The Monsters Under My Bed

Written by Hess, Baltimore/D.C. Leader

My work with World On My Shoulders is a voluntary action; as is prior times in life that I would volunteer or work with populations affected by domestic abuse. In the beginning, I felt it hard to get in the non-profit world of DV advocacy. I would share the story of my mother; in 1996 then 27 year old Desiree Chavis met her demise at the hands of the man that had been her abuser and her boyfriend. I considered myself a “success story”, someone the clients could look to as someone that simultaneously understands, and as a vision that there is a life after abuse.

I realize now that not only was sharing my story making me seem more like a liability to most places – instead of the source of heightened compassion – but that also the whole mindset was a sack of shit. How dare I fancy myself a success (at breaking the cycle of domestic violence ) when days before my 28th birthday I realized that monsters still live under my bed. As a child that lived in a home where domestic violence was present, met with exceptional explanatory stories, mingled with drugs, and the times my mom thought she had enough; it all imprinted things on my brain that the latter years of a relatively stable childhood couldn’t remedy. As a child I played the part of “healed” better than I do as an adult. I was healed and thanks be to God that a small child had the ability to walk away without many scars. In reality, I hid my scars because I didn’t want to be seen as a disappointment in the ability of my paternal family’s love, and a tragic case.

Flash forward. The night a few days before my birthday. My family and I live above another family. Thin walls and weak floors leave room for little secrets. It’s with embarrassment that I admit to knowingly living above a woman that is the constant victim of her partner’s rage. I’ve asked many friends what to do because she hasn’t asked for help and I know will side to protect her abuser. Many nights I laid in my bed as a grown woman with children of her own, tightening into a ball while the roars of the monster under the floor fill my home and theirs with screams, crashes, cursing, and verbal manipulation.

Most would ask, what’s the issue? Isn’t this what you do? Help DV victims?

The issue is that I didn’t sign up for this. It sounds ridiculous but I leave my home or walk into positions where I can mentally switch on my “helper’s hat”. I fancied myself as someone that broke the cycle of domestic violence when it came to my own family. This time, it permeated into my home and froze me. I hadn’t involuntarily overheard domestic violence since I was 7 years old. Many nights a week felt like a personal hell that had caught up with me.

I write this after hearing certain things that made me slap down on my floor like Iyanla on the “not on my watch” meme. Part of it was returning the favor for when they’d bang on their ceiling when they deemed my children too loud during the day. I felt impulsive and reactive in the moment, but – in rewinding – maybe my actions were strategic and some sort of overdrive. The police local to me have shown that domestic violence isn’t high on their priorities. A noise complaint, physical threat, and verbal demeaning from my neighbor – as I dare interrupt his abusive tirade – is what I called the police about and documented. Calls about domestic violence have always fell through. But this call worked for the police making a presence at least. Towards the end, I requested that the officers look for signs of domestic violence as that was part two of the noise source, and – as expected – they didn’t.

I asked for anyone that was up to talk to me, and one of the first to respond via inbox was Julia, up during the wee hours of the morning.

She asked what I needed. She didn’t ask details. She didn’t probe me to see if I was worthy of the resources she had to offer. She believed me.

As someone that has volunteered with DV orgs before, I can tell you that asking “what do you need” in that trusting tone, as the first thing to come out of a worker’s mouth is a lot less common than it should be. That immediate validation fills in many feelings of distance. I told her that I just need help finding a good price on a hotel.

This is what Julia does with EVERYONE.

The way she approaches this is a way that could transform more lives if she was given the support World On My Shoulders not only needs, but truly deserves.

I write this from a hotel room that my husband is working overtime to pay for. For many, their abuser is their partner and they have no funds and no support to relocate to a hotel for the night.

This has laid so heavy on my heart tonight. That with many federal sources of aid potentially closing down to help fund the larger and more bureaucratic dv orgs, supporting your smaller direct service orgs instead of supporting larger orgs is so needed. The work Julia has been able to do on her own is not only impressive, but legitimately rivals bigger orgs in sheer determination.

World On Your Shoulders needs your support so that they can support others.

For the cost of a few forgettable items you buy in the Dollar Spot at Target, you could fund a portion of someone’s new start.

I’m asking, as favor not to me or to WoMs, but a favor to current and potential recipients; could you pledge $5 a month? Or maybe a one time larger pledge since tax-refund season has padded a few pockets? Could you pledge anything so that somewhere, a child – today, tomorrow, or next week – could find refuge from the monster?

Put your heart into it.

-Hess, Baltimore/D.C. Leader

Make a pledge:


This past two weeks shook some members of our society to their cores. Others are shocked, and some validated in that what they have been speaking against revealed itself to be more than a figment of imagination and being.

World On My Shoulders gained a new source of validation and drive in the face of our recent government actions.

Many people are frightened, angry, frustrated, hopeless, and unsure but our recipients found themselves at that place before our most recent election cycle.
Although we as a people tend to be resilient and persevere, great change can weigh on many since the systems of oppression have overarching and personal effects on every facet of our lives.

Now is the time to come together and create a community of healing and change to fight the setbacks that we have taken as a nation. World on My Shoulders exists so we can help our recipients avoid what may be the worst moments of their lives. Parental support is extremely important and so many factors play into the parenting of people of color, immigrants, disabled and LGBT community members.

WoMS leaders came into this work because our communities needed for it to be done. Before we had this name, all of the existing WoMS leaders – Julia, Hester, Autumn, Anastasia, Carolina, and Jamillah shared what little we had in hand plus our first-hand knowledge of how to access the necessary resources when in poverty, single parenting and/or when planning to leave domestic violence.

We aren’t technically educated – none of us have degrees but we continue a legacy of women of color self-educating in order to not only survive but thrive.

This black history month we honor the women that risked their livelihoods for the sake of helping others. In the spirit of Harriet Tubman, WoMS workers give all of themselves for the good of their communities to afford parents the gear and support they need.

We need help now though!
As an organization, we are at a crossroads.

We filed for and received our 501c3 status with the intent of being able to apply for government and private grants that will not try to edit our work, and to garner donations from individuals in order to function.
But now, our recipients are suffering and our bank account is empty.

On January 9th, we launched Mission: Possible – our 2017 annual giving campaign. The campaign is a reflection of the refinement of World On My Shoulders’ mission and aims to raise the year’s operating budget within the first quarter.

So, please consider donating so that we have enough money to help the most vulnerable by helping their parents.

Another way to help is by purchasing from our webstore. All sales from our webstore go directly to members of various marginalized members of our society so that they can gain access to immediate support; and you patronize businesses dedicated to intersectional community workers with hearts for social justice.

Mission: Possible Launch

Mission: Possible is our 2017 campaign to raise the year’s operating budget within the first quarter.
2016 exceeded all our possible expectations. Our goal was to serve 100 people, and at the close of 2016 we served 1,100 caregivers and children. Landing so exponentially beyond our goals demonstrated three things:
1) The services we are providing are desperately needed.
2) There is no turning back. People are looking to and counting on us.
3) We need greater financial stability in order to properly serve our communities.

Support WoMS today by –
Making a Pledge:
Or Donation:

What is a pledge?
A pledge is a commitment to donate. Often times, people want to donate more than they can at a specific moment. A pledge demonstrates that desire and commitment. A pledge can be just about anything: $5 a month, $500 a month, $5,000 next quarter, $50,000 in one lump sum – whatever you, the donor, can and want to do.



It’s up to y’all really what we make.
If we can get commitments to orders for one of a kind and items of a series (like our mermaid femme dolls) then we will produce them but we price them not very much higher than cost so cannot make many at a time without solid commitments!!

We have expanded so quickly.

Year end total numbers coming soon!!

To make arrangements for future carrier donations, please email:

or click here

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