*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the former domestic violence abuser
Well, some said Jones had a way with women. “They paid for nothing. I had a pocket full of cash and credit cards.” Some said he stood for what he believed in. Others said he had a passionate nature, but according to the State of Texas, Claxton Jones is an abuser of women.
Abuse can happen to anyone; abuse can be anyone. And if there is a history of it, chances are that cycle will continue. Breaking it requires speaking up, acknowledgement, responsibility, and getting the proper support to create a new understanding of a healthy relationship. If 1 in 4 women are affected by domestic violence in their lifetime, then how many men are involved in that statistic?
Today, Claxton Jones works three jobs not because he has to, but because he wants to provide more for his children than he had growing up. He is the type of man that will not allow his children to be compared to him, “I don’t speak that into existence, because they’re in a better place.” According to Jones, life is about constant evolution, and that is why he chose instead to lecture a recent shoplifter that he encountered at his store about consequences and good character.
Now, Jones exudes the good character that he preaches about. He listens. He hesitates after each question to compose thought-provoking answers. And despite the fact that he never went to college, he made sure that his three younger brothers did. According to Jones, no little boy wants to grow up and hit women. “It starts off as a pebble and grows.”
As a young boy, he never knew his own father. His mother’s boyfriend, the father of his three younger brothers, used to tell his friends, these are my kids, but this one isn’t mine. He said pointing at me.” It is hard for him to admit that he too was abused, because the physical abuse was directed only at his mother. Around the age of nine, Jones began to see “real” signs of abuse, bruises peeking out from under her clothes. “He never hit her face,” he says with pride for her beauty.
In a sense, he and his mother grew up together, because she was only 15 years old when she had him. She adopted the philosophy that she grew up with, “What happens in this house stays in this house.” And thus, the cycle repeated.
By 1987, his mother’s beatings were harsher and more frequent and the bruises did show. “Why don’t you do anything when I’m getting whooped?” She asked him one day. “I took that as a cry for help,” and he vowed never to let him put his hands on her again.
Again would come too soon, two months later exactly. “I went to my bedroom and got a bat and I lost it.” He hit his mother’s boyfriend repeatedly, and the only father figure that he had ever known left and never came back.
Jones weeps silently into his hands, reliving that day, as the large crucifix around his neck dangles in front of him. That day, Jones transitioned from victim to perpetrator, as the cycle of abuse continued. Three years later, he was charged with domestic violence, for “grabbing and shaking” his girlfriend. He sat in jail angry, without remorse, “learning how to be more careful next time.” On the other side of the partition, he heard what abuse sounded like from a lifetime victim. “My mother kept [sic] asking, how could she do you like that?” He expected disappointment, and instead he heard how abuse and unconditional love coexist, perpetuating the cycle.
When Jones married a few years later, he realized the pebble of anger was more like a boulder. He reached out to his church—a mega church in his community, which provides marriage counseling—but nobody returned his phone calls. He found out that he was not alone. Other men needed help too, but their cries were falling on deaf ears. Jones would not give up and he eventually assembled a support system for himself.
He calls it his “triangle.” The trifecta consists of Debra Nixon-Bowles, Founder and President of Women Called Moses, Oliver Lankford, a domestic violence counselor, and his new pastor. “Finally, at 37, I learned how to communicate.”
With abuse, there is a victim and an abuser, and often they both have family histories of it. Jones warns men, “It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be checked early and addressed.” We cannot wait until something happens, or for another victim to escalate into an abuser. “Say something now,” and get support to help put an end to domestic violence.
You can help Women Called Moses and learn more about Domestic Violence, by taking a stand and saying No More. To contact domestic violence counselor Oliver Lankford, please go to Lankford L.U.U.P. Domestic Violence Counseling Agency.
If you need immediate help, call:
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
National Dating Abuse Helpline 1-866-331-9474
Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN) 1-800-656-4673