From The Editor – Issue 3 Volume 5


from_the_editor_2February is the month of love in addition it is the month when African American (Black) history is celebrated in the United States.  Red, white, and pink teddy bears are lining store shelves along with heart shaped boxes of chocolates.  Card aisles are over flowing with valentine cards and boxes of cards for children to give to class mates.  Teacher’s curriculums include special lessons for teaching Black History.

In the February 1st posts on PaisleyPerspective the subjects include the 2016 Black History theme, which is “Hallowed Grounds”.  There are those who question the purpose of Black History month and whether it is relevant.  A country primarily built with the labor of enslaved Africans is still healing.  Contributions of the descendants of those stole to work in this nation are great.  The sites of much history needs to be remembered.  The history of the United States is very much intertwined with Black History; February helps to highlight a history that might otherwise be lost.

Growing up in a two parent household, I had an opportunity to see how a couple works through their obstacles.  No love is perfect but there are characteristics of a positive loving relationship.  I share my insights about what makes for a solid relationship in “Good Love”.  Shockingly, I learned last year of a friend who dealt with over 40 years of domestic abuse.  I will share her story in an interview “Tainted Love”.  Finally leading into the interview is a poem, “Calling” related to the subject of domestic violence.

I am always looking for other voices than my own to share on PaisleyPerspective.  Check out the Submissions Guideline page for how to add your voice.

Hallowed Grounds


The Association for the Study of African American Life and History announces the 2016 National Black History Theme

Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories

The history of African Americans unfolds across the canvas of America, beginning before the arrival of the Mayflower and continuing to the present. From port cities where Africans disembarked from slave ships to the battle fields where their descendants fought for freedom, from the colleges and universities where they pursued education to places where they created communities during centuries of migration, the imprint of Americans of African descent is deeply embedded in the narrative of the American past. These sites prompt us to remember and over time became hallowed grounds.

One cannot tell the story of America without preserving and reflecting on the places where African Americanshave made history. The Kingsley Plantation, DuSable’s home site, the numerous stops along the Underground Railroad, Seneca Village, Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church and Frederick Douglass’ home — to name just a few — are sites that keep alive the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in our consciousness. They retain and refresh the memories of our forbears’ struggles for freedom and justice, and their belief in God’s grace and mercy. Similarly, the hallowed grounds of Mary McLeod Bethune’s home in Washington, D.C., 125th Street in Harlem, Beale Street in Memphis, and Sweet Auburn Avenue in Atlanta tell the story of our struggle for equal citizenship during the American century.

The Association for the Study of African American Life & History has selected this annual theme to bring attention to the centennial celebration of the National Park Service and the more than twenty-five sites and the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom that are part of America’s hallowed grounds, including the home of the father of black history, Dr. Carter G. Woodson.

Source: All content from Association for the Study of African American Life & History (n.d.) 2016 Theme. Retrieved from http://asalh100.org/black-history-themes/2015-theme/.

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Good Love


A man in his late 20’s meets a young woman who just turned 20.  they sang together in their church’s young peoples choir.  The man was considered a black sheep by many.  He liked to have fun, play pool, and spin records on weekends in pubs.  An unexpected pregnancy resulted in the couple getting married.  The decision to get married took time and contemplation by them but the man wanted a family and to do what was honorable.

1795864_10202864896962497_1240607378_oThe couple were my parents.  Through highs and lows in their marriage including a brief separation early in their marriage, they persevered.  Upon my father’s death they were married for 31 years.  Both my parents are now deceased.  Last week was their 50th wedding anniversary.  I have no doubt if they were both living that they would have still been married.

My parents weren’t publicly affectionate but they showed loved by caring for each other.  Sharing time together and a lot of laughter.  Our home was always filled with the smell of good food, laughter, and music.

I was raised understanding that it was never right for a man to hit a woman.  My dad said these words to me when puberty occurred.  My mom was in one ear talking about the birds and the bees; and my dad was in the other ear explaining what it meant to respect the one you loved.  He also demonstrated this by example.  My parents argued sometimes but I never saw them ever be violent towards each other.

I am always saddened and angered to hear about women and men being abused by a partner.  No matter that demographic of the relationship it is never right to hit or hurt another person unjustifiably.  Justifiable violence should only occur in self-defense and even then there is a limit of what should or needs to be done…dependent on the situation.

One of my saddest and fondest memories of my parent’s union is the day my dad died.  My mother went to his hospital bedside to say good-bye.  She chose to go alone to have final time with my dad’s still warm body.  When she returned she sweetly said, “I kissed him”.  She continued to explain, “At first I was hesitant to kiss him.  But then I thought he never hurt me in life so he wouldn’t hurt me in death.”  The words my mother spoke were the simple summation of good love.

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A Poem: Calling


He called my name,

my full given name

pronounced each syllable

that my mother spoke

the day I was born.

 

He called my name,

like he knew my gait

how each foot landed

when I walked to Sunday School

in too tight patent leather shoes.

 

He called my name,

as though he were calling

his church congregation to pray

at the altar and cast out demons,

healing the lame and sick.

 

He called my name,

with engagement ring in hand,

calling my soul to be a part

of his side; his rib

forming this woman from clay.

 

He called my name,

with a voice filled with tender

caresses instead of brutal

beatings that occurred

every week since we met.

 

He called my name,

and I said, “no, you’re not

worthy to say those syllables

from a serpents tongue”;

he no longer calls my name.

 

(c) 2015 by Joyce M. Rose-Harris

This poem was inspired by women I have spoken to women directly impacted by domestic violence.  It is to highlight that domestic violence is present in varying relationships even those we don’t suspect.

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An Interview: Tainted Love


When couples marry, they don’t envision divorce.  They especially don’t anticipate divorce due to domestic violence.  Most people who get married do so on a positive note.  Statistics complied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1 indicate in 2014 a ratio 46.4% divorces to marriages.  This means for every 100 marriages 47 will end in divorce.  For intimate partners “One in 4 women (22.3%) have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner while 1 in 7 men (14.0%) have experience the same.”2

Last year I learned that a friend Gwen Hughes (name changed for her protection) was separated from her husband after over 40 years of marriage.  One reason was due to infidelity on his part but the greatest reason was due to domestic abuse during the duration of the marriage.  Gwen did not fit the demographic of a domestic violence victim…at least in my mind.  I now know that domestic violence or violence against an intimate partner spans across gender, race, and socio-economic status.

I asked Gwen if she would be willing to sit down for an interview.  She gladly agreed in order to share her story and maybe help another person in a similar situation.  Below is our conversation.

PaisleyPerspective: First I want to thank you for sitting down with PaisleyPerspective to share your story.

Gwen Hughes: You are welcome.  I am ready to tell what happened to me, mostly to help another woman or even a man.  No one should suffer with being mistreated.

Paisley:  How many total years were you with your husband including prior to marriage?

Gwen: I was with my husband two years prior to marriage.  We were married almost 44 years so just about 46 years.  We met in high school.

Paisley: So you were high school sweethearts?

Gwen:  Yes, yes, we were high school sweethearts.  Even though I should have known something back then…but we will save that for later in the interview.

Paisley:  When did physical abuse occur, before or after marriage?  Hindsight is 20/20 but were there any signs of possible abuse?

Gwen:  We had gone out on a date to a little hangout for teenagers.  We were standing and I remember asking, if we would just stand around or would we sit down?  He completely flew off the handle and started yelling at me.  I thought it was odd but brushed it off.

We graduated from high school and then were married after high school.  I was at school [college] and he was home this particular day.  I recall coming home and asking why he hadn’t taken out ground beef to thaw.  He became very angry and slapped me.  I got very upset and called my mother at that point our daughter was an infant.  I went and stayed with my parents and even called his parents.  His parents were upset as well and explained they didn’t raise him to be that way. Eventually with him calling I did go back home, mainly because we had a child together.  That was the very first time but it was very early on in our marriage and like you said hindsight is 20/20.

Paisley:  After the first occurrence how often was the frequency of physical abuse?

Gwen:   The abuse was intermittent.  Not always physical, it wasn’t like he would beat me with fists but there was shoving and threats…where he would threaten to hit me.  The emotional and verbal abuse was on going. He would say things like, “I was naïve, I was stupid, I didn’t know what was going on.”  He accused me of sleeping with other people even our pastor and high school friends.  He even said our daughter wasn’t his child and she looked just like him including his baby pictures.  In addition to the verbal abuse he was a serial cheater and he knew how that affected me.  It really impacted my self-esteem and mental well being.

Paisley:  So he was accusing you of the things that actually he was doing?

Gwen:  Yes, he was very deceitful but accused me of being a liar. There was a time when he came home from college to surprise me but of course my mom told me.  And he learned that I knew and when I acted surprised to not spoil it, he later called me a liar.  Even when sometimes I would tell someone I was busy, he would say I lied.  But he was the liar because he lied to me the entire time we were married.  I got married very young.

Paisley:  How old were you when you got married?

Gwen: I was 18 years old when I got married.  Part of the reason, why I got married was because I was pregnant.  There was somewhat a sense of shame on my part when I became pregnant.  I was smart and did well in school.  My parents never made me feel bad even with all that was happening; but I wanted to show my parents I was not a screw up.  They always showed they loved me.  Looking back, I know now getting married was a mistake. However, I was determined to make the marriage work.

Paisley:  Then and now how would define your socio-economic status during your marriage…on average?

Gwen:  I would say we were middle class.  When were first got married we did struggle like any young couple.  He was a good provider and hard worker.  However, with him in the military and us relocating often I always made sure I had a job as well.  So we had a nice lifestyle.  I took care of the home like any military wife being mom & dad when he was on duty.  Our daughter had a severe medical condition so I would get calls from school; and had many emergency room visits.  In addition to his salary, I made sure I contributed financially to our family.

Paisley:  Are you still working and if not what was your profession?

Gwen: No, I am no longer working…I am a retired educator.

Paisley: You have partially explained what kept you in your marriage.  However, were your family and friends aware of the abuse?

Gwen:  No they didn’t know.  My sister was shocked when I told her.  I smiled on the outside and kept it all to myself.  I just kept thinking I could try harder and plus I stayed because of my daughter.  I figured also no marriage was perfect.

I realize now that he has personality disorders, he is a nacreous and arrogant.  He is very self absorbed and he doesn’t have empathy for other people.  Looking back, I always knew there was something about my husband that was not quite right; I truly believe he has mental disease.

Paisley:  There is a book titled “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout.  In the book it has a statistic that 1 in 25 people have sociopathic tendencies.  That is a scary statistic.

Gwen:  Yes my husband definitely fit into that category.  When he was younger he used various substances to check out and to self medicate.  I was always the designated driver during our marriage.  Eventually he had to stop use of all substances which escalated the sociopathic tendencies.

Paisley:  Sadly he probably had similar sociopathic tendencies as a child?

Gwen:  Ironically his mother did say he was very much like this as a child.  He was even mean to his is sibling.

Paisley:  Well at least learning that you realized it wasn’t your fault how he was acting?

Gwen:  No it wasn’t but I did have some fault in staying with him.  There were signs early on even before I became pregnant.  But I kept thinking things would get better and he would grow up but he never did.

Paisley:  What ultimately made you leave your husband?

Gwen:  What ultimately made me leave was finding out about the last affair.  I was willing to stay if he was willing to go to counseling and work through or issues but he wouldn’t.  I realized that he just wasn’t capable to give me what I needed and things weren’t getting any better.

Then there was the final physical altercation where I could have been significantly injured.  This was after I realized it is over but before he moved out of our house.  In addition other discussions lead me to know it was truly over and through a court order he moved out and now we are doing divorce proceedings.

Paisley:  Did you have an opportunity to record any of the altercations?

Gwen:  I do have recordings and photos, so there is audio & visual evidence.

Paisley:  So what advice do would have for a woman going through a similar situation?

Gwen:  All I can go back to is what Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are believe them the first time.”  I look back now and there were so many signs I chose to ignore.  Don’t make the same mistakes that I made, don’t stay with someone who doesn’t honor you as his wife.  Or honor the vows that he made.  Don’t do it.  It doesn’t get better; it only gets worst.

Also wait before you get married.  Make sure you really know the person you’re marrying…don’t rush into a marriage.  Make sure you understand how the person interacts with his immediate family.

Paisley:  I was always taught how a man treats his mother will help indicate how he will treat his wife.

Gwen:  Yes it really does matter because my husband is so disrespectful to his mother and looking back he was always mean to her.

Paisley: Are you still concerned for your safety?

Gwen:  I don’t think he will track me down.  But he is very angry so I am concerned if I see him outside of my home.  He doesn’t understand because he says he provided me with a luxury home and car as well as other material things…he really doesn’t understand why it is over.  He has tried other little things to bother me but I don’t let him get to me.  He really does have some major issues and seems like he has all his life.

Paisley:  Were you raised in an abusive home?

Gwen:  My parents had arguments but there was never any physical altercations.

Paisley:  Would you consider getting married again?

Gwen:  I don’t know if I would get remarried but I would like a nice companion…a retired professional like a retired doctor or lawyer.  I no longer have tolerance for dealing with foolishness or any type of abuse.  First sign and I am done.

Paisley:  This is similar to an earlier question but what advice would you give to people before they get married?

Gwen:  Really get to know them and see how they interact with their family.  Pay attention to their habits if something doesn’t seem right trust your gut.  Don’t get so deep into a situation that you can’t get out.  And don’t be in such a hurry take your time no matter the situation.

Paisley:  Well that concludes my questions.  Again thank you for sitting down with PaisleyPerspective to tell your story.  I wish you well in the next phase of your life.

Gwen:  You’re are welcome.  Thank you for allowing me to share my story.

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xtKTM1rsYour next door neighbor, child’s teacher, favorite grocery clerk, or your best friend may be in a violent relationship or marriage.  Like Gwen Hughes many women as well as men are suffering in silence.  If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence seek help today (The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224 http://www.thehotline.org).  Ensure it is safe before calling the hotline or accessing the website.  If you are able do so use a public computer, such as at a local library.   Gwen was lucky that she was never seriously injured during her marriage but many women & men are not so lucky.

“In 2010, 241 males and 1095 females were murdered by an intimate partner. Apart from deaths and injuries, physical violence by an intimate partner is associated with a number of adverse health outcomes.  Several health conditions associated with intimate partner violence may be a direct result of the physical violence (for example, bruises, knife wounds, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, back or pelvic pain, headaches). Other conditions are the result of the impact of intimate partner violence on the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine and immune systems through chronic stress or other mechanisms.”3

Again if you are in an abusive relationship, your life and well-being are at stake please seek help today.

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Sources: 1 Centers for Disease Control Prevention. (n.d.) National Vital Statistics System. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/marriage_divorce_tables.htm

2 Centers for Disease Control Prevention. (n.d.) National Data on Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Violence, and Stalking. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs-fact-sheet-2014.pdf

3 Centers for Disease Control Prevention. (n.d.) Intimate Partner Violence: Consequences. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/intimatepartnerviolence/consequences.html

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From The Editor – Issue 2 Volume 5


from_the_editor_2Those who have followed PaisleyPerspective blog since the very first post, I say thank you.  This particular post should look familiar.  It is giving a quick summary of the other posts in this group.

I am excited to bring you knew content in the a familiar format.  There are three post under Issue 2 Volume 5.  First I look at the illogical process of setting new year resolutions.  Why do we do it to ourselves every year?

There is a poem entitled Forced Entry, which leads into the post entitled Falling Star.  I don’t want to give to much away but these posts surround recent allegations about a comedic star.

Let me know what you think of the return of the new format.  You can do so via email or via comments below.

Enjoy!

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New Year…Same You


neye1So it’s 16 days into 2016.  How are your new year resolutions going?  You know that one big thing you said you would do this year or the multiple itemed list.  I don’t mean to sound sarcastic but each year most people make pie in the sky resolutions then by now have fallen flat.

In the past I would make resolutions like everyone else.  Lose weight, get organized, save money, etc. but then by the end of January I would be back to old habits.  This year I made one simple resolution and thus far I am doing okay to keep it.

We are the same person at 12:00am January 1st that we were at 11:59pm December 31st.  There is no magic wand that washes us clean of old faults and habits.  The only difference is in the U.S. we have entered into a new tax year.

I say we should bag resolutions and let the idea of them go.  Every day when we awake should be an opportunity to be better than the last.  A new year and new you are such an extreme and illogical ideas.

So I have just given you a pass on your new year resolution…go ahead, tear it up and burn it.  Now each day just work toward being better than the previous day.

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