RALPH NARDONE Times Leader Correspondent
November 24, 2013
WILKES-BARRE — A woman who socialized with the rich and famous of the music industry visited the First Baptist Church on Sunday night to bring a message of hope to those who suffer from domestic abuse.
Tashera Simmons, mother, author and ex-wife of rapper DMX, Earl Simmons, spoke about how she survived domestic abuse and turned her life around.
During her marriage to DMX, she enjoyed the wealth that came along with his success, she said. However, she said that for eight years she was dealing with abusive situation she had to eventually escape from.
She estimated about 80 percent of marriages involve some type of abusive situations. Many victims keep their abuse a secret because they are “embarrassed,” she said.
“Abuse is not just physical. It can also be emotional, verbal or spiritual which can leave victims scarred,” she said.
“It’s important that victims understand their self-worth. I still struggle with that sometimes,” she said. “That may be the biggest challenge they will face when they go out on their own.”
Simmons points out “knowing the signs” of an abuser can help potential victims save themselves.
When someone exhibits “an extremely controlling demeanor” for example, he could have abusive traits that can be “triggered” sometimes by the smallest things, she said. Once abuse is identified, it needs to be dealt with immediately, she added.
“I want victims to know it is not their fault they are being abused,” she said. “I want to help empower them so they can protect themselves,” she added.
Darlene Duggins-Magdalinski, event organizer and founder of the non-profit community group United We Stand/Divided We Fall, said domestic abuse is rampant in Wilkes-Barre and other parts of Luzerne County.
People who come from single-parent homes that lack a father figure and proper role models end up in abusive relationships because they never learned the “coping skills” necessary for healthy relationships, she said.
“There is no equilibrium where the youth can learn how to act as adults,” she said.
In addition, local disadvantaged youth deal with a “very big gap” in productive activities. They need positive things to do instead of using drugs and running with gangs, where they learn abusive behavior, she said.
Licia Gregory, author and recipient of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 2013 Literary Award, pointed to the pressures of joblessness as a significant driver for the local domestic abuse problem.
She stressed victims should take advantage of the various programs provided by local organizations to help them get out of abusive relationships.
Simmons said she is on a mission to send her message of hope to cities all over the United States in the coming months.