By: DOMINIQUE HUNTER
Atira. Mother. In Pawnee, one’s mother is the source of all life. This one word has many representations: Mother Earth, animal mothers, one’s biological mother and her sisters, as well as any other female figure who has played an integral role in one’s life. However, the meaning for all is the same: love, caring, nurturing, edifying, supportive, infinite rings of life and inspiration. Many Native American and various other Indigenous cultures around the world, discuss the importance and immeasurable value of women, of female, of the Mother. However, the danger of domestic violence against women and men alike has created deep wounds in our people, great chasms in our cultures, and enormous ails in our society.
In conclusion of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I asked my mother, Laura Renne Hunter (African American/Pawnee) to share her experiences with domestic violence in her own life as well as her ongoing journey of healing.
Please share with us your experience with domestic violence.
LAURA: I witnessed DV early in my childhood as my mother’s extramarital affairs led to brutal beatings upon her. My mother, my 2 sisters and I would run to one of my mother’s girlfriends house and spend the night. I have no idea what my Dad thought was going on or if he even knew. At age 16 I entered a relationship that led me down the same road my mother was on. It would be a decade before I found the courage and got sick and tired of being sick and tired and left town with my children. Unfortunately, we were found and the cycle began again. Eventually, by the grace of God, we were freed.
Where do you feel that you gained support and protection most during these times?
LAURA: Most of my escaping during my childhood was from reading books and spending time with my maternal Great Aunt. I also day dreamed a lot. Once I turned 17, alcohol and marijuana became my venue to forget what life was presenting to me. I didn’t realize until much later that I was responsible with the help of my Heavenly Father for my life.
Do you have any words of encouragement you would like to share with those still actively threatened by domestic violence?
LAURA: I would like to encourage both women and men not to be ashamed or feel worthless, as these are the lies we believe in order to keep us under control. Reach out and talk about it with others…join strong support groups. Pray and believe that God has a great life for you!