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Reneldo N. Randall(Men's Issue)

Updated: May 5, 2022

Controlling My Triggers

I was born in Germany in 1980, My father was a member of the military services. In the first eight years of my life, I lived in Europe until my father decided to end his career in the military. My dad frequented the party scene drinking alcohol and occasionally using recreational drugs as a young man. As a result of those behaviors, it seems that trouble always found him. My mother worked for the government and was well respected, she served as the Vice Mayor of our then community. On more than one occasion she had to advocate for my father from her position. Although my early years started in Germany, I spent my formative years and built my foundation in Virginia.

Leaving Germany, my parents had two options; 1- we could go to Chicago (this is where they met, and we have family there), or 2- we could go to Virginia. My father's family members resided in Virginia and since my mother's infinite wisdom made her feel uncomfortable raising a son in Chicago, the decision was made to move to this state.

We landed in Williamsburg Virginia and stayed with my grandparents. Once we were settled in, I can remember noticing my dad’s personality and a change in his lifestyle. My parents were able to get an apartment, and I remember them arguing often. These situations led my father to get physical with my mother, I wouldn't say that my dad was abusing my mom because it was not like domestic violence that was witnessed on television. However, after my parents divorced in 1992, I struggled to acknowledge whether my mother was being abused or not, I finally accepted the fact that she was. As I began to understand the range of domestic violence and abuse as a broader term, I had to define it as that. My mother cannot stand it when I refer to it in that light, but that is what it was. It certainly does not make my mother weak, that is not the situation at all; in fact, it had the opposite effect.

The police had been called to our home on several occasions and my father was even accused of grabbing a policeman’s gun in the process of being detained. At that time in my life, one of my desires was just wanting to be big enough and strong enough to protect my mother. I was concerned for a while about how those experiences might affect me as a man. One principle that was cultivated through those experiences is my non-tolerance for domestic violence. A man can’t put your hands on a woman in front of me – that’s not happening!

I always questioned whether my dad suffered a mental breakdown. In addition to the divorce that year his mother died from cancer and his brother was murdered – all in the same year. Later he began stalking us and watching our apartment. He was a manager at a resort, and he would work odd hours. When he would get off, in the middle of the night, he would come by our apartment and sit on the back porch and smoke, as evidence of his cigarette buds were seen on the ground the next morning, or he may consider throwing the patio chairs into the woods behind the house. That is how we knew he had been there. Obviously, as a preteen, I was frightened by this behavior especially considering my parent's history and my father’s recent losses.

Then one night, still in his work clothes, he jumps threw my mom’s bedroom window. He stabs my mother’s bed, tears up the house, and chases her around the house with a knife. I jump up to run out of the house and my mother finally comes behind me, and he follows her. They have a physical encounter and I try to intervene, but my father pushes me away. A male neighbor comes running over to help, I will never forget that guy. The police show up and take my father into custody. He proceeds to scream out to my mother “I hate you” and then he screams out “I hate you too Renaldo”. I did not expect that, and it is also something that I will never forget. My mother went to the police station and I simply went to school. I believe that I developed some form of PTSD from those situations. I still get up in the middle of the night and look out the window. I have been doing that since I was twelve years old.

In my neighborhood, there were always kids getting into trouble all around. However, as I got older, I found myself hanging with those kids more, and as they got older trouble turned into criminal activity. It was hard not to hang with these guys because at that age we had a lot in common. My mom did a good job of instilling the right morals and values in me and she kept me involved - giving me some purpose which really helped me to stay out of serious trouble.

In 1992 not only did my parent's divorce, my grandmother died, and my uncle was murdered, but this was also around the time I had my first encounter with a bully. The unique part of my bullying situation is that my bully, himself, was not the real issue. The real issue was that my bully was the uncle of a slightly older kid who was the real threat. The nephew “the real threat” was the fighter, and the uncle “my bully” was just a bully, but he did also have a little entourage. The dilemma was if you messed with the uncle, you had to deal with the nephew. The bully, his entourage, and I had what seemed like daily run-ins, and every time I saw these guys, they would make it their business to give me a hard time. They wanted me to react so that it could get physical. Honestly, I was scared to fight, but I did not want to get jumped. There was also a part of me that did not want to get in trouble at school in general. My strategy back then was to try to avoid them. After a short time, my mother finally said, “fight the boy”. She gave me both permission to get in trouble at school and the confidence to stand up for myself (to fight). My opportunity to stand up to my bully happen when I was caught trying to avoid him/them. I stood my ground, no fight happened, and like magic, the bullying stopped. It is like he respected me for it. I would have never imagined it would’ve turned out that way, but the bully and I ended up being cool. Unfortunately, he ended up going to prison later in life.

In 1993 we moved to a different part of the city, and by this time my mom had a new boyfriend and I enrolled in a new school. It was an odd situation for me because my friends at my previous school and I had beef with the guys at my new school. Now I was alone at this new school with the boys we had beef with, so I had a bullying situation waiting for me when the school year started. I knew a few guys at the new school, but none well enough to ask them to fight with me. I connected with a new group of guys in a nearby neighborhood where there was a significant amount of drug distribution and violence. I knew one of them would have my back, but he had already been kicked out of the school I would be attending. This second bully situation was not unlike my first. The main bully was more of a physical issue than the first, was not the major threat it was the entourage. However, at this point, I had my mother’s blessing to protect myself and had been in a few fights over the summer. I was not afraid of a one-on-one physical altercation. I was concerned about getting jumped. The bully thought that he intimidated me, but it was not him as much as it was the situation. One day the bully and the entourage caught me walking home. After a short distracting conversation, the bully stole on me we started to fight. I knew after the first two punch exchanges that he could not beat me. However, I was 100% sure that his crew would jump in if I started getting the best of him. I know it sounds weird coming from a 7th grader, but I threw the fight. I fought well enough not to get hurt and they could not say it was a clear win for him. At the same time, I did not take him down like I could have to prevent myself from getting jumped. Th