I knew it would never happen to me. I was way too independent and I would never let a man belittle me, let alone hit me. As a prosecutor in the third largest county in the United States, I was assigned to a special division to prosecute domestic violence cases where the victim wanted charges dropped against her abuser. I remember being so frustrated with all the women who would not leave their abuser and refused to cooperate with their prosecution. I could not conceptually grasp how they could allow the abuse to continue over and over. I thought they were stupid and I felt like I cared about their safety more than they did. My complete understanding of domestic violence did not come until I also became a victim.
My ex-husband was a police officer and an elected official, so we had a lot in common. He fooled me into believing he was an amazingly wonderful person, who I wanted to be with forever. In the beginning, he showed me the person he wanted me to believe he was. I fell in love with that person. When I saw snippets of his true self, I excused his behavior, blaming it on stress or his dysfunctional childhood, never realizing he was slowly revealing his true self.
Gradually, my situation transitioned from just verbal abuse to physical and ultimately escalated to a point where I lived in constant fear and 100% believed my life would soon end in a murder/suicide. Not only did he threaten to kill me and hold his police gun to my head, but he also threatened to kill my mom and my sister if I ever left. I saw absolutely no way out and was convinced that he would carry-out these threats if I ever left, so I stayed. Every morning when I woke up, my goal was to keep him happy and stay alive until the end of the day. It was impossible to see anything beyond that day. He told me “no one will ever believe you, there is no proof. You walk in that court house every day and have never told anyone.” So, I started keeping a journal and a file at my office documenting my abuse.
During one assault, after he bit my face, he told me, “I’m going to bite your trachea because I’m fucking crazy, I’m primitive, I’m a wild animal and if you push, I’ll bite.” He had me so convinced that no one would ever believe me that I never told anyone anything.
One night, he assaulted me in public and I had to be transported to the hospital to close a gash on my head, requiring over 100 stitches and staples. When everyone found out my secret, the universal question was, “why didn’t you leave?” They didn’t understand that the mere asking of this question passed judgment on me, rather than him.
Everyone who knows me will tell you that they never would’ve suspected I was a victim of domestic violence because I’ve always been so strong and independent. Despite domestic violence permeating our society, there nonetheless exists a societal misconception about who domestic violence can happen to and that it doesn’t happen to strong people. People think domestic violence is something that happens to “other people.”
So that’s why I wrote “But, why did you stay?” To help not only victims, but also those who love her understand that leaving is complicated and will be more dangerous and terrifying than anything she has been through yet. It’s not a time for judgment or questioning the pass. It’s a time for support, encouragement, and building her confidence in herself. I created an interactive website, that corelates to the book, with links to recorded jail calls, 911 calls, videos, photos, court documents and more.
Although all relationships and experiences are different, one commonality for all abused women is the shame in allowing yourself to be abused and fear of judgment that comes with being labeled a victim. Now, looking back, I see all the red flags that dismissed or explained away. They should not be ignored. My greatest and highest wish is to provide insight and awareness that helps abused women and those who love her learn to recognize the warning signs of a potential abusive relationship. It’s never too late, and there is always hope.
Mekisha Jane Walker was raised in Houston, Texas, by her parents with her two sisters, in a normal middle-class childhood. After she graduated from college, she continued to law school. Upon graduation from law school, she was offered a position as a prosecutor at the Harris County District Attorney’s office, fulfilling a childhood dream to become prosecutor. Mekisha was successful in her career and became a successful criminal trial attorney. But she had a secret, a secret she never confided in anyone. Her husband verbally and physically abused her, and she concealed it from everyone in her life. As a former prosecutor, she had extensive resources available, but she was still unable to break free. It was not until the abuse publicly escalated that her secret was finally revealed. She remained unbroken and finally summoned the strength to escape the cruel and violent relationship that had become her daily reality. Mekisha created a new life, one free from abuse, and now shares her experiences to create awareness and inspire hope for people currently trapped in a violent relationship.
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Effective October 6, 2022, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) have joined together. To learn more about this exciting venture, to expand the eco-system of holistic and inclusive support for survivors and advocates, please visit Project Opal.