My head felt heavy like I was trying to balance a gallon of water on it. I stood up slowly and looked around my living room. Everything was in its place as usual but I still felt…weird. My body felt sluggish as if time had slowed down. I imagine that this is what an amateur boxer felt like after completing their first official fight. Inspecting my hands and arms looking for something unusual. Something that could explain why I was feeling this way. But there was none. Everything looked normal. As my surroundings began to come into focus, I heard loud sounds but I couldn’t tell what it was. Everything became clear when I locked eyes with DeMarcus standing by the couch, flailing his arms about screaming at me at the top of his lungs. I struggled to understand what he was saying. It sounded like he was speaking a foreign alien language. Although his words weren’t clear, one thing was….this nigga HIT me!

My name’s Janae and I bet you’re wondering how I ended up here. Well it all started two months ago….okay you caught me! I’ve always wanted to use this line because it reminds me of the opening line to pretty much every low budget original network coming of age drama/comedy/romance story. And because this happened to me when I was coming into what it means to be an actually full-fledged adult. I thought it was only right to give it a try.

When I was 20 I LOVED to date. I went on a date almost every weekend. I enjoyed experiencing the new city I was living in with native residents and of course free food and drinks (most of the time). I enjoyed swiping through dating apps playing a guessing game of who I would match with while weeding out the boring ones for someone who knew how to have a good conversation and maybe pick a restaurant or two. I relished being eyed by men that I would never allow to claim me as their own. I would never let any of the men I dated get too close. I wasn’t looking for a relationship and I didn’t want the responsibility of having someone too close to me. So it was a surprise to me when an unlikely young man caught my eye. Just like all my exes (*most) he was handsome and tall with smooth chocolate skin that glistened like he just stepped fresh out of the shower. I knew I was going to like him a lot from the first date. When he shook my hand and said hi I noticed a strong New York accent.

“Brooklyn, right?” I asked already knowing the answer.

“Yea, how you know?” Hesaid surprised.

“It’s my favorite accent.” I said honestly.

“Oh word?” He grinned. That afternoon as we sat trying to get to know each other, I knew I was a goner. Just like Superman, the only thing I couldn’t resist was men from Brooklyn. They’re swagger, the way they dress, the way they talk just turned me into mush. I knew DeMarcus would be no different. The more we saw each other the more truth about who we were was revealed. He shared with me about his time in jail and how he had rebuilt himself from the ground up to make sure he would never go back. I told him about my fear of commitment and some of my troubled family history with domestic violence. He reassured me that the mistakes of my father would never be an issue while I was with him and for awhile, he was right.

After some time the REAL DeMarcus had reared his ugly head on a fee occasions. When Demarcus drank (which was often) he became angry and aggressive. This erratic behavior caused me to distance myself from him for over a month. After that time, DeMarcus called and asked me to come to a cookout he and his roommate were throwing. He apologized for his poor behavior and assured me that in the future he would do better. I was skeptical but felt reassured that:

  1. I could leave if he acted up
  2. His friends would be around

The evening went smoothly. Shots, conversation, and food passed around frequently and everyone seemed to be having a good time….until DeMarcus started feeling the effects of his alcohol intake. He became so beligerent that most guests decided to leave. I took this as my exit plan and tried to leave.

“Wherrr do ya thinkin’ YOU goin’?” His words slurred as he tried to kiss my cheek.

“Home.” I said walking toward the front door with my purse and coat dangling from my forearm.

“No yuuuuur stayin right here wit me.”

“No, I’m gonna go home and you’re gonna stay here and sleep off your liquor.”

“Janae, don’t you leaveeeee me!” I could see his eyes switch from kind to anger as I opened my car door. The angry Hulk-like character that lived inside of him was about to come out and I wanted to be in my bed well before that happened. I pulled out of the parking lot and onto the street, leaving DeMarcus standing barefoot in the empty parking space.

No sooner did I sit on my couch and take off my shoes did I hear a knock at my apartment door. At the door stood drunk DeMarcus demanding to come inside. Shocked that he was even able to make to my apartment in his condition I immediately called his roommate to come get him. Angrily DeMarcus plopped on the couch demanding to know why I left. I ignored his attempt at a confrontation and poured him a glass of water.

“I don’t want no damn water. I wanna know why yo ass left me.” He smacked the water out of my hand. The glass bounced around the carpeted floor as a small pool of water deepened the color of the brown carpet.

“Look DeMarcus, your roommate is on his way to come get you so drink some water and chill until he gets here.”

“Man, why you call that nigga for!?” DeMarcus stood angrily. “I told you I don’t want to be home until you tell me why the FUCK you left!” His muscles tensed as he towered over me pointing his finger in my face. His facial expression daring me to say the wrong thing.

“Don’t talk to me like that.” I said standing my ground. Though he outweighed me by at least 100 pounds, I wasn’t scared. I just wanted him to leave my house as safely as possible. “Go wait for your ride outside the door or I’m calling the police!”

“I’m not leaving!”

“Yes you are! I’ll put some water in a cup you can take it with you. Sit outside the door until Shawn comes.” I said trying remain in control of my anger and the situation simultaneously. BOOOM!

…weird. My body felt sluggish as if time had slowed down. Inspecting my hands and arms looking for something unusual. Something that could explain why I was feeling this way. But there was none. Everything looked normal. Everything became clear when I locked eyes with DeMarcus standing by the couch, flailing his arms about, screaming at me at the top of his lungs. This nigga HIT me! This.nigga.hit.ME!

Every emotion hit me at once as I came to grips with the fact that a moment ago I was standing up in front of DeMarcus and now I was sitting on the living room floor on my butt. I tried to rationalize that there was no way he actually had the audacity to hit me. Maybe I sat down and I just forgot. Nope, he hit me. My face is hot so he definitely hit me….I’ll kill him!

After coming to terms with what just happened, casually and calmly, I walked to the kitchen with DeMarcus screaming behind me. He followed me as I went to a very familiar drawer and rummaged through it. He continued his angry tirade as I pulled out the biggest knife I could find and turned toward him. It was almost as if his anger blinded him because I will never forget the shocked look on his face as he saw the butcher knife slice through the skin on his forearm the first time.

My mission had changed. My goal was no longer to get DeMarcus out of my apartment. My goal was to prevent myself from becoming a victim and teach him a lesson in the process. Flashbacks of nights I spent in my youth hiding under my bed as my father yelled from the next room came across my mind. I was not going to be a victim of domestic violence. I knew from my mothers experience that if he hit me once he was going to do it again. He’d have to kill me first.

I put my weight into every blow. I was surprised at my own strength…or was it DeMarcus’ fear. He had never seen me act this way and I’m sure this was the quickest he had ever sobered up. DeMarcus was still yelling as I continued my mission but this time his screams were for help not confrontation.

“MA’AM, PUT THE WEAPON DOWN!!” I turned to see three uniformed police officers guns with guns drawn pointed in my direction. The looks on their faces told me they weren’t playing games and one wrong move on my part would cost me my life. I did as they said and dropped the knife keeping my eyes on DeMarcus who wasn’t sure if should be more afraid of me or the cops.

The cops handcuffed me and lead me to the squad car. I didn’t care, my mission was complete. I smiled as they pulled off and took me to the police station. I chuckled when the squad car passed the ambulance that was probably on its way to my apartment to tend to DeMarcus’ wounds.

I know, this whole thing is crazy right? Welcome to my life. And I’m sure there are some of you that are confused as to why I’m telling this story, how it ends, & curious why I’m not in jail. Well, the answer to all of that is simple, Jesus. God gave me so much grace and favor in that situation because after being at the police station for less than two hours, I was dropped off back at my apartment in the same squad car I had been in earlier, with no charges filed, & an active application for a restraining order against DeMarcus (which would later get approved).

After explaining my side of the nights events in an interrogation style room, the cops informed me that DeMarcus was a two strike felon with a history of explosive behavior who had just violated his parole by being intoxicated. While his wounds were relatively minor, they told me that after he received a few stitches for a long cut from his elbow to his wrist, he would be transported to the local jail for processing. They said the only reason they would not be filing any charges against me was because while my neighbor called in the emergency, the recording picked up on me asking DeMarcus to leave several times and therefore was self defense when he hit me. They said I was attacked by a violent frequent offender and I did the right thing by defending myself with the first item I could find. In their investigation, they found that DeMarcus had taken my cell phone and put it in his pocket which enabled me from reaching any help.

See, God.

When I went to work the next morning, I wasn’t just happy that I was a free woman. I was in deep thought because I realized that this situation could have played out in so many other ways. I could’ve been hurt or dead or in jail. This wasn’t just a random incident this whole situation had a direct correlation with where I was in life. Yes, by societal standards I was living a good life but my heart was unclean. I willingly involved myself with someone I KNEW was bad news. I willfully ignored all the indicators that he was more than I could handle. I purposely blinded myself to who he was all because I wanted a couple dates and a good time.

What kind of person does that? Not the kind of person I wanted to be. Not the person who strived to be a better sister, daughter, friend, & Christ follower.

The next night I sat down with my journal. I asked myself out loud ‘How Did I Get Here?’. What was it about thugs like DeMarcus that drew me to them? It was security. As a child I remember always feeling helpless. I was in harms way a lot and I always felt like I didn’t have anyone to help protect me from things like domestic violence, sexual abuse, & police brutality. All things that being with someone with a heavy street presence warded off. Being with a man who had the respect of the streets meant safety and security for me. At least that’s what I thought. I thought Kingpins, men who had done time, or ran with a rough group would prevent me from being abused. When I was with DeMarcus I never had to worry about anything. My food, safety, & well being was in someone else’s hand. I could relax.

I was shocked at my findings. The final lesson of this story wouldn’t be fully learned until five years after this incident. I didn’t need a man, ANY man to feel secure. My security is in God. He protected me in this situation with DeMarcus and He continues to do so today. So anytime I find myself looking to people of any kind for security and peace especially concerning my physical well being, I remind myself of this story.

There may be some of you who are in relationships or friendships that aren’t right for you but you haven’t given them up and you cannot figure out why. I’m willing to bet that a major underlying part of the reason why you cannot give this person up is not because of their looks, the fear of starting over, or even their sex game…it’s because you think giving them up is giving up a piece of your security.

Do a quick search in your heart and take inventory of the people in your life. What do they add to your life? What traits about them make them irreplaceable to you? What void from your past are they filling? Take a second to picture your life without the things they bring you…would you be happier? Could you find what they bring in something or someone else?

I cannot answer these questions for you but I CAN tell you that if your basic necessities (peace, security, & love) are solely or mostly rooted in another human being…you’ve already taken a step in the wrong direction. But it’s not too late to backtrack and head in a different direction. A direction that will ultimately fulfill you in ways you don’t even know are possible yet.

k, good talk


*Some names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved