Yoshiko Burney on How She Overcame Domestic Violence
“I won’t be abused. No man will hit me, if he does I’m out of there!” That’s something that every women always says. No one ever thinks they’ll be a victim of domestic violence.
But Yoshiko Burney has been there. Yet, today, she stands as a survivor and not only did she survive the situation but she also helps women who are going through similar circumstances.
Dive into her interview below and learn more about how she overcome her domestic violence relationship and how she is making a difference in the lives of others.
What memories as a child still stick with you today? What was it like growing up in your household?
Being with my grandmother, going to Toys R Us and having lunches together stick with me. My grandmother had eight children. I spent a lot of time helping her cook and prepare for holidays, when everyone would come home. I spent a lot of time with her, period. My mother was not 100% mentally capable of caring for me. I lived with my mom for a good portion of my life, but I also lived with my grandmother for the other portion, until my mom got better. Even after that, we were literally with my grandmother every single day. Life was pretty good; grandma spoiled me because of the incapabilities of my mom.
We’re so inspired by your story as a domestic violence survivor. Could you share a little more about your experience with domestic violence and how it impacted who you are today?
I was a young, painfully ignorant girl. No one in my family was abused. I would say, like everyone else, “I won’t be abused.” No man will hit me, if he does I’m out of there!”
I found that not to be so simple. I met him at a waitressing job, and we immediately moved in together. He was possessive and accused me of flirting with every man I saw. The very first time he hit me, I was cooking our dinner. I will never forget, I was cooking Chicken Alfredo (a dish I haven’t had since that day because it’s a trigger for me) and he flung it on me. He then was yelling about going through my phone, and he pinned me against the wall.
I cried, good Lord I cried, I grabbed my phone and tried to call for help, he snapped the phone in half. I had on a sundress, I ran for the door, and it was so long, I fell. I was running towards the door and I got the door cracked. He pulled me back, and we fell by his gun. He put it to my head. As he prepared to shoot, the police kicked in the door! I’ve never been so grateful to see police in my life. He went to jail, and of course, I bailed him out. That cycle repeated for years. I’ve had broken and sprained nose, broken windows and was evicted from my apartment.
I learned in that situation that I can survive anything. Before the abuse, I was so open to people and trusting, too trusting. I will never be the person I was before the abuse, and I think that I wouldn’t want to be that person. The woman that I am now knows her worth and knows that she can achieve anything. It also brought me closer to God, through that, I was able to gain balance on all portions of my life.
What inspired you to say, “You know what, I’m going to use my experience to help other women” and what has that journey been like for you?
Knowing that women will not fight like I fought to have my life back inspired me. Suicide.org says that 1 in 4 women who have been in domestic violence relationships attempt suicide. That is alarming to me because I could not see myself ending my life due to some jerk who thought he took my life from me.
Other women are not that strong. I was determined to teach women that they don’t have to lay their lives down. This journey is so tough because of the mental anguish they suffer. Most abusers play on the survivor’s mind; they will tell them they are ugly; they made them, or nobody cares. Once you hear this consistently over time, you will believe it. Trying to crack through that barrier is the hardest part of doing this, but it’s so rewarding when they begin to realize their worth is in what they say it is.
What advice would you give to other women who may be going through the things you have gone through?
Don’t give up. This is so cliché, but it’s fitting. Some days, I personally did not want to get out of the bed and face mirrors (due to scars left on me), and I didn’t want to face life or people. But I did. It was hard, but the more I did it, the easier it gets. Keep going. People are rooting for you to make it!
What is your vision for the transitional home you are working on for women?
I want to rehabilitate women and make them whole members of society. The government takes domestic violence lightly. They expect the victim to go back to normal after the abuse. That is impossible. The transitional home will provide rehabilitation and a safe place for women to feel like they can get rest. Also, we will help women get financially stable and we’ll help them find a home as we will provide housing for 6-9 months. I want those women to leave knowing their purpose in life and I want them to be able to love and trust again, not just men, but people in general.
That is truly amazing! What is one goal you hope to accomplish in 2017?
This is tough! I would like to get the transitional home up and running, with my first group of women in it. I think that it is important at the moment. Many women don’t leave their abuser because they don’t have anywhere to go. I don’t want that to stop any woman from leaving the abuse behind.
To learn more about Yoshiko and her journey, follow her on Instagram, @yoshikobesq.