by Gina Mellish · 24 Oct 2020 · 3 min read
Growing up, I hated how I looked. My mother is Irish, Polish, German, and Dutch, while my Dad emigrated from Nigeria. I was a biracial girl living in a majority Caucasian town. Not only was I surrounded by people who looked different than me, but I also rarely felt represented in the media. This lack of community during my adolescence gave me little to no self-esteem, self-worth, or self-confidence, which led me to want to change everything about myself: my hair, the accent I picked up from my African family, and even my skin color.
Teenage girls have it very hard. Anyone who has ever been one knows this instinctively. Navigating your newfound emergence into the contradictory social and sexual politics and expectations, where your body is weaponized against you and your value dictated by its degree of conformity to a Barbie doll, where you're either a slut if you have sex or a prude if you don't, where eating disorders are tacitly encouraged and you're constantly told to be quiet, be small and meek and always complaisant, and stay out of the way – it's a lot. Their argot is maligned, their speaking habits policed, their manner of dress demeaned and insulted as vanity, and their interests automatically deemed shallow, frivolous, and intellectually deficient by their mere association with them. In short, being a teenage girl isn't easy.
My life changed when I was raped, a part of me became completely lost, lonely, and utterly without hope.
Some outfits will forever remain ingrained in our subconscious long after we remove the clothes from our bodies. These articles of clothing often remind us of pivotal memories, from the first day of middle school to our senior prom. If you are fortunate, your garment will never carry traumatic memories, but for those who are victims of rape escaping these memories is almost impossible.
Reflections for the hip-hop songstress.
As it turns out, relationship abuse does not discriminate. Domestic violence can happen to any woman of any race, religion, education level, income, or age. A victim of relationship abuse can look like anyone — even Miss New Jersey USA.
In early March, stay-at-home orders were put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Suddenly people across the world were instructed to quarantine at home. For most people, inside the walls of their home is a place of security and solace. For others, home can be a dangerous place of abuse.In an instant, domestic violence victims around the world became isolated with their abusers causing domestic violence reports to increase by 35% in the United States, according to the World Health Organization. With social isolation and the stress of the unknown, the coronavirus pandemic started to breed dangerous situations at home where violence may have never previously shown its face. Domestic violence quickly became an epidemic within the pandemic.
After I exchanged enough information with the Uber driver to confirm that neither one of us was likely a serial killer, the spotless sedan was quickly filled with enough small talk to occupy the brief ride. "What do you do?" "I'm a writer." "Ah, what do you write?" At the time, I was deep in writing my debut non-fiction book, Raising the Resistance: A Mother's Guide to Practical Activism, and had been busy typing away about feminism, reproductive justice, antiracism, and other topics that don't normally come up during a short Uber ride with a stranger but had consumed my work and much of my life. "I'm writing a book," I responded. "Oh! About what?" "Motherhood and political activism."
If someone had told me this time last year that the modern woman was being manipulated, I would have never believed it. Now, I see everything through a different lens. You see, I grew up around a lot of single moms who