- Posted May 6, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Impact Your World
Finally LAYING Down My Burdens, so that I can LIVE again!! The Life After Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence….. To some, it’s an excuse that women use to get their mate in legal trouble due to abuse, To others, it’s an act that can be prevented if the victim stop returning to the abuser, but to the victim, it’s the action that makes them always wonder, “Is today, the day he/she is going to KILL me?”
Based on research by the U. S Department of Justice (http://www.statisticbrain.com/domestic-violence-abuse-stats), there are 960,000 estimated domestic violence incidents per year; 85% of the victims of Domestic Violence are Women and 15% are Men; 6 million Children witness domestic violence annually; 2,100,000 women assaulted by men each year; and 4 women die each day as a result of abuse. With statistics like this, one would question, “Is this the new definition of LOVE.” Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abuse that is physical, sexual, emotional, economic and/or psychological. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of meeting Brenda L. Thomas, who is not only a Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, and the Author of the Best Selling novels; “Threesome”, “Fourplay”, “The Velvet Rope”, and “Every Woman’s Got A Secret”…. She was a victim and now survivor of Domestic Violence. For 15 years, she was physically abused, humiliated, terrorized, degraded, raped, and permanently scarred by the hands of her ex-husband. In 2007, she penned the novel “Laying Down My Burdens”, which is the memoir of her abuse and survival. This novel gives the reader raw, uncut details about her addiction to drugs, the countless abuse, her fight to become a writer, and her desire to eventually live out her dreams. After teaming up with Mrs. Karen Waller Martin, (Actress, Director, Co-Executive Producer, TV personality of Celebrities in the basement), they both developed the idea of adapting her story into a movie.
Brenda L Thomas ~ What gave you the inspiration to tell your story, and what made you adapt the novel “Laying Down My Burdens” into a movie?
Telling my story was something that I always wanted to do, especially being a victim of Domestic Violence and a recovering addict. My ex-husband would not allow to me to write, for the 15 years that we were together, and he told me that he would kill me if I ever wrote again. It took a lot of courage even after I left him to write again. However, my children encouraged me to write my memoir by telling me, “If you don’t write your memoir, mom, that means you are still afraid of him. Laying Down My Burdens, my memoir was released October 2007 and after publishing my other novels with Simon & Schuster, I decided to self-publish this novel in order to give me more control of this project, since it was something so important and dear to me.
Brenda L Thomas ~ Is that power that he had over you gone, now that you released this novel?
It is not 100% gone, I would say 90%, maybe!! I still question myself, still scared, constantly looking over my shoulder, and always thinking is this the thing that will set him off again knowing that this project does not sit well with him or his family.
Karen Waller Martin ~ What inspired you to join this production as director?
I met Brenda L. Thomas back in 2002, when my book club (4 Da Sista’s) invited her to one of our first meetings to discuss her novel “Threesome” we instantly feel in love with her writing and her as a person. We invited her back with every other book thereafter. Then in 2008, I interviewed Brenda on my talk show “Celebrities in the Basement” and during that interview we were pondering on which one of Brenda’s books we were going to bring to the stage. We originally talked about making Threesome a theatrical production, and with me being a Theatre Director, I knew this would be fun and I would be an asset to the project. However, Brenda decided to bring “Laying Down My Burdens” back to life and the birth of creating the film begun.
This project also inspired me because I know several women that are close to me who have gone through and unfortunately are presently in unsafe relationships. And some that are survivors.
Brenda L. Thomas ~ What do you want for people to take away from this film?
STOP BLAMING THE VICTIM!!! People always, even when I am out at an event speaking to women and men about Domestic Violence or conversing with my friends, ask me, “What did you do??” People always think it’s something you did to make a man beat you.
PEOPLE MUST BE HONEST WITH THEMSELVES IN THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE BEEN A VICTIM, A PERPERTRAOR, OR A WITNESS!!!! So many people try to back away from discussing the abuse or so quick to make an excuse! People need to own up to what they do and see. Domestic Violence is an epidemic and should be treated as such, just like finding a cure for breast cancer, saving a drug addict, and encouraging someone away from alcoholism, etc.
Since people feel that it’s the victim’s fault for being abused, many people fail to help or save the abuser. In addition, people don’t get involved because they feel, Why help? She is just going to go back to him anyway! so many are quick to walk away even after witnessing the abuse.
Brenda L Thomas ~ After being a victim of Domestic Violence, why did you stay?
When a woman who is being abused leaves her attacker, she never thinks that she would be returning back to her abuser, she wants to believe that she is going back to the person that loves her. When a woman leaves, the man comes with many apologies and I love you’s and you tend to remember the good that you all had. I did not want to believe that my husband would beat me with a sledgehammer or that this abusive man was the person that I fell in love with.
One thing I want people to understand is that Domestic Violence is not about anger management. Abusers are the best at managing their anger. For example, if a man is fighting you, and a cop comes to the door, that man will immediately become calm as if nothing was wrong, then once that man reassures the cops that everything is okay and they leave, that same calm man will return back to beating you.
Why do you feel that Domestic Violence is such a hot topic today, in contrast, to the secrecy it held in the 60’s or 70’s. Why are people so eager to discuss the issue of Domestic Violence?
Brenda ~ Nowadays, people are glamorizing Domestic Violence instead of seeking help or using their experience to help others. Women have to be sure that they are not promoting their abuse in order to gain fame, fortune or attention. Many celebrities share their story as a means to become the poster child, to get the spotlight, when instead they should be encouraging women, empowering women, and remaining in the fight (even after the bruise has healed).
I am sharing my story because I want to give people hope, to let women know that they are not alone, that they can leave, and that I do understand the struggle.
Karen ~ There is a way out, it’s not a trap!! There are so many organizations/resources that will help you get out, which is going to be shown in the movie, “Laying Down My Burdens”. When people watch the move, they will not like Brenda or her decisions, but they will triumph with her.
Brenda L. Thomas ~ What was your Breaking Point to walk away from the Abuse?
My ex-husband and I had been out of rehab for 2 years. I realized that I was still afraid of him and I still was not allowed to write. He was a womanizer and started seeing other women, but one day I was in the kitchen and he blocked me in a corner, I was already in the protective shield position prepared to block his punches, but instead of hitting me he stepped back and walked out the door.
After I saw that it was safe, I walked in the room and saw my son hiding his head behind his bookbag. After seeing that, I left my ex-husband. It took me 6 years, after that day, to fully, detached myself from him physically and emotionally. So no, it’s not always easy to just leave, it takes time.
Tell us a little about the Fundraiser for “Laying Down My Burdens ~ The Movie”?
We decided to do the fundraiser because I did not know how long it would take for Hollywood to help me. We completed the trailer last year in Aug/Sept, to help with advertising and promotional efforts. That’s me doing the voiceover in the trailer and those are my grand daugthers actually playing in the park. We are looking to raise $250,000.00 in order to fund this project, and donations can be sent via
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/laying-down-my-burdens-the-movie. All monies received will go towards the production cost.
* This fundraising campaign ends on June 13, 2014. However, they will be holding additional fundraising efforts, when the indiegogo campaign is over in order to help offset cost.*
Karen Waller Martin ~ Will this movie be shown in theaters or straight to DVD?
We are looking for national distribution within movie theaters; We want to take the usual steps that a feature film takes so that this film can be seen worldwide. We are currently in the development stage of this production and will go to production in 2015 and all filming will take place in Philadelphia.
Karen Waller Martin ~ As Director, how has working on this project affected you?
It makes me angry and frustrated. I’m ignorant to understanding why does the abuse exist for a long period of time. I don’t understand how Domestic Violence is a reoccurring situation.
Reading the book, talking to Brenda, and doing the trailer can be very emotional for me. As director of this production and while shooting the trailer, I had to say some horrible things to the actress in order to help her get into character. At times, I had to become Russell(Brenda’s ex-husband) some of the actions and words I had to use were shocking to my production team & crew. However, being involved with this production, is teaching me the ills of Domestic Violence, it is slowly helping me understand why people feel, question, and/or look down on the victim.
Brenda L. Thomas ~ After seeing your life in front of you with the trailer, how is this affecting your life now that you are watching you?
It’s scary!!! It’s unbelievable!! It still hurts!! I am still in shock that I put myself through this, but mostly upset with what I put my parents and children through. My decisions cost me, my children, my family, as a whole, so much. One thing I had to do was “Forgive Myself” in order for me to move on and regain my power, my strength, my life.
Why should people support this project, Laying Down My Burdens?
This story is not fictional, it’s raw, it’s gritty… People need to know just how Domestic Violence affects everyone. Domestic Violence is not cute, it kills people. Whether it’s Verbal Abuse, Financial Abuse, Emotional Abuse….Domestic Violence has no limits. I always related my situation to slavery because people are quick to say, “if I was a slave I would do xyz” but what people fail to realize is when someone breaks your spirit, when someone beats you with a sneaker and tells you to never write again and threatens to kill you, as the victim… you will live in fear in order to live. Domestic Violence is not about celebrity, non-celebrity, race, it’s an issue that affects all. This movie will save others, but people must be willing to accept and willing to see themselves on film.
When we had the trailer release party for “Laying Down My Burdens”, many people came up to Brenda and I thanking us for bringing this issue to light because they were either a victim or a witness to Domestic Violence.
What advice will you give to women to let them know abuse is not love?
Brenda ~ Domestic Violence, it’s not love, it’s not cute, and don’t give excuses. There is hope and leaving is an option.
Karen ~ You will know when you have found your KING, because he will treat you like the QUEEN you are, not like a peasant!!! Love shouldn’t hurt
Laying Down My Burdens ~ The Movie
(Screenwriter Floyd Marshall Jr, Director Karen Waller Martin)