Friday 22 November 2019

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Telling My Story by Brandi Martin

Twenty years ago, Brandi Martin’s mother disappeared. What she never shared with her family was the fact that her mother was constantly physically abused by her step-father. Today, as we close out National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Brandi wanted to share her story with those who may be involved in relationships where they are being beating to show them what their children may be experiencing.

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In July 2012, I wrote a letter to my mother who has been missing for twenty years.  What was not stated in that letter was how it is my belief that domestic violence played an integral part in her disappearance. Although my family had her declared missing on July 11, 1992, I truly believe that my mother was already deceased at that time.

I was about four years old when my mother fell in love and married this man.  I am not sure when the abuse started, but when I first experienced it, it was the most frightening experience in my life. I remember is the nights I awakened to him hitting, choking and threatening to kill my mother. I even remember him holding a gun to her head. Something I had never witnessed prior to them getting married became a “routine” way of life.

Over the years I could tell my mother was unhappy, frightened and confused, but she stayed because he threatened to kill her and her kids if she left.  I never told my grandmother because my mother asked me not to. When the fights would start, his parents were my recourse. HUGE MISTAKE! It was no secret to me that people who had once cared for me like their own granddaughter and niece covered for and protected their sibling and son. If I could go back to my six, seven, eight or nine year old self I would have called the police each and every time, I would have told my grandmother of every incident, and I would have begged my mother to file police reports.

When I was about ten years old, I told my mother that we needed to leave. Shortly thereafter, we packed what we could fit in her car and moved in with my grandmother. Initially, I was happy and felt safe there, but I quickly realized that we would never escape his insecurities, possessiveness and rage were never going to stop him. He began stalking my mother, tapping my grandmother’s phone, and even attempted to run us off of the road when my mother would not stop her car to talk to him.

There is no doubt in my mind that he had something to do with my mother’s disappearance.  He allowed the demons from his childhood manifest into his relationship with my mother, perpetuating the cycle, but in doing so, he took something precious from me. It was no surprise that when my half-brother, his child, became of age and inquired about the whereabouts of our mother, his deceitful father and grandmother continued to lie to protect themselves.

If there is anything I can say to protect the women and children that are in this very situation right now, it would be this: Women, document the abuse with the authorities and let your families know what is going on.  Do not hesitate to protect yourself and your children. For the children, despite what your mother says, call the authorities and tell your family what is going on. Part of the reason my mother’s case was not solved was because none of the events I spoke of were documented. The only people who knew were her kids, her husband and his family. Finally, and most importantly, seek counseling to deal with any unresolved issues and residual effects from domestic violence.

If you, or a loved one, are in an abusive relationship and want help, please click here for the National Domestic Hotline, or call them at 1800.799.SAFE (7233) 1800.787.3224 (TTY).

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