Archives for November 2021


There are days when I feel well, brave, and strong.

There are days when I feel proud of me.
When I eat right, drink water, and pray without ceasing.

There are days when I feel pretty.
Smart. Together.


Then something happens.
Something I didn’t see coming.
Something I could not prepare for.

Something accidental but still damaging.

Something that drags the past into the stark glare of the sun and rips my false sense of security to threads.

And all it takes is one word.

That one word annihilates 40 years of work in a matter of minutes.

And when it is uttered twice in a matter of weeks by someone who says they love me it hits as hard as a fist in my mouth.

It’s a tiny word, really. Only five simple letters. And yet it brings the past rushing to the present so quickly I lose my balance.

I spiral.
No one can catch me.
I just have to ride the reaction out.

The word that takes all my power away is this: a.b.u.s.e.

Myself and the Black Man who loves me have been working through our wounds in hopes of us being able to be and stay in a healthy long-term relationship.

I surrendered the relationship a few weeks ago due to broken boundaries. He declined my “no thank you.”
“I will take care of this. I love you, Venus. Can you give me time?”
I said, “Yes.”
“May I text you updates?”
I said, “Ok.”

He takes a deep breath and asks, with his heart in his voice.
“Do you love me?”
I feel my heart melt.
I softy confess, “Yes. Yes, I do love you.”

I can hear him exhale.

“That’s all I need.
I will take care of the behaviors that trigger you.
I am getting off the phone now.
I have work to do.”

Within 24 hours he had a new therapist that matched his needs as well as a Men’s support therapy group to address communicating with me.

He shifted his language and behavior in real ways and was accountable for his words and actions.

All was well.

We had a few rough moments but nothing like before, which made me feel emotionally safe.
I shared with him some of the violence I had experienced.
He listened with authentic empathy and compassion.

Then it happened.

Something happened that didn’t sit well with me and I shared it with him. Over in his world, my question landed for him in a way that shifted his behavior. The more he explained what happened, the more I felt like I was being blamed for his action.

The conversation escalated.

In truth, I can not recreate the conversation.
What I can say with absolute certainty is he used the word “abuse.”

I had just shared my background of violence.
What I heard was something to the effect of I wanted to be abused or I was teaching him how to abuse me.

Be very clear:
He only used the word abuse.
I’m clear this is my trauma being triggered.
So please don’t turn him into the enemy.

This one is all me.

About a month ago he had used the term abuse in a written communication.

It triggered me then.

My logic: given the upset that word had caused in our relationship previously, to the point I walked away, why use that word ever again with me?

We went back and forth about it and he vehemently argued that he didn’t say what I heard or inferred from what he said.

He said I misunderstood.
I was making a mountain out of a mole hill.
I was wrong.

I kept saying I’m not lying.
I’m not crazy.
I’m not making this up.

He said he never said what I heard but he did say the word abuse.
He apologized and did his absolute best to clean it up.
But the spiral had started.
The door had been opened.

I was back at being 10 years old.

I told.
Momma said I lied.

I started to doubt my truth.

Maybe I misunderstood.
Maybe I was making a mountain out of a molehill.
Maybe I was wrong.

Same thing with my former spouse.

Maybe I misunderstood.
Maybe I was making a mountain out of a molehill.
Maybe I was wrong.

Now the same feeling of powerlessness, voicelessness, helplessness takes over me.

Now I can’t get out of bed.
I can’t fold my clothes.

I no longer want my company.
I resent being alive.

He is confused and scared.
He has no idea what to do.
I take full responsibility for whatever I did and said that would have him say that word to me: twice.

Once in terms of emotional violence; the other in terms of physical.

I talk to my therapist and asked: do I teach people how to abuse me?

We talked and she helped me see that it wasn’t the word that triggered me so deeply.

It was the feeling of being not believed.

As a child, my authentic truth was dismissed and discredited.
I had to suppress it in order to survive. The way that survival shows up in my life today is self-doubt.

I start to think and say it’s all my fault.
I must have done SOMETHING wrong.
I thought I was safe.

Maybe I am crazy.
Maybe you’re right.
Maybe I DID make it up to get attention.
Maybe I DID misunderstand.

Maybe I AM making a mountain out of a molehill.
(Deep pause. Searching my soul)

Maybe I AM lying.
(silence on the inside)

I feel myself turn into tears that quickly go down the drain.

I feel my tears turn to rage.
My body becomes brittle.
To taunt to touch.

He tries to reach for me in every way he can.

But I am no longer there.

I’m ten years old.
Locked in the bathroom.
Tub filled with scalding hot water.
She makes me run it myself.
She makes me wait.

I get so afraid I pee on myself.

She beat me with an extension cord.
To tenderize my flesh.
“You are a liar!
Larry would NEVER touch you!
You just want attention!
You ugly, stupid ass.
If it had been your sister, maybe.
But you?”
She pants as she beats me.
“I should have aborted you when I had the chance!”

I’m in the fetal position on the bathroom floor.

My skin is bleeding and torn.

She grabs me by my hair and forces me to the tub.
“Momma I’m sorry.
It’s all my fault.”
She pushes my face close to the steaming hot water in the tub.

“Tell the truth!!
YOU LIED on Larry, didn’t you?
Didn’t you?
Say it!!
Tell the truth!!!!”

She stops.
I keep saying what she wants to hear in case she changes her mind.

“I made it all up.
I just wanted attention.
I’m sorry.
I’m sorry.
I’m sorry.”
I cry.
My tears mingle with the sweat and blood on my face.
Momma releases my head and gets a washcloth.

She starts washing the blood off my face.

“I love you, Venus. You brought this on yourself. I forgive you for lying.”

I say nothing.

I try to tell Him I am hurt.
What he hears is blame.
He can’t hear me.

When I am triggered, I resent being alive.

All of the darkness within comes up like bile from my soul to my mouth.

He doesn’t know me like this.
He doesn’t understand.
He can’t.

He doesn’t understand trauma.
He hears the letters: P.T.S.D, but has never been in a relationship with someone who lives with it.

He doesn’t realize I am fighting to be believed.

He hears criticism, not a cry for a hug.

That’s all it would have taken.
For him to hear me. Hug me. Keep letting me know HE had used a trigger word.
That HE was responsible for his actions instead of putting them on me.
That I had done nothing wrong but believed him when he told me I was safe.

Safe to say my truth and not having it used against me when he feels like I am blaming him.

He couldn’t hear me.

He said he didn’t recall saying things but if I said he said it, then it must be true.

The word “if” calls into question am I telling the truth.

I react to it.

I start to defend and explain myself.
I try to have him hear me.
He can’t.

He only hears invalidation.

That’s not what’s happening but because I have exhausted all of my emotional reserves, I can’t say it better than I am saying it at the moment.

He is right: I have been emotionally and physically abused.

Perhaps it’s in me to train people to abuse me.

Perhaps I’m not healed enough to be in a healthy and whole relationship.

Perhaps I never will be.

Perhaps the trauma of my life is total.
I can’t be loved by anyone but God.

Or perhaps this is the path to healing.

Perhaps the path to being healed and whole is to go back to that bathroom and pick my little girl self up off the floor and rock her.

“Babygirl, you didn’t lie about Larry.
You survived Momma.
You did nothing wrong, Venus.
You didn’t bring anything on yourself. You are pretty and smart.

I love you, Venus. I. Love. You.
Your truth is valid.
Even if other people don’t agree, believe you, or like what you say.”
I kiss Babygirl’s welts. With each kiss and caress of unconditional love, the scars heal.

“Venus, you did nothing wrong.
You are not to blame.
You are good.
You are kind.
You are honest.
You’re perfect, Venus, just the way you are.”

I add cold water to the tub and put it in a bubble bath.

“Don’t be afraid. I will not hurt you. I love you and love doesn’t hurt. Trust me, Venus. Please. Trust me with you.”

With the innocence that comes with children, she does. We get in the tub and I bathe her/me.
I wash our hair.
I moisturize us with cocoa butter.

“Say this with me Babygirl: I love me. I am good. I am honest. I accept me. I approve of me. I am pretty. I am smart. I matter.” And she does.

I sit her on the toilet seat and do her hair. She tells me funny stories of rolling down a hill in the neighborhood and how the grass made her itch.

She told me how she liked playing jacks more than playing marble.

Then she told me about Larry.

I stopped and listened with every cell in my body. Then I said to my precious baby girl, “I believe you.”

She stared at me as her eyes filled with tears. She then threw her tiny fragile body into my arms, hugged my neck tight, and sobbed.

I rocked her and stroked her back and hair.

I then whispered into her ear, “You are very brave.
You did everything right.
Even agreeing with Monma to stop her from hurting you.

See how smart you are?

It’s ok for you to speak.
You’re safe now. I’m here.
I will take care of you from now on.
You’re safe.
You are mine and I love you to the moon and back!”

She smiles a shaky smile. There is trust in her eyes. I have loved away all the scars.

I hug my little girl self.
She whispers in my ear,
“Thank you for believing me.”

I hold her close, so close she merges with me and we become one.

I’m back in my home in downtown LA. Happy is sleeping right beside me. I caress his pillow-soft fur. He softly snores.

I think about allowing a Black Man to love me. I realize I have to heal traumas I have simply been managing.

When you let someone in, you are bound to get triggered, but that is the ONLY way to being whole.

It’s not his love that makes me whole. His love made me willing to look.
He gave me the love and safety I couldn’t give myself.

Until now.

For that gift, I will always be grateful.

Who knew one word would fling the door wide open to my heart for me to love me?

Yes, I was abused.
I’m not reenacting it.
I am healing it.

I’m healing me.

That’s the greatest love of all.

By: Dr. Venus Opal Reese
Date: 11. 24.21

We Cried Together

It’s the late 80s.
I’ve been on the streets for a year.
17 and verbally vicious.

My words were my weapons of emotional violence in a world where my fragile female body made me easy prey.

He was older. Softer.
More artist than thug.
He loved me.

One of the ways I use to “get money” was working at strip clubs.

I would make myself useful by picking up the wet one-dollar bills. That way the “dancers” didn’t have to bend over. Bending over made the dancers vulnerable to surprise deliveries from the back in order to pick up the money.

I would hang outside and clock the cars.

Mercedes with expired tags.
Lexus with out-of-state license plates.
Toyota with mismatching rims.

A man’s car tells you how he tips.

I would then tell the dancers which men had nice cars so the could pay extra attention to him.

At the end of the night, I would get a cut from the dancers for my help.

It was easy work.
I was gifted at reading people.
But sometimes I missed…

The artist was a bartender who took to me.
He gave me food, his coat, and a place to stay.

He was older than me.
“I don’t have money to give you but I can pay you in other ways…”

He laughed, “You’re cute but underage. You jail bait. I would rather stay out of prison, if that’s alright with you.”

We laughed.

I liked him.
He looked after me.
He was a good man.

He started to tell me what I could and could not do.

I felt controlled.
We argued.
It got worse.

One Saturday night when the club was closing we got into a heated argument.

I was going to get in a REALY nice car with a guy who was dressed like a banker and who was nice to me at the club.

My artist signaled me to come talk to him by the club doors and pleaded with me to NOT get in the car.
“Don’t get in that car.”
“He’s loaded.”
“He’s evil. It’s in his eyes.”

“You’re just jealous.”
“No I’m not. I’m looking out for you.”

I was young.

“Why,” I sneered at him. I wanted to hurt him for trying to control me. “So you can rape me in my sleep? Or maybe you’re a child molester who’s just trying to butter me up so you can pimp me out.”

He was so stunned by my verbal venom he stepped back. I leaned in. I had been trained in emotional violence my entire life. I knew how to hurt with words.

I got it from my momma.
It was a family trait.
It helped keep me alive on the streets.

I looked at him with disdain, purposefully malicious.

“Is that it? You won’t fuck me but you will pass me around to your “mens” who are into young pussy? Huh? Is that it?”


He was shocked by my viciousness.
All he had ever done was shown me kindness. The hurt in his eyes let me know I had checked him.

I had won.

Like a flame from the fire on a gas stove, I watched the light go out of his eyes.
He turned and quickly walked away.
I felt triumph.

I quickly walked back to the car.

I was so excited such a rich Man wanted me.

Of ALL the pretty women in the club he wanted me.
I felt special.

When I got to the passenger side of the car happy and ready for the good life, the Banker backhanded me across the face.

I tasted blood in my mouth.

I fell to the ground from the force of the blow.
He started to kick me.

I went fetal to weather the rage.

“I am not a target for those sluts on the pole!” He yelled as he kicked me in my stomach. “I saw you see me drive up and I watched you point me out. You little piece of shit!”

He spat on me as he walked around to the driver’s seat of his nice car and drove away.

I laid their, on the cold and cracked asphalt of the strip club parking lot.
I checked to see if anything was broken.
This wasn’t my first beat down.

In truth it could have been a lot worse.
If my Artist hadn’t slowed me down from getting in the car it WOULD have been worse.

(Beat downs are ALWAYS worse in confined spaces.)

It hurt too much to move.

So I just laid there praying to God the Banker did not drive back and run me over out of sheer spite.

A couple of the dancers found me and took me back to their place.

They let me stay until my body healed. Once I could walk without too much pain, I went to see my Artist to apologize.

I went to his shabby apartment and knocked.

No answer.
I knocked hard.
Still no answer.

I banged and screamed.

The resident heroin addict, who had to slap himself to stay awake, peeked out from under the steps and said, “They took Charles to the hospital.”

My blood turned cold. I got scared.

“Why? What happened?”
Mr. Heroin, slapped himself four times and then said, “last Saturday night he tried to kill himself.”

My mouth went dry.

I went back to the dancer’s spot and called all the hospitals in Baltimore until I found him.

I went to visit.

He had slit his wrists.

When I came into his room, he looked at me, his lips trembled, and he start to cry.

“I am not a rapist. I never put a hand on you. I tried to protect you. I fed you. I did my best to take care of you. How could you think of me like that? I love you. I love you. I love you.”

I ran to him and rocked him while he cried.

I climbed into his hospital bed with him and cradled him in my arms while we wept.

I cried and whispered to him how sorry I was and he was right; all he ever did was take care of me.

I stayed with him in the hospital until they moved him to the mental ward. I sat with him every day. They gave him pills to take and he was released.

I stayed with him while he mended.

I went with him to his therapy sessions and sat outside until he finished.
I bathed him and made sure he took his meds so he didn’t fall into depression.

I cleaned his apartment and made sure he ate.

It took time for him to heal but he did.

And I listened.
I listen to his dreams.
I listen to his secrets.

The secrets Black Men are never allowed to tell.

I slept naked in bed with him just so he could get warm.

“I was ten when it happened. It was my uncle. He made me… I didn’t want to… Then he…he…”

I hugged him with my body, heart, and soul.

“I would never rape you. I can’t. I’ve never been able to…I can’t get it up… All I can see is my Uncle…”

My Artist buried his face in my neck and cried.

I cried with him.
I understood what he could not say.

I kissed both of his wrists and showed him my scars.

Beautifully thin and artistic slits that look like keloid ribbons decorated my wrist akin to African markings from our Ancestors.

His tear-filled eyes opened-wide.
I could see him.
Seeing me.
For the first time.

He kissed me.

Out bodies wake up.
I got moist.
He got hard.

We cried together.

By: Dr. Venus Opal Reese
Date: 11.19.21

Pillow Talk.

I lay in bed.
A sheet draped over my satiated body.

Our noses kiss.
Like Eskimos.
We laugh in hushed tones.

“What are you thinking,” I softly whisper.

My Him trails his fingertips up my arm,
caresses my neck, and kisses my collar bone.

He is quiet.

I can see in his eyes he wants to tell me something.

Something true.
Something valid.

His fingers trace my cheek and chin.

He pins me in place with his eyes.
Raw. Present. Vulnerable.
His gaze, intense.
I hold my breath.

“I am thinking,” he leans up on one elbow just enough so I am looking up at him, “that I am your man.”

His touch changes.
From light to achingly tender.
“Who is taking care of his woman…”

My body responds.

I am transfixed.
I feel like he is wrapping a warm velvet blanket around my heart.

“…and protecting her.”

I freeze.
No breath.
No sound.

He knows.

No voice.
No choice.
No father.
Since 6.

And he still wants me.

Something in my chest starts to flutter and then lands, like a butterfly, on my heart.

I look away.
Slow hot tears.
Fall. Quiet and thick.

“Babe are you ok?”

I nodded yes.
But I can’t talk.
I can’t look at him.

He gently turns my face to his.

I can’t meet his eyes.
So he kisses them.
He lays with me in silence.

And I cry.
Saying nothing.
Saying everything.

In silence.
On the pillow.

He covers my body with his.
I wrap every part of me around him.
He puts me on top of him.
The sheet spilling down around my hips.

“I belong to you,” he says to me as I dig my fingernails into his chest and gasp for air.

I feel him.
On the inside.
And I am reduced to guttural utterances.
Grunts and sighs.
Throaty moans.


He moves my body to match his pace.
He sits up, my legs and the sheet wrap around his waist.

He whispers in my ear with an intensity that is almost savage.

“Take what you want from me, baby.
Take what you need.”
He presses into me.
I gasp.
He commands, ”Take it.”

And I do.

I push.

I take from him with the full force of rage.

The rage of not having a choice.
A voice.
Of always being told.
But never asked.

“I will never leave you.
Just as I am yours, you are mine.”

I climax.
I collapse.
In his arms.
On the pillow.

Then I weep.
I cry.
I wail.

He rocks me.

He whispers tender words to me.
He lays my head on his chest.

“It’s time for you to sleep now, babe.
I’m right here. I love you.
I am not going anywhere.”

Something settles in my spirit.
I think it’s the butterfly…

As I drift off to sleep lulled by the steady beat of his heart, I feel something different.
Something new. Something I didn’t know I didn’t have.

Until now.

For the first time.
Even if it’s only for now…



Yes. I’m safe.
For now.
And that’s enough.
It’s more than enough.

By: Dr. Venus Opal Reese
Date: 11/11/21

Letting Him Provide.

Like so many Black Women, I became independent out of necessity, not by choice.

I grew up poor.

Like so many little Black girls, I learned early to shut up, help out, or be put out.

So I got good at taking care of people.

I started working at 14, scraping up wax and cleaning floors at a junior high school at night. At 15, I lied about my age to sell shoes at the Kenney Shoe store.

With my first check, I bought my oldest sister a pair of riding boots. She loved me for it. I felt like I had done something good. So I worked to “help out” with the bills.

The more I provided the more I felt loved.

I learned how to make money so I could help the people I called my own. Money, in and of itself, wasn’t ever the goal. What mattered was I could provide.

And so I did.
I provided.
I was proud.

The problem with providing is it’s easy to be used.
Taken for granted.

I just turned fifty.

For the first time in my life, I do not provide.
A Black Man who loves me won’t take my money.

I can’t dominate him with my wealth.

He provides for me.
In all honesty, I feel a bit helpless.
Why would he want me if I can’t take care of him?

I asked him why I can’t pay for things.

He smiles at me with his eyes.
He leans into my ear and whispers, “You are mine. I take care of you. Can I do that? Can I take care of my baby? Please?”

I feel myself falling backward in memory.
Before language.
Beyond sound.

Tumbling through space and time.

Back to my mother’s belly.
Warm and safe.
Before I was born.

I hear my father whisper softly to my mother, “If you abort my seed, I will kill you. This baby is mine.”

My Him moves closer to me, speaks in a whisper that is soft and strong at the same time.

“I don’t want your money.
I want your heart.”

I feel shaky.

He knows I am scared of losing control.

Of trusting him like a trapeze artist without a net. Swinging high, in the air, five hundred feet above the ground.
Letting go of the bar.
Praying he catches me.
If he doesn’t, I fall.
I die.

He sees so clearly that my need to be independent is because no one has caught me when I fell.

Not my father.
Not a Black Man.

So he does the only thing that will comfort me.

He takes action.
He walks his talk.
He provides.

He feeds me when I’m hungry and gives me rest when I am tired.

He provides certainty when I am overwhelmed and peace when I am wracked with rage.

He gives me his jacket when I am cold.
He picks up the phone EVERY time I call.

He provides for me emotionally by being a man of his word, so I am secure in him.

He provides communication so I don’t have to guess.

He provides grace when I get triggered and turn him into the enemy.

He provides vision when I feel like all is lost.

He provides tenderness that softens my heart to make room for him.

He loves me with a consistency I have never known.

I never thought I missed my father. How can you miss something you never had? And yet, I’m learning the true cost of not having a father, my father in my life: certainty.

I don’t have the trust and certainty that a Black Man will be there for me no matter what. My father wasn’t so why would any man?

I never missed it because I never had it.

I have provided for myself and so many others for so long, I now have to LEARN how to let a Black man take care of me.

For some reason this truth makes me want to cry. Not just for me, but for us sis.

How many Black women who didn’t have a father couldn’t learn how to let themselves be taken care of by a Black Man because it felt like a threat to their independence?

I don’t know.

I do know my father provided for me by saving me when I was a fertilized seed in my mother’s womb.

I love him for providing protection for me BEFORE I was born.

I regard that one action as proof that somebody loved me and wanted me before life taught me how to be useful.

It’s because of that singular act of care that I can lower my defenses and let my Him try.

I’m learning to let my Him provide for me financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

I am learning provision is more than money.

It’s protection in various ways as needed.
It’s prophesying/visioning over your life.
It’s praying for you when you can’t.

As I heal my father wound, I make more and more room for my Him to love, cherish, and provide for me.

I’m realizing when I let him provide, he fulfills his purpose for being alive.

Just like a father’s purpose for being alive is to love, protect, provide, and cherish that he which loves, I’m discovering that same purpose holds true for the Black Man who loves me.

And I am grateful.

By: Dr. Venus Opal Reese
Date: 11.04.21