Carolyn Crews

Toya Moore | September 13th, 2018
Carolyn Crews (Photos Jay Humble Photography)

Carolyn Crews (Photos Jay Humble Photography)

That’s not the kind of thing one would expect to ordinarily hear. However, that’s exactly what Carolyn Crews message has been for quite some time.
She is a published author who has used life experiences, both good and bad to write a story of sorts in her first work titled, “I Shot My Dad”. The book was released in April of 2016, and within the pages, Carolyn talks about shooting her father. She shares, “Telling my story was therapeutic for me. It was healing, and it was freeing.” “I found that when I told my story, I was not only freeing myself, but my story was freeing to others. When I get in front of people to talk about domestic violence, I have notes written and an idea of what I think I want to say, but every time I end up speaking from my heart.”

Carolyn’s book is a story that is all too common, and focused on domestic violence, healing, and forgiveness. Her story begins by painting the picture of a child who grew up with an abusive father. Her father would beat her mom, pull out his gun and threaten to shoot her and her siblings. She said that sort of horror was normal in their household. Talking about her childhood comes easily but her tone speaks volumes to the challenges they faced as children. “I want people to understand that when they are being abused, they are not the only ones. There is always someone else. I also want us to think about how domestic violence will affect the next generation. When a child watches their mother go through it, the experience does something to them,” she expresses.

Carolyn talks openly about wanting to protect her mother from the abuse. Whenever she attempted to, her father would begin to beat her as well. She thought it happened because she looked so much like her mother. Often times children step in to protect their mother, and that changes the family dynamic as well as the impact it has on the kids. She states that children begin seeing the abused parent as helpless, and they will begin to take on a parenting or protective role. This can be very unhealthy and lead to very damaging behaviors. It also leads to the children putting themselves in harm’s way, like she did.

At the young age of 17, her life changed even more. Carolyn received a call from her younger brother, telling that her dad was beating her mom yet again. Carolyn knew that her twin brother had a gun in his car. She went and got her brother’s gun and went into her childhood home to get her mother out. They made it to the car, but then Carolyn’s dad started shooting. Carolyn ducked behind a car door and pulled out her brothers’ gun. She shot back. “My dad fired his gun five times. I fired once, and it hit him. He fell to the ground,” she recalls. Other details from that day can be found in her book.

What were the odds that Carolyn would be on the other end of a similar situation many years later? What were the odds that she would get married and her husband would also be abusive? She says, “Abuse is generational and familial. Generational trauma is not something we talk about in the black community, but there are so many facets that need to be discussed openly. When a child sees his or her parent being abused, it’s very common that the child will grow up to either become the abuser or attract an abuser as their partner.” Carolyn gravitated towards an abuser, even though she told herself it wouldn’t happen to her. When Carolyn finally built up the nerve to tell her abusive husband she was leaving, he pulled out his gun and he shot her. “I suffered major injuries after being shot but I was determined to get better, and to make sure that what happened to me did not happen to anyone else.” Carolyn chose to seek the help of a Professional Therapist to help her work through the trauma of domestic violence. Her second book which details that event is due to be released in January 2019.

In addition to her being an author, she is a distributor and ambassador for Damsel in Defense, a company that teaches women how to defend themselves through education and products that can be used in self-defense. She travels around the country speaking about domestic violence and telling her story. “I want to put a face to domestic violence, but more importantly I want to put a stop to it.” She is also a board member for the organization, Called to Peace Ministries. This nonprofit provides practical assistance to individuals who are affected by domestic violence. They train helpers and professionals in resources, support, and referral. They also train clergy and church leaders to not view abuse as a marital issue, and not to counsel those being abused to stay in that relationship. Carolyn believes that type of training is unheard of based on what she calls ‘church culture’. “It’s a big shift for the black church and its culture to view it that way. It is important that we teach pastors how to manage, counsel, and protect victims. It could be, and unfortunately has been the difference between life and death for so many women,” she says.

The most significant thing that Carolyn has been able to accomplish since enduring her life changing moment of being shot, is forgiveness. She has forgiven her husband and her father for their abuse. “I forgave my ex-husband for what he did, but I told him that he would never be allowed to be a part of my life. I forgave them so that I could move on and be who God created me to be. Just because I forgave him doesn’t mean that he could take up space in my world. You must be able to forgive,” she states. Carolyn’s dad, however was able to take up space in her world. Literally. She forgave her father, and at one point allowed him to live with her for about nine months. Her father has since passed away, but she says forgiving her father and her ex-husband is what allowed her to be able to mentor other women and guide them through their difficult experiences.

God created her to be a ray of hope and help for many who have also suffered at the hands of an abuser. By her acts of love and kindness to others, she hopes to bring an end to domestic violence. “My goal is to save the next generation,” she shares.

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