The Victory of Self Realization, Self-Love and Self Worth.

By George L. Addison


He watched her head snap back

like the hair tie his daughter used to control

her unruly curls

His hands…

once used to trace horoscopes

on the small of her back 

as she dreamed of stars, 

closed around her throat

ever so gently

it was at this moment that he

realized how fragile she was

a disaster once beautiful

he flinched as accusations

lashed at him from beneath

her Cover Girl

the reflections he saw in her tears

told him truths she’d wished

were rumors

his mask wore off with her mascara

he couldn’t stop

not even when her cries became

just as strangled as his sanity was

he was losing it

losing it in the hopes of finding her

losing it in the hopes of finding himself

his hands

repositioned fingers

fingers that once moved loose tendrils

from the nape of her neck

but instead today chose to


squeezed until her breathing became labored

squeezed until the pain in her eyes

he savored

licking his dry lips

he briefly remembered the last time

she’d kissed him

it was quick yet meaningful

she’d smiled at him and

told him she loved him

but if she did

if she really did

if she really, really did

they wouldn’t be here now

would they?

He wouldn’t have his hands

Around her throat

A throat so beautifully fragile

That if he squeezed any harder

He could make a wish

A break could help them both

He thought

But he refused to let her go

Maybe he snapped

Because he squeezed

Squeezed as her slender arms

Pushed against shoulders

Made of boulders

Squeezed until the weight

Of this moment

Became too heavy for

Either of them to bear


Tried to catch her as she fell

He swears he did

I mean, he thinks he swears he did

But, why was she fighting?

Or better yet…

Why wasn’t she fighting

Hard enough?

Why wasn’t she fighting to

Remind him of the man he

Used to be

Instead of fighting the man he

Pretended to be?


Sleeping on her worth

Pushed his respect for her

Under the bed

I mean, rug

Along with the rest of his demons

Kissing her courage goodnight

He tucked his fist into the

Fold of her bottom lip

As fear blanketed her

She just wanted to breathe

But with every rise and fall

Of her breast

He thought of another reason

Why he deserved

Her next to last breath


He squeezed.
Neisha C. Himes (c)

According to the Huffington Post the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of women who were murdered by current or ex-male partners during that same time frame was 11,766. That’s almost double the number of people who were killed fighting in the war.

This is part two of my interview with  Neisha C. Himes the Founder/CEO of G.R.O.W. Foundation (Girls Recognizing Our Worth), and the Founder / Owner of, Neisha Christine Consulting, LLC  People who are in an abusive relationship will stay with their partner for several reasons and the continuation of this discussion sheds a little light as to why.

I asked Ms. Himes to comment on how she went about putting together an escape plan, and how long did it take her to heal emotionally before helping other victims to do the same?

She stated, “When I left him for good, he hadn’t physically assaulted me for months because he started going to counseling.  The last time he physically assaulted me was in March of 2012 and that was the worst it had ever been.  I wound up in the emergency room with broken bones and when I told people the last time, he assaulted me wasn’t the last time he abused me.  They asked what did I mean? I explained that I was still going through emotional, verbal, and mental abuse.  At the time he wasn’t putting physical hands on me, so, I didn’t think he was being abusive.” 

I asked Himes, what ultimately made her end the relationship and leave?

She said, “This was an interracial relationship and during an argument in the latter part of 2012, he called my mother and sister a “nigger.” And that’s what was the final impetus for me to leave him. In my mind at the time, it was one thing for me to not stand up for myself, but it was another thing not to stand up for the women who I loved most. Although, I couldn’t leave immediately after that incident, it was the final straw, and it gave me the courage to do so. I wasn’t staying with him as much; I was once again moving around place to place, and it was easier to accept the offer to stay with my friend because I still was somewhat homeless.  I was done with him.”

I further asked Himes after leaving her abusive relationship did she come across many women that reminded her of the trauma she had undergone?

She said, “In this work I’ve come across so many survivors: women, men, transgender, people of all different shades, ages, and backgrounds.  They often take me back to a place where I recognize that vicarious trauma is real, and trauma bonding is real. Before I learned what these terms meant, I didn’t understand what was happening. When I got out of that relationship and started talking about it, and if I’m honest with myself, its still hard to get away 100 percent. I can go through my old emails and have messages from 2014 where I’m still trying to reconcile issues from that period, and this is the first time I’ve ever said that, just now.

The first time that I’ve said that out loud.  I didn’t recognize that I would get out of this relationship and maybe a year or year and a half later start speaking out about it via spoken word.  I had been off the scene, and here I am coming out of nowhere on stage talking about my experience in churches, schools, shelters, and women’s seminars. And from there women started reaching out to me for help, for advice, they wanted to know how I did it.

I remember a young lady who reached out on social media and said that she had just escaped this relationship and that her and her five-year-old daughter were living out of her car.  And all she was asking was “how did you do it,” she didn’t ask me for money, she didn’t ask me for anything, she just wanted to know how did you do it?

I had her meet me at the hotel I used to escape to.  I was going to pay for the room and said to myself that we would figure it out.  When she saw me, she looked at me like who is this person and I understood that because she didn’t know me, and I didn’t know her. 

But this guy working at the hotel, whom I knew from years earlier, recognized me in a lobby full of people and said, “I remember you; you use to live here.”  The look on her face at that moment I will never forget. She looked at me and intuitively knew that I understood.  Things like that have happened continuously. 

It often reminds me of a friend who said, “you get out of this relationship, start talking about what you went through, start speaking out about it, start helping women, other survivors, open your nonprofit, train people and totally immerse yourself in it. Work in the prosecutor’s office, and the police department special victim’s unit. You did all these quote-unquote great things and at no point did you ever take the time to focus on healing yourself.” 

I never had a mourning process, I never grieved.  I hadn’t recognized that trauma bonding was real, and when people say just leave, they aren’t aware of trauma bonding.  Trying to break away from that relationship is literally like an addict trying to get themselves off drugs. 

The trauma rewires your brain, and the dopamine makes it extremely difficult, you are trying to break an addiction from this person.  This trauma bond tells you that you need this person in your life.  You are trying to wean yourself off. You want to leave, but you simply cannot bring yourself to cut them out of your life.

So, at that time did I know it was called trauma bonding, or complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD)? The answer is NO.  I just knew that I didn’t know who I was or what I was feeling; only that I needed to express it through poetry in a three-minute poem.  So, I didn’t realize it. I just knew I felt stuck. 

One of the things I got into after leaving that relationship was boxing.  And I remember talking to the coach and he asked me why I wanted to get into boxing? I said I was in a relationship for years and felt like I couldn’t defend or fight for myself; like I wasn’t worth fighting for and I never want to feel like that again.  It’s still an integral part of my journey… and I box all the time.

It wasn’t till recently that I started doing work, some six months ago, and I asked my therapist did she think I had CPTSD?  And she said absolutely and that I had Chronic CPTSD, which is from repeated trauma.  The trauma that I never addressed, peeling back the layers of trauma.”

Neisha C. Himes the Founder/CEO of G.R.O.W. Foundation (Girls Recognizing Our Worth), and the Founder / Owner of, Neisha Christine Consulting, LLC Photo Courtesy: N.C. Himes and the G.R.O.W. Foundation.

I mentioned to Himes that I’d enjoyed a post of hers where she shared that advocates should focus on healing themselves first, and not doing so was an injustice to everyone, and that it was best to always support from a position of strength. 

She replied, “You must do the work. You can pretend that you’re good, but eventually, your body, your spirit, your mental acuity will let you know you’re not well. I love the spirit of wonder woman whose other gift is healing trauma. I love wonder woman everything and my therapist said she loved that I was inspired by the concept of it but its dangerous in that you have to be that! You can take the cape off and still be just as great. 

Take that break, rest and you will still be just as great.  You don’t have to prove anything to anyone else.  Somewhere along this journey of advocacy, I told myself that I got to help as many people as possible, even though I go by the mantra whether its one or a thousand.  I told myself I got to help everyone like it was reconciling the fact that no one was there to help me. 

Whether that was by choice because I didn’t tell anybody, my family, or my friends. So, I told myself I’ve got to help as many people as possible because I never want someone to feel as alone as I felt during that time.  I never took the necessary mental break to work on me.  Speaking helps but that’s not it. Reaching out helps but that’s not it.

I even tried to volunteer at a shelter while I was in this relationship. I went to this shelter that was ironically the shelter I swore never to approach again because they said they couldn’t help me.  I got approved and volunteered and on my first day I saw the battered women with black eyes, and I saw how they looked at me, and in my head, I didn’t recognize that I was being triggered, I didn’t know.  I felt like I was experiencing an anxiety attack and I had to get out of there.  I never went back.  I could not.  Even with therapy I would go home and tell my abuser everything the therapist said. 

She tried to break us up, so I quit… and he said she is trying to break us up!  Which only illustrated to me the strength of the addiction of the relationship.  She gave me the ammo to defend myself and I went back and gave it to him so he could shoot me with it later.” 

I asked Himes how did her mother and sisters accept the information about her abuse?  What was their reaction to it all?  Who was disappointed most about her not sharing the details sooner?

Himes said, “They would never be disappointed in me.  When we say things like “they would never believe you allowed yourself to be in a situation like this” is something I never say to survivors because it puts the onus on them. In essence you are saying you allowed yourself to be in that situation.  Its on you that you went through it. 

Yes, I was a grown woman who was in that situation, like so many other victims and survivors.  That’s why we’re having this conversation, to show that its not that easy to get out and how you can’t, no matter the reason. There’s no support system, no resources. Mentally, they can’t get out. 

I was more disappointed in myself.  And was disappointed that, I thought I deserved it.  But, the first time I really heard it was at a launch party for a nonprofit organization and I shared my story. That was the first time I heard it like that.  To this day, no one has heard the full extent of my story, everything that I went through.  There’s just some stuff that I’m not ready to say, even after all these years.

That was the first time they heard it in person, and the first time they heard it in length.  My mother and sisters were heartbroken.  Mom felt guilty, and I had to explain to her that it was my choice not to tell them.  I get it, I’m a mother myself. I know if I found out my daughter was going through something like that, going through something so heartbreaking and didn’t tell me, I would feel like you can talk to me, why wouldn’t you tell me something like this?  I would be heartbroken too, but I had to tell her it wasn’t her fault.

I chose not to invite her into this pain I was going through, but as a mother you want to be able to protect your child. No matter how old they are.  So, I think they all were truly heartbroken more than anything.”

In addition, I asked her how did the situation impact her children?

She replied, “The children were never around him in all the years that we dated so he didn’t affect them personally. Years after we broke up my son would tell me that he was glad that we did because back then I was sad all the time, a shell of myself.

To date, they are older now – one is a young adult while the other is in high school.  They are proud of me for turning pain into purpose, but don’t necessarily like hearing the story of what I went through while in that relationship. They are, however, cognizant of red flags and toxic behaviors to look out for.”

As a spoken word artist Himes shared her domestic violence experience via poems like “ Choke and Love Let Her.”

“Love Let Her

This is a love note dedicated to every single word

that was supposed to tear me down

Syllable by syllable.

Letter by Letter.

Twenty-six reasons to leave but only needed

two to stay…

U and I.

This is for every adjective that couldn’t describe

words in pain

and every noun I tried to remember

when you forgot you said you’d change


And well, you…

You are sorry.

I give this to…

every gasp of air that you ever stole from me

Deflating my lungs like the heart shaped balloons that you

gave me in February

But this—this was June, and yet you are still cold

Your hateful words morphed into verbs

and the violence…

Oh, the violence always had a comma after it

It seemed no matter the time of month with you

my period was Always late

I give this to…

every broken bone that ever healed before my heart did

For every black and blue bruised that painted my body like

canvases kin to my ancestors

Whipping my so called “disrespect” into shape—

You beat me

and you beat me

and you BEAT me

Or so you think you did

But I stand here tall

Today and forever

Backbone as straight as the line you crossed

all those years ago

Head held high

Wearing a crown made of 24 carat confidence

No longer a slave to the notion that I will die

a victim, but rather live


I am a survivor

I am a survivor that did more than survive

I became alive. I became a fighter.

I became a fighter armed with the love of self,

my family, and a voice for the voiceless

A shoulder to catch the tears of the worthy who feel


A soulmate and a God

who proved my pain had a purpose


I have been kicked.

I have been hit.

I have been broken.

But I have never,


been beaten.

–Neisha C. Himes (c)

Finally, I asked Himes what are the lessons she wanted people to remember most as they navigate their personal plan to end abuse.        

She added, “First, I always say I will not shut up.  I’m not going to stop talking about it. And I’m not going to stop talking about it in the way I want to talk about it.  For years, I felt I had to be quite and silent.  And there are so many survivors and people who’ve experience CPTSD, PTSD, verbal abuse, physical violence, etc., and for so many they feel like they can’t speak out because of what society says and not to speak out.  Women shouldn’t cry or speak about being raped, somebody always telling you what you can and can’t say.

I will not oblige them.  By not speaking out about it, there’s no sugar coating it. I have a spoken word poem about some of the things my ex used to say about me.

Someone reached out to me via a private message, and she wanted to share the poem on her page, but she wanted me to take out the curse words and asked for an edited version to post.  I replied no… But she said I want to share it on my page and it has the foul language in it. I explained to her that I would not sugar coat the things he said to me so that you are more comfortable sharing the information with your social media following.

Why is it that this four-letter curse word offends you more than the fact that I was strangled.  Why did that offend you more?  I will not sugar coat it.  It is what it is, and domestic violence is ugly.  So, I’m going to talk about the ugliness and how to turn it around and make it something positive.  I’m not going to be ashamed of my story.  I have shared it on Tik Tok and its gone viral. 

So, I just prepare myself because people are going to be who they are.  Some say I was dumb because I stayed … nothing anyone says to me is going to be worse than what he has said.  I survived and lived through it.  If I can get through that, then I can get through people online saying something that I can refuse, block, delete or ignore. 

Secondly, I also challenge people to act.  They just can’t talk about it. So, whether you’re giving a survivor a hotline number or volunteering at an organization or simply using foul language, I’m going to challenge people to be the difference. We can’t just talk about change or just say that needs to stop.  We must do something because doing nothing is not an option.

Third, I’m going to educate people because you don’t know what you don’t know. A survivor in this relationship doesn’t know there’s such a thing as verbal abuse, physical abuse or that they don’t know it takes several attempts before a victim leaves.  I will not shut up. I’m going to challenge and educate you.  And I expect you to make a difference. 

I just want to help.  If we can help a survivor, especially one with children get out of that situation and break that cycle, it trickles down.  So, I think about that sometimes-helping women get out of that abusive marriage or relationship with her young children.  We’re helping break a cycle where hopefully those children will remember, I don’t have to go through this, so I’m going to stop the cycle.  Its not going to happen with me and my family and future children.  We must pour into the youth, girls, boys and teach them what healthy looks like and that they deserve respect. 

Change the narrative and show what healthy looks like. We have the movies, music, and social media highlighting these unhealthy patterns with households and families. Teach them what healthy relationships look like.  

When I was struggling, I didn’t know of any resources, and I was never told about any resources. The one time I found a resource and called, I was told they could not help me. Its very frustrating when you call nine to ten different resources and they tell you they can’t help, and the last number they say they can help but never call you back!  So, we take a lot of that leg work out for survivors by connecting them with those resources and people directly. 

If people take away one message from my experience it is that they should remember that they don’t deserve what they are going through, that they never did, nor never will.  And, that there is a way out.  Peace is possible.  Survivors can give you a lot of reasons why they must go back… I understand. They say its for the kids, they don’t have money or shelter, don’t have this or that.  But, no one can answer me when I say, “why do you deserve to go back!”  So, I ask that they just remember that…”

Watch for the following signs if you believe you are in an abusive relationship:

The cycles of abuse —tension, incident, reconciliation, and calm—repeat themselves over and over. Enmeshment, extreme over protection and overindulgence, complete neglect, rage, and rejection/abandonment—all first published in the Annals of the Journal of the American Psychotherapy Association, in the Fall of 2002.

  • Self-esteem is destroyed.
  • Cycle of abuse – the ‘honeymoon phase’ that follows physical and mental abuse, makes them believe their partner really is sorry and does love them.
  • Everything that goes wrong is their fault.
  • They share a life. Marriages, children, homes, pets, and finances are a big reason victims of abuse feel they can’t leave.
  • Hit you, beat you, or strangled you.
  • Partner is possessive, partner is jealous, partner puts you down, partner threatens you, partner physically and sexually abuses you. (Even if it doesn’t happen all the time.)

G.R.O.W. is an acronym for Girls Recognizing Our Worth,” its mission is to help connect survivors of domestic violence with the resources needed for them to rebuild their lives after abuse.  By connecting them with the resources and providing direct support like emergency hotel stay, clothing, and connecting them to the agencies for other related support that they can’t provide. 


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