Domestic Violence (DV) is a topic that many have a hard time discussing but if we aren’t speaking about it how can we build awareness? Nearly 20 people experience some form of DV every minute. In my book, Because of Yesterday I discuss DV and personal situations in hopes to educate as well as give hope to others that has also experienced DV.

I was able to sit down with Nikia Claus, founder and CEO of Building Wings to have an open conversation about Domestic Violence.

“I first want to thank you Nikia for sitting down with me to have this conversation about a topic that is not only important to me but important to you as well. I have a few questions that I would like to discuss in hopes to give more insight on the topic for the readers. So jumping right in, in your own personal words how would you describe DV?” -Grecia

“I believe it’s someone that has been or is manipulated by a person, whether it’s physical or mental. At the time, we don’t think it is because they tell you that they love you and how sorry they are. When in reality, it is all about mind control over your life.” -Nikia

“I agree DV is about someone trying to have control over another person’s life. I will say most situations start with mental abuse, belittling a person and making them feel less than. Have you personally ever experienced DV?” –Grecia

“I have experienced Domestic Violence. Both physical and mentally. Once when I was married which I experienced both. A few relationships was mental. The relationship(s) that were mental, the person(s) didn’t even think it was, but to me it was” –Nikia

“I’m sorry you have experienced DV in what seems more than once in your life. I can relate to being in a couple physically violent relationships as well as a few emotionally/mentally abusive relationships. And you’re right often times the person doesn’t look at what they are doing as abuse but all that matters is how you feel. While in your DV relationship did you know of resources in your community to help with leaving?” –Grecia

“At the time I was in a domestic violence relationship, I didn’t know of any resources. I didn’t even know where to start to look. On one end, I was embarrassed that I allowed someone to abuse me. So, I didn’t even try to reach out for help. Many people say, ‘there’s no way I would put up with that,’ I was one of those women. As I began to find help, I searched the yellow pages. The woman I spoke with, told me to pack my belongings and go somewhere safe and when I get to the safe place to give her a call back. I never did call her back. As I began to pack some belongings; I had changed my mind because I didn’t want anyone to know.” –Nikia

“Wow, so you stayed because of the stigma our society has placed on women in DV situations. I remember the moment I realized I was in a DV relationship, almost two years after I left the relationship. I to, did not know of any resources to help in my situation so just like you, I stayed. Do you feel our society has a great or a lack of understanding of DV?” –Grecia

“I think most have a lack of understanding. You really don’t understand unless you been in a domestic violence situation. There are people and places that are willing to help without judgement but to truly understand it, it’s something you have to experience. Many people say why would you put up with such a thing but no one ask why would he put his hands on you or mentally abuse you. No one questions the abuser.” –Nikia

“You make a great point. I have not heard of people questioning the abuser as to why they feel the need to control another human, let alone someone they claim to love. Do you consider yourself a victim or survivor of DV? Why or why not? -Grecia

“I don’t consider myself a victim or survivor. I knew I was being abused and I chose to stay. We make our own decisions in life and I had made the decision to stay. Does it make it right, no it doesn’t? I stayed for the kids, the comfort of a place to live and was always told, ‘I love you’ and ‘I’m sorry.’ And because I loved the person, I stayed but by staying I suffered a head concussion, back injury, ankle sprain, PTSD with nightmares, anxiety, which I have to take medicine the rest of my life for, and I ended up homeless also on disability for 3 months. They had to put me on so many medications just to stabilize me. When I was ready to leave and I told him that I will be moving out. He decided that he wanted to end my life. And he actually thought he did. He called my family and told them that I was dead and he wouldn’t tell them where I was. I thought I was dead. As some would say, ‘I saw the white light’ or ‘I saw God,’and I will always remember asking if he (God) can send me back because I have kids. I then remember waking up in the hospital. Which he thought it was okay to do what he did.” –Nikia

“Thank you for sharing part of your story and once again my heart aches to hear what you just shared. Thankfully you survived and able to tell your story now and help others. You also made an interesting point regarding victim or survivor. I personally consider myself a survivor but how you stated your answer is an interesting way of looking at the two terms. I would like to ask you about your non- profit, Building Wings. What was your motivation for starting Building Wings?” –Grecia

“My motivation for starting Building Wings was to be able to help and uplift women. Whether you experienced DV or not. At the time I experienced DV it wasn’t that many people speaking up about it. There was awareness but not as much as it is today.” –Nikia

“What year did you start Building Wings?” –Grecia

“I started in 2016 but made it official in August of 2017.” –Nikia

“How exciting we are coming up on the one year anniversary. What is the purpose of Building Wings?” –Grecia

“The purpose of Building Wings, is to provide women who are in Domestic Violence shelters the basic necessities that we take for granted in our everyday life; such as toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, deodorant etc. I also add little extra things such as candles, journal, and coloring books for the kids. I put all these in baskets with a loving uplift message.” –Nikia

“That sounds amazing and much needed. Sounds like you want to make sure women feel a sense of comfort as well as making sure hygiene is taken care of. You’re right those are things people take for granted. I am glad we have someone like you thinking of the small things that help women. How can someone get help or in contact with Building Wings?” –Grecia

“You can receive help by going on to my @buildingwings1 on Facebook. Building Wings phone number and email is on the page. I mentor a few women to help them succeed in what they want to in life.” –Nikia

“Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me and also the readers. I look forward to speaking with you again soon and maybe we can discuss some other topics regarding DV awareness.” -Grecia

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