“Hey, I'm Chasta, most people know me as Chas. I'm 24 with 2 handsome, healthy boys, Ja'Khi (8) and J'Kari (6months). My life literally revolves around them. I am full time student, hospital employee and football mom. I'm also a travel agent in my free time.”
RAVEN: When did you first notice the abuse?
CHASTA: It wasn’t until the abuse became physical that I realized it was abuse. At the time I didn’t really know the different types of abuse or see the signs that led up to the physical. A lot of verbal abuse went on but I paid it no mind. I just assumed he had no other way to let out his frustrations so he lashed out on me. We were together a year and a half before it became physical, that being on the day I found out I was pregnant with my oldest son.
RAVEN: Were you able to tell family and friends or did you feel embarrassed?
CHASTA: None of my family knew and we were all under the same roof. I hid it so well! I wouldn’t say I was embarrassed but more so trying to hide it from my mother. I watched her go through DV (domestic violence) and vowed to never go through anything like that. So I guess you could say I was more so trying to protect her feelings. I knew she would be devastated to know that her daughter was going through similar situations. My best friend at the time didn’t know until after the fact. I really never opened up about it, I wrote it in my journal and that was it.
RAVEN: How old were you?
CHASTA: We got together in the beginning of my freshman year in high school, I was 14 going on 15. I found out I was pregnant in January of my sophomore year, I was 16 at the time. The abuse was on going until I finally left when my son was a little over a year old. Even after I left we had a couple of incidents, due to me feeling sorry for my son I allowed him around.
RAVEN: Do you feel that because you were young people wouldn’t believe you when you said you were in a domestic relationship?
CHASTA: I think that because domestic violence wasn’t such a big of a problem back then, if I spoke out I would have gotten overlooked or people would’ve just brushed it off. I was told once before that, he was just playing, we were kids, etc. Just mentioning it to a friend to get an opinion, they took it as a joke.
RAVEN: How did you protect your son at the time? Did he ever witness the abuse?
CHASTA: The first physical incident that I can recall, was when I first found out I was pregnant with my son. I told him and he immediately started throwing blows to my stomach, I fell and he kicked me in my stomach over and over. Obviously he didn’t want my baby, but me being young and dumb, I looked past it when the apologies came. When my son got here, I distanced myself a lot, days when I felt like something was going to go down I sent him with my sister. I never allowed him to see me when my face was messed up. Even though he was so young and innocent, I was ashamed. I couldn’t let my baby see me at my weak points. My biggest fear was that he would put his hands on my kid so I kept him away!!!!
RAVEN: When did you finally decide that enough was enough? Was it hard for you to leave?
CHASTA: The day that I almost lost my life is when I decided to pack up and leave. I plotted for months on how I would leave before hand, but because no one in the household knew what was going on it was kind of hard. That day in particular we stayed at my sister’s house for my nieces party. I won’t go into detail because it’s much too graphic, I wouldn’t have sex with him and things went left from there. He forced himself on me, hit and choked me until I lost consciousness. Honestly to this day I can’t tell you what happened after that, I know that when I woke up the next morning I was lying in a bed. My face was swollen, I had a black eye, and bruises everywhere. I took me and my son’s things to a friend’s house and stayed with her. I left my family behind and in the dark about things for the longest. Before that incident I had called the police but because he lived there more than 30 days, they said that I had to go through court and legally evict him if he wouldn't leave willingly. That was a big block in me leaving. I think it was hard for me to leave because I didn't want to hurt my son.
RAVEN: What truly made you stay?
CHASTA: I was so young and naïve, I believed all obvious lies. The biggest thing that made me stay was fear. He’d threaten to kill me if I left so much and I believed him. His temper was so bad that I could see myself laying in a casket in my dreams. I stayed because I wanted my son to have his father, something I didn’t have. I didn’t realize until I got older that his father was someone he didn’t need.
RAVEN: Are you in a happy place right now in your life?
CHASTA: I am at the happiest I’ve ever been right now. I have never been in a place where smiling is what I want to do most. I have the unconditional love of my children. I’ve finally found myself and I am at peace. I had to accept everything I’ve endured and forgive him even though I know he was not sorry, in order for me to completely move on with life.
RAVEN: How did you build your self-love for yourself?
CHASTA: I still struggle with self-love, but I’m a work in progress. I let him drill in my head that I’d never be good enough for anyone but him. At one point I believed him and I wouldn’t date. I was so scared to end up in the same situation. I had to cover up so many bruises, black eyes, and busted lips that I eventually gave up on my appearance. My confidence went down, to me I was ugly! Currently I have a man who makes me feel more beautiful than ever. Simple things he says or does that’s helped build that confidence I needed back up.
RAVEN: If you could tell another mom/woman that’s in the same situation as you were one thing, what would you say to her?
CHASTA: The biggest thing I’d tell a woman in the same situation as me, is get out immediately. Especially if kids are involved, kids see more than you think. If you notice the signs early, LEAVE! Whether it’s verbal or even mental abuse, those little things that you overlook soon become blows to the face. Also, tell someone, I’ve never been the type to open up, but my biggest regret is not telling my mom what was going on with me.