Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Saving Myself

I told my mum a few home truths on Monday over the phone and now I think that she is deliberately sabotaging a reunion between myself and my sister to spite me, or both of us. Not really sure.

I was going to call the house later that evening (because I don’t have my sister’s mobile number but she still lives at my mum’s house), and I asked my mum to let my sister pick up the phone, just so I could ask how she is. At first my mum didn’t want to help but I begged her so she finally agreed. Plus the reason why I was doing this is because she’d told me that my sister is hurting because she misses me so much. 

Then about half an hour before I was planning to call, my mum sent me a message saying that she had told my sister about our plan and my sister said that it wasn’t a good time to talk right now because she had too much on right now.

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My mum wasn’t supposed to tell my sister that I was going to call. And every single time that I try to reconnect with my sister, I’m told that it’s a bad time because she has too much to deal with right now.

So what? Do I not have shit going on in my life too? Yet I was willing to put all grudges aside, forgive and forget and try to re-establish a relationship with my sister because I miss her and still care about her.

But once again, my mother couldn’t be a parent, she had to be the child that she is and sabotage that. The woman is a joke. 

So let us reflect on what it was I was willing to forgive and forget about, just to muster up the courage to make that phone call on Monday evening: Three years ago, my sister told me that I was faking my seizures for attention, and that I was too much of a burden and she couldn’t deal with me. She also lied about the fact that she hadn’t been returning my calls or messages for weeks. But then after saying all of that, she then expected me to turn the other cheek, she acted like nothing had happened, that she hadn’t broken my heart.

But I wasn’t going to be a doormat anymore; I’d always let my sister get away with treating me like shit because I was not only petrified of losing my best friend. I also didn’t want us to end up like my mum and her sister who don’t talk and hate each other’s guts. So every single time we’d had a fight, I would force myself to be the bigger person and reconcile. However this time I wasn’t going to take her shit, nor my mum’s, so I told them that I needed a “time out” to think about things. I never told them this, but I wanted to re-evaluate my place within a family I’d never felt part of. So I returned back to my home in London and didn’t make contact with either of them for a couple of weeks (which wouldn’t have made any difference to my sister, because as I said before, she hadn’t been returning my calls or messages anyway).

Now, when they retell this story to family friends – particularly my Aunt (my surrogate mum), they tell the story without mentioning that I was bullied out of the family and therefore needed time away. Instead, they tell anybody who will listen that I was getting too big for my boots now that I was living in London and no longer wanted to associate myself with them.

On the phone on Monday, my mum screamed to me that I was the one who left them, when I went to University in 2004 and that I was responsible for going away all those years ago and breaking the family apart. How manipulative must you be to be a mother who holds a grudge against her own daughter for going away to University? And to hold that grudge for 14 years? 

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She also doesn’t tell people that although she was fine with my sister being in a long-term relationship for so many years, while I was still living with her and my sister and I began dating my ex (which was my first serious relationship), she told me that she was jealous of me and wished it was her instead.

She even said that it wasn’t fair, when would it be her time? 

While I was living at home she used to charge me more rent than my sister, even though my sister earned more money than me, which was the final straw for me when I realised that all those years I’d been living at home to help my mum out, she was actually just using me as a cash cow to stop me from growing up and leaving the nest.

She doesn’t tell people that she told me I was too damaged to be loved; and she denies (even to this day) that she blamed my Epilepsy on me and told me that my love for horror films had opened the door to demon possession.

When I told her that I had started to remember what my dad had done to me and had to confess that I’d lied when I told her that nothing had happened to me, she refused to listen and told me that nothing had happened to me – the devil was playing tricks with my mind. In fact, when I then went to try and talk to my sister, instead of her showing empathy, her response was:

Why did he do it to you and not me? 

I also think that my mum actually blames me for the abuse, because she cannot fathom that the man that she loved could do such a thing, so instead of acknowledging that man she once loved was truly a monster (he abused her too), she seems to feel more comfortable with seeing her child as the devil instead.

In regards to my relationship with my sister, my mum denies that she ever used to play my sister and I against each other  just like her mother used to do with her and her little sister – and whenever we fell out, she would be the one in the middle playing Devil’s Advocate and stirring the pot, instead of being a mother and helping us to sort out our differences. She also constantly used to tell me that my sister was jealous of me.

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They think that I look down on them, because I’m more educated than them, when in actual fact even though they were my oppressors, up until three/four years ago, I used to worship them and would’ve taken a bullet for either of them, especially my sister.

My mum and I were actually supposed to finally meet up for the first time in three years tomorrow, but I cancelled after what happened on Monday because I don’t want to see her and I told her to not bother to call me until she can be a mother instead of a petulant child. I haven’t heard from her since, but I’m sure I’ll get a voicemail in a couple of weeks where she begs for forgiveness. Again.

This week I’ve had  all of this to deal with, while keeping on top of my module deadlines and thankfully, regardless of crying myself to sleep two nights in a row and barely actually getting any sleep, not only have I managed to make all of my deadlines to finish the module on time (#win), I’ve also managed to ensure that my anger and heartbreak hasn’t triggered any seizures, which I am particularly thankful for. I have yoga and mindfulness to thank for this – even after everything that happened on Monday, I still went to my yoga class, which gave me an opportunity to focus my energies on myself as opposed to people who constantly hurt me. Yoga is also a great opportunity to be kind to yourself and to be thankful to yourself for taking that time out for self-care, which was desperately needed this week. 

I also have to thank my girlfriend, who let me sob on her on Monday evening and let me wallow in my silent moments of reflection yesterday evening, as I ponder what on earth I did in a past life to deserve such a family. 

I bet not once, did my sister and mother stop to think what impact this would have on my Epilepsy. Because they never do. And I share my story not only to vent about my family, but to also encourage other young women like me, who have struggled with psychologically abusive family members (especially mothers), to not be afraid of standing up for ourselves, and to protect what we have built for ourselves and not let toxic family members destroy our empires.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

My 1:1 Tarot Reading with Leona Black

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In my rejection of Christianity, I’ve begun seeking other sources for spiritual guidance and comfort. As a child, I’d always been drawn to astrology, so I decided to return back to this which then led me to tarot.

A Little About Me

My star sign is Cancer, however my rising sign is Taurus. Crabs (Cancer), tend to be internal and receptive, with a heavy dose of initiative (cardinal), and strong, emotional awareness.

Leo, which lives next door to Cancer, boasts a very different personality (as is always the case with adjacent signs). Leo, is a sign of positive fixed fire. This means that it natives tend to be outgoing (positive), determined (fixed) and full of flash (fire).

As I am a Taurus rising, I stand firmly on my feet. I therefore look for stability in the people around me, security and the feeling of security. They are social and love to socialise – given by their precious skill to communicate and focus requests. I have also had to learn how to handle changes and experiences – to accept them positively. I can become obstinate and stubborn when pressure and stress dominate my life or my way to act.

How I Came to Meet Leona

Leona Nichole Black was recommended to me by a friend of mine, Kelechi 

Leona is a Tarot Reader, Intuitive Counsellor, Writer & Cultural Theorist. As well as this, she’s also currently studying for a PhD in Black Consciousness, which I was immediately drawn to as an Black academic myself. I initially requested for an MP3 Tarot Reading, back in January; I didn’t give much away, only because I didn’t really know what to ask:

How can I move on from the conflict with my mother and sister?

At the time, my mother and I had not yet reconciled and I was having mad dreams about both her and my sister. I was ready to walk away and I wanted to know how, however Leona had a very different answer for me. She told me that my mother and I were going to move past our conflict. She could see that my mother loved me immensely, but was stuck in the middle. My sister, on the other hand, could not be trusted.

Leona gave me an incredibly in depth reading and it was also incredibly on point! I was shooketh!

So much so, that I decided to go and see her in person, where she gave me another in-depth reading, followed by advice and counselling regarding my situation with my mother and it is thanks to her that my mother and I are now talking, on my terms.

The session began with a simple prayer, to bless the space, as well as the cards, and then the reading began. Unfortunately, I didn’t start taking notes until further into the reading (I didn’t know I could actually take notes!), but I do remember the Source Card coming up and we spoke about breaking the generational cycles within my family, which is something that I am incredibly passionate about – mostly in regards to female mental health, but also abusive familial relationships. My grandmother is currently living in relational poverty and my aunt and uncles have stopped my cousins and I from going into the house. Last month, when one of my cousins and I tried to go and visit, they stalked the house to intimidate us, and then tried to beat me up. One of them is also keeping her finances from her. The house has no proper electricity running through it. My aunt who lives with her has an undiagnosed mental health condition. Social services are aware of this, however have been been more inclined to be helpful to the older generation (not believing me or my cousins even though I’m more educated and my cousins have evidence of abuse against my grandmother). We’ve even reported threats made by my uncles towards me, to Social services, and deterioration in my Grandmother’s mood however, we still haven’t been heard. The Ten of Pentacles came up, which indicates stress, (I did have my first tonic clonic seizure in 9 months last week), however there were other cards pulled to indicate that there will be success. My cousins and I just need keep on persevering.

Advice

Leona pulled the following cards for me for advice:

  • The High Priestess card – to trust my intuition, which is something I am very good at – except with my mother (perhaps because she’s my mother?)
  • The Sun in Reverse – Mum’s thoughts can overshadow mine. My mum and sister were both very negative and judgemental – both intentional and unintentional, which had a severe impact upon my mental health, confidence and creativity growing up and in my early twenties. Therefore, now is the time for honouring my own emotions which is a process I have already begun. Now is the time to be my own warrior. 
  • Three of Ones – I am now looking for a return on my investment and I have been waiting at a distance, with my barriers up, especially during these early stages of the rekindling of our relationship. In hindsight, I guess this also will eventually apply to the situation with my Grandmother and the work my cousins and I are putting in on her behalf for her welfare.
  • However, there was the Two of Swords, indicating that I am not seeing the situation clearly, and this could also apply to my uncles because up until January, I thought that the sun shone out of their arses.
  • The Ten of Pentacles in Reverse came up, reminding me that my blood are not my family. They continue to hurt me, devalue me (I’m talking about my mum, sister, uncles and aunt here), when I have people who aren’t blood, who perceive me as the little girl and woman who deserves all of the love I’ve always craved.
  • The Nine of Pentacles in Reverse – indicates that I haven’t been seeing myself clearly. I’m a 10/10, but I’m only seeing myself as a 9/10. I’m the shit!

  • The Magician – reclaiming my energy, which is something that I am working on for 2018 and not draining myself for the sake of others.
  • The Temple Card – I’ve built my own temple, on my own, without the help of anybody. I look back on where I was this time last year and I just cannot believe how far I’ve come. Nobody can tell me anything now about my journey, because they haven’t been through it and they don’t know and therefore, nobody can ever gaslight me about my intelligence ever again because my foundation is now too strong.
  • The Grief Card – reminding me that I will be let down and therefore, I need to have outlets for pain. This is so important as a Black woman to allow myself to feel pain.
  • The Strength Card – I will need courage and I will need to take back power from the source. The source is me.
  • The Chariot Card – the triumph and overcoming will be in sticking it out. So many times with my family, I’ve just upped and left, however just leaving isn’t the way. I have to show up and remind them that I am the child, and they will be held accountable for certain things and that’s where the healing is for me. Do not compromise. This worked. After this session, I meditated on this advice, before sending my mother a message, pretty much outlining my “terms and conditions” for our relationship going forward (LOL). We are yet to meet in person again, but at present, we now speak on a weekly basis.

Outcome

Queen of Wands – This will be mum, who will finally see the suffering she has caused, however she will find it very difficult to deal with, so she will flee. Whether or not she will return, only time will tell.

And she has. 

 

I cannot recommend Leona’s services enough, not only for spiritual guidance, but also for counselling. I’m looking forward to returning!

The MP3 reading was £28 and the one-to-one session was £60.

http://www.nicholeblack.com/services/

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

My Mother & I… Freedom

After my last blog post which you can read here, I spoke to my mother and we finally addressed our past. It’s been a looooooong time coming. We finally openly spoke about what it was like for me growing up after my father left, but also what it was like for me before. While talking, it also dawned upon me that I never ever told her about the final conversation I had with my father on the phone and his final words to me:

You need to be an adult now.

Words that I had carried for twenty years. I didn’t realise the weight behind the meaning of these words, until I uttered them to my mother last weekend. My father wasn’t just telling me to be the adult, to be the second parent; he was telling me to bear the burden of his sins and to keep my mouth shut. For so many years, I blamed my mother for not being able to talk about what happened to me and for the memories that I repressed however, what we both came to realise in those words was that he was just as much to blame for both of us not being able to speak to each other.

Black women are burdened with carrying so much pain – it’s a curse.

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I watched the visuals for Beyoncé’s album, Lemonade last night (finally (!) – if I’m honest, I’ve always been more a fan of her sister Solange – who to me was more woke and more real, however lately I feel like Beyoncé’s been calling out to me lol). The visuals are stunning, but the lyrics and the spoken word parts are incredibly more resonating, because she speaks about Black female pain and its curse – the curse being that we as Black women are never permitted to feel pain. This is why Lemonade spoke to soooooo many Black women.

The exclusive world premiere of Beyonce's 'Lemonade' on HBO

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I’ve often thought to myself, why did B stay with Jay-Z when he treated her so badly? He cheated on her, he caused her such psychological stress that she had multiple miscarriages. There’s a lyric that resonates with me in one of her songs, where she sings:

Let me see your scars/ show me your scars

Again, this is breaking the curse.

Yes, she could’ve left him, but then they may never have addressed their issues.

She had to stay with him, to compulse him to address his own issues, and this would’ve taken an incredible amount of stamina from both of them. But especially her. And the fact that he submitted himself to her, considering where he’s from and who he is, is again breaking that curse and breaking down so many barriers here not just in relationships, but for Black mental health simultaneously. Hopefully, they have finally re-created a relationship where both man and woman are now on the same platform, where man is no longer above woman, where woman is no longer inferior to man.

And I really do need to write up my piece on the self-care event I went to (I’ve been unwell, so I’m behind on my tings), because this is one of the things we discussed, and it’s also something my mum and I discussed, and why she couldn’t permit me to talk to her about certain things, for so many years. My mother would shut me down when I tried to open up to her about what my father had done to me, especially so when I was older and the repressed memories began to resurface. In fact, when my father left I originally went to a family friend about the abuse, because I couldn’t talk to my mother.

On Sunday, my mother apologised for not permitting me to address these memories with her, because she acknowledged that she hadn’t yet dealt with her own pain. Through prayer and therapy, she’s now done that and I’m incredibly proud of her because she’s broken the curse in our family. Just like Beyoncé did. Beyoncé had to allow herself to feel pain that perhaps no woman in her family had permitted herself to feel before. This then breaks the cycle of the curse, so that her own daughters will go on to have healthier relationships with themselves, as well as their significant others.

My mother has now permitted me to see her own scars, which is something that has not been done in our family before.

My mother had, and still does have a terrible relationship with her own mother, because of this curse, because it wasn’t broken. In fact, they presently have no relationship. My nan carried her pain; my mum carried her’s; both refused to acknowledge each other’s pain and address each other’s pain, until it festered into an incredibly abusive relationship and now they unfortunately no longer talk. I’ve come to realise that this is not uncommon within Black communities.

Hopefully, my mother and I can continue to progress down this healthy road of mother-and-daughter-relationship.

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Music As A Medicine

I haven’t had a chance to write about The Drums gig I went to in November, which was actually quite monumental for me, and unfortunately I don’t have any pictures from that night, because my phone from then has deceased 😦 

I actually almost didn’t go, because I found out that one of the members had left and also I wasn’t feeling well in myself mentally.

But music is always my go-to mentally; even when I can’t face the rest of the world, I can face my favourite band.

This year in particular, music has had a profound effect upon my mental health. I  would use it to get myself out of bed as an alarm for my teacher training mornings and wherever I go, I always listen to music.

As a child, I couldn’t sleep in silence, I found it deafening and needed music to sleep to. Personalised playlists helped my on my runs and my highs and lows of life has a soundtrack to it.

I don’t just feel a connection to music spiritually, I also feel it psychologically. At times, it’s not even the words that speak to me: I go to gigs and realise that I’ve been listening to a song on repeat for ten years and don’t even know most of the lyrics, because I’ve been listening to the bass or something. Since disconnecting with God, I’ve found a church in music. There’s no greater feeling than standing amongst a group of people who are all on at least some same wavelength as you, just riding a beat – what goes on outside doesn’t need to matter for those couple of hours. Sharing communion.

However, this year within the chaos of my mental health deterioration, I have taken stock of who I am listening to and what they have gone through in their own personal lives so that I am not selfishly consuming. This is why I still love The Drums regardless of being one man down, because I know that Johnny Pierce has also used his music to help him through his depression and having grown up in a strict Christian family, which also had an effect upon his mental health, the stars aligned the night of that gig in Hammersmith, when Johnny decided that he had to speak. He spoke openly about mental health, and about not letting anybody tell you who you ought to be.

“Too high functioning”

I’ve been looking into the use of music to treat clinical depression, more so since I was rejected from the Community Mental Health services for being to “high-functioning” because of the fact that I go to gigs, yet my mental health state has never been worse.

Last year I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and after seeing a Personality therapist at the Community Mental Health services, it was decided that instead I have Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. These diagnoses are useless to me.

I’ve been taking antidepressants intermittently since my late teens and consistently for three years, and each dose increase has had no effect on my mood like music does.  There is methodology in science to suggest a causal correlation between mood and control, which I have personally seen within myself and for days following a gig.

Science of course perceives music as more of an experimental therapy, however research is ongoing, particularly in the field of neuroscience.

In terms of healing, music-making can engage a patient holistically: it engages the patient’s perceptual, mental and responsive motor-functional capacities, while the act of listening to music creates an ambient and sheltered environment, which also promotes healing for the mind, body and soul.  Some people find it in gospel music and blame it on the holy spirit.

“Part of the design”

Lately I’ve taken to listening to classical music to create an ambient atmosphere in my bedroom, as it also helps a little bit with my mental health too.

Therefore, the music is only a part of the design: you also need the extras in order to create the atmosphere, which is how “Musical Psychopharmacology” is created. For example, at a gig, you would have lights, a crowd, sounds effects, acoustics, encores. You can actually pay to go to place to create this all for you too!

But now imagine how therapeutic gigs are, and then tell me that a) they’re a waste of money, and b) they make mental health sufferers who are also regular gig-goers, “too-high functioning”.

XOXO

 

References

Rudinow, J. (2014). Soul music : tracking the spiritual roots of pop from plato to motown. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Posted in Blog

Coming Out

Last weekend I came out to my family – my uncles – with my partner by my side.

My sexuality is something that I’ve been struggling with since a very young age (possibly around the age of ten years old), and something I didn’t want to admit to myself or to anybody outside of myself, especially growing up within a Black Caribbean Christian home. My mother and I had often had heated conversations about homosexuals (not me), which had often left me in tears while she aggressively quoted scripture at me. I knew what was right and I definitely knew how she felt.

I remember in my second year of University, one of my best friends and also my housemate gave me a ride home during one holiday, and my mother clocked him and decided that she “didn’t like him because he looked gay” and she didn’t want him back around her house again.

He wasn’t gay. My mother was just a religious, homophobic bitch.

Having attended a Catholic school, my friends were all religiously straight, including my best friend of sixteen years. We’d also spoken about homosexuality; I’d mentioned my celebrity girl crushes, however I always did so in jest… Rihanna, Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, Helena Bonham Carter,.. and my friend would call me a massive lesbo. I would also secretly check out girls. The guys I fancied in real life were quite androgynous looking and very unobtainable – there would always be a reason why I couldn’t have them, and I think I secretly wanted that.

However, when I met my current partner, a transgender girl, I could no longer deny my sexuality. In her I met my best friend and the most beautiful girl in the world. When we first met, I didn’t know that she was trans, but when I found out, the first person I wanted to tell was my oldest friend, who I naively hoped would be able to see beyond her religious upbringing and understand that up until now, my happiness had been compromised, because I was finally starting to accept my sexuality.

But she couldn’t accept it. I’m not sure if she was more freaked out about my coming out, or my dating a transgender woman, but my oldest friend couldn’t deal with it. We last spoke in June, which is when I told her and we haven’t spoken since. This broke my heart.

I also told another close friend – the one who I invited round for dinner and although she seemed to react supportively to this news, she was suddenly opinionated about my future career plans in a negative way, then blamed me for not receiving her opinions. And we haven’t spoken since. However, it was such a bizarre scenario that I think it was a reaction to my coming out.

Friends seem to treat it as a personal affront when you come out, especially when you’ve had previous relationships with the opposite sex. I felt like both friends were accusing me of lying because I’d had relationships with guys, and for also having not been completely upfront about my feelings. But when you’re struggling with your sexuality, the only person you really trust is yourself. Plus these were my most religious friends – I was hardly going to run to them with my struggles!

I have been frightened to tell anybody close to me since – most importantly my uncles and cousins. Friends you can replace, however family has come to mean everything to me again, especially after being so let down before by other family members.

 

What if they were repulsed?

What if they didn’t understand?

What if they didn’t want to understand?

What if after all of these years, I lost them again?

 

I told my cousins separately first, who were so warm and receiving. However, they are younger than me, and therefore a hell of a lot younger than their dads!

One scenario on constant replay in my mind, was the one uncle whose house I was going to for Christmas would be so disgusted that he would retract his invitation (well actually I invited myself) and I’d have nowhere to go for Christmas Day!

Last Sunday was the day… I was so stressed that I could barely eat breakfast. The Jubilee Line from Finchley Road to Stratford was as packed as a Black Friday trolley and I nearly threw up. I had the stupid idea to ask them all to guess what the announcement might be, to break the tension that only I seemed to be feeling LOL, which actually just built up the moment even more for me. But I did it and I also told them about my partner.

They were all so embracing, it was unreal.

 

I had a seizure during the meal and spilt tea all over myself. But I came out!

 

Homosexuality within Black culture is definitely a conversation that is transforming, especially amongst the older generation and that’s thanks to the younger generation bringing it up with their parents and getting them to talk about it. Two of my uncles who had had conversations with their daughters (my awesome cousins), both said that the conversations have stayed with them and that it had really opened up their minds to some new ideas. These two uncles in particular are older than the third and were teenagers in the 60s, which was a completely different world, where you couldn’t speak about things like this.

When my partner – who is German – was relaying her experiences with transphobia back home and how homosexuality is still regarded by some as a Mental Health condition, my uncles could understand this, because in the 60s, 70s and for some of the 80s, this was the mindset towards homosexuality in UK too, until the explosion of pop culture, with the New Romantics, and pop figures like Boy George and George Michael helped to break the stigma.

We also talked about the stigmatism of homosexuality back home in the Caribbean – particularly Jamaica, where according to my Uncles the times are changing; it’s the people who have to change with the times, which is usually the case with prejudice and discrimination.

I feel for the men and women back home, I really do. I wonder if the prejudice against homosexuality is more to do with power, (because antagonists like to hold authority over their prey) than it is to do with thoughts and feelings on what anybody is actually doing with their bodies.

My mother never gave a damn about what people did with their bodies anyway. She seemed to thrive on the power of religion and judgement.

 

Anyway, all I’ve ever wanted is to be loved unconditionally, and last weekend I realised that I’ve always had it and I always will. I loved it when my partner said to me that in my uncles I now also have three dads. 

It’s an incredible feeling.

And I have come out to a couple of other friends who have been incredibly supportive of both me and and my partner.

It’s great to finally be me.

Gay

 

XOXO

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Violence and Aggression against African American Women and Children, by Cece Alexandra Noel (2017)

DV (Image source)

Violence and Aggression against African American Women and Children

by Cece Alexandra Noel (2017)

I believe the theory of evolutionary aggression and violence can be seen in the homes of African American families. People require more than food and shelter to survive, so this aggression is also societal.

Social learning theory (Anderson & Bushman, 2002) caused by institutional racism – either directly experienced or observed – conceptualises the anger, hatred and frustrations of African American men, which are then being displaced onto their partners, lovers and children.

Anderson & Bushman’s General aggression model (GAM), a holistic framework then looks at the multiple theories of aggression, however scholarship has emphasised the male experience as opposed to the female.

Hill Collins categorises violence into three dimensions – the second of which concerns the relationship between actions and speech. We can hypothesise that this quantifies as aggression and violence, designed to belittle, humiliate, and strip victims of their sense of worth, while the powerful individual inflicting the violence has no idea that they – in fact – are reproducing the subverted climate of fear seen outside of their homes. To return to the theory of evolutionary aggression – which would typically come from perpetrators of racism and therefore is designed to belittle and humiliate the minorities, Hill Collins’ theory correctly establishes the ethnography of abuse for African-American women and children: silence will yield better treatment; victims know that their homes will provide better refuge in a world that preys upon the weak (Hill Collins, p.925).

Unfortunately, the man knows his power over his household, as do his victims, therefore he must be playing a role of self-efficacy (Anderson & Bushman, 2002, p.36), for his specific aggressive acts have been chosen with the belief that those he has victimised will remain in fear, just like the generations of Black people before him. Anderson and Bushman also suggest that the anger-aggression linkage is one that humans are evolutionarily prepared to learn, particularly in relationships.

My next hypothesis therefore, considers environmental factors, which have stripped these men of their self-esteem, but which Anderson and Bushman’s GAM does fail to consider. Their frustration stems from relative depravation (Myers, 2013), because the American Dream has failed them, and they are taking their learnt aggression out on their families, which they perceive to be the only property of worth to them. With low levels of serotonin and high levels of testosterone, it is generally accepted that the expression of aggression is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors (Laureate, 2017).

Anderson and Bushman suggest Multisystemic therapy, which is not only family focused intervention; it is also a biosocial intervention framework, built around the individual, as well as the family, to understand the cues of aggression and violence, with the goal of reducing it.

But what if you can’t escape the aggression cues such as racism, racial inequalities or societal humiliation? How much will the person really change?

A study on Domestic Violence in the African American Community by Hampton, Oliver and Magarian (2003) found that not only providing employment for Black men was the solution to, but simultaneously re-educating them on their perceptions of Black women, by confronting sexist stereotypes and enhanced male-female relationships, was a solution to helping to reduce violence within families. This was also intrinsic to reforming the Black community.

However, social psychology contributes to the problem because these methodologies do not protect women and children. I challenge psychologists to create interventions with an emphasis on building a biosocial intervention frameworks for women and children within the African American community, to feel safe enough to come forward and break the pattern of evolutionary violence within families.

The repetitive vicious cycle of violence is also a major issue within the African American ethnographic; children are either forced to resolve conflicts or become imitators. The biopsychosocial model explains how children who directly experience violence or observe others’ aggressive behaviour, then replicate the same negative responses outside.

R.E. Davis (1997) raised the key point that providers do not offer intervention to allow this ethnographic the space to elicit information about early traumatic life events (Hampton, Magarian & Oliver, 2003), therefore the psychosocial needs for children are not being met, allowing the cycle to continue into the next generation.

Black women are perceived to be the property of their partners – particularly if they are unemployed, and even if they contribute to the community, because in the eyes of the perpetrator this is not a contribution to the household. The feminist activities during the Black Panther Movement, were and still are significant downplayed and women were appallingly treated by their male counterparts. This was also all witnessed by their children.

Naples’ Activist Mothering, is just one example of how African American women in modern memory, continue community work, which not only involves nurturing work for those outside one’s kinship group, but also encompasses a broad definition of actual “mothering practices” (Naples, p.448). As well as adapting their environment, women also opened their homes to young women with children, challenged “traditional notions of gender and mothering” (Naples, p.454) and bequeathed a new legacy to their children.

However, there were consequences such as overlapping demands. Within the community itself this was taken care of with “othermothers” (Troester, 1984) to assist with childcare, but some of the women reported problems within their personal relationships, which I hypothesise is causal to an escalation of domestic violence due to emasculation and jealousy. Some of the women also chose to obtain professional credentials (three African-Americans and seven Latinos), which may further cause provocation of violence at home. Other than the “othermothers”, no other intervention was provided for these women and their children to safeguard them.

African Americans live a bicultural reality (Collins, 1998), where the social process of violence is “hidden in plain sight” of children (Collins, 1998, p.925); Women are accused of betraying their race, should they report their partners and flee a perpetrator. Religion plays a huge part; Women especially, turn to their faith. Spirituality and the Black Church are anchors within the Black community (Billingsley, 1992). Yet, religious ideology undermines Black women and doctrine sanctions women for breaking marriages, while teaching their children that their fathers are the physical and spiritual author of the household (Bell & Mathis, 2000).

Research suggests that children who live in female-headed households do not do as well on several social indicators; for example, there is a higher school dropout rate among these children, and that daughters are at higher risk of becoming teen parents (Allison & Belgrave, 2006, p.64-65) However, this is not a reason to encourage victims to stay in abusive homes. Breaking the cycle of aggression and violence with divorce / separation has a higher psychosocial impact, than keeping children within the conflict.

What these women and particularly their children need, are early intervention. African American children are forced into an early adulthood: there is less warmth at home (Hofferth, 2003), and they are forced to take on adult roles, but outside are still expected to be children (Allison & Belgrave, 2006). What they need is an outlet and community violence intervention resources, which will prevent them from engaging in violence and early sexual intimacy (Allison & Belgrave, 2006).

 

References

Allison. K.W., & Belgrave. F.Z. (2006). African American Psychology: From Africa to America. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.  Section II, Social Systems & Structures, Chapter Three: Kinship & Family, “Consequences of Family Structure on Children’s Outcomes”, (p.64). Section III, Individual & Developmental Processes, Chapter Ten: “Lifespan Development”, (pp.242-244).

Anderson, C.A., & Bushman, B.J. (2002). Human Aggression, Annual Review of Psychology, 53(1)27-51.

FORA.tv. (n.d.). Genocide to Abu Ghraib: How good people turn evil [Video file]. Retrieved from http://library.fora.tv/2008/01/24/Genocide_to_Abu_Ghraib_How_Good_People_Turn_Evil#Abu_Ghraib_Dark_Side_of_Human_Nature

Hampton, R., Oliver, W., & Magarian, L. (2003). Domestic Violence in the African American Community: An Analysis of Social and Structural Factors, Violence Against Women, Vol. 9 No. 5, 533-557. DOI: 10.1177/1077801201150450.

Hill Collins, P. (1998). The tie that binds: race, gender and US violence, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21(1)5, 917-938, DOI: 10.1080/01498798329720.

Myers, D. G., & Twenge, J. M. (2013). Social psychology (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw–Hill. Chapter 10, “Aggression: Hurting Others” (pp. 352–391).

Naples, N. (1992). Activist Mothering: Cross-Generational Continuity in the Community Work of Women from Low-Income Urban Neighbourhoods, Gender and Society, Vol. 6, No. 3. Race, Class & Gender, pp. 441-463. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.stable/189996

Laureate Online, (2017) Week 7 Weekly Notes: Aggression and Violence [Social Psychology]. Retrieved from https://elearning.uol.ohecampus.com/bbcswebdav/institution/UKL1/201820OCT/MS_LPSY/LPSY_311/readings/LPSY_311_Week07_weeklyNotes.pdf

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blog

My Wonderland: Finally Waking Up

I’ve always been an incredibly vivid dreamer.

Since I stopped talking to my sister, I’ve dreamt about her every single night. During the day (until recently) she is barely on my mind, however at night she is the most noticeable person in my consciousness. She doesn’t talk to me; If I try to, she’ll walk away from me. She doesn’t look at me either me. She just doesn’t acknowledge me.

I think we stopped talking in 2015.

Then last week, one night she looked at me. We were in a large house and I was trying to get out but I couldn’t find a way out, so I took the chance to ask her, expecting her not answer. She didn’t speak, but she did look at me.

Then the following night, I dreamt that I went out with her and her boyfriend and a friend of his, and although she wasn’t speaking directly to me, she was speaking to me within the group. We were looking at each other, laughing etc.

The following night I dreamt that she was heavily pregnant, and it was like no time had passed. I was holding her hand and touching her stomach. I could feel her baby kicking inside her stomach and we were excitedly talking about her due date which was rapidly approaching.

Each time I awake from these dreams, I wake up breathless and disoriented. However, this final one was the worse because I could feel it. The following day, I threw myself into my work to try to forget about, but then the evening came and I was too tired to escape it anymore. I lay in the bed in the dark, and sobbed for almost an hour. My heart was breaking and I very nearly picked up my phone, and called their house to see if she would pick up. However, I was frightened that my mother would pick up so I didn’t.

A couple of weeks ago, I told my partner that I would’ve died for my sister, and I repeated the statement again to a family friend over the weekend, when I told her about the dream. I also told her that I probably still would, however I’m now starting to reconsider that belief.

I hate referring to myself as a victim, but I am. And although I was abandoned my father, although it was my choice to cut ties with my mother, in my eyes I have no parents.

I still don’t really know why my sister hates me. My last conversation with her was her accusing me of faking my seizures for attention, and then telling me that she could no longer deal with my “shit” because I was too much of a burden, (but then the next day expecting me to pretend nothing had happened, without any apology). And one of my last conversations with my mother was her informing me that my sister had many grievances against me, which she was not privy to tell.

We grew up in the same household, had the same perspective of our mother, both wanted to escape, and yet something went terribly, terribly, wrong.

In 2016, after coming close to committing suicide and telling my mum that not being able to have a relationship with my sister was the reason, her response was:

“do you really think she would’ve cared if you’d killed yourself? She thinks you lied about your dad abusing you anyway.”

Of course she’ll deny that if you’ll ask her. Because that’s what they do.

Every time there’s a terrorist attack in London, I wonder to myself, don’t you guys ever wonder if I’m fucking okay? Are you really that fucking heartless? They know that I live in London. My partner actually said the other day that even if I did say that I didn’t want any contact, as a mother wouldn’t you fight? The last time I heard from my mother she wrote me a card telling me that she loves me, and God loves and forgives me. She didn’t apologise for saying that I was possessed by the devil though, and that watching horror movies had been the cause of of my epilepsy and therefore I had caused my own suffering. This is why I had asked her to stop sending me cards. 

If you’re going to continue to deny that there is something wrong with you and that you have abused me for thirty years and cannot apologise for that, then we cannot be friends, let alone mother and daughter.

I spoke one of my best friends over the weekend, who’s been with me through this entire journey and she said to me: if you go back to them, you’ll have yourself to blame when you get hurt again.

And she’s right. It hurts, but she’s right. I can’t go back. I can’t EVER go back.

I have to put myself first.

XOXO