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Authors: Michelle Janine Robinson

On the Other Side

BOOK: On the Other Side
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Dear Reader:

What if you were given the chance to start your life over? A chance to get rid of all of the emotional baggage, the fear of going home every night to an abusive husband, and an opportunity to do a complete reset on your total existence? Such is the case with Damita, a woman who made the mistake of marrying a man with a propensity for violence, a need to control, and one who is hell-bent on breaking her down to nothing and destroying her.

September 11, 2001 is a date in history that none of us will ever forget. Many families were never given the closure of being able to bury, or even confirm, the deaths of their loved ones. Have you ever wondered if some of those people may have simply seized the occasion and walked away? In
On the Other Side,
Michelle Janine Robinson gives a poignant and riveting account of a woman at her breaking point. The novel is both a catalyst for discussion and, hopefully, a wakeup call to women dealing with domestic abuse on a daily basis.

Robinson truly makes the pain, disappointment, and ultimately, redemption leap from the pages. She is a prolific novelist who has established a body of work that will transcend time. Readers in the 1910s could have walked away with a message just like readers of today, and readers of the future.

As always, I appreciate the love and support shown to Strebor Books, myself, and our efforts to bring you cutting-edge stories.

Blessings,

Publisher

Strebor Books

www.simonandschuster.com

For Justin And Stefan
“Mama Hold My Hand”

—Aloe Blacc

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Recently, I watched a film in which one of the characters asked, what are the principles upon which your life are built? I couldn't resist taking a look at my own life and answered love, family and stability. Upon consideration, I realized that all of those principles were built on a foundation of my desire to enrich the lives of not only myself, but especially those two people who mean the most in my life and who have continued to enrich
my
existence with each passing day; my sons, Justin and Stefan. For them I will be eternally grateful.

The urban dictionary definition of
ride or die chick
is to be down with your husband or man, no matter what, through it all, the good and the bad. The term typically applies to a man and a woman, but I believe it can also apply to unbelievable friends. It seems as though I've spent most of my life searching—for something, I'm not sure what. Parents I
know
love me, family that will
always
be there or the
true
love of a wonderful man. However, when what I need and want sometimes falls short, I've been blessed enough to have incredible friends that are my ride or die chicks; there to fill the empty spaces. Thank you, Jacqui Charles, Marciala Remouns, Yvonne Landy, Joanne Schmidt, Christina Williams and Tarra Taylor for being my
ride or die chicks—
no matter what.

As human beings, we are intrinsically social creatures. From the
moment we are born, our interactions with the outside world go a long way to mold and shape us into the adults we will one day be. Many believe that we are supremely in control of our own destiny. However, when I consider the helpless, dependent—and impressionable nature of a child, I must humbly disagree.

In a study of young adults who suffered abuse or neglect as a child, eighty percent met the criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder by the age of twenty-one, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts.

In a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study of homeless youth, it found that forty-six percent of those surveyed had escaped a home where they suffered physical abuse and seventeen percent left because of sexual abuse.

Young people who were victims of child abuse and neglect are twenty-five percent more likely to experience teen pregnancies, delinquencies, and to suffer mental health problems. They are more likely to perform lower in school, to engage in high-risk sexual behavior, and to use alcohol and illicit drugs.

According to a National Institute of Justice study, abused and neglected children were eleven times more likely to engage in criminal behavior as teens, are close to three times more likely to be arrested for violent and criminal behavior as an adult, and are over three times more likely to be arrested for one of many forms of violent crime.

I have always held great empathy for those who are most helpless; especially children. When I decided to write
On the Other Side,
one statistic in particular resonated in my memory—
without help, boys who witness domestic violence are far more likely to become abusers of their partners and/or children as adults, thus continuing the cycle of violence in the next generation
.

Most of us hope that the legacy we leave behind is admirable and that of honor. Unfortunately, for many children, their legacy is wrought with pain, suffering and confusion; all remnants of a very vicious cycle. For far too long, the devastating effects of domestic violence have been cloaked in a cocoon of secrecy. However, the tide is turning and awareness is opening the door to healing.

Thanks to organizations like Battered Women's Justice Project, Child Welfare League of America, Equality Now, INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, Institute of Domestic Violence in the African American Community, and Futures Without Violence, the cries for help of countless men, women and children will be heard and will no longer be considered one of life's dirty little secrets.

I would like to thank all of these organizations, and those like it, that have made great strides toward stamping out the short- and long-term effects of domestic violence in all of our communities.

In addition, I would like to thank all of the politicians and district leaders, who have a vision for healing, not only where the issues are the most popular concerns, but instead where growth, expansion and rehabilitation are tantamount to survival. Thank you, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, District Leader John Ruiz and a special thank you to Congressman Charles B. Rangel, for helping me and my family close to forty years ago, when I was a scared little girl, with no place else to turn.

I would also like to thank all of the brilliant writers and trailblazers, who offer stories of challenges, consequences and healing, while simultaneously stimulating and educating their readers; writers like Zane, Charmaine Roberts Parker, Shamara Ray, Nane Quartay and William Fredrick Cooper. Thank you all for sharing a bit of yourself as well as your unique world view, with not only myself
but so many readers who are eager to be enthralled by your eloquence.

To all my family and friends who continue to support the vision I have for myself, I appreciate you in so many ways.

Thank you to all my readers, but especially, Johnathan Royal, for his tireless, enthusiastic support of so many writers, myself included.

Enjoy
On The Other Side!

Love,

Michelle Janine Robinson

PROLOGUE

T
here it was again; that familiar pounding of her heart that only activated when she was in danger. It was like a gathering of pulse that started in her chest, then quickly consumed her being, until her ears, her gut, even the flat of her tongue felt it; pounding like a sledgehammer from the inside out. The first time she felt it was the night she got married. The only difference between that night and now was that, then, she sat cowering in a closet, more afraid to run than she was to stay. Yet, today, she was stronger than she had ever been. And, as she took the stairs three at a time, she wondered how the two compared and why she hadn't been as strong all these years as she was now. Wasn't this situation equally as threatening? Or, was it that she suddenly had a renewed will to live?

CHAPTER ONE

S
itting in the minimalist furnished, church bridal room, Damita couldn't help but outwardly chuckle at the numerous makeup items Carmella had left sprawled out not only on the long beige bench in front of her but also on the brown leather couch behind her. She looked in the large makeup mirror in front of her and the phrase
less is more
sprang to mind. Carmella had been her best friend since they were kids, but when it came to makeup and attire they were as different as night and day. Damita always assumed it was because Carmella was a hairstylist and she was an investment banker. She decided she would minimize some of the makeup Carmella had applied to her face.

As she thought of her life, Damita realized she was happier today than she had ever been. She was marrying her soul mate; the man she would spend the rest of her life with. She had always been blessed with the love of family and friends, but until now, she had never found that special man that would make her life complete. Through the years she had dated liars, cheaters and mama's boys, that just wouldn't grow up. On the rare occasions when she did meet someone that wasn't textbook case dysfunctional, she found that they were in different places in their lives and often would most likely never be on the same level. There were times when she felt maybe she was too judgmental or too picky, but she remembered the advice her father had given her before he died;
never settle.
Neal was a successful architect, he was thoughtful and kind and he did something that most men she had known seldom did; he listened to her. They had been dating for little more than a year when he popped the question. They were having dinner one night at the Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center when he suddenly got down on one knee, in a restaurant full of people, and proposed. It was romantic and chivalrous; everything that Neal was. As far as Damita was concerned, it didn't get much better than that.

The only thing that would have made this a happier occasion was if her mother, Karen, and Carmella were as elated as she was. Somehow, as charming as Neal was, he had gotten off on the wrong foot with both of them. They considered him to be pompous and a bit of a narcissist. They didn't understand him the way that she did. He was gentle and kind and he cared for her, unlike anyone else ever had. He was all she had ever desired and he was hers.

On her wedding day, Karen stood in the doorway watching her. “You're absolutely beautiful.”

Damita glanced at Karen's reflection in the full-length mirror. Wearing the same wedding dress her mother had worn to marry her father thirty-six years ago, Damita couldn't help but compare herself to her mom. At fifty-nine, Karen could have easily passed for forty. Her body was still in spectacular shape and her flawless mahogany complexion complemented her salt and pepper shoulder-length bob. She hoped to look as great as Karen when she was in her fifties. With the exception of Karen's gray hair and Damita's dark chestnut brown, the mother and daughter looked so similar to one another they were often mistaken for sisters.

“Oh, Mom, you startled me.”

“You know what your grandmother would say if she was here?”

BOOK: On the Other Side
13.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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