She finally came to me. She and her son were beaten up by her husband and she needed my help.
Of course!! Without a doubt or any hesitation, I was going to help my best friend…or so I thought.
The man of the house did not want to get involved. He wanted nothing to do with that situation and he felt we should stay out of it. It was their business and not for us to get involved.
Those are excerpts from a short essay Pamela Price wrote two years ago about her best friend, who sought her help, but didn’t receive it.
Although Price hasn’t seen her friend in 22 years, it still affects her. It was one reason why she established the Temple Hills-based nonprofit L.M. Foundation, which held a walk Saturday, Oct. 6 to raise awareness about domestic violence and funds to open a shelter with 25 beds this year in Prince George’s County for victims of domestic violence.
About 30 people ran 3.1 miles on the track inside the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Complex in Landover.
“We have been pushing this since last year,” Price said. “It has been a struggle. We just hope God will open doors for us.”
So far, the foundation has raised more than $25,000 with a goal of about $35,000. If that happens, it would be the second dwelling to offer temporary housing for domestic violence survivors in the county.
Community Crisis Service Inc. of Hyattsville, which functions a hotline for homeless, suicide and protective services, recently took over the troubled Family Crisis Center after an audit determined Family Crisis Center operated in a deficit, but received about $1 million in state and county grants.
The shelter reopened earlier this year after it shut down in December to repair the dilapidated structure.
Two shelters would boost temporary housing options in the county that leads the state in domestic violence related homicides the past several years.
According to a fatality review report released in February by Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, Prince George’s led the entire state with domestic violence-related deaths, with 55 of the 247 fatalities between July 2012 and June 2017. Baltimore County came in second with 45.
A Higher Power
Tomika Douglas and Wanda Washington say they’re blessed because they can talk about their past situations, instead of their children.
Douglas, who turns 43 this month, endured what she calls “37 years of mental and physical abuse.” She recalls two major points in her life growing up in the District.
At age 13, her father directly said his children aren’t as important in his life.
“When he said, ‘My friends will always be first and they will always be first,’” said Douglas, a federal contractor. “When he told me and my sister that, I knew right there I would have nobody to protect me.”
At the same time, her stepfather, a minister in a local church, said the color red “was for sluts.”
Douglas said she endured the abuse largely to protect her two younger siblings, “because I didn’t want them to go through it.”
As she grew up, the abuse continued. The father of her two daughters raped her at age 18 with a gun. He also dragged her through a hallway in the presence of their daughters.
To cope with some of the stress, she drank alcohol, even after church. One day after Douglas’ mother poured her liquor down the drain, she spoke aggressively toward her mother.
That’s when Douglas said she realized she must change.
She regained her self-confidence, started to wear red clothing two years ago and renewed her faith in God. Now she manages a ministry “Women with no Limits,” which focuses on improving the inner strength of teenage girls and women.
She also wants to be a voice for her ex-boyfriend, who also endured abuse growing up. He was fatally shot 20 years ago by his best friend’s cousin.
“You have to forgive your abuser,” said Douglas, who is now married and resides in Laurel. “I get my strength from a higher power.”
Washington, 50, grew up in Kingstree, South Carolina, about 90 minutes from Columbia.
Although Washington wasn’t abused growing up, she became a victim when she rekindled a relationship with her high school sweetheart after her father’s death in 2009.
When he moved from Florida to be with Washington in Virginia, she said his controlling nature began to show before and after they married.
Washington recalled when he suggested she purchase a house that resembles one she resided in while in South Carolina. He then wanted Washington to buy a new car and for her to pay for it.
Six months into the marriage, she asked a friend to keep tabs on her son while she traveled out of town for a business trip.
“My friend asked, ‘You’re leaving him with a man you don’t trust?’ Washington said. ‘Yeah, that doesn’t sound right, but just watch out for my son.’”
She recalled while out of town, her husband called every day. He was charged for a DUI in another part of Virginia. After his arrest and her vehicle was impounded, Washington decided to end their marriage, but he didn’t.
Washington said he stalked her and broke into her house several times that included one time with her son and his friend inside.
One morning in 2012, Washington said he jumped from behind an air conditioning unit and attacked her. Fortunately, she ran inside the house and locked a screen door. Her neighbors heard her scream and a police officer came within minutes.
“I have angels in front of me and in back of me. I have protection,” said Washington, who still lives in the same house because of her neighbors. “God is protecting me where I am.”
Washington, who works as a federal employee, created “His Royal Daughters and Sons Ministry” to help domestic violence victims, especially teenagers.
Both Washington and Douglas offer advice on signs of an abusive mate, such as attempts to control finances and isolate their partner from family and friends.
“If God gives you a platform … to encourage another female and another male, that’s your job to tell your testimony,” Douglas said. “It can help others.”