#RedTableTalk: Toni Braxton

Watching the Red Table Talk with Toni Braxton made me reflect on my own marriage and subsequent divorce. Toni talked about the breakdown in communication. Her sickness. Financial stress. Feeling responsible for going out on the road to provide for the family. She discussed the resentment when they divorced and she was forced to pay alimony. They established this alimony payment in the prenup agreement prior to marriage.

Toni’s situation closely mirrored my own marriage. The day and age where the man is the primary provider has far been gone. It does cause resentment when we as women are responsible to be the providers financially and gasp pay alimony or child support. Look at the widely publicized cases of Toni Braxton, Halle Berry, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige. All made substantially more money than their spouses and served as the primary provider for the household. Upon divorce, all the women were responsible for paying alimony and the social media community harshly criticized the men for receiving the payments. The question is: Why?

I believe society still makes us feel that the women being the primary breadwinner is wrong. Subconsciously even when we voluntarily enter into these marriages where our income is higher or we are the sole providers, we resent it. It doesn’t matter if the male spouse satisfies all other needs or provides us happiness and support in multiple other ways.

I have to own that feeling of resentment. I felt it deeply. It transpired into my marriage. It impacted the way I communicated with my husband. I lost a certain level of respect for my husband each month he remained unemployed or underemployed. He was my biggest cheerleader whenever I’d accomplish something major at work or in life. He was my best friend. He loved me immensely. He did everything that a husband was supposed to do, except provide. The resentment of him not financially contributing to the household built up. I shut down. Ultimately this led to the demise of our marriage.

Fast-forward to the divorce. Imagine having to pay your ex-husband alimony. No matter how “okay” we say we are it is not a good feeling. I left my marriage after my husband hit me. I told him from the beginning that domestic violence was my one dealbreaker and I meant it. I was active-duty military in the Air Force. Located on a military installation. The local police had no jurisdiction on a military base.

As the military member, I was responsible for the well-being of my spouse even though a police report was filed after the domestic violence incident. It didn’t matter that my ex-husband confessed to hitting me. The military issued a stay away order. This meant we were not allowed to stay in the same residence. The judge banned my husband from base, he was mandated to attend batterers intervention counseling, and given probation. I was still responsible to ensure he had adequate housing and was ordered to provide financial support to my husband.

Was I mad that I had to provide alimony? No. I understood my responsibility. Did I harbor resentment? Yes. I questioned the logic of providing financial support to the abuser. This was my reality and the reality for many women in uniform.

As active-duty military women we carried the weight of marriages on our shoulders. We served our country and many of us struggled to balance work and family life. There were military husbands that stayed home with the children and were the primary caretakers. This was used as leverage when going through divorces or separations. Military women faced judges that deemed them unfit mothers because they were on call for the military 24/7, worked shift-work or deployed. This was the reality of my military sisters who oftentimes didn’t have the financial means to pay substantial legal costs to fight custody or complicated divorce cases. It’s a dangerous situation as sometimes out of desperation to keep their children or fear of going through a messy divorce many military women felt the only choice was to stay in toxic marriages.

I made the choice to divorce. It was not an easy choice. My now ex-husband wrote on the divorce paperwork that he desired to receive couple’s counseling and wanted to remain married. I declined. For years I struggled with the guilt: Should I have stayed? I sought individual counseling for many years to heal. Divorce is not an easy process. It can take years to heal. Even when you are ready for the marriage to end you still go through a cycle of grief. Eventually, after many years, I forgave him and forgave myself. That was freeing.

Things I learned from my marriage and divorce:

• Put God First in the Marriage. Without a solid foundation the marriage will crumble.

• Communicate. Talk to your spouse openly. Don’t hold on to things.

• Seek Counseling. Ongoing counseling is important to getting over barriers and resolving marital issues.

• Surround yourself with positive and loving couples. It helps to have others around you that are in a healthy and happy space.

• Walk in your truth. Be honest and upfront with each other.

Survival to Purpose

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month I want to share my story with the world. 🌎 Being completely transparent, about 5 years ago I was in an abusive relationship with a man that I thought was “the man of my dreams.” He turned out to be a nightmare. I worked in an unhealthy work environment and I was transitioning from the Air Force which was a major life change.

My boyfriend at the time was a tall, handsome, professional law enforcement agent, military warrant officer, and former college basketball player. He had a superficial perception of himself, women, and an unhealthy relationship with his mother and ex-wife (also the mother of his two children.) He was stuck reliving his college basketball dreams of making it into the NBA. The dream never came to pass. He told me he felt that his life was a failure. He was angry at the world. Depressed. He was a military combat veteran that served in Iraq. He disclosed to me that he had PTSD but was not compliant with treatment not taking his prescribed medication. He snapped often usually after drinking heavily. He would berate and curse at both his mother and ex-wife calling them Bs and other derogatory words. I mistakenly thought I could love him through the anger. I played mediator often and tried to get him to show more respect for the women in his life. These were red flags that I foolishly ignored: If he treats his mother and daughter’s mother bad…eventually he’ll channel that energy towards you.

The relationship progressed and he moved from his place into my condo. That’s when the verbal abuse turned towards me. He called me fat daily (I was a size 6 at the time 😔 and in the best shape of my life.) He talked negatively about my appearance. Nothing I wore or did was good enough. He constantly made reference of how I should change my hair or attire to look like other women. He wanted me to dress more scantily clad to show off my assets and make him look good. He talked negatively about my decision to separate from the Air Force and said I would never find a “good” job post military. (Special note: I landed my first job after my first interview and doubled my Air Force salary!) Then he started to call me out of my name using derogatory terms. He drunk heavily daily and became more angry and verbally abusive.

I remember vividly, the night before I left him. I was tired. I expressed to him that I did everything: “I cooked. Cleaned after his mess. Took care of his daughters. Dealt with his emotional outbursts. Played the mediator between him and his ex-wife during his ongoing custody battles.” I was constantly walking on egg shells as to not upset him. He repeatedly lied and I discovered he cheated with other women. Once while I was in the hospital getting surgery. He failed to come pick me up after surgery and I was left in the hospital for hours. I had to call a friend to come get me. I discovered once he finally came home that he was with another woman.

The final breaking point came when he threatened my life. I was so tired and done with the relationship. I was sick of him. I remember I asked him to take out the trash. He flipped out as usual. This time he punched me. He choked me. Threw me to the floor. He punched a hole in the wall. He destroyed the furniture in our apartment. At this point I knew I had to end the relationship.

I went to work in the morning with a plan to pack all of his things and get him out of the house. He repeatedly called my job and threatened to kill me. I called the police. 🚨 They went to our residence and asked him to leave but did not arrest him. They left. I went back to the home 🏡 and discovered he was still at the residence. I called the police a second time. They said: “Ms. Johnson there is nothing we can do. He is a law enforcement agent. If you want him removed you will need to file a protective order.” I left and went to the courthouse to file a protective order.

While I was at the courthouse he called my phone no less than 100 times. I kept the phone records. I showed the Sheriff at the courthouse the phone logs. The last message that he left said, “he was sorry and he said he left the residence.” I returned to the house to get my belongings with the police and the protective order. After leaving the message twice that he left the residence, he was still at the residence. The police said: “Ms. Johnson we are not going to arrest him. He is a law enforcement agent. We are going to show him the protective order and ask him to leave.” Less than five minutes later they came down the steps with him in handcuffs and escorted him to jail. He was not cooperative and threatened the police so they finally decided to take action after the third time of being called to the residence.

The police officers 👮 👮🏽 witnessed his actions. They saw the disarray in the house. Heard him make threats. Forcefully removed him from the home. Responded to the repeated violations of the protective order to include him stalking me by showing up to my job and former residence. I resigned my job and fled my residence for my safety. The officers showed up to court to testify. It took two years in court for repeated protective order violations and substantially assault charges filed against him by the commissioners office. Nothing happened. 💔💔💔

The Prince George’s County States Attorneys office said there was not enough evidence to proceed and subsequently stet-docketed the case. The mounting evidence and his confession that he committed the acts did not matter. My voice didn’t matter. My witnesses and the police officer’s testimony did not matter. The stet-docket meant he was exonerated from all charges and would keep his job with the law enforcement agency and his Top Secret Security Clearance. He would also keep his access to handle a firearm. He was required to attend batterers counseling/anger management, all charges were set aside and eventually dropped by the States Attorneys office. The message I received was that my voice does not matter. Repeatedly throughout the process I was asked to not hold him accountable and to protect him versus doing what was necessary to protect myself.

The turning point to healing came when I let it all go and gave it to God. When I reached my breaking point, my family, friends and pastor prayed over me. I understood that my trials were temporary and everything would be okay. God had the final say!

Fast forward five years later. I am the CEO of two companies The Next Chapter, Corporation and Success Creators! I reclaimed my joy and found love within myself. I am now a vocal advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. I am a survivor!

I share my story to empower others. You have the freedom to walk away! You have the choice to change your situation! Yes, agencies designed to help us sometimes let us down. Do what is necessary to fight for yourself and be safe. Choose YOU! You deserve to be happy! You deserve to be loved! You deserve to be safe. You deserve a life of success doing what you love! You are perfect in God’s eyes! Adjust your crown and walk with authority and purpose!

~Love, Simply Ebony

#DVAM #DVAM18 #LadyofInspiration #DomesticViolence #Survivor #MeToo #SurvivorSpeaks

#JusticeForShadowMcClaine

 #JusticeForShadowMcClaine This story truly breaks my heart. There are too many silent victims of domestic violence who have reached out for help yet their cries fall on deaf ears. There are too many murdered victims killed at the hands of their abusers. Shadow McClaine, a Fort Campbell soldier, was viciously sexually assaulted and murdered by her ex-husband SGT. Jamal Williams-McCray and his accomplice SPC Charles Robinson. McClaine originally went missing on September 2, 2016. Family and friends launched a tireless campaign to convince the Army to open an investigation and conduct a search to find her. McClaine’s skeletal remains were found earlier this year at the Maxey Road exit off Interstate 24, in Clarksville, Tennessee. The cause of death has not been disclosed.

Multiple charges have been filed against Williams-McCray and Robinson for the murder of McClaine, according to Fort Campbell officials. The two suspects are held in pre-trial confinement pending the outcome of the court-martial charges that include the following: Article 134 – kidnapping, Article 81 – conspiracy, and Article 118 – premeditated murder, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). In addition, Williams-McCray has been charged with sexual assault, aggravated assault, and obstruction of justice. The preliminary hearing for all of the charges will be held later in the month.

Please view the original Crime Watch story for additional details: https://www.facebook.com/crimewatchdaily/videos/1509732555718198/

The Face of Domestic Violence

The Face of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking

The Face of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking

#TriggerAlert #DomesticViolence #HumanTrafficking #Awareness #TheNextChapter

What does domestic violence look like? This woman Angela was a victim of human trafficking at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. She decided to leave. Her ex-boyfriend brutally attacked her with a metal nightstick from head to toe. He beat her severely, destroyed her laptop, took her phone and her money, and left her for dead.

Recent news coverage shows her abuser in court crying over his sentencing. He cared more about being locked away for his horrific actions than about the life of Angela. This is what Domestic Violence looks like.

Have you or someone close to you experienced domestic violence? Please share your story or inbox me to anonymously share your story. Leave words of encouragement for survivors.

To read previous news coverage of this story visit this link: http://www.ktnv.com/news/standoff-suspect-charged-with-attempted-murder

To support Angela and help with her mounting medical expenses visit here: https://www.gofundme.com/fckdomesticviolence

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