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In honor of her mother, Inga Coffee: Ashley Jones

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In honor of her sister, Kimberly Augcomfar: Tracee Augcomfar

Why are you participating in Unconventional Apology Project?

 

“…if my story or any other stories can help someone else, I think that’s awesome.”

 

Two reasons. One is very selfish. It’s because it’s the most comfortable arena I’ve come across that I could get this off my back. This monkey’s been on my back for a long time. And the other one is, if my story or any other stories can help someone else, I think that’s awesome.

 

 

 

Have you ever had the opportunity to discuss the story you are sharing with us today?

 

“…it’s beyond me that someone who I never met has such an impact on my life right now. I mean, never.”

 

Only with family members that I’ve tried to get information from. And some were extremely hesitant, like my father. Some were extremely forthright, like, “Do you really wanna know?” And some, like my mother, who completely blanked it out and even if she wanted to tell me, she couldn’t.

 

I was mad...I mean I was upset, because basically I had been lied to. I used to see this picture of someone who I had no clue who it is. And there’s only a few like your grandmother’s situation. But I wanted to know who this person was. She’s clearly part of the family because there’s pictures of her, but I have no idea who she is. We never met. And it’s beyond me that someone who I never met has such an impact on my life right now. I mean, never.

 

 

 

What domestic abuse experience do you want to share?

 

“My sister, who had encephalitis, which is water on the brain, she can’t balance very good. She was never able to crawl correctly. He would beat her for that.”

 

It’s kind of a multilevel experience. And it’s so crazy how far back it goes because both my parents come from abusive situations. On my mom’s side, her father was a professional boxer in Canada and when he found out she was pregnant with my sister from a black man, and he does not like black people, he literally beat the crap out of her. I found out because when my grandmother passed, we had to kind of go through her stuff, and there was this picture of my mother with two black eyes and a busted lip. And she was so young so I didn’t really understand, but that’s pretty much what happened. And my mother’s the kind of person where she’ll do things just to piss you off. So I know she was with that man because she knew her father hated black men. On my father’s side, I don’t really know what he went through, but he was the oldest so he had to take care of his younger brothers and sisters and they ALL said how much of a beast he was. Like he would beat them on a regular basis. So that’s kind of like his background.

 

“So he puts her back on the stool [cries, but continues to speak] and this time, she fell again but didn’t make a sound… within an hour of giving birth to me, [tears] my mother had to be told that her other daughter was dead [cries].”

 

I don’t know too much how they met, but I do know that my father had a bet with one of his military friends that he could get my mother pregnant before he could. So that’s pretty much how I came about. So my sister was not my father’s. One of my aunts – I guess she was right under my father, she knew how he was so she would regularly come and check on us. We lived in the projects in Staten Island. So she would regularly check on my sister and my mother. My mother was pretty far along pregnant with me, and I believe she went into labor. She made extremely sure that my sister was left with a neighbor—not with my father. She didn’t wanna leave him. Somehow after dropping her off, he left and came back and picked up my sister and brought her back to the apartment. At that time, my aunt had randomly come through and when she came in the apartment. My sister, who had encephalitis, which is water on the brain, she can’t balance very good. She was never able to crawl correctly. He would beat her for that. Which in hindsight, that’s pretty bizarre. So he was there with her and my aunt comes and she sees the baby-sitting on a stool. And I guess when she got there, the baby reached for her and fell. And so she goes to get the baby and my father comes out of the room and is like, “Don’t touch her! She’s being punished because she didn’t eat her food.” So he puts her back on the stool [cries, but continues to speak] and this time, she fell again but didn’t make a sound. So my aunt takes off. She took off like a bat outta hell—that’s how she explained it, and left. From my understanding at that point, my father had to go with the baby to the hospital and within an hour of giving birth to me, [tears] my mother had to be told that her other daughter was dead [cries]. So, for the first 6 months of my life, she never took care of me, she didn’t want to have anything to do with me. So my grandmother had to take care of me.

 

I love my grandmother with all my heart, but my grandfather made her drink because it was a social thing to do in these circles. So she became this raging alcoholic as a result of it. But anyway, my mother kind of…her maternal instincts kicked in 6 months later. My father would do stuff like make her stand in the corner because she didn’t know how to cook soul food. [Laughs] what do you want from this white chick from Montreal, you know? [Room erupts with laughter]. So he would do stuff like that and she would get abused on a regular and I believe when I was almost 3, she had made a decision that she was going to take me away from there, so we came to Los Angeles. And you would think it would get better, but it really, really didn’t. Because now she’s just this crazy white girl in LA [laughs], just wanting to have a good time. And she came out here with her friend and I remember my cousin was out here too. She’s like a year older than me. We had to endure drug parties, orgies, you know? Getting kicked out of our beds so that they can use it. And I remember this one time; we didn’t know what was going on. Sex looked like somebody was getting hurt. So we would jump on the guy who was having sex with our mothers. Like, no this is not cool you know? There were all kinds of drugs, but I remember distinctly having this patent leather Mickey Mouse purse and the little shape of his head was clear and they had the two little eyes that moved around. And it was up to the eyes in weed seeds, because I used to see them put the little box top underneath the sofa…pull it out and fill it up. So I mean, that was going on for a while. And then my mother started to be abusive with me [deep sigh].

 

“Codependency is a motherfucker, I swear to God [cries] ‘cause they’ll find each other. And she found him. And for the next 12 years, it was nothing but abuse.”

 

I didn’t understand…I never understood why. [Tears] I mean I loved this person so much, and I would get this from her all the time. And then she met my stepfather. Codependency is a motherfucker, I swear to God [cries] ‘cause they’ll find each other. And she found him. And for the next 12 years, it was nothing but abuse. So I just remember every Saturday morning [deep, audible exhale], getting up quickly, going into the living room and putting the cartoons loud so I didn’t have to hear anything. And I think at this time, I had discovered the love that I had for dogs. I had this one dog, I mean we would play every day and I’d put rollers in his hair and he didn’t care [laughs]. He just let me do whatever. And there’s this one time…we had to leave him something to chew on and unfortunately, this one night we all left for the movies and we left a shoe in the back [tears] and he didn’t have anything to chew on. So he ended up chewing on a little corner of the couch. And my stepfather just went into this rage and just started beating on him. You know it’s a dog’s natural defense to protect themselves, so show their teeth and he was doing that. And, he hung him over the door. And then put him in the shower with scaled hot water. At this time I had to leave. I ran out the door to a neighbor’s house and I was telling them, so they said, “Stay here.” So the next morning I went home…my mother knew where I was because my friend’s mother called her and told her. But I went home and I was greeted at the front of the building by my friend Kip and he was like, “I’m really sorry about your dog.” And I’m like, “What do you mean?” And then he said, “He’s in the trashcan.” [Cries] So I went back there and he was all burned up. That was my best friend. I just felt like everything I loved, this man would destroy at the first chance he would get [deep sigh]. And we just had to endure that for 12 years. 12 years.

 

“At one point I just got tired of it and I started to sleep with a knife under my bed [tears] and waited for him to just make a move. Like, dude…I’m coming for you. I’ve had enough.”

 

At one point I just got tired of it and I started to sleep with a knife under my bed [tears] and waited for him to just make a move. Like, dude…I’m coming for you. I’ve had enough. So, one day I was trying to go to school…they were arguing and I pretty much at this point would be like, let me just get out of here because you guys are gonna argue regardless and I have nothing to do with this, I just wanna go to school. And I remember trying to get past them two arguing and he had a rifle. And he took the rifle and just banged me in my face with it. And you know, it’s nothing knew because I would go to school with welt marks on me and if it wasn’t for my teachers, which they really never…at that time really never said anything because that just wasn’t what they did. But they would give me extra attention, spent extra time with me, which I so appreciate right now in hindsight. They saved me. I came home that day and I was like, “I’m outta here. I can’t do this anymore.” I’ve done everything from try to sell my toys as a kid to get money to get a ticket to go to Canada, you know? And I just couldn’t take it anymore. I told my mother I was leaving. I was like, “You can come with me if you want, but I’m not staying here.” She was too fearful to do any of that. I remember I didn’t even pack my stuff, I just left.

 

“This was the first time that I realized, while I’m not an abuser, my response to abuse had changed…dramatically. And I went OFF on him.”

 

And I’m going down the stairs and I can just feel this hand on the back of me [deep sigh]. This was the first time that I realized, while I’m not an abuser, my response to abuse had changed…dramatically. And I went OFF on him. I remember kicking him in his nuts and anything I could do in this furious frenzy until my boyfriend, who I called, pulled me off. And I went to stay with him and his family for a few months. And then, mind you at 15…I couldn’t even work yet. But I got a fake work permit and I got a job at the Taco Maker at USC. I got an apartment on 3rd and St. Andrews and told my mom, “You’re more than welcome to come stay with me, but you know, I’m not coming back.” So she eventually did and that didn’t work out at all because at this point, I’m a completely different person and I had lost my respect for her. Like, how could YOU wanna stay in that, let alone have me stay in it? She didn’t really have any words, but I always remember once again, always asking who’s this person and what happened? And the story would pretty much be the same. It would kind of a change a little bit. I just was never satisfied with the answer I got. Ever.

 

I was never close to my father’s side of the family. I had totally grown up with them at a young age, but not one time made any communication with them. I had such a great memory. I would remember the stuff that would happen…I mean I remembered what the apartment would look like. I laid it out. I remember this red truck that used to come by and it would have a roller coaster in the back of it…and getting on there. So I kind of remember how to get back to Staten Island to where one of my aunts lived. So, I think I was 30 and I had made the trip out there…on my own. Found my way, knocked on the door and it was like seeing these faces that looked like me for the first time. You know, mind you, I love all my family, but I pretty much just with the white side of my family and had no connection like I do now with the other side of the family. So they welcomed me in and I got to know everybody. And I do remember asking about my sister. And this was the aunt that used to show up to the apartment and check on everybody. She said, “Do you really wanna know?” I said, “Yes.” So she explained the story to me, as I’m telling you, but I called my mom and I said, “You’ve been lying to me this whole time. This whole entire time you’ve been lying to me.” Now it makes sense why my father whose a common criminal wound up becoming a pastor…he was trying to seek forgiveness for what had happened in his own screwed up way. But she was dead silent on the phone. She had nothing to say. Because she had put it out of her mind for so long you know?

 

“[Cries] I was happy to find out who this person was, but I was so sad that…I realized that her death was what shaped my life completely.”

 

So I had eventually came back home but this drive was still there and I still had to know more about my sister. So when I went back like five years later, I told my aunt, “Do you know where she’s buried?” She said, “I know where she’s buried, but I don’t know where exactly because no one ever came to claim her body and so she was buried in a pauper’s grave.” But she knew she was at Frederick Douglas Cemetery, which is one of the oldest ones in New York I believe. So we took a trip up there and couldn’t find her…they couldn’t find her. As we were about to leave, someone came out of the office and said, “I know where’s at.” So, we kind of went to this little place and it didn’t look like anything. It was just dirt with a couple of patches of grass on it, which is super sad. I don’t understand how neither one of them could get it together enough to let my sister have at least a decent burial [tears]. So, my uncle, my father’s brother…he was a carpenter, so we weren’t allowed to put a stone or grave marker on the site because there were 8 other people buried on top of her. So we made a cross, a wooden cross and got a little plaque with her name on it and we were allowed to put it around the edge. [Cries] I was happy to find out who this person was, but I was so sad that…I realized that her death was what shaped my life completely. So, I just wanna pay proper respects to her. So when I got home, I let my mother know what I did and she was like, “I mean what do you want from me? What do you want me to do?” “I personally don’t want anything from you, but you have to understand that our relationship will never be ok until you deal with the first relationship that you had with your first child. I’ve done the footwork. I’ve done all the hard work. I know where she’s at. I marked her grave. YOU need to go and pay respects to her.”

 

“She had several contusions on her head and lacerations on her body and that’s not from falling off of a chair…there’s no way. So, I let my step mother know (who I was very close with), what I was gonna do. I told her I’m gonna see about getting charges put on him. Because as far as I was concerned, it was murder.”

 

We didn’t talk for a few years. She couldn’t do it and she knew she couldn’t do it. And I just didn’t wanna talk to her. In the mean time, now that I understood what really happened, I decided to do some research. And since I was a blood relative, I had access to the autopsy files [deep sigh], the police report, birth certificate, death certificate…everything. So, I sent out for all of that [light laugh in disbelief]…nothing matched. [Cries] absolutely nothing matched. She had several contusions on her head and lacerations on her body and that’s not from falling off of a chair…there’s no way. So, I let my step mother know (who I was very close with), what I was gonna do. I told her I’m gonna see about getting charges put on him. Because as far as I was concerned, it was murder. So I did. I filed everything…sent it to the DA’s Office in New York. About 2-3 months later, I get a call PERSONALLY from the DA’s Office and this woman…she was completely sympathetic to my cause, but she had to let me know that it was NOT considered murder…it was considered involuntary manslaughter and there is a statute of limitations on it and it’s long since passed. So there’s nothing that they could do about it. But I knew. And I wanted to make sure that he knew that I knew. When I was out there in New York, I had sent a picture of the gravesite with her name on it to him. With no words, no letters...nothing. Just the image. And I never got a response. And it didn’t matter because I knew he got it and I knew he understood that I knew what had happened. [Deep sigh] and…I mean we never had a relationship anyway, but that pretty much sealed it for me. Like, you’re nothing to me.

 

I‘ve forgiven my mother. She’s since gone to visit and that visit really opened our relationship up to where it’s not like a mother and daughter…we can’t approach it that way. We really have to approach each other as just human beings. And I can respect you that way…I don’t think I can respect you as my mother right now, but I can respect you as a human being. [Deep sigh]. My grandmother eventually passed away from…well she went to AA and for 8 years, she lived a clean and sober life but eventually died. And ironically would not trust any of her kids to take care of her. She chose to let the cancer eat her up and just go. Which, she tried to do before and I never understood…like why would you try to kill yourself? I mean life is awesome [laughs], like why would you try to do that? And I totally understood what an asshole my grandfather was. I can find some solace in knowing who my sister was, or is. And that my mother paid respects to her [tears]…but it’s such a long period of time to pass.

 

“So, while I wasn’t picking scenarios where I would be abusive in my relationships, I would definitely pick someone would use my history against me and would hit me.”

 

I just feel like so much was wasted not understanding certain things or behaviors I was noticing in myself. Like, the second major issue was in high school when I was at a dance with my boyfriend and he was looking at some girl’s breasts. I was like, “I wanna go home. I’m tied, I’m done with this.” He didn’t like what I said and he slapped me. And I…LOST it. I just LOST it. It didn’t matter that he was a grown man. It didn’t matter. I didn’t care. I just started wailing on him, to the point where he had to sit on me. We were sitting on somebody’s lawn and they called the police. The police took ME away. Handcuffed ME…took ME away. Because I was the one doing the damage…and let him walk across the way to the office. Still not knowing what a serious effect…’cause I mean, you gotta know…like you know I’m not a perfect person. I’m gonna be affected by it, I just had no clue as to how. So, while I wasn’t picking scenarios where I would be abusive in my relationships, I would definitely pick someone would use my history against me and would hit me.

 

“And she slapped me. And, I just let her have it and I ended up going to jail for it. Which is like the worst time for me, [cries, but continues to speak] because like how am I the one that has to be punished for this? I didn’t even touch her, she hit ME.”

 

This one time, there was an 11-year relationship and I busted her, so like I don’t know how you mad at me…I busted YOU out and I want you to leave. And she slapped me. And, I just let her have it and I ended up going to jail for it. Which is like the worst time for me, [cries, but continues to speak] because like how am I the one that has to be punished for this? I didn’t even touch her, she hit ME. But, the good part is that I know now how I’m affected by it. And sought help. I’m quick to dismiss people who do that…who feel would come close. When you can’t communicate with somebody…when all forms of communication are gone, and you’re only option left is to hit somebody, you gotta go. That’s not cool. I mean, that’s not cool. It’s nothing I wanted to involve myself with you know? Especially after going to jail. But, now I can see and control by removing myself. I don’t know what I’m capable of, so I don’t wanna find out. But I don’t just wanna let this rot in side me you know? I don’t wanna find out. I wanna be able to just get up and walk away when some scenario like that hits me.

 

“[Cries] because I felt if I didn’t get this outta me, I would just be this misunderstood person who you know anybody looking in would just be like, ‘You’re a monster.’ I’m not. I just don’t like people putting their hands on me in that way you know? Just love me unconditionally.”

 

I have no control over codependency. I have no control. I’ve gone to therapy to discuss what everyone labeled “my temper,” which I think is not fair. It’s not my temper; it’s my response to YOUR abuse. I can’t help it that I’m bigger than you. I can’t help it that I hit harder than you. Don’t touch me like that. Don’t ever touch me like that and we’ll be fine. You’ll never have to experience that if you just talk to me or let me leave. Because I got to the point where I could do that…I can get up and leave…let me go though. And I just was tired of finding these people who would use that knowledge against me. So I kinda just stopped. Just stopped for a minute. And, that’s when you guys came along thankfully. [Cries] because I felt if I didn’t get this outta me, I would just be this misunderstood person who you know anybody looking in would just be like, “You’re a monster.” I’m not. I just don’t like people putting their hands on me in that way you know? Just love me unconditionally. Don’t try to hurt me. And I felt like I would HAVE to tell them something. I couldn’t tell them everything, but I’d say like, “Please, do me a favor. If ever you’re upset with me, or frustrated with me, or you feel like you can’t communicate, just don’t ever put your hands on me.” But, that’s like giving somebody the bullet to the gun. And the first chance they get, that’s what they would do. And I just don’t want anyone to have that kinda power over me anymore. I don’t. And then I just succumb to the same ills that everybody else in my family has. And I wanna stop. It has to stop. I just wanna stop it. I’m not gonna live a realtionless…a relationshipless? [Laughs] existence you know? But, I can’t expect anyone else to do this for me. I have to do it for myself, so I thank you [tears] for giving me the venue to do it…finally. ‘Cause it’s been so hard…living with it. [Deep sigh]…I don’t really care what people think. I really don’t. But I care what I think. I care how I feel. If I’m uncomfortable with it, if I’m uncomfortable with you, I have to excuse myself, from YOU. And I’ve been able to do that. And I think this is the cherry on the cake, where I can completely begin to heal myself and REALLY not care what people think or what people do.

 

“…this is my way of helping myself and ultimately helping someone else out there who feels exactly like I do and who’s misunderstood like I am. And hopefully they can be comfortable enough to go out and get some help and start really living. ‘Cause I feel like after today, I pretty much will [laughs].”

 

I think that if it wasn’t for my teachers and my dogs, teaching me what unconditional love really, really is…I never wanted to have kids ‘cause I was afraid. Am I gonna pass this on? If it wasn’t for them really making me understand what love is all about, I don’t know…I don’t know where I’d be. I know there are people in far worse situations than I’m in, and I pray for them because this is bad, but to even imagine something worse, than this? And I just don’t wanna live with it anymore. Holding it in is a form of torture for me [deep sigh]. And to just know there are people being tortured, you know? I never took pleasure in knowing I was on the same sinking ship as everyone else. I never did, so this is my way of helping myself and ultimately helping someone else out there who feels exactly like I do and who’s misunderstood like I am. And hopefully they can be comfortable enough to go out and get some help and start really living. ‘Cause I feel like after today, I pretty much will [laughs]. To finally get this off of me…it was almost like watching…when I watched my grandmother pass, something left her…I couldn’t see it, but I could see that when her body went back down, it went further than where it was initially. And that’s kind of like how I feel. Like this weight is off my shoulders. I can say this without being in an environment where I’d be judged or thought of a certain way. ‘Cause I’m a good person. I’m a humanitarian first and foremost. While I was so busy trying to help everyone else, I never bothered to help myself. So, I’m helping myself.

 

…That was awesome, wow [long break].

 

 

 

What no longer lingers in your heart and mind about your experience? What has opened up for you as a result?

 

“Healing has definitely opened up. I cry, but I haven’t felt this good about the promise of a healthy future, which is priceless. It’s just priceless to me.”

 

I don’t think I’m as angry. When you have the understanding of what happened, you know some of the frustration and anger can dissipate. So with the understanding of really what happened, and you know, the knowledge that our parents can only use the tools that were given to them, I became less upset with my parents because they came from that. They kind of took it to a different degree than I did, but you have to acknowledge it as opposed to shoving it under the rug, which is that era. So, the knowledge definitely has helped the anger.

 

Healing has definitely opened up. I cry, but I haven’t felt this good about the promise of a healthy future, which is priceless. It’s just priceless to me. To hide it is one thing. You can put a façade up and be whoever you want…I just always wanted to be myself. I didn’t wanna have to put a faced up. This is me, this is who I am. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to share; don’t be afraid to tell it. Don’t even be afraid to be judged if that’s what someone else desires. Just don’t. The only thing I care about right now is because everything has come to this one point where you’re ether gonna deal with this or you’re not. Thankfully, I’ve been able to deal with it. Healing is…without medicine…there’s no pill I have to take. There’s no doctor’s appointment I have to go to. I’ve just accepted who I am and where I am and by sharing it, I just kind of like…what’s called a creative bubble technique where you put your thoughts and ideas into this pink bubble and just let it go into the universe and collect energy. And I feel like I can do that now. I can just put this in the bubble and let it go and collect the energy and hopefully not attract the codependents out there [laughs]. Or at least turn them onto you guys [laughs]. I like you, but you gotta go do this first!

 

This morning, everything that could’ve gone wrong, went wrong. I was like no. No. No. You’re not gonna side step me, you’re not gonna sidetrack me. I’m on a mission and I’m gonna stay on it. I have the strength now that it’s out of me, 100%. I don’t have to judge myself anymore. I’m not a bad person. I’m not bad because I strike back when someone hits me. I just wanted to maintain control of the frenzy. That’s just not something I wanted to deal with, but I understand it now. It’s a valid response to something I don’t like having being done to me. I don’t want to become them by doing it back. I want to be able to walk away and move on. So, I can now.

 

 

 

What is your definition of love and how does that love feel?

 

“I get it from my animals. It’s beautiful because they accept you for exactly who you are. They never pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, you know, are you coming from some kind of messed up environment?’ [Room erupts with laughter]. They just love me instantly.”

 

Never having had a child and hearing women talk about this is what true love and unconditional love is all about…I get it from my animals. It’s beautiful because they accept you for exactly who you are. They never pulled me aside and said, “Hey, you know, are you coming from some kind of messed up environment?” [Room erupts with laughter]. They just love me instantly. And I take them as they are, you know? I forgive for mistakes. So not having received that from a child that I created, I get that from my animals and it’s the best feelings. But there is a lame side to love [chuckles].  And I really don’t understand exactly what love is because a lot of it seems to be being used to somebody for so long. That’s been my take on it. I don’t know if it’s correct or valid, but I do think there’s a lame part to it. I think the unconditional side of it is so overwhelming that I don’t think anything else maters.

 

You know Pompeii? When the volcano came down and you see these families together like they knew they were about to be out, but they’re like, “Let’s just love on each other. Let’s just hold each other. And this lava is just gonna cover us, but we’re here together.” And that’s just amazing to me. The father didn’t run off and leave the mother. The mother didn’t run off. The baby’s there too. So, I think that’s love. Like, let’s stay and weather this “lava.”

 

 

 

What does leaving a Trail of Existence mean to you?

 

“So, just before they were pulling his trunk with the little flower that had the dust speck on it, the final little baby made a ‘yopp,’ like ‘YOPP!’ And it busted through there and all the sounds came out of the dust speck [laughs]. So they were heard and I think that’s important. They left a trail to let them know, ‘Hey I’m here!’”

 

I think especially when I was a kid, because so many things were swept under the rug I can’t even imagine how many countless situations like this have been swept under the rug and ignored or forgotten. So the Trail of Existence is like…I guess the best example I can give is from my favorite, Dr. Seuss [big smile]and “Horton Hears a Who,” if you’ve ever read that book. Where he’s walking around with a dust speck and he would talk to it. And all the monkeys thought he was crazy because he’s talking to the dust speck. So they were gonna boil the dust speck in Beezle-nut Oil. So he was telling the people who were living in the dust speck, “Listen you guys gotta be heard, you gotta make a sound! Everybody in this town has gotta make a sound; from the oldest to the youngest. Make a sound so you can be heard and know that you’re there!” So, just before they were pulling his trunk with the little flower that had the dust speck on it, the final little baby made a “yopp,” like “YOPP!” And it busted through there and all the sounds came out of the dust speck [laughs]. So they were heard and I think that’s important. They left a trail to let them know, “Hey I’m here! Don’t boil me!” Just ‘cause you think the dude is crazy [laughs]. That’s my favorite. I’ve read so many books…that is my favorite, favorite book.

 

And I think it’s relative to this Trail of Existence because things like this shouldn’t be swept under the rug. This is how we deal with it. We have to face things head on. Whenever you’re comfortable doing it, as long as you do it. I would never think it would have taken me this long, and it probably wouldn’t have, but until you guys came along and made this comfortable, I could see faces like my family, when I met them for the first time. I see some faces that are familiar to me and comfortable. And it’s extremely important to say these things so that no one else ever gets swept under the rug. That their “yop” is heard [laughs].  

 

Tracee has requested we include the photo of her sister below, Kimberly Augcomfar, as part of her Trail of Existence.

 

 

 

 

Do you have any parting thoughts?

 

“And I wanna make a difference. This is part of it, I just feel that I wanna make more of a difference than just saying my story…telling my story. I don’t know what form it’s gonna take. I don’t have a clue. But now I feel like ok, now I’ve relieved myself. I would just really…it would make me feel good to relieve someone else.”

 

I believe this is a movement. I was a little hesitant at first even though I was comfortable, but it’s a movement that is clearly picking up at a fast, fast rate. And I’m fortunate to be here at its early stages. And I wanna make a difference. This is part of it, I just feel that I wanna make more of a difference than just saying my story…telling my story. I don’t know what form it’s gonna take. I don’t have a clue. But now I feel like ok, now I’ve relieved myself. I would just really…it would make me feel good to relieve someone else.  You know? Of their torture or their pain [tears]. It makes the world a little bit less scarier. It makes me feel a little bit less alone. And…for some reason, I just feel like my future’s gonna be a bit brighter [big smile] you know? The sun can finally shine. And it’s ok for people to see what they see now. You can see that this is who I am. Instead of hearing the stories told by third parties you know? ‘Cause they always get it wrong. They always get it wrong [deep sigh].

 

Like I said, I don’t know what form it’s gonna take, but I know that it’s gonna formulate itself in some way. If it’s just one person or it’s maybe my continued work with dogs [laughs]. They teach me! Oh my God, these creatures will teach you so much! If I was sitting…if my dog was here right now, she’d be all on me ‘cause she knows I’m crying. She knows [laughs]. So I think it’s definitely gonna go in that direction. I’ve been so absorbed in getting this off me. Now that it’s off me and it’s recorded [laughs], I can’t turn back! I don’t wanna turn back, you know? I hope this doesn’t hurt anybody in my family [tears], because sometime truth does. Maybe one day I can forgive him, but I can’t do that right now. Maybe he’ll be part of what this means to me, but until he can accept and acknowledge what he’s done…and being a pastor…a coke snorting, marijuana smoking pastor…you know? Until he can accept what he’s done and actually ask for forgiveness, I mean he’s just gonna live a tortured life. I mean I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, but [deep sigh], there’s no one more deserving. My fear of not wanting to have a kid, because I didn’t want to pass this on…I hate that it’s subsided at this late stage, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t still reach out to a child that’s already here and make a difference in some way. I mean, God, I can’t [deep sigh]. I can’t imagine being out there as a kid with no parents. Like what’s worse? Two fucked up parents [laughs] excuse my language, or none? I think I would take the messed up parents because at least there’s hope. Like you said, there’s hope.

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WARNING: this website contains accounts of domestic and sexual violence that some may find graphic or triggering and not appropriate for all ages.

 

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Domestic Violence Stories