This week on’s The Connect we discussed Domestic Violence with Tokeitha Wilson of Empowerment Station and Leslie Michelle of Singles Living with Purpose (SLWP). Both women are survivors of domestic violence. I was aware of Tokeitha’s story – I interviewed her a few months ago as my Purpose Driven Woman and she recounts much of her experience in her book Too Precious To Be.  Leslie was on the show as part of our “Be the Change” segment where we highlight someone doing great things in the community; her story/testimony about domestic violence was a surprise.

While sharing some of their horrific accounts of domestic violence, Tokeitha noted that the first time she was hit by her abuser, she urinated on herself; Leslie told us about the time she tried to jump out of a window to escape her abuser. I wish I could say that this was the first time I had heard stories like these but unfortunately that’s not the case. I’ll never forget the night a loved one’s boyfriend raped her or when my friend tried to convince me that she fell into the dresser.

I remember sitting in a restaurant with friends a few years ago, laughing and catching up as we waited for another friend to arrive. After about 30mins of waiting, I stepped away to call her. She didn’t answer but called back shortly after -

Me: Hey, where are you?
Her: [sobbing] I’m not coming.
Me: What’s going on, what’s wrong?
Her: He punched me in my face.
Me: Ok, I’m on the way.
Her: No, I’ll be okay. He left. Stay with the girls, I don’t want them in my business.

I can’t even begin to describe what it feels like to be concerned that your friend or loved one’s life is in danger; wondering if they are okay, praying that the last time you spoke to them doesn’t truly become the last time. I have “stopped the world”, calling everyone but the National Guard, looking for a friend when she didn’t answer her phone, fearful that her abuser had taken her life.

As a concerned friend, I wanted Tokeitha and Leslie’s advice on how to continue to support those you love when it’s disheartening.  Both agreed that for those of us on the sidelines, all we can do is pray, continue to be supportive, and wait for our mentally/physically abused friend to get tired. Tokietha explained that the abuser has likely isolated the victim from most, if not all, of their family/friends and is controlling all of the finances so knowing that they still have a friend they can count on is important. It’s not an easy pill to swallow but they’re right, we have to wait, continue to be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, be willing to ‘stop the world’, and open our homes as needed until they’ve decided enough is enough.

Wondering if your friend or loved one is in an abusive situation? Here are a few things I’ve noticed while supporting those I love:

Outside of weight fluctuation, hair loss, and overcompensation on social media.  The abuser's name all of a sudden becomes ‘he’ and outside of your friend trying to convince you that ‘he’ has changed, everything else is now a secret. When they call you they’re always whispering and they typically call with questions they know the answer to that start with “Ok, tell me if I’m wrong”, “Am I going crazy because…” or “Does this make since to you?” They know the answers to these no brainer questions but ask because they now second guess themselves, try to rationalize things that are clearly wrong or make absolutely no sense, and make excuses for their abuser.
If you are reading this, and you’re in a domestically violent situation, you have to get out. Don’t make any more excuses for the person harming you. You are more than enough. Your life matters. You are worthy of more and God has it for you. Worried about whether they will come after you? As Tokeitha Wilson put it, "you’re fighting for your life anyway if you stay in that situation." Take the first step, call 1800-799-7233 to be connected to individuals that can fight with you.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”