• Kemba Zola

Success in Spite of Domestic Violence


Recently, I have had more than my fair share of silent tears. The toughest cry was sitting in the endodontist chair. For the second time in a week I was probed about trauma to my two lower front teeth. Ashamed, I quickly mustered, “it was domestic violence 27 years ago”, giving a hint of - I don’t know you, must we discuss it?

Silence filled the room as the assistant began to chart. No, “I am sorry you experienced the trauma”, “Are you okay now”, or anything that would resemble empathy. Instead she said, “It’s a wonder it has taken so long for this tooth to become affected”. That’s it, that’s all. Either she understood I did not wish to talk about it or accepted domestic violence as part of some relationships. I perceived the latter based on her attitude.

Drifting into my own thoughts, reflecting on the last time being the last time. I wanted out, but the situation was familiar. The simple version reads like, we would argue about something, he would childishly antagonize, then the physical violence would occur. Realistically, the details are deeper. What started as an argument included mental abuse with words spewed my direction “nobody will want you now that you have a baby”, “you will never be anybody without your family”, “who do you think you are” and so on. He was not raging from across the room. He was directly in my face [ every time ]. No personal space, no ruler room between us. Forehead to forehead, my ears ringing from the shouting. Then on his own cue he taunted.

Poking my nose and forehead with his index finger while devilishly laughing.

Our bodies moved as if we were doing the Tango.

Right foot back, left foot forward, left foot back, right foot forward

Instead of hands clasped together, it was his finger and my face.

He would encourage me to hit him, I would not binge. He would insist I punch him to make myself feel better, I would refuse the opportunity. There was no ending… until… I threw the first fist. It wasn’t enough because he did not believe I meant it. After several connects, he must have felt it was his turn. Bam! His blow was always intentional. He sought to harm me. I wish I could give him a ~blackout~ pass because of the way he kicked me relentlessly that time on the floor of our apartment and the way he purposely bit my eye [ where I continue to wear a subtly scar ] from another time. Unfortunately, he knew me. He knew me well. Not only did we have a daughter together, we were from the same neighborhood. He was an associate of my male family members, our grandparents lived around the corner from one another, our parents went to school together. He knew me. He knew me well. I was not a random person off the streets.

As it was with most other times, I would pack some clothes and my daughter, heading to my fathers house. Like many young women in domestic violence situations; those that should have known, did not know. Those that knew, could do little to intervene.

At the time my daughter was maybe a month or two old. I could not go back to live with him in our apartment. I asked two younger male relatives to accompany me to pack up my belongings. They were not going as protectors, they were too young. They were going to help me with my belongings. When we arrived, the door lock had been changed. I heard him on the other side of the door mocking, taunting, and being his immature self. Then it was as if it was my turn. I flashed back to the day I watched my mothers front door get kicked in by a violent raged person, my memory then switched to our first apartment when he kicked in our front door because I had the top chain on … and just like that I joined the ranks of those that had violently kicked in a front door.

Kicking in the door was liberating in the moment. However, it was no match for the powerful impact his fist made to my mouth. My bottom front teeth were instantly knocked back and barely hanging on to gums. I was rushed to the dentist for emergency recovery. Although severely damaged, luckily my teeth were saved. As brutal as it was, it would be the last time he put his hands on me. Sadly, it would take a few more months before I called it quits, forever.

The relationship did not end peacefully. He stalked me at home and school. He attempted to attack me in the parking lot of my job although I had a restraining order against him. He was persistent with phone calls and continuous mental abuse. Eventually, he was met with nonlethal gunshot wounds. He stopped pursing me, that also meant there was and has not been a relationship with his daughter either.

Although he tried his very best, he could not kill my self esteem. I am love and I am loved. Mantra’s became a big thing for me. My favorite mantra started with success is the best revenge, I repeated these words over silently in the presence of others and aloud when alone. Years on top of years it is my go to booster. As you read this now, it is the first time I have shared my very private mantra….. SUCCESS IS THE BEST REVENGE.

What is success you may ask? Success is knowing I am covered by God. Success is always loving me enough first. Success is never subjecting myself to a relationship filled with domestic violence (mentally, physically, or morally). Success is self reminders that I am a strong and independent woman because God made me so. Success is understanding mediocrity does not reside in my DNA. Bonus success is having my best friend turned husband be all the things a man should be for his wife, without worry.

Cue… Marvin Sapp ~ Never Would Have Made It

Peace and blessings,

Kemba Zola

Kemba Zola

God first, love hard, and always live your best life!

Email: info@kembazola.com

Social Media: @kembazola

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