A broken ankle, a broken wrist and some bruised ribs. Those were just some of the injuries sustained over the two years Fernanda Dixon was in an abusive relationship with her children’s father.
Dixon spoke out for the first time at Tuscaloosa Public Library Saturday about breaking the cycle of violence, as part of Woman 2 Woman Empowerment’s One Vision One Voice. Besides her family, no one had ever heard her speak about her story and what she went through.
Dixon was one of many speakers present at the One Voice One Vision event, which was held to increase awareness on domestic violence and breast cancer, which are both nationally recognized in October.
“It started with threats – he would threaten me. When I was pregnant he pulled a knife on me to my stomach,” Dixon said. “Told me all kind of things about how I was pregnant for him, that I belonged to him, he owned me basically.”
In January 2002, then 18-year-old Dixon had just returned from her doctor’s appointment where her boyfriend was expecting her to come home and tell him how far along she was in her pregnancy. But Dixon was not pregnant, and this information led to the most brutal beating she had ever received from her boyfriend, she said.
“My son was barely walking at the time, and he was actually in the room when it happened, so him being 1 year old, he was wondering what was going on. So seeing me screaming and yelling, he started crying and I tried to go to him to comfort him,” Dixon said. “His father being in the rage that he was, as my son was trying to get to me, he took him and he just pushed him into the wall. I was like, no, I cannot do this. I can take you doing this to me, but, no, you can’t do this to my child.”
As Dixon began to cry during her speech, her mother, Claudette Dixon, whom Fernanda had seen her own father beat, put her arm on Fernanda’s shoulder to help her get through speaking.
“Yes, my daughter has seen it and it hurts,” Claudette said. “I talked to the Rev. Harris about it when she wanted a speaker and I almost choked. I thought I was over it, you know, but it brought back so many memories, and I’ve been praying on it all week to get rid of the fear because I thought I had gotten over all that. I tried, and when my daughter did tell me she was going through it, I was so proud of her to be strong and to not stay in it. You have to get out. ”
Claudette spoke about growing up in a household where you didn’t talk about what went on and the man was the head of the house. Fernanda, who is now 29, said 12 years later, she still receives threats from her children’s father.
“I do thank God that I went through it because it made me stronger, and now I know what to tell my children. I tell my daughters and even my son that if you get that angry with a person something is not right,” Fernanda said.
For more information on the Woman 2 Woman Empowerment program and its future events, visit woman2womanempowerment.com.