By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
HOUSTON, Texas (FinalCall.com) – Ebony Muhammad studies death, dying, bereavement, and psychological methods for coping with loss. She publishes Hurt2Healing Magazine online, which routinely features articles about domestic and sexual violence. She recently assembled a panel of survivors to help women and girls who are suffering those assaults in silence.
The “Women of Transformation Summit: “Turning Wounds Into Wisdom” held at the Shrine of the Black Madonna stemmed from a need to address a global epidemic of abuse and violence against women and girls–that seems to be increasing instead of declining, Ms. Muhammad said.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 5 are key numbers. They indicate the ratio of girls sexually abused, women who experience some form of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and women who’ve experienced stalking during their lifetime.
“Hurt2Healing Magazine seeks to be the conduit to that much needed change along with many other organizations to bring awareness and resolutions to the victims, the survivors and their supporters, as well as the general public,” said Ms. Muhammad, as she introduced guest speakers Mavis Jackson, a licensed dependency counselor and founder of the Overcomers Foundation, Inc.; award-winning motivational speaker Kelly Sargeant; Charissa Hall, a licensed professional counselor with Positive Fruit Counseling; Pamela Ellis, director of Residential Client Services for the Houston Area Women’s Center; activist and advocate Deric Muhammad, this writer, and Jillian “JJ” Simmons.
Ms. Simmons, an educated, aware activist and veteran radio host has captivated listeners in major cities from across the country, and interviewed rich, famous and influential people, including President Barack Obama. She’s even created a foundation to help young women and girls improve their self-esteem and self-worth.
But in a revealing presentation she shared that with all of her education and self-awareness, she didn’t recognize warning signs of the mental and emotional abuse in her own relationship.
“I think that not having bruises on my body made it worse, and so I was telling my friends, ‘Man. If I had had a bruise on my face, maybe people could have understood a little bit more about what was going on because the pain is just as worse,’” Ms. Simmons stated.
She described the darkest time in her life. She didn’t want to live. But her love for her 8-year-old daughter and her father’s tears and pleading for her to get assistance compelled her to seek counseling.
“There is a way out,” she said, reflecting on friends who also pleaded with her to leave the abusive relationship. “Sometimes people who love you can see the things you can’t see because you’re so wrapped up into it, so please listen.”
Ms. Sargeant’s stepfather stole her virginity right in their own home. While the ordeal shattered her life, her mother believing her and getting family therapy helped her on the road to healing.
She spent decades searching for her identity through sex, homosexual relationships, and alcohol, but eventually, she overcame by setting small goals. She disassociated herself from all negative activities and friendships.
“We’re not alone. We have survived and we can thrive. I also want you to know that there is recovery. Recovery is possible. I am living proof,” she said.
So is Ms. Jackson, who shared her experience with abuse that stemmed from drug addiction. She was a user and her abuser was her dealer.
The mother of five also outlined her path to healing and passed on the lessons she learned. A key step to overcoming is to admit the abuse is taking place, Ms. Jackson said.
She identified warning signs and ways to identify domestically violent people–the “pit bulls” and “cobras.” Pay attention to demands, forced isolation, and emotional abuse, she said. Be honest, open, willing, teachable, and apply the information you receive to yourself and others, she continued.
“Healing is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. I didn’t become addicted to drugs overnight, so my recovery from that life event didn’t happen overnight,” she said.
Not only did she survive the domestic violence in her life, but her children did, too, she said.
One of her sons, Deric Muhammad, co-founder with his brother Jesse Muhammad of the Hurt2Healing march and rally against domestic violence, joined her as the only male speaker on the program.
“I believe that the only time a man’s hands should be placed around a woman’s neck is when he’s helping her to put on a necklace he just bought for her. I believe the only time a man should clinch his fist in front of a woman is when he’s getting ready to defend her, not to destroy her,” Mr. Muhammad said.
A man who uses his God-given strength to abuse a woman is a man who has lost his mind, the activist continued.
Ebony Muhammad identified mobile apps and resource links, such as www.stalkingawarnessmonth.org and the Circle of 6 App to help participants in their efforts toward healing. The Circle of 6 App enables users to send a “come and get me” message with a map using GPS to show their location. It can also alert people in a user’s circle to place interruption calls, and in critical situations, it can call two pre-programmed national hotlines or a local emergency number.
While the session was for women only, men were able to tune in via AllRealRadio.com, which live-streamed the entire event.