At a point in time, years ago, while her boyfriend slept, Queen Afi Gaston straddled his waist, put a gun against his head and pulled the trigger. But, the gun didn’t go off.
Queen Afi Gaston’s monologue ‘Broken to Boldness’ discusses how she abused men in her relationships. (Courtesy photo)
Now, she travels around the United States, hosting a survivor’s monologue series titled “Brokeness to Boldness” through her nonprofit organization – founded in D.C. — Domestic Violence Wears Many Tags. Her latest series was held in Northwest D.C. at the Thurgood Marshall Center on Oct. 20.
The series includes five monologues that touch on all aspects of domestic abuse, including: physical, verbal, sexual, emotional, financial and spiritual. The monologues include a woman who was financially abused and gave her money to her boyfriend in exchange for love; a woman who was raped at 13 years-old and became a prostitute at 14; and Queen Afi Gaston, who was the abuser in her relationship with the father of her child.
“There are two types of abusers. The first is a victim who is fighting to get back what was taken from him or her during years of abuse. The second is me,” Gaston told AFRO.”The second makes the conscious decision that they are going to abuse men.”
According to the Domestic Violence Child Advocacy Center, 29 percent of Black women and 12 percent of Black men reported at least one instance of intimate partner violence with one in every three victims being killed by domestic violence. Higher rates of domestic violence in the Black community are related to higher levels of poverty and economic oppression, the center’s website said.
During her monologue, she expressed how she had not been sorry about her actions or the path she was on until one night she was driving drunk. She was pulled over by the police and had not realized her son was in the back seat of the car until she rolled down the window. That was when, she said, she recognized her self-destructive ways and decided to put the monologues together as a way to educate communities about abusers and victims, and the importance of parents talking to their children.
“Be transparent with your children and have dinner table conversations about abuse, because you probably have your own stories,” Gaston said.
Gaston said that many parents are quiet about issues that involve depression, abuse and generally negative feelings. But this is how abusers get a hold of victims. When parents are unwilling to have these conversations and connections with their children, Gaston said she believes children will search for these connections elsewhere and find them in the form of an abuser. And once an abuser latches on, their parents will most likely never even realize what has happened, she said.
“Some victims I don’t have to hit. I control their emotions by saying something about them, threatening them or making certain comments,” Gaston said. “It’s solid for an abuser when you will do what we tell you to do and when we tell you to do it. I’ve trained you to be obedient; I could just look at you a certain way and you’ll act how I want you to.”
Gaston said she does not give advice she does not follow herself. She said she is transparent with her son, who was two months-old when she attempted to shoot his father.
“I told him what I did, why and what I wanted. I never said sorry. I meant to kill his father and he knows this,” Gaston said. “I don’t sugar coat anything. I told him that I wanted that gun to go off, and was upset when the gun stalled and didn’t go off, and he knows this.”
Gaston said she believes America has it wrong. She said she believes women are abusers more often than we care to notice, and she explained that when she would visit schools to talk to young girls about domestic abuse, she would meet young ladies who she saw herself in.
“They are aggressive just like me, and that’s scary. Because I can go out right now and grab a victim. They are like running water. You have to stop this behavior and it starts with educating young girls and boys. If not, you’re adding to the abuse by ill-preparing them,” Gaston said.
The monologue series is all visuals, reenacted by the abusers and abused. Gaston calls it “Drama Therapy.” While a narrator recites the story for the audience, actors reenact the abuse on stage. It brings the audience back to that real-life space and recreates a moment in their lives that at a time was so controlling, but now they hold all the power as they choose to tell their story.
Gaston said she hopes to use the monologue series as a way to educate audience members about abuse, and begin the conversations she believes in detrimental to saving people from becoming victims.