I’d like to take a few minutes to say thank you. My blog has just hit 30,000+ views. I am both humbled and honored by this. My blog has had more than 7,000 views in that past few months, even when I’ve failed to upload new content. I’ve been booking portrait sessions, events, and weddings all without doing any new marketing. (I am thankful.)
The past few months have been some of the hardest months of my life. I’ve grown as an artist, a woman, a mother, and have began to face my demons. My biggest fear in life is talking about myself. Talking about my life, talking about my past. While attending New England School of Photography I learned a lot about myself, realizing I was holding onto a lot of pain.
I am 28 years old. I am a product of a dysfunctional family. I am child of domestic violence.
I watched my mother be physically and emotionally abused by my stepfather for almost my entire life. One of the earliest childhood memories is of my mother being abused. It wasn’t the first time she was hit, it’s just the first time I remember with great detail. I remember it like yesterday.
(This is a photo of us in 1989)
I was four years old, it was in 1989. I remember watching my step dad yell at mom. He was in her face, really close. He yelled and he yelled. I couldn’t understand how he could be so upset over nothing. It started with a slap, then a punch. I was afraid, but not for myself, for my mother and siblings. I walked into my bedroom to comfort my siblings. My brother and sister (twins) were two years old at this time. I closed the door and told them to play with some toys, turned on my Fisher Price radio and hoped they would get so distracted they’d ignore the screams from our mother coming from the living room. Once they were situated I walked back to the living room. I peeked around the corner and watched my mother being slapped and punched. I watched blood leave her body as she tried to run from my step-dad. He was getting more and more upset because she wouldn’t be quiet. He keeping saying, “Shut up! Shut up before someone calls the police!”
I wanted to call the police myself, but I knew it would only make her next beating that much worst. I stood there, watching and waiting for him to stop. I watched him pick up a weight lifting belt and begin to beat her with it. I watched her get beat. Each swing of the belt leaving welps, and allowing more blood to leave her body. I watched her blackout, then continue to get beat as she laid there lifeless. I thought to myself, “When is he going to stop? How long is he going to beat her? He’s going to kill her this time.”
I ran into the living room and yelled at my step-dad, “Stop! Stop! Please get off my mother! Please stop!”
His attention left her and came to me. He was upset I had the nerve to say something. How dare I ask him to stop. How dare I yell at him. He walked over to me and my beating began. My mom lay lifeless on the floor. My attention stayed on her, as I got beat, hoping she would open her eyes, hoping she would wake up this time. My stepfather soon became tired, he was finished. He walked to the kitchen, sparked a cigarette, and then washed the blood from his hands. He grabbed his keys and left the house.
I ran to the bedroom and made sure my sibling were ok. They were fine, listening to my cassette tape, while playing with their toys. Then I went to kitchen, wet a rag, and began to clean the blood. There was some bloodstains on the carpet that I couldn’t get up and that upset me. I could see my mother was still breathing, so I knew she wasn’t dead. As she slowly woke up, she said nothing. She walked to the restroom and closed the door. A few minutes later she returned. She was no longer bloody but she looked like another person. Bruised and swollen she gave me hug. She apologized for what he had done. She said he was mad. She said she was sorry. She removed the rag stained with her blood from my hands, we walked to the bathroom and she cleaned me up. Wiping the tears while telling me everything was going to be all right. Once I was “ok”, I went back to my room and began to play with my siblings. I walked out every now and then, checking on my mom. She finished cleaning the blood from the walls, carpet, and even from the weight belt she was beat with. Then she went to the kitchen and made us a delcious dinner. We had dinner, took baths, and got ready for bed.
Later, my stepfather returned. No one said anything about what happened. Life went on. This was a regular day in our house. Things like this happened all the time. I watched my stepfather punch, slap, pistol whip, cut my mother with kitchen knifes, and that’s just the beginning. We were all physically abused over the next 16 years. When I was twenty years old my mother finally found the strength to leave. She finally began to love herself, realizing that no one deserved to get hit.
This was really hard for me to write. I’ve only once been able to talk to my mother about this, I’ve never been allowed to. No one in my family wants to re-live any of these events. No one wants to talk about the years and years of memories that I have stored in my head. This was just a regular day in our household.
(Us in 2013 with my son)
Sorry it has taken me so long to update my blog. When my husband left for the US Navy in March, it left me with a lot more time with myself. I’ve had to learn to deal with the things that I have pushed down for years; deal with the things I didn’t want to acknowledge, and to face my fears head on.
Why did I decide to put all my business out here?
To be fearless. This is my biggest fear in life. Now that I’ve put this out there, there is nothing that can hold me back.
The moral of this story is to be fearless. Do everything that you think you can’t do. I remember being four years old, and standing up to my step-dad, and getting beat for it. There is nothing that I will allow to stop me from doing what I want to do in life.
Over the past few months I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone. Before I’d stay home if I couldn’t get a babysitter for my son. I was afraid of what people might say. “Who’s that girl that brought a kid with her?” “This is not a place for a child to be,” I pictured people saying. Well, I was so wrong. My son has attended the “Beat and Snatched” launch party, Paper Frank's “Pink Lemonade” art show, Trinidad James’s “10pc Mild” Listening Party, and the Atlanta Naturals “Sunday Brunch”. While attending these events we’ve received nothing but love. My son loves attending events with me. He has his camera in hand, as he meets and photographs new people. (I’ll be updating my blog with footage from these amazing events.)
With all of this said, I say thank you (again). Thank you for allowing me time off to “get it together”. Thank you reading all of this. Thank you for believing in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. Thank you for allowing me to face my truth, to grow, to value myself as a artist, understand my worth, and to be my best self.
The moral of the story is:
Always believe in yourself, have faith, and never let your past affect your future. God gives the hardest battles to his strongest soldiers, so keep fighting, you’re almost at the finish line.
Thank you for your time!
Mrs. Tora Carter