Although this season of Real Housewives of Atlanta was rife with drama, the ladies managed to do at least one good thing.
While it’s nearly impossible to get these ladies on the same page about anything, they agreed on one thing: domestic violence is never OK.
Kenya Moore recruited her costars when she decided to produce a public service announcement on domestic violence, and despite their differences, she says she’s proud of their contributions.
“One in four people have experienced domestic violence. If it’s not you, there’s a friend or family member who has contended with this issue,” she says in an exclusive interview with TheGrio. “It was easy to get the other ladies to come together for this cause, and I’m proud that they rallied around such an important cause. I’m really proud of all of them for that.”
With so many recent incidents of violent outbursts from celebrities and athletes being caught on film, Moore weighed in on the public’s habit of blaming the victim. Earlier this month, Fabolous was arrested for assault and making terroristic threats after he was accused of punching his girlfriend, Emily B, seven times and busting her front teeth. Despite the arrest, crowds cheered him on at a concert as he thanked them for their support.
“People love to blame the victim. It’s very sad. ’What did she say? What did she do to deserve that?’ No one has a right to put their hands on somebody else no matter the circumstances. Any man who puts his hands on a woman is not a man in my eyes,” says Moore.
“In certain communities, we get shamed so much for not having a man. Women are made to feel that their validation as women come from having a man in their lives and that’s problematic because those women are willing to keep that man at all costs. Knowing that, people who look at a man who is clearly beating the shit out of a woman, are sick for defending that. There’s no excuse for abuse. Any real man can walk away, punch a wall, or do whatever he needs to do other than hitting a woman.”
While we tend to think about domestic violence in terms of broken bones and black eyes, Moore contends there are many different forms of abuse and we all need to be aware of the warning signs.
“Abuse comes in many forms. There’s emotional abuse, intimidation, coersion, threats, verbal abuse, displays of aggression. Sometimes they will grab your child or grab your pet or do things to show you that you could be next. They use economic abuse like preventing you from getting or keeping a job, make you beg for money, give you an allowance; those are all ways to control you. They use their male privileges to abuse you and make sure you know they’re in charge of the decisions. Sometimes they isolate you and keep you away from your friends and family. They want to control what you read or watch and decide how long you can be away from the house,” she explains. “It’s all abuse. You have to recognize the signs because most of the time, abuse is about power and control. That is the core of abuse. Often times, a woman has such low self-esteem and the man is so apologetic after the abuse, she excuses it and blames herself for provoking him in some way. It’s not just men who are abusers. Abuse is not confined to any gender or type of relationship.”
Kenya Moore also highlighted the relationship between the cycle of abuse and mental illness and encourages survivors and aggressors to seek professional help.
“We are taught very early on to be ashamed. We live in such a judgmental society and people love to crucify those who speak out on mental illness. Sometimes it’s genetic, sometimes it’s environmental and there are so many ways people are suffering. I believe people are embarrassed to admit they have a problem. They don’t understand why they’re so angry and why they can’t control themselves. It’s so important for people to seek professional help when they have these issues. When you look for resources, you need to be able to feel safe and get counseling so you can determine what the root of the issue is,” she says.
“There are hotlines you can call in every state to get help for mental illness or domestic violence. There’s no reason to be ashamed of getting help.”
Although Moore is outspoken about the dangers of domestic violence, that doesn’t mean she believes all aggressors are beyond hope.
“I think if you can identify where your anger comes from and get help and are given the tools and continued counseling, I think someone can learn to change their abusive behavior in the future,” she says. “I do believe there are some people who cannot be rehabilitated, like child molestors. In my heart, I just don’t believe that’s something someone can recover from. In terms of domestic violence, I do believe recovery is possible but it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to do the work, go to meetings, get counseling, and be willing to really make a change.”
Check out Moore’s PSA: