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Protecting Victims Behind the Purple Wall

When victims of domestic violence decide to leave their abusive partners and call me for help, do you want to know what triggers me? As a survivor of gun violence at the hands of my ex-husband, you would be surprised to discover what triggers me is NOT their stories of abuse. It’s when they cry because the agencies I send them to for help hurt them as well. I remember feeling helpless every time I reached out to my local sheriff’s department because when they arrived at our home on numerous occasions, they would side with my ex-husband. I remember my heart racing with fear and anxiety when I finally worked up the courage to call the domestic violence crisis number only for them to tell me, “We ain’t got no rooms.” I remember feeling hopeless when I went into the district attorney’s office to file for a temporary protection order, only for the receptionist to tell me, “Hon, if you don’t have an address, there isn’t anything we can do.” There was never any other direction, words of support, or alternatives given. I was turned away without a sense of what I should do next. Faced with having to spend another day in my ex-husband’s presence and under his power, I remembered sliding down to the floor, with my back against the wall, curling up into the fetal position and crying tears of desperation. This is why, ten years later, it still hurts me to hear women are facing the same issues when they turn to organizations that are designed to help them.

My organization, Haven of Light International, Inc. (http://havenoflightint.org) provides mobile advocacy, crisis intervention, and connections to resources amongst other things. If our clients request more one on one help, I walk them through the entire process to help them rebuild their lives after domestic violence. When I started the organization, I knew I did not want to make anyone feel the way I was left feeling numerous times when I reached out for help. My mentor had a heart to heart conversation with me that I remember to this day. She said, “Kimya if you are tired, angry, bitter, or in a bad mood. Do not minister to those ladies. Your words will say one thing, but they will receive the way you are feeling.” It reminded me of a quote that I heard from Maya Angelou.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

I grew tired of hearing that the Gatekeepers of Freedom (that is what I call them) are the ones revictimizing these ladies. These are the people that act as a doorway to living a life free from abuse. They are the ones the women interact with first in the midst of an active domestic violence situation.

I created a Facebook post surrounding this topic a couple of weeks ago and voiced my discontent with the way some of my clients were being treated. Amazingly, other advocates filled the comments of my post with stories and accounts of how their clients had been revictimized by domestic violence agencies (shelters), law enforcement, court employees, and clergy, as well. Why didn’t we take our collective outrage and voice our concerns to the people that hold these agencies accountable? Are we just as guilty of being silent and thereby perpetuating the violence? Many of us in this work say, “Silence hides violence” but, often times we are referencing being involved in or knowing about the act of violence by the perpetrator and doing nothing about it. I think we need to take it a step further. As I began to research the complexity of this issue, I was unable to find information regarding this problem because the mechanisms explaining the link between victimization by intimate partners and revictimization by service providers has not been extensively studied. I wondered why.

I decided to do something more than vent about my disdain. I emailed agencies and made phone calls to people in authority and asked the tough questions and found out there is a protocol in place for domestic violence shelters, but not many other community-based and government-run agencies. When these steps are not followed, there are a couple of agencies that are supposed to hold them accountable. Here is what I discovered:

  1. When a client calls the domestic violence agency and reports abuse, the shelter in the county where the client resides is responsible for providing them with safe housing.
  2. If the agency does not have a room available, THEY are supposed to call the other agencies to locate a bed for the abused person.
  3. If they are unable to find space, the agency is supposed to place the person in a hotel until space becomes available.
  4. They are not supposed to say, “We don’t have any room,” and leave the victim without any choices.

Many of them do not follow this protocol and they leave victims feeling disenfranchised and hopeless; therefore, what can we do when this protocol is not followed? If you notice the domestic violence agency (shelter) is repeatedly violating the protocol, you can speak with the shelter manager and express your concerns. If you notice the problem is still occurring you can contact your state agency that governs accountability and education to make a report. That might be your state’s coalition against domestic violence. They are a good place to begin and they will give you the steps to follow next.

What about the other community-based and state-mandated agencies that re-traumatize domestic violence victims? How can they get on the right track? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Let’s begin with getting yearly training for the people who are on the frontlines in this fight against domestic violence.
  2. The training for people who take crisis calls for the shelters should include domestic violence protocols and basic customer service skills. An accountability component should be evident as well. Periodically, calls should be monitored for empathy and how well the protocols are being followed.
  3. When going to the homes where domestic violence is reported, law enforcement officials need comprehensive education to help them learn how to identify the primary aggressor and how to offer resources to victims and perpetrators.
  4. Everyone in the court offices that serve victims of domestic violence needs training tools as well – even down to the receptionist. Yes, the receptionist…and if you are a court official (district attorney, judge, solicitor, etc) and you have not had domestic violence training in the past year, yet you preside over cases daily, shame on you. Take a class. Go to a conference. Hire someone to come into the courthouse and give training to all of your staff.
  5. I can not even begin to fully address in this post how women of color, women who have immigration issues or have different sexual orientations are treated unjustly and inhumanely in many instances; as a result, all of these organizations could benefit from some sensitivity and cultural training too.

Accountability is not just for batterers; domestic violence shelters, law enforcement agencies, court personnel and members of the clergy should NOT hurt the very people they are supposed to be helping. If the advocates in charge of helping victims remain silent about the lack of assistance and the gross mistreatment of victims within the margin of the margins, our silence is just a deadly as the bystanders that witness or know about domestic violence and do nothing about it. It is time to shine a light on these insidious practices that persist behind the purple wall.

💜 Kimya

Say Yes!

3 A.M. Thoughts
When God places a call on your life AND you say yes to it, be prepared. It is the craziest, most rewarding, humbling, joy-filled, and scariest feelings you can ever imagine. It will test your faith like never before.

Right now, I am doing the work of the kingdom. God is using our story in AMAZING and awe-inspiring ways. It literally blows my mind. 
1.Families are being freed from the prison of domestic violence. 
2.Teens in Georgia are learning how to value themselves, talk about healthy relationships, and teach others the warning signs of violence. 
3. Our Teen Talks program will go global this year. In partnership with another organization, teens on island nations and abroad will soon learn how to have healthy relationships.
4. Soon, our story will be used to help some of the most influential men in our country’s culture. 
Sounds great doesn’t it? At the same time, my children and financial situation are undergoing great turmoil and tribulation. It is one of the most humbling and scariest things ever. It is like being in labor for days (weeks even) then giving birth to the most beautiful baby in the world. The act of carrying a baby, labor, and delivery happens when all GREAT things are birthed.

I have learned to lean on God like never before. I really thought my relationship with Him couldn’t get better, but it did. I spend days fasting, and hours in prayer, praise and worship. I am just trying to lean in to get wisdom and direction for our next steps as a.family and organization.

So when you see me or my organization do amazing things, just know it all comes at a price. My family has sacrificed a great deal to ensure other families can be free. My daughter said if she has to give up her senior prom, she understands and even prayed about it this morning when I dropped her off for school. My son regularly sacrifices his money and time or family. My children go without some things at times, but even they get the larger picture. When I got into this, I didnt realize we ALL were in ministry. They are really the most caring and understanding little humans I could have ever dreamed or hoped for. ❤❤❤

I said all of that to tell you, When you decide to say “Yes” to God and your purpose, it will be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, but it will be worth it. You will have success, but you will have failures (with an S). Here is where your faith will be tried, tested, and strengthened. You will soon find out that everyone in your circle is not in your corner. As you are being pruned, you realize you REALLY are His son/daughter because he only disciplines the people He loves. You may even develop a new found appreciation for Ramen noodles. 🍲🍲

In the end, our Father will come through for you (hasn’t He always?), lives will change, mountains will move, and your life and the lives of the people you’re serving will be greatly enriched because of your choice. Trust Him and say Yes!
💜 Kimya

You Will Get Beaten, Torn, and Hurt When You Jump, but God is Still There…

In May 2017, I felt the strong urge to leave my teaching job. After years of prophecies and confirmations, I left my career of twenty years (yes 20!) and decided to pursue my purpose. I left with dreams of saving thousands of lives and making millions of dollars. The “saving thousands of lives” part was correct, but the making of millions of dollars part…well, let’s just say that didn’t happen yet, and I did not realize just how bad things would actually get.

In 2016, I remember watching Steve Harvey give a speech to his Family Feud audience. He said in order to truly LIVE, you’ve got to jump. You will never feel really fulfilled until you take the gift God gave you and do something with it. He said jumping with your gift will cause you to soar. Steve also mentioned when you take that leap, at first your parachute would not open all the way and you will fall on the rocks, get some skin torn off, and bleed. I don’t really think I was listening during that part…

Everything Steve said was true! When I left my job, I was the happiest I had been in years. I started meeting new and interesting people, going to beautiful events, and most importantly, doing the work that I was purposed to do. I was actually LIVING and making a difference while doing so!!! I felt so free!

God blessed me immensely because of the decision I made (Check out the photos above – click on the photos and then click left or right)

  • I flew to an event in New York in November 2017 where People Magazine and Investigation Discovery Channel honored me
  • Had a fabulous book signing party in January 2018
  • Appeared on Good Day Atlanta in February
  • Filmed commercials for Marsy’s Law for Georgia and Stacey Abrams
  • Got a standing ovation from the entire Georgia House of Representatives after Representative Pam Dickerson recognized me from the House floor
  • Appeared on numerous T.V., radio, and newspaper outlets
  • Worked with a fabulous group of men and women to change the constitution of Georgia so crime victims would have equal rights
  • Received several awards for my work as an advocate
  • Had my video chosen to appear on The Red Table Talk
  • and MORE!

God was truly making my name great; however, as much as he was exalting the work I was doing, the enemy kept fighting me through my finances and through things that would constantly come up against my children. During this period of time, my car was stolen, my house went into foreclosure, the bank threatened to take my new truck, my bank accounts were DEEP in the negative, things started breaking in my home without a way to pay to repair them, my electricity got turned off, and there were times we even had to eat Ramen noodles for dinner (and I swore I’d never eat those things again after I’d left college!).

Listen, you would think that I would not struggle with faith. You are talking about the woman who survived 4 gunshot wounds. You are talking about a woman who watched her daughter fight for every inch of her life back after she was shot. We won! We won because of Jesus. So why was I struggling with my faith? There were many nights and days that I would cry and wonder if I had truly heard the Lord. At times my children would ask me, “Are we poor?” I wondered if the Lord told me to leave my job, then it shouldn’t be this hard, should it?

The answer is yes! God never promised us the weapon would not form, He promised us it wouldn’t prosper. If He has called you to do something, He will definitely fund it. There was a time when I didn’t have money for Christmas. I told my children there wouldn’t be any Christmas gifts or a Christmas Eve party that year. (I don’t know why my children still like to bake cookies for Santa…but they do. Did I tell you they were 18 and 23?) They both said they understood, but as a mom, I wanted to give them something. I prayed about it for the whole month of December and two days before the holiday, two women gave me money for Christmas gifts for my children. Go Jesus!

There was a time when I did not have any money to pay my bills for the month. None, nada, zilch. As a matter of fact, my bank account had -$95. On top of that, I did not have any food to feed my children. We literally ate tomato soup for a whole week. I prayed and reminded God of his promises to me. His word says He is my shepherd and that He shall supply all my needs. Within a week of praying for His provision, the same two ladies that helped me with Christmas, gave me enough money to pay ALL of my bills for the month. Let me help you understand this. That’s mortgage, car note, car insurance, utilities…everything. On top of that, the next day, two ladies and a man came by my home and provided us with so much food, I was struggling to put it all in the freezer. He’s a good, good Father.

I shared all of this with you to say, if you know God is calling you to something greater, listen to me and Uncle Steve (hey, he’s my play uncle in my mind). If you want to truly live, you’ve got to jump. It’s going to hurt a little bit and you might get a little scared (sometimes a lotta scared..ok, a lotta is not a word. You get the picture), but it will be the best feeling you’ve ever experienced in your life. It’s even better than ice cold vanilla ice-cream on a hot, fudge brownie. Hey! It doesn’t get much better than that!

So, how do you know you’re ready to jump?

  1. You feel like you’re trapped in your current job or position
  2. You daydream about the “other” thing you’d like to do all the time
  3. People consistently prophesy to you about your purpose and it matches that “other” thing you’d like to do
  4. You receive confirmation in many different ways
  5. You’re unsure how to make this big vision become a reality

If this sounds like you, you already know God is speaking to you.

If you are not ready to take a “jump” in your life, but you are simply going through some hard times, just know our Father is a comforter and provider. Although things may look bleak, He is always by your side just waiting for you to ask Him to take over. If you are feeling overwhelmed with worry and anxiety, here are a few things to try to fight the enemy:

  • Sing songs of praise and worship to the Lord
  • Look up scriptures that are related to your issue. For example, if your issue is debt, do this Google search, “What does the Bible say about debt?” It will come up with dozens of scriptures about debt.
  • Write down some of the scriptures you find and meditate on them daily
  • Write down your prayers in a prayer journal
  • Get in a support group of like-minded individuals to help you realize you are not alone.

Through it all, remember God’s plans are perfect. He does not have plans to harm you. Your Heavenly Father has a glorious future planned for you in which you prosper (Jeremiah 29:11). That means you win! Stay encouraged and JUMP! – Kimya

Moving On

Some women think fear, anger, depression, and guilt will magically disappear when the abuser is out of her life. That couldn’t be further from the truth.  It could take years of counseling before the damage is no longer an issue.

It may be tempting to want to place your old life in a microwave, press “2 Minutes”, “Start” and hope your NEW life will begin right away – especially if you’ve left an abusive relationship.  You’ve endured fear, intimidation, guilt, shame, and reproach for days, weeks, months, and years.  You’re free – now what? Why doesn’t it feel good?  Where is your complete RELIEF?

After the shooting, I wanted to change EVERYTHING – hair, clothes, and the walls in my house. It seemed as though I could feel him in every room and I couldn’t sleep at night – especially in my own bedroom.  I asked my friend’s husband to come over and paint the house.  He did a marvelous job and it made me feel better. I could then sleep soundly every night – good change! 

I even decided to leave the place where I was teaching.  I didn’t feel heard or appreciated there. Some of the staff members, including myself, felt trapped in an abusive relationship while working there.  It reminded me too much of what I’d just been through; so, I put in my letter of resignation and left at the end of that school year. I had no idea where I was going or what I was going to do. I just trusted God and left.  What that a good change? YES!  Did it have potential for disaster because I didn’t exactly think that through? YEP!  

Ladies, you may even be tempted to start a new relationship.  You miss the love, affection, and intimacy from your previous relationship and you may even have the thought that a new relationship is just what you need to help you get back on track. DON’T DO IT!  Wait four seasons (one year) before you start a new relationship.  Go rediscover who you are and what you like to do…Learn all you can about abuse versus healthy relationships.  If you don’t, you might find yourself in another abusive relationship OR you could damage a perfectly healthy relationship because you are broken.

Change is a process; however, it is like cooking something in a crock pot versus cooking something in a microwave.  Trust the process. Allow God to mend your hurt and change your mindset.

Believe me you want your changes to be long lasting and if you give yourself a break, take time to pray to God, and allow Him to make the necessary changes, you will be healthier and happier in the end.

You CAN rebuild your life one day at a time and with God by your side.

Love,

Kimya

Welcome to the Resilience Blog

Hi Readers,

Welcome to the Resilience Blog, the blog and newsroom for Kimya Motley LLC, an organization dedicated to educating the family about healthy relationships and advocacy through speaking, books, and a host of fun, hands-on, research based classes, seminars, and community events.

In this blog, I will share my life with you, help you identify and tackle issues that affect the family to include domestic and dating violence, abuse, advocacy, education and a host of other issues that build or destroy the family structure, and best practices about how to bounce back after tragedy, so you can expect other topics to pop up along the way!

I will describe tools that are relevant and practical, along with how others (including myself) have been successful using them.  Here we will build a culture of celebrating family and resilience!

I will also share with you timely articles and events related to those topics. I do not consider myself an expert on any one topic, but I have experienced these events and have made a promise to not only have my family thrive after tragedy but to help others “kick the butt” of injustice and tragedy.  My pain has birthed my purpose and it is my prayer that I can help you to do the same.

You are more than welcome to respond, add comments, or suggestions.  I only ask that we keep our comments relevant and respectful to the other readers and conversations taking place. I assure you that you will have a safe space to learn and grow with my blog, so anyone that creates an atmosphere that is not conducive to our culture of respect, I will quickly remove any comments that are deemed offensive, disrespectful, or annoying (like chain letters, marketing, and spam – I would rather clean my toilet with my toothbrush and brush my eyebrows with it than read those things!  Yikes!).

Please do not post anything private to the blog.  I am MORE than happy about helping you or providing resources for your family, (it’s what I do) but send me a message so others will not see your personal business.

Thank you for visiting my little website and reading my blog.  I hope this website encourages you to overcome any obstacles that come your way.  There is an OVERCOMER programmed in your DNA and it is my personal goal to help you express that inner Super Hero!

Can’t wait to connect with you!

Kimya

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