There were signs, but she said she ignored them. His drinking was the first sign. He’d drink a lot, and say mean things to her.
The next morning, he would apologize.
Then there was a push. She could feel his warm breath against her face as hell yelled drunken insults at her. The next day, again he was apologetic.
Their next fight, he punched a wall. She told herself ‘at least he didn’t hit me, he hit the wall. At least he took his anger out on something.’
Then he dragged her out of their home, by her feet. He arrived home at about two in the morning, and his wife had just asked him why he was so late.
“Wrong question,” Florida A&M University alumna, Kisha Wilkinson, joked as she told her story at the Behind the Door event, sponsored by Florida State’s Institute for Family Violence Studies and the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council.
Wilkinson sat down in front of the crowd. Her right leg was in a brace, and she said she couldn’t stand for a long time.
Her ankle had been broken by her husband. Her courageous story echoed in the room as she sat. With a bit of comedy, her love story spilled into the crowd and turned into a nightmare.
He had beaten her on the lawn, had a gun, and had gotten her daughter. Thankfully, she had warned her daughter, “if you ever heard me yelling for help-you call 911.”
Thankfully her daughter called, although, the squad car was coming from fifteen minutes away. Wilkinson said he had the gun to both of their heads, and doesn’t know why it didn’t go off after he pulled the trigger.
Cynthia Williams was charged with voluntary manslaughter for stabbing her husband in the heart.
Williams also told her story to the Behind the Door attendees. She joined the military, and eventually married the man she loved, twice. He fathered her children, but he was very abusive.
“I did not know how deep my depression was, I had no clue I was that far gone, I would have never thought I could do that-harm someone else,” Williams said as she stood at the podium in black and gold high heeled shoes-shoes Wilkinson said she wish she could wear now.
“But I was put in that predicament, and it cost so much,” Williams said.
Because of the years of abuse Williams suffered by her husband, even while pregnant, the State of California dropped their case against her. But the military did not dismiss her charges.
“The military picked it up. It’s not considered double jeopardy-the military can do that because I belong to them,” she said, after a surprised inhales came from a few people.
Both women spoke about their denial and the excuses they made for the men they loved. They spoke about the urgency for both women and men who are in violent relationships, to seek help.
Four years after being attacked by her drunken ex-husband with a pole digger, FAMU’s alumna, and current WTXL Assistant News Director, told the crowd that Leon County sends the television stations in Tallahassee an overnight report.
“Nearly every day, there’s an incident of domestic violence in that report,” Wilkinson said.
Dougla-Khan Stancil, attended the event on behalf of MOST (Men Of Strength).
“Today we’re here just kind of representing our organization, FAMU, and highlighting the importance of men getting involved in this movement of preventing violence against women,” Stancil said.
He said although not all men are violent, most of the perpetrators of domestic violence are men, so it only makes sense to try and prevent this problem by starting with the men in the community.
Erica Eubanks, senior psychology student from Ft. Lauderdale, attended the event on behalf of the peer mentor group SPEAK. She said events like this are important to opening up the discussion on domestic violence and getting information out.
Eubanks said college students should experience events like this because they don’t realize the range of emotions that can happen once they or someone they know, are assaulted.
“We always think that ‘you just need to fight back, you just need to get over it because this is what is depicted on TV,’ but the process after it, the process going through it is not that easy,” the sexual violence advocate said.
If you or anyone you know is in a violent relationship, call Florida’s Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-500-1119 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE, for help and answers to questions you may have.