When I read the recent Rolling Stone cover story on Rihanna, I couldn’t help wondering how she is coping since breaking off her highly publicized abusive relationship with fellow singer Chris Brown two years ago. I know that recovering from a domestic attack is never easy. It happened to me almost 10 years ago. While my experience was not nearly as violent or public as Rihanna’s, it is something I continue to struggle with.
I had just moved to New York to anchor BET Nightly News. I didn’t know many people in the city, so I reached out to a guy who went to college with one of my best friends. We had met years earlier when my friend tried to set us up. I was attracted to him, but at the time we lived in two different cities, and there just wasn’t a connection. In fact, we never had any romantic interaction until the night he attacked me.
That night, we were kissing passionately in his apartment. We were still fully dressed, but there was that moment when you make the decision in your head whether you are going to have sex. I decided no, and he had apparently decided yes, because he became upset when I announced that I was going home.
He escorted me from his apartment to the elevator. We chatted a bit, but he was mostly quiet — but on the elevator ride down, he said that he wanted me to get out of his building, and he grabbed me as if he were going to physically throw me out. I held on to the railing in the elevator and refused to move, so he lifted me so my feet were no longer on the ground and my hands were desperately clinging to that elevator railing. I was terrified.
In a matter of seconds, he was able to break my hold on the railing. I had been holding on so tight that as I lost my grip, a couple of my fingernails ripped off. He then dragged me about 20 feet across his lobby, pulled me to my feet when we reached the front door and threw me so violently to the ground that I wound up with cuts on my hands and bruises on my knees. Everything in my purse flew out onto the sidewalk and into the street.
It was about 2 a.m., so no one was in the lobby or on the street to witness the attack. As I lay there, stunned, he called me a bitch and just turned and went back into the building and got onto the elevator. I slowly got up, gathered my things, walked a little and hailed a cab.
I don’t remember much of what happened after that, except that when I walked into my building and greeted my doorman, I did it with a smile as if nothing had ever happened. I also remember I never shed a tear.
Because the man who did this to me is a public figure and we belonged to the same gym, I would see him from time to time. But I never spoke to him and went out of my way to avoid him. About a year later, in the gym parking lot, he stopped me and asked me if he could speak to me. I agreed, and listened as he issued an apology. Because I thought it was the right thing to do, I accepted.