My sister and I have always had a close relationship…we’re only 1.5 years apart – grew up in a home with parents who displayed love and affection…Married 32 years – we NEVER saw our parents raise their voice at each other.  My parents taught us to be strong, independent women, showed us the finer things in life – because they never wanted us to ever settle for less. So it came as a shock to me when my sister shared her story of being involved in a brutal, domestic violent filled relationship – for seven years.  And it all happened right under my nose.

To be clear, I knew something wasn’t right…I HATED the guy she was with…(yes, I know hate is a strong word…but I couldn’t find a stronger one to use.)  Anyone who was in my life during that time period knows that I was an emotional wreck…In 2004, my mother passed away, my sister was living in a different city with a guy that I didn’t like and I could not put my hands on what was wrong…and I was very scared for my nieces.  I would get phone calls from family members who lived close to my sister – they would tell me about incidents they witnessed that they felt was out of character for my sister…and when I would call to check in on her – she would always say that everything was ok.  In my heart and spirit, I knew this was not the case –  there was nothing I could do about it, but pray.  My sister and I grew distant during that time because to me, she just was not the same person I knew.

Her story is shocking and brutal…and I only recently learned of the details a little over a year ago as we were sitting in my living room casually talking about life.  At this point, she was freshly out of the seven-year domestically violent relationship and divorced.  She had been living in Miami a few years and we were just as close as we were growing up. She noticed a new painting that I had on my wall, a painting that caught my eye while I was at Essence Music Festival.  It was a drawing of a woman who was running away from a ton of bags that she had dropped along the way – and was headed toward a sign that read “SUCCESS.”  The caption on the painting said, “Baggage Left Behind.”  I kept admiring the art piece and wanted to buy it – but I also felt that I was not that woman….I didn’t have baggage – my life was not full of drama – so I didn’t think it was meant for me.  But I kept coming back to it – and finally decided to buy it anyway.

It was that painting that sparked the conversation between my sister and I…she kept admiring the piece and asked me for it.  I immediately told her no and that I paid good money for it.  She damn near begged me for it – and then started telling me why it would mean so much to her.  I was in tears when she was done.  I was sad, hurt, angry, disappointed, curious, thankful – a mixed bag of emotions.  I could not understand how my sister would endure such pain for so long – and not tell ANYONE.  I could not understand how we both grew up so close, surrounded by strong women, never exposed to violence – yet she was living weak and accepting such brutality.  I could not understand where the low self-esteem came from. How was I able to understand and accept all the messages and lessons my parents taught us – and somehow the signals get crossed with her?  We talked for many hours that night – and I still walked away confused, but thankful that she lived to talk about it.

A week ago, my sister asked me to read her blog and that she felt the need to share her story…it took me five days to read it because I didn’t want to face what she went thru in black and white.  More questions came up when I finally read it:  How did you sleep next to him after he used you as a punching bag?  Where were the kids when all of this was happening?  WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME????  And how in THE HELL did you forgive him???  I personally am not at that point.

Please take a moment to read her story (link below) and share this with family and friends…Her story is real…and it happens everyday to women all around the world…and sometimes – its happening right under our the people closes to us – but we would never know – because its happening – BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.

Behind Closed Doors