Saturday, October 15, 2016

In Honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month Phatabulous Magazine is Proud to Spotlight Tameeka Manuel: Domestic Violence Survivor!

In Honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month Phatabulous Magazine is Proud to Spotlight Tameeka Manuel: Domestic Violence Survivor!

If you were to pull up Tameeka Manuel Facebook page her intro reads as follows: "Philanthropist, Author, Actress, and Entrepreneur, but those are not the only titles she holds behind her name domestic violence survivor is another title you can add but it is not what defines her.

This curvy lady is the face of Atlanta's Project Curve Appeal---a membership based movement and sisterhood created to unite, empower, educate, and entertain all classy, confident, curvy girls everywhere-- who is very active in the plus community and her community as well.

In honor of October's recognition of Domestic Violence she'll be debuting in a stage play "I Love You
To Death."  In it she plays a character by the name of Monica.  Monica suspects that her friend is in an abusive relationship. The play debuted October 2nd.  I asked Tameeka how it felt to play the role of Monica and this is what she had to say, "Monica is the friend that we should all have.  Monica is the friend that will not sit back and allow anyone to steal her voice."  She admits that when she spoke her lines, " I was praying that I could reach someone in the audience who may have been in an abusive relationship.  I prayed that my words would resonate with them and inspire them to seek help and/or make a change." She went on to say that, "being in the production made me feel like I had a voice."

Unfortunately, not all domestic violence victims have a Monica in their corner.  And sometimes the signs are hard to see.  A lot of times people are in abusive relationships and their closest friends and families don't even know it.  Victims become experts in hiding bruises and making excuses for their abusers.

Some women don't even know that they are in an abusive relationship because they think physical abuse is the only abuse.  According to the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress the different types of domestic abuse are:

1. physical abuse (domestic violence)
2. verbal and nonverbal abuse (psychological abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse)
3. sexual abuse
4. stalking or cyberstalking
5. economic abuse or financial abuse
6. spiritual abuse

When I spoke with Tameeka about the play it really hit close to home for me having been in a relationship with someone that was verbally and physically abusive towards me. Talking with her brought back all of those memories (thank God that they're just memories now) but sadly for a lot of women being in an abusive relationship is very much a reality.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, "On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.  During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men."

Tameeka wrote about her personal experience with domestic violence in a book titled "Wounds to Wisdom...The Survivor Series."  She joined 11 other survivors in a collaborative work to share their stories in an effort of bringing hope to other victims. "One interesting moment that I had when I was writing the book was the moment I sat back and actually read the final version before print, I was in awe.  I was so proud of myself and the fact that I actually followed through with my plans to tell my story.  Once I received a hard copy in my hand, a feeling of triumph came over me.  It was always one of my dreams of mine to become a published author.  To actually have a book in my hands with my name, my photo and my story let me know that as long as you put in the work--dreams do come true."

"Our book launch in Georgia was nothing less than amazing.  However, I have to say that the most interesting moment was to actually meet some of my co-author's at the book launch and during the book tour.  It was a pleasure to be in the presence of such an inspiring group of people.  In the book, we discuss the signs of a toxic relationship, the various forms of abuse, we discuss the importance of having a survival plan, affirmations or peace and we each discuss how we moved forward as survivors."

I used to wonder why someone would stay in an abusive relationship.  I remember watching a movie on the Lifetime channel not really understanding how or why a woman would cover up her scars, lie to her family and friends and be so scared of her abuser.  I just didn't get it.  I thought to myself that, that would never be me, until it was me.  And the crazy thing was, I didn't really realize that I was in an abusive relationship until the police was involved and I was basically fleeing from my own home scared to live there.  I remember speaking with a victim advocate person, I don't remember her name but she was very kind and understanding.  She starting telling me all of the things I already knew but had somehow forgotten.  Things such as, I didn't have to stay.  I didn't have to return.  I had options. But for some reason I forgot that.  I forgot that I was a human being who deserved to be treated like one.

I applaud Mrs. Manuel for her personal efforts in spreading awareness for domestic violence.  A lot of people feel like you have to be apart of so many charities, donate, and do all of these drastic things. Sometimes just simply sharing your story is enough to change someone's life.

Tameeka Manuel's book can be purchased from her website www.tameekamanuel.com.