As her abuser’s grip tightened around her neck, Tamieka Smith gasped for air and pleaded with God for another chance.
It was in that moment... when she nearly died in front of her sons, that Tamieka realized she would have to become her own superhero.
That night, April 23, 2010, Tamieka plotted her escape route to leave the dysfunction of an abusive relationship that had lasted nearly five years. That night, without warning, she took the biggest risk of her life. She knew that her decision to leave would be incredibly dangerous, but now she counts it to be the best decision she ever made.
From the outside looking in, it’s easy to wonder why it took her five years to leave, but just like so many other domestic violence victims, Tamieka was afraid. The effects of the abuse she suffered manifested in the form of retreat. Abuse had locked her into her own little box of shame.
I allowed myself to go through a living hell...emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually. I didn’t think I deserved better.
Although her abuser controlled every aspect of her life, her relationship with God was one he was never able to lay a finger on.
I knew my God was real even though my abuser hated when I went to church.
Eventually, with the little faith Tamieka had left, she gathered enough courage to leave. She no longer wanted to be a victim.
I knew that we could make it. It wasn’t about the tangible things. God is a restorer and a redeemer.
She finally understood that love wasn’t supposed to hurt. Tamieka could finally reject everything her abuser told her she was, and she took up her identity in Christ.
Forgiving her abuser wasn’t easy but it was necessary in order for her to walk in complete freedom.
In one of the chapters in my book, Shattering the Glasshouse, I explain that forgiveness isn't about waiting for an apology. You may never get it. Forgiveness is a gift to yourself. When you open it, the anxiety goes away. Your happiness isn't in the hands of someone else. You let go of someone having the control of your happiness. I forgave because it was necessary. I forgave myself because I had to continue to live. It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to be human.
Today, Tamieka is a domestic violence advocate within several organizations to help spread the message of surviving and thriving beyond Domestic Violence. She is the co-founder of Sisters Pushing Sisters International (sisterspushingsisters.org) and serves as a board member of Our Hearts Resource Center (OHRCNC.Org), which provides insight and community support of the importance of healthy relationships for families. She is also a 10 Blessings ambassador for the 10K Survivors Domestic Violence initiative, and has written books Shattering the Glasshouse: A Memoir and Gratitude: A 31 Day Affirmation and Devotional Guide.
Tamieka’s mission is to change the world, one word at a time.
I am thankful to be able to share my trials and tribulations to help others survive and thrive. I'm happy to do my life's work. It's not about where you start. It's about how you finish.
Follow Tamieka on social media
Periscope, Twitter @mswordsmith