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India Williams

I’ve watched over the past few days as people have criticized Janay Rice for staying with Ray Rice. It hurt me to the core to ready their statements and prompted me to share my own story. Sharing my story lead me to the story of another young woman. She was a classmate at UNC-Chapel Hill. Reading her statement made me cry. It gave me a sense of pride. It made me feel better because I knew I wasn’t alone. She, like me, believes God gives you these tests and trials so that you may serve as a testimony. With that said, here is her testimony. Thank you India for sharing.

RELATED: Janay Rice: I Stand With You [PERSONAL STORY]

How could she marry him after he treated her that way?” She forgave him so why is the NFL still punishing him?” I can’t even express how much ignorance is dripping from the lips of those uttering statements like these. Some of you mean no harm and you really don’t know any better. So allow me to shed some light. Warning: extremely transparent dissertation ahead…

Speaking as one who has actually been there, done that and bought the tshirt, let me school you. You see, I married my abuser too. Although statistics showed otherwise, I believed him when he said I’m sorry, I love you and I won’t do it again. Besides, I wanted our little family to remain intact. I didn’t want to be a statistic.

But didn’t you see the signs? Sure I did. But I called them excuses. “He can’t help the way he is. He’s a good guy who has been through a lot. Business is just bad. If I just see him through this recession, we’ll be ok. All couples go through something, right?” is what I would say to myself. I was going to be the one to stick and stay by his side and make him better. I was good at cleaning us up and making us look good. Did the violence end after you forgave him? No, it got progressively worse. Especially after we got married. Did you retaliate and hit him back? Like hell I did. Even landed a few lucky punches. But did it help? Not at all. It actually made him more aggressive and almost got me killed, in fact. He was able to physically overpower me 100% of the time. Why didn’t you just leave? On average, it takes a victim 7 attempts at leaving to actually leave. I was afraid of being alone. The thought of raising 3 small children by myself scared the living daylights out of me. The thought of losing all the material things we had acquired together (in spite of all the dysfunction) was too overwhelming. Starting over was just way too hard and scary in my mind. Besides, I had called the cops so many times and never followed through with court proceedings so much that they started not to take me seriously. And once I started to retaliate and leave marks on him, it was really a done deal. I couldn’t even get a restraining order when I was finally ready to walk away…

ALSO SEE: Ray Rice’s Wife Speaks Out—Says They Will Show The World “What Real Love Is”

Didn’t you know your value? Of course I did. But sadly I placed his above my own. Aren’t you smarter than that? (my favorite). No level of academic achievement, amount of outward success, nor religious affiliation can compete with matters of the heart. What did it finally take for you to leave? It took my 4yr old daughter bringing me a weapon to help defend myself for the light to turn all the way on.

By the time we split up for good, I had almost lost it all–no drivers license, no job, no money, lost my car, lost the respect of a few friends and family, and almost lost our home. You see, he had set it up nicely where he was the breadwinner. I was a stay-at-home mom working part time here and there with no access to “our” six figure income he was bringing in. He called it “taking care of me.” I found out much later it’s actually called control. He told me if I called it quits and didn’t take him back, he would make me suffer. He promised me he would never look back, not pay child support and pretend we didn’t exist. He has kept his promise.

Yes, it ended horribly and sometimes it’s rough. But it could’ve been worse. I still have my life. And three beautiful children who will thrive and grow into adulthood without the shackles of the cycle of abuse plaguing their lives.

ALSO ON FOXYNC.COM: Let It Go: ‘Atlanta Exes’ Star Monyetta Shaw Wants The Public To Forgive Ne-Yo

Is it a shame? Yes it is but what’s more of a shame is how quickly we turn a blind eye to domestic violence between husband and wife and chalk it up to “married people’s business.” I don’t care who, where, how, what and why— It’s wrong all day long. If there is verbal, physical, emotional, or financial abuse happening between two people involved in a relationship, it is NOT normal. It is NOT ok.

Whether or not his wife forgave him is not a measure of how illegal and immoral his behavior was. The NFL should’ve taken a stronger stance from the beginning. Even without having seen the brutality that occurred in the elevator, it was obvious by her condition that he had beaten her to a pulp. And let’s stop dismissing domestic violence as “making a mistake.” He didn’t make a mistake. He is an abuser. Any man that rips into a woman the way he did he has some deeply rooted aggressions that need to be dealt with. His wife needs counseling as well. Intensive group and individual therapy was the turning point for me. It allowed me to tackle my own issues and empowered me with the courage and conviction to truly move on. You can bet your last dollar it wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last until he realizes he has a problem and seeks serious intervention–sanctions, fines, suspensions or not. My abuser moved on to the next chick and beat her down too.

So I’m not telling you what I heard, I’m telling you what I know. I could go on and on…but you will just have to buy the book. So before spouting out your ignorant rants, please exercise caution. Don’t let your love for football or allegiance to a team make you sound like an idiot. This is not a Ray Rice issue or an NFL issue. It’s a societal issue.

ALSO SEE: See ENTIRE Video Of Ray Rice Knocking Out His Then Fiancee In An Elevator

Ladies, if your man is slapping you around, throwing things at you, putting you down, depriving you financially, isolating you from friends and family–it is NOT ok. Men, the same applies to you. Women can be abusers too. Statistics do show, however, that men are the perpetrators in the overwhelming majority of reported cases. If you yourself are exhibiting this pattern of abusive behavior, please seek help.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Instead of writing thoughtless posts on your timeline, I challenge you to contact your local battered women’s shelter and see how you can be of assistance. Read up a little more about domestic violence so you can stop sounding foolish and instead accurately educate others accordingly. Pay more attention to your loved ones who might be affected. Pray but don’t just pray and be silent. Speak up. Let it be known that it’s NOT ok. Direct them to the appropriate help. Domestic violence is everybody’s business.