pregnancy. Not that he was unhappy with the pregnancy, but it was as if he had me locked in and he was able to treat me as he felt he pleased. 

One of the worst experiences was being dragged down the steps at eight months pregnant because I refused to leave the bedroom, thrown against the wall and choked.  I stayed for several reasons.  One I had a very good OB/GYN doctor and I had a high- risk pregnancy and gladly so, I ended up needing an emergency c-section and my doctor saved both me and my baby. 

Secondly, I had insurance, but I had no job and lived in another state away from my family.  I kept my abuse secret because I was embarrassed to tell my family because I know they would have just said to leave which was at the time not in my best interest and I preferred to take my chances to keep my good health care. 

One month after the pregnancy, I packed up our bags and left while my partner, who was a police officer, was at work.  I never reported the abuse because I knew eventually I would need child support and I wanted him to keep his job to support our son.  That was nine years ago, a learning experience and a story I have often shared with my clients. 

I was a strong black woman and I still am, and the lesson left with me to be cautious with whom I became involved with in relationships.  Sometimes fighting back does not include just physical but strategic as well.  I learned through my abuse what to say what not to say, what to do what not to do and a plan that extended through the end how I could eventually leave the relationship without possibly becoming a fatal statistic. 

There is much help about surviving a domestic violent relationship.  If you are in a domestic violent relationship, do ask for help, have a plan and never give up.  No one deserves to be abused --- no one.  The first step is prevention.  If you find yourself with someone who shows signs of violence and abuse leave as soon as possible. 

Here in Toledo, the YWCA has a program dedicated to domestic violent victims.  There are cell phone apps and there is counseling for during and after the abuse to return to a healthy emotional and mental state.  Take a mental health moment and assess your needs and how you can find safety and comfort if you are a victim.  You may reach the YWCA domestic violence shelter at 419.241.3235 (business hours), Emergency contact is 419.241.7386.  The YWCA is located at 1018 Jefferson Ave, downtown Toledo.

You may also contact the Family House Shelter for housing and resources at 669 Indiana Ave, 419.242.5505. 


Bernadette Graham is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist.  She is in private practice and accepting new clients. www.joyofhealingtherapies.com  Call or email to make an appointment today.  419.277.8205 graham.bernadette@gmail.com




Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11/08/18 10:20:22 -0500.

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