A few years ago, I immigrated to New York City from Jamaica to live with my then-husband. A little under three months after I migrated, the relationship took a left turn on an atrocious street called Intimate Partner Violence. I sought solace, protection, and wisdom from Safe Horizon. I was twenty-two years old and requested counseling only. Safe Horizon then referred me to Day One because of my age and request. I’ve long maintained and continue to maintain that there is a strong possibility I would be dead and gone if I was not referred to Day One. I believe that before the foundation of the earth was laid, I was predestined to be joined to Day One. It has been and continues to be an integral part of my support system. To me, Day One is a mother, acceptance, strength, patience, relatability, power, kindness, a shield—it is love.
I met him, and as most stories go, everything was a fairytale at the beginning. He was always a bundle of joy-- helpful, considerate, thoughtful and loving. All these traits got me to fall for him, and I decided to stay in New York when he proposed to me late that fall. We got married very quickly, and I moved in right away. I was so happy I never paid attention to the time or the speed of things.
There is no denying that sexual misconduct is a deeply rooted problem with far reaching and long lasting effects. And while we might not have the answers to fix what happened in the past, this moment in the #metoo movement can surely provide the grounds for cultivating change now and in the future.
The best way to effectively eradicate a problem as old as history itself? Sex education: Real, science-based, this-is-not-taboo sex ed. Experts have been saying for years that factual sex education can reduce the likelihood of violence and abuse in relationships.
Twenty years ago, my high school boyfriend turned violent for the first time. During an intense argument, he shoved me to the ground and drove off.
At the time, I felt like the push came out of nowhere. But now, after volunteering with Day One and attending their workshops, I know the classic warning signs were there.
No one asks you out on a first date and says “I am going to hit you in six months.” Abusive relationships start the exact same way healthy relationships start. Puppy love. Sweet moments. Flowers, stolen kisses, long phone calls and hand holding.
During Sexual Assault Awareness Month it is important, to not only spread the word of the alarming prevalence of sexual assault, but to listen to the voices of survivors as well. Many use their voices to stand up against rape culture and to empower those recovering from similar situations. We encourage survivors to use their Voices Against Violence!
When I was in my bad romance in high school (the one my new young adult novel, Bad Romance, is based on), it was hard for me to be honest with my friends and family about what was really going down in my relationship. For one, when your partner is a master of manipulation, it can be hard to know what exactly is going on in the first place. I can’t tell you how many arguments began with me accusing my boyfriend of something, only to end with me apologizing to him. Teen Dating Violence isn’t just physical or sexual abuse: it is often mental, verbal, and emotional.
In my first year of college, I read a lot of Hannah Arendt. She, a 20th century woman political theorist, impressed me greatly, and is sort of the unofficial mascot of my college (she’s even buried in our campus cemetery, alongside her husband Heinrich Blucher). In Constitutional Law, we read her book On Revolution, in which she describes both the American and French revolutions, claiming the former to be successful and the latter to be unsuccessful.