MCT Photos Mother and daughter EDITED 720x293 1

We must remain aware of the prevalent and nightmarish dynamics of intimate partner abuse or domestic violence. Maybe that’s why I cannot let go readily of this amazing experience I share with several homeless women who reside in NCCF’s emergency family shelters or transitional housing programs.

The occasion is a Saturday afternoon event in recognition of domestic violence month, organized by NCCF’s dedicated staff. The campus is alive with happy sounds of children playing in a moon bounce, competing in games, painting faces, eating freshly made hot popcorn. Inside the conference center, a roomful of mothers listen to a male inspirational speaker. He talks about putting closure on negative experiences, rejecting those who put you down, not allowing yourself to become hardened, keep on trying. I glance around and catch glimpses of their faces, hesitant, confused, earnestly seeking a message. As the next presenter, I was to speak on my reflections.

“Ladies, you have heard from a man. Now let’s talk woman to woman. Cuz’ you know we have a different world view. We are: Caretakers. Mothers. Lovers. Healers…..Personally, I look often to Maya Angelou’s voice for getting past being a victim. From mute to majestic and wondrously articulate. We may have been victimized but we are not victims. Maya talks about why a caged bird sings for freedom. Don’t we all want freedom?” I talk about the need to unlearn the squeeze of oppression and to explore and own the space that comes with taking one’s entitlement. Then I challenge my sisters. I say, ” I’m going to read you Maya’s poem, Phenomenal Woman, and then I want you to come up beside me and tell us all how you are phenomenal and how this helped you survive. I really want to know you better! ” I read the entire poem with emphasis, my hands on my hips:

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud
I say
It’s in the click of my heels.,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

One by one, nearly all of them come up and face the group. “I am a phenomenal woman!” they utter one by one, boldly, shyly, tearfully, sassily, sadly and even angrily or while shouting. Two of them need another woman to stand with them, to help them be brave. The reasons were vastly different, yet the same. He left me with six children, after I put up with the abuse. I thought I would die. At least I have my children. I believe I can make it on my own. I am beautiful. I am sexy. I know that the pleasure was not worth the pain. I will get through this. I have been clean for a year. I survived incarceration; I can do this. I thank God. I am a phenomenal woman! It turns out to be a phenomenal celebration of resiliency and self worth. Later in the week, the women in the emergency family shelter form a women’s issues group. To talk. To share.

Sharing Is Caring

Author

Name: Dr. Sheryl Brissett Chapman

About: Dr. Sheryl Brissett Chapman, Ed.D., ACSW, Executive Director, provides agency administrative oversight, consultative support for all programs, and ensures overall contract and program compliance. Dr. Chapman has more than 40 years of experience supervising national, state and local human services programs, and is an expert on child and family welfare and child protection.

ABOUT US

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Founded in 1915 as an orphanage in the District of Columbia, NCCF is a private, nonprofit child and family welfare agency with a commitment to serving poor, disadvantaged, abused, neglected and/or abandoned children, youth, and their families.

Current program services include emergency shelters and transitional housing for homeless families, a high-intensity therapeutic group home, therapeutic and traditional foster care and adoption, independent living for youth transitioning to adulthood, teen parent services, and community-based prevention services that promote academic achievement, parental involvement, economic and vocational stability, and healthy families. Our programs have become social service models, redefining both NCCF’s reputation and the agency’s position in the human service continuum in the Washington Metropolitan Region.

blog-sidebar-aboutUs-logo

Founded in 1915 as an orphanage in the District of Columbia, NCCF is a private, nonprofit child and family welfare agency with a commitment to serving poor, disadvantaged, abused, neglected and/or abandoned children, youth, and their families.

Current program services include emergency shelters and transitional housing for homeless families, a high-intensity therapeutic group home, therapeutic and traditional foster care and adoption, independent living for youth transitioning to adulthood, teen parent services, and community-based prevention services that promote academic achievement, parental involvement, economic and vocational stability, and healthy families. Our programs have become social service models, redefining both NCCF’s reputation and the agency’s position in the human service continuum in the Washington Metropolitan Region.

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