Dressed in a tailored black and yellow suit, her blond hair streaked and coifed to perfection, Helen Pearson was the picture of poised elegance at the recent annual Black Writers on Tour. But as she fingered a written statement in her hands, Pearson’s shoulders began to shake. “I was a battered wife for 18 years,” Pearson revealed.
Pearson was one of four authors who revealed lives of pain and how they overcame abuse during the recent Black Writers on Tour at the Marriot Hotel in Los Angeles.
Appearing with Pearson on the panel were teachers Audrey Muhammad, author of Get Fit to Live: Be Your Best You and the website Virtue Mag.com; former school administrator Michelle Chappell, author of Protecting the Innocent: A Teacher’s Memoir, and Newfonie Jackson-Inman, author of Caught, Trapped and Delivered–One Woman’s Journey from Fear to Faith. The autobiographies were published by Milligan Books, Inc.
Pearson, chronicled her stormy marriage in her page turner entitled From Sin to Glory.
Pearson soon found out that her husband was a real-life psychotic Jekyll and Hyde who constantly spied on her and controlled her every move. “After he would abuse me, he would beg my forgiveness. He’d say he didn’t know what had come over him,” Pearson recalled.
“My friends envied me, but behind closed doors, my husband would beat me for smoking, shopping, or even making long distance calls on the phone,” Pearson recalled. “He gave me so many black eyes, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to see. I was extremely afraid of him. I walked on pins and needles all the time, because I was fearful for my life.”
When Pearson caught her husband talking on the phone to another woman, she lost control. “I hit him,” recalled Pearson, who said that by that time, she was the mother of two children, including a 10-month-old. “He became enraged and announced that he was going to kill me and the children,” said Pearson, who said her husband whipped out a gun.
“Our 10-month-old baby was sitting on the couch in the livingroom. The baby had never walked before but when he heard the gunshots, somehow he got off the couch. The baby toddled to the door and pushed the door to the bedroom open. He just stood there staring at us.”
Pearson said that when her husband saw the baby walk, it shook him up so bad that he stopped what he was about to do. I believe that was God’s will,” said Pearson. Ironically, Pearson said that her baby son grew up to join the ministry.
After another severe beating, Pearson was rushed to the hospital. “I had bruises and contusions all over my body and I was bleeding from my nose and mouth. When it was time to be released from the hospital, I was afraid my husband would finish me off.”
Pearson said she finally found the strength to leave her husband. “I urge women who are experiencing abuse to seek help from your family or church. I beg you not to stay in an abusive relationship,” she said.
Muhammad admitted that she had also been trapped in an abusive marriage. “I got out of it with the Grace of God,” said Muhammad.
Revealing that other women in her family that had also suffered abuse, Muhammad decided to stop the cycle. “I was determined to do what I could to empower women, so I started Virtue Today magazine and created the Protectors of Virtue campaign,” she said.
The Protectors of Virtue campaign is to remind brothers that they should be the protectors of the family and the community. “I tell the brothers that they must pledge to be protectors, not players,” said Muhammad, who added that many brothers have logged on to the Protectors of Virtue website to vow to protect women.
“I am also urging a return to virtue for women,” said Muhammad. “We have always been women who have strong morals and values. We need to return to that righteous self and to nurture and sustain families that have morals and values rooted in God.”
Muhammad also urged audience members to report abuse. “There’s a hotline number you can call anonymously called WE-TIP,” she said.
A former vice principal of a Catholic school, Chappell recalls the hidden abuse uncovered during her tenure in academia. There were several priests who would take the kids to church or outings,” recalls Chappell.
An anonymous tip led police to the school. “They investigated whether molestation was occurring at the school, but nothing was ever done to the priests. I was dumbfounded,” Chappell revealed.
But Chappell said that as the police investigated cases of abuse, she began to recall unpleasant memories from her own childhood. “I remembered that I had been abused as a child as well,” she said. The memory spurred Chappell to seek therapy.
Chappell reveals that cases of abuse against children were covertly covered up by the Catholic Church, but because of a statute of limitations, many of the accusations against the priests could not be prosecuted. “I pray to God for the children that they can be safe,” said Chappell.
Newfonie Jackson-Inman, writing under the name of Diamond Hall, revealed that she was the victim of early abandonment and sexual abuse. Orphaned at a young age, Jackson-Inman fell under the influence of an evil man who befriended her but soon forced her to work the streets. She became a constant victim of abuse who eventually found her sense of self-worth and self-respect.
Today, Jackson-Inman is an ordained minister and a founder of The Worldwide Church of God. She said that her intent in writing the book was to motivate those who have lost hope. “I want all to know that God can turn any situation around for the good,” said Jackson-Inman.