I do not consider myself a survivor. Survivorship is not just about getting out of a relationship. It's about getting the help you need to never exemplify this behavior again. Unfortunately, for me and so many other so-called survivors, that isn't the case. We may not be in a relationship where we are getting beat but we are being verbally abused. Some of the men and women who are victims of domestic violence become abusers - beating children, cursing them out for everything or financially demoting them. The behavior is still there so you are not a survivor. That's how I look at myself right now. I'm a work in progress.
Once my best friend was shot 5 times by her baby's father, I made the conscious decision that I would abuse young men in my relationships.
We were 16 when she got killed. In the relationships that I got involved in, I became the aggressor. I became the one willing to die and willing to use as much intimidation and force that I needed to to be in control of that other person. I had a total of maybe eight male victims all together. Some of the relationships started with just a punch or a slap. Some were verbal. There were times I used sex as a pawn to lure in the male victims that I preyed on. Money was really fluent back then but I was still taking from my victims. I would take stacks of money - $500 at a time. I would take it because I could. I was 5'4, 140 pounds but I appeared to be stronger than my victims. One of the things that let me know who I could control would be when guys told my friends, "Shorty wild, I want to get with her." For me, that was bait. I would immediately talk to that person because in my mind, I knew I could get what I wanted - get their money, cars and run their whole lives.
As time went on, I got really good at controlling men. Unlike many people (especially females), I was ready to die. In my mind, I felt that they wouldn't kill me. I was ready to die too. Nothing anyone could do to me would intimidate me at the time. Abusers always think with an egotistical mindset that's bigger and better. For an abuser, something is missing on the inside. I got really good at the behavior and it lasted for a very long time.
People often ask, "Are abusers conscious of what they are doing?" Most of them are not. Some of them are confused and they don't know why they are doing it but if they get counseling, education and therapy, they can begin to connect the dots to figure out where the behavior comes from. For me however, I knew what I wanted to do. I became good at abusing men.
I ALMOST KILLED MY SON AND THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF MY ROCK BOTTOM.
I was doing me one night. I had just had the baby and I thought it was time to go back to normal and party. I went to Southeast, DC and I went all in with drugs and alcohol. I got behind the wheel and drove from Southeast to Maryland and passed out at a red light about four blocks from the house. The police woke me up. Initially, I didn't realize my son was in the car with me. Once the police got me out of the car and started talking to me, they asked me what was in the car. I realized my baby was in the car. My son was in the back knocked out. They locked me up. At this point, I was binging. I was so scared to go back to the court building to find out what happened that night. When I got the police report, they gave me a reckless endangerment charge for my son, which could have gotten me 5-15 years in prison. I could not believe I had put his life in danger. I was sick to my stomach.
That started the process for me to start questioning myself. I knew that I was not only abusing others in relationships, but now I was putting my child at risk. That was a no-no from the law of the streets that I represent. I started questioning myself and I thought I was the worst mother in the world.
I enrolled in a criminal justice program in school. Then I got a master's in mental health that broke down some barriers and helped me understand where certain behaviors came from. Mental health really helped me understand my story and my mindset. I started narcotics anonymous and alternate weapons groups that helped me stay sober and remain healthy. God of course was the interventionist of it all. He knew where I needed to go and what to feed me in my most horrible times in my life. When it came to that child, that was the worst thing that I ever could have done in my life.
I started Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags Organization in 2009. I wanted to brand an organization that would speak not only to victims, but abusers also.
Everyday is a struggle for victims and abusers and I wanted to have this conversation with more people to see how they feel about domestic violence wears many tags. I wanted to build a conversation with the community. That organization was not only for me to help the people, but it also brought me out completely. It completely changed my view about my home life and what my home should look and feel like. It could not have come at a better time. It covers the household from many realms and it covers everyone in the household. It helped me in my own healing and direction. I can't sell to you, something that didn't work for me. This organization has completely helped me changed my life and the way I view my life.
I wanted to see the community's take on abuse and get people to expand their view of abuse. It doesn't start at physical abuse. We have given the community another perspective on the conversation. It's been great.
6 a.m. July 30, 2016
I got a call from a detective at 6 a.m., and I knew that I would not be getting this call. I knew immediately that someone had killed my daughter.
Her baby father shot her in her head. I'm in this fight against domestic violence and my daughter was 19 years old at the time. It was terrible. I didn't know what to think. The only thing I could think was that I had an event that day.
My daughter told me, "You cannot cancel that event. You must go to that event and you must tell the people what you've been telling them all along - that domestic violence wears many tags." I didn't expect to hear from her so soon. But I did. I got to the event and in the back of my head, I thought I was the craziest person to continue with this event about domestic violence after my child had just died. If I was in my own mind and using my own heart, I would have never made it to the event. I would have cancelled it. The event went over great. We had a conversation with the men. At the end, I broke the news that my daughter died. The people at the event thought I was just talking about another story in the community. It went over people's head. Maybe four people really knew what was going on.
In that moment, what I noticed - what came out of that was that God used me to turn tragedy into love. My daughter warned me, "Ma, you will have so many people's feelings that you will have to control." My daughter wore a smile and she always made you feel good. This young girl had a real good genuine aura but on the back end, she was going through relationship issues with her child's father. So it escalated.
She told me that people wouldn't understand why I was killed. So she immediately told me to look at Twitter and look at hashtags. I was not in my own head doing this. I got on Twitter and they were using the #Smile4Smiley hashtag. I hadn't even identified the body yet. It reached everywhere. The t-shirts, the candlelight vigil - it reached the masses. I just could not believe that God used me to control so many people's feelings this day. I don't know a person in the world who could have hosted a domestic violence event for men on the same day her daughter was killed. It wasn't me - it was God. He used me to get done what He wanted.
The tragedy of my daughter's relationship is up to me and her dad to deal with, but we want people to remember her in love.
That's really how most people will remember her - as love. The girl didn't have a nick of hate in her heart. All you will get out of this situation is love. She stood for love. I knew that If I was going to carry on her legacy, I would have to carry it in love. This is what my daughter did. She was here on earth and she didn't retaliate against her child's father. She chose to love. Love can be very dangerous for a lot of people because people won't return it. This is about her daughter Blake. She's going to be six months on November 9 and we are doing everything for her in love. This is where we got 'Turning Tragedy Into Love'. I did this with my own story after what happened with my son and now I am doing it again. I am turning the negativity into love and re-channeling the energy. I was able to help so many people by turning this tragedy into love. It was not my doing. Had it been, I would have been in the DC jail. This love movement had nothing to do with me. It's what my daughter wanted and it's what God had planned.
"Turning tragedy into love is one of the most profound statements that the human race could ever make." -QueenAfi
To learn more about QueenAfi and the "Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags organization, visit the organization's facebook page and follow on Instagram @violwearmanytags