Former abuse victim has book published

November 25, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

It was an arduous journey for performance artist and writer Yolantha Harrison-Pace to get her book, "Wing-Plucked Butterfly," published. But the process was as inspiring as the events that led to the entries in the book, which was published last summer by Neshee Publication.

Harrison-Pace says she's been journaling since October 1987, "after walking into a room (playing) an Oprah Winfrey show focused around domestic violence."

"For some reason, I stopped and listened," Harrison-Pace said. "At first, the stories being told by some of the women seemed way out there, and ridiculous, and my thought was how could there be men out there that were that predatory and how could there be so many women out there so stupid as to fall into that kind of trap: Being dragged into the shower and scalded with hot water, then put out on the front lawn naked. Slammed into a wall so hard that it dislocated her jaw. Women who get a black eye more often than a common cold from habitually 'falling down' or 'running into doors.'


"Just as I was going to walk out of the room, the TV viewing audience was advised to stay tuned because after the commercial they were going to talk about psychological abuse."

Harrison-Pace stayed tuned.

"When they came back on the air, I was literally shaking and my blouse was drenched with sweat - every aspect of the psychologically abused woman fit me like a church communion glove - isolation away from my friends and family, control over my use of the phone, manipulating my words to be other than what I intended, saying he told me something that he never did and other mind games, punching holes in the wall, breaking things, putting me out of the car, not acknowledging important events like Mother's Day, birthdays, anniversaries, power and controlling attitudes regarding finances and sex, telling me I'm stupid to think the way I think, or nobody thinks like that. It's a form of brainwashing and mind control that makes you think that you are crazy.

"Psychological abuse is how the perpetrator begins. Keeping the woman confused along with some of the other tactics eventually breaks her spirit and devalues her so much that the next step, physical abuse, becomes very easy. She has no spirit to fight back."

She kept watching the show and was further illuminated.

"The question came up on the show: How does one fight back when one is convinced that this is the norm - I truly thought every marriage was like mine - or when one is convinced that she just might be loony, and that there is truly something wrong with her? One of the advocates on the program said start by keeping a secret journal. Secret, because if the perpetrator finds it, he will use it against you and beat the snot out of you."

So a shaken Harrison-Pace began journaling.

"I just needed validation that I wasn't crazy," she said. "And, true to form, 120 days, one phone yanked from the wall, two fist holes in the wall, a foot through the bedroom door and one door off of its hinges later, my husband 'allegedly' attempted to kill me. On Feb. 11, 1988, I came home to a moved refrigerator, a hole cut in the floor where the refrigerator use to be and a chain saw."

The result of years of journaling

The end result of years of journaling became "Wing-Plucked Butterfly: One Woman's War on Hate Crimes Against Women and Children."

"(The book) is a result of my rantings and ravings, poetry and essays, prayers and Afrocentric ghetto-tales, tears and joys, my surrender and fight with God in order to become whole again," Harrison-Pace explained.

"It is about my challenge with a religious society that ignores or promotes domestic violence by sending women back into a daily life of abuse under the guise of misquoted and misinterpreted scripture. It is about my fight with us as women who perpetuate domestic abuse by the way we raise our sons and daughters and by the way we treat one another as women. It is about my struggle with self worth in a society that promotes martyrdom in women, promotes women as figures that stand around on pedestals.

"It is about finding true identity as it relates to one's total life experiences, including one's heritage, in contrast to the fantasy roles one is forced to wear as promoted by media, tradition and religious ethics."

Harrison-Pace said she wrote the book "with the intention of ending abuse to women and children in my lifetime, and because the survivor's voice is seldom ever heard."

"Abused women want to know how to get out and how to stay out," she explained. "The public needs to hear the voice of the silent screams of the abused wife living right next door to them.

"There have to be valid and workable rescue strategies for getting women and children permanently out of these violent environments. Many current rescue strategies blame the woman for her circumstances, which cause a vicious cycle that ultimately sends her back and makes her feel mentally and spiritually safer in her abusive home."

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