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To a boy, his mother is the very first woman he ever falls in love with. Between that boy and his mother is a bond like no other bond he’ll ever have in his lifetime.
But what happens when that boy’s “First Love” becomes a stress reliever for a violent man? What happens when that boy’s “First Love” is a target of ridicule and rounds of slaps and punches? Well, the bond remains, but the boy becomes broken.
For a few years, when I should’ve been enjoying my youth, I was watching my sweet mother, my “First Love,” suffer from domestic violence. My two sisters and I spent many nights crying, screaming and begging for the beatings to stop. For years, I’ve concealed the emotional and mental scars that were caused by those violent nights, until now.
My amazing “First Love,” Jean Clemons, sat down with me for the very first time to talk about the whole experience. I asked many questions, but there’s one particular question that I’d like to share in hopes of helping people understand that the violence isn’t what satisfies the one that’s commiting the abuse, it’s the “control.”
Me: “Why didn’t you get us out of that horrible environment?”
“First Love”: “I was a scared Jimi. I believed if I left, he might kill me. I just felt trapped.”
Because of the overwhelming emotions I’m dealing with as I write this article, I’m going to leave that conversation between my mother and I right there and give you what I have learned, looking back on it all. Hurt people, hurt other people. If you have never been allowed to have a voice, and you were silenced, that too is a form of domestic violence. If someone in your life has controlled your mental and emotional state, you have experienced domestic violence. It’s not always about throwing blows.
Words can be even more destructive than a fist. I’m so proud of my “First Love” for being brave enough to share this part of her life. She said, “I believe that you telling people about our experience can help, and even save a life. It’s just time to talk about it.”
Can you see why I just love and admire her so much? If you grew up being controlled, chances are, if you look hard enough, somewhere in your life, you’ll find your own control issues. Maybe it’s over your kids, your household, your exercise or maybe even food. If you, or someone you know is suffering from abuse of any kind, I encourage you to get help, by first acknowledging that you need it.
Take my “First Love’s” advice: “It’s just time to talk about it.”
Patricia Walker, Dot Culbreth, Will & Sue Nordman, and Emma Bailey. Thanks for being my way of escape.
Story and photos by Jimi Clemons.