On Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 6 p.m., Imagine Bella Academy of Excellence will be holding a meeting to discuss all federal program grants for the upcoming 13-14 school year.
- Thursday, 25 April 2013 12:59
- Tuesday, 12 February 2013 23:13
- Friday, 18 January 2013 14:47
The Youth Council is committed to indentifying speakers who have insightful messages on a broad range of topics.
- Friday, 11 January 2013 15:08
All the students agree that their work helps to encourage teens with problems, provides therapy,and shows a positive side of East Cleveland.
- Tuesday, 11 December 2012 19:16
More than 50 HTA students have earned their associate degrees, while earning their high school diplomas.
- Monday, 19 November 2012 08:28
For more information about the Supplier Diversity program, visit www.kent.edu/procurement/diversity.
- Friday, 16 November 2012 11:07
Students are taught to be caring and principled and to have high expectations for learning. We are here to develop knowledgeable and caring young people who help create a better and more peaceful world through cultural understanding and respect,” said Julie Beers principal of CIS.
- Wednesday, 31 October 2012 12:40
"When I woke up I was still alive in the hospital after two failed suicide attempts the day before.” It was then that Ruth posed the question to God asking what He wanted her to do with her life. It was apparent that he was sparing it for some bigger purpose.
By FELICIA C. HANEY
As we close out Domestic Violence Awareness Month we explore the story of Ruth Johnson-Williams. Ruth recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of Pneuma Life Foundation – a non-profit organization for the prevention of abusive family environments that she founded as a result of her own real life experiences.
Pnuema is a Greek word meaning breath. What Ruth strives to do with Pneuma Life is not only provide her clients with the options of a new life, but give them a breath of fresh air. There are also two perspectives when you look in terms of services that are being provided for domestic violence victims through Pneuma Life Foundation. It provides faith-based and community services. “It’s a non-profit organization; it is not in itself a religious organization. It is scientific educational,” Ruth said in her definition of Pneuma Life.” “So, what we do is seek and provide education and training for faith-based organizations for all denominations staying with the issue of how to assist a victim of domestic violence within the compounds of their own faith entity.”
The way that is done is by training an advocate for every religious institution that would provide resources in direct correlation with that faith entity. The advocates do not serve as counselors, only resource providers. They provide all the options and let the individual make the choice for themselves, when they’re ready, based on the best option for them pertaining to what they believe. “We work with all different faiths – Islam, Jewish Family Services, United Methodist, Christian, Presbyterian, Protestant, Baptist, non-denomination… We have 168 advocates. We have 49 strong partners, but we’ve reached 350 associated partners,” said Ruth of her organization’s growth.
With that education in training, the advocates make sure there is information in those religious institutions at all times.
So what prompted Ruth to want to advocate for and breathe new life into broken women? What else? Personal experience. “Personally I’m a born-again Christian and a survivor of sexual assault as well as domestic violence,” Ruth said. “When I was 13, I was taken off the street in broad daylight on my first day of senior high school. A man came out of nowhere with a .38 and put it to my head, put me in a cab, took me to an abandoned building and sadistically raped me. He put me back in a cab and the cab took me back to school with scars that lasted ‘til this day where I’m not even able to wear certain things because of them. The bible is true when we talk about Dinah [attributing her situation to the story in Genesis 34 often referred to as The Rape of Dinah]. Rape is biblical, it didn’t start today.
I never told my parents what happened and I just walked around kind of disoriented and couldn’t understand why bad things happened to good people. Then at the age of 15 I was moved to another high school, John Adams, where I purposely tried to have a boyfriend who was the baddest boy in school. He was 18 and I was 15. See, once you experience sexual assault it becomes a commodity – I’ll give you this if you give me that. I felt like whatever you wanted from me I would give you as long as you didn’t let anyone else hurt me. So, one day I proceeded to his apartment. He wanted sex, we had sex. Then he said, “I’ll be right back.” When I speak to the youth about this I always darken the room to show them what it’s like to be left alone in the dark. He left out but didn’t come back. Instead, one of his friends came in; then another guy and another guy until six guys came in, one at a time. [They were] 18-25 years old. I was on the fourth floor so I couldn’t get away, I couldn’t jump out; and I knew there were at least six of them. I didn’t know what to do and at that point one guy, who wasn’t my boyfriend said, “we should let her go.”
So it’s imperative that young women understand that it can be somebody that you think you love that could end up being the one who would turn against you.
Unfortunately for Ruth, she would have to learn that lesson once more; and it would happen in her marriage of all places. Two years later, Ruth was still attending John Adams and was now living with her sister after running away from her parents’ home. Still looking for love, she decided to try the relationship thing again. She had her eye on one of her schoolmates, a young man she was so intrigued with because he dressed to the nines. “He dressed so nice, all the way down to his shoes. He always looked good. I just wanted to know how I could be a part of his life,” she said. So, just like her biblical namesake, Ruth approached him and eventually “asks [him] to spread his cloak over her” – a biblical reference for she asked him to marry her (Ezekiel 16:8).
At the age of 17, Ruth got married. But, only two weeks into her marital bliss she would soon realize that the so-well-put-together exterior of her husband was only masking a brutal domestic violence offender. She was thrown down stairs, out of cars; even pregnancy didn’t stop the abuse. “Why was this person violent? He saw it in his home,” Ruth said. “His daddy beat his mama. This is how their home was run; this is how they stayed king of their castle. So, for him this was a norm. It wasn’t normal for me because I was a Christian.”
That classification would lead Ruth to stay in that violent relationship for 13 years. “I never was a fusser, a cusser, a dish thrower or any of those things,” she said. “You beat me, I’m still gonna have dinner cooked, the kids ready and the house clean. For 13 years I was still trying to walk in my Christendom going back and forth to church. I went to college and pursued a degree in education because I saw that the people had needs and needed someone to speak up for them and that became important for me.”
But first, she had to speak up for herself. Seven years into her marriage she was still convinced that she must be the problem. That’s when she attempted to commit suicide by way of pill ingestion. “I took a big bag of pills, shook them up and drank them down with a beer,” she said recalling the almost tragic incident. But, it didn’t work. The pills were only enough to knock her out. She needed something more hardcore. Something along the lines of the .38 pistol that laid underneath her mattress. “I got up and walked to the park [with the pistol],” Ruth said. “[My husband] saw me and followed me. When I got to the park, I attempted to remove the gun and put it to my head. Instead, it got caught in my belt buckle and went off, shooting me in my lower abdomen. When I woke up I was still alive in the hospital after two failed suicide attempts the day before.”
It was then that Ruth posed the question to God asking what He wanted her to do with her life. It was apparent that he was sparing it for some bigger purpose. After the gunshot wound healed, the beatings continued for six more years. She began seeking refuge at the church alter although she never told a sole what was going on in her home. “The church didn’t teach us to leave our marriage if he was an abuser, only if he was an adulterer or if he left me. So, in my mind I believed I had to do everything I could to make it right until death due us part,” she said. Again reminiscent of the biblical character Ruth who said “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following you; for wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:16–17).
That ideology kept her in a marriage covenant that really wasn’t binding at all because she wasn’t being treated according to her beliefs. It wasn’t until infidelity arose that Ruth decided to wave the white flag. “A female pastor came to my house and told me she had seen him out with another woman,” Ruth recalled. He confessed; and the next day Ruth went to see a lawyer, got a restraining order and began the divorce proceedings.
Ironically, six months after their divorce, Ruth’s husband became a born again Christian. But even more shocking is that within eight months, they remarried (insert jaw drop). In an effort to explain herself, Ruth credits her faith. “My heart did soften and I felt like if God could change and save me, He could also give this person salvation. At the time, I felt that’s what was for me and we were restored in a marriage that had no more abuse… never!” The remainder of that relationship was due in part to his three years of intense out patient therapy. And although he would never as so much raise his voice at her, Ruth once again decided to end the marriage based on possible infidelity suspicions with the same woman. “Consequently, he never got back with her, but it was a risk I wasn’t willing to take. We’re in very close contact to this day. He went on to be with somebody else and I married a police officer… still looking for that protection [laughs].”
Although Ruth is comfortable in a safe haven now, her story is still very much a part of her everyday life. It’s the same story that too many others are still living. That is why Pneuma Life has existed for 15 years.
To learn more about Ruth and Pneuma Life, visit facebook.com/PneumaLifeFoundation or call 216.253.3228.
You can follow this writer on Twitter and Instagram @beechstreet