Young New York City Native Speaks Out About Domestic Abuse One in three New York City teenagers report being verbally and emotionally abused by a romantic partner. Destiny Mabry was one of them. She speaks out about her own experience with domestic abuse.
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Young New York City Native Speaks Out About Domestic Abuse

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Young New York City Native Speaks Out About Domestic Abuse

Young New York City Native Speaks Out About Domestic Abuse

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The women in Destiny Mabry's family share a love of dancing and double Dutch. They've also shared a pattern of domestic abuse that eventually turned deadly. Mabry, who is 25 years old, is now speaking out to those she loves and anyone who will listen about domestic abuse. Destiny Mabry is part of the Radio Rookies program at member station WNYC. Here's her story.

DESTINY MABRY, BYLINE: My mom is one of the cool moms.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) I'm so fancy...

MABRY: She plays way too much.

Mommy, I'm talking to you.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Laughter).

MABRY: Say what you want - how you want a man to treat your child.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I want a man that's going to respect her, love her, don't be trying to sex her.

MABRY: I was always open with my mother, telling her who I was dating detail for detail. But there was certain things that I left out, like when by boyfriend started mistreating me. I didn't tell anyone. Honestly, I was embarrassed. But now I talk about it because I want people to know what to look out for.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hello? Hello? Hello. Hello? (Unintelligible).

MABRY: I'm at an afterschool program in the Bronx.

Y'all don't want to be here?

There are about 15 kids in the room.

Yeah, I can see it in y'all face, honestly, but...

Mostly boys.

I'm Destiny. I'm 24, and I'm a survivor of domestic violence.

I was 19 when I met my ex. And back then, I was always insecure, but he would text me, like, 10 times a day telling me how pretty I was and how badly he wanted me.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: Can I ask you a question, Destiny?

MABRY: What's your question?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: They used to beat you?

MABRY: No, I was never beaten or shot.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: You got stabbed?

MABRY: I was never stabbed. I was never shot.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: You was bullied?

MABRY: I was bullied.

It's about control - period. He tried to tell me what I should wear, when I could go out. He even tried to control when we got intimate. But he saw nothing wrong with any of that. He would say, you don't have any black and blues, so it's not that serious. I knew my sister Kia was going through the same thing with her husband. We barely knew this guy. One day, they were married. Then they moved down South, and right after that, she got pregnant with my nephew, Kyler.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KIA VON MILLER: One.

KYLER MILLER: Two.

MILLER: Two.

KYLER: Three.

MILLER: Three.

KYLER: Four.

MABRY: This is him sitting in his onesie, counting on the couch with Kia.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MILLER: Seven.

KYLER: Eight.

MILLER: Eight.

MABRY: Then she had my niece, Syrai.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MILLER: Hey, hey...

MABRY: Kia sent me this video of Soraya standing up on her own in her crib.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MILLER: ...Go, Baby.

MABRY: Since they were so far away, the only way I could see them was through FaceTime or Instagram.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MILLER: Hey, everybody, just got that new Xbox One - awesome sauce.

MABRY: Kia loved posting these corny videos.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MILLER: I figured it out. My video has sound now. I'm fitting to go to the fair and eat my butt off - yay.

MABRY: Her husband bought them a brand-new white house with a white picket fence. It sounds perfect, right? But it turns out there was so much undercover stuff we didn't know about. He had 100 percent control over my sister. She never left the house unless it was with him, and she was even sneaking to call me. The last time I saw Kia, I told her, you know the way he's treating you is not right. But she just had her head down and said, I'm just doing what I have to do as a wife. He's never hit me.

Kia Von Miller - I try not to do this too often, but every once in a while, I'll type in Kia's name in Google.

In January of 2014, my sister's husband killed her and their two children. Then he killed himself.

Police were dispatched to the home where they found the bodies of Kyler Devane Miller and Syrai Raquel Miller dead in their bedrooms. I just can't believe this happened. I still can't believe it happened. I can't believe he did that to his whole family (crying).

Mommy taught us the basics. You know, don't talk to strangers, and say your grace before every meal. She didn't tell us to watch out for people who try to control or disrespect us.

And why do you think parents don't talk to their kids about domestic violence?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I think they don't want to harden their hearts and take away their innocence, so that they don't know about the hardships that happen in families.

MABRY: But when a kid sees something, they're not innocent to it anymore. And since we don't talk to kids about it, they come up with their own conclusions. At least that's what I did.

Do you think that children mimic their parents?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh, yeah. They learn what they live.

MABRY: I remember Mommy's boyfriend going into these episodes of rage, yelling, cursing, vandalizing the house, even throwing things at her. But we never spoke about it, so I thought that's what happens when you get serious with someone. You yell. You cry, and you fight.

If I said, OK, Mommy, I witnessed him screaming at you, you crying, begging him to stop, and you never left, why didn't you teach us about that? Why didn't you tell us that's not what you should settle with or that's not normal, that's not healthy?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That's a mistake. That was a mistake for me not to educate you that that is not normal, to not leave and then say, you see what just happened? Never allow anybody to do that to you.

MABRY: So why do you think Kia didn't say anything to us?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: For one, I think she didn't want to be a single parent like me, so she dealt with it like a lot of people do. They stay together because of the kids, and they don't tell anybody anything.

MABRY: Exactly. Kia didn't say anything, just like my mother, my mother's mother, and my great-grandmother, as far back as we can call it. It's not like you wake up one day, like, yo, Instagram, what's up? My boyfriend abused me last night. It was crazy. That does not really happen. Nobody talks about domestic violence like that.

Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Hi.

MABRY: But telling my story publicly is how I'm starting to heal.

In January of 2014, my sister Kia and her two children, Syrai and Kyler, were murdered by her husband.

Now I've started to become more conscious about saying their names when I speak out because every time I Google Kia Von Miller, of course, it's all bad for a good two pages. I don't want Kia to be known for just that, so that's why I say...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MILLER: Seventeen.

MABRY: My sister Kia...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MILLER: Eighteen.

KYLER: Eighteen.

MABRY: My nephew Kyler...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KYLER: Twenty.

MILLER: Twenty.

MABRY: And my niece Syrai...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MILLER: Twenty - say cheese.

KYLER: Cheese.

MABRY: For NPR News, this is Destiny Mabry.

MCEVERS: Destiny Mabry's story was produced by Courtney Stein and edited by Kaari Pitkin. It's part of the Radio Rookies series "Crushed: Teens And Dating Abuse." You'll find a link to that series at npr.org.

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