Ashanti’s younger sister Kenashia “Shia” Douglas, is opening up about her horrific domestic violence experience.
On Wednesday’s emotional episode of Red Table Talk, Shia sat down with the show’s hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris, to dive deep into events that led to her turbulent relationship with her ex-fiancé. The health guru was later joined by her big sister Ashanti and their mother, Tina Douglas, to discuss how her abuse has impacted their family as a whole.
During their emotional sit-down, Shia, 35, said she was in high school when she first met the man responsible for later knocking out eight to nine of her teeth.
“I was about 18 or 19 years old. I hadn’t really had a real relationship,” she explained. “In the beginning, it was pretty fun. He was extremely attentive, complimenting me on my hair, on my clothes, what I was wearing; he was giving me the attention that I felt that I needed and that I desired.”
Ashanti’s bubbling music career negatively impacted Shia at a young age
As a young teen, living in Ashanti’s spotlight took an emotional toll on Shia. She longed for affection and attention from her mother, who was busy juggling the singer’s career after the release of her debut album.
“What I found is that trauma is not only something that you actually go through or experience. It’s something that you’re also lacking as well. A moment in your life when you were looking for something, and it didn’t happen. And so now, you develop these coping mechanisms, and they show up in your relationships.”
Shia was with her partner for 13 years before the relationship took a toxic turn. In the early days of their relationship, Shia said her partner showed early signs of abuse. His manipulative tactics came in the form of “love bombing,” a common tactic many abusers use to make their victims feel dependent. Initially, Shia said her ex-fiance showered her with gifts and checked in on her whereabouts consistently, but over time, his behavior became controlling.
“There were things that I felt were wrong. I would speak out on them, and he would try to make me believe the way that I thought was wrong,” she said. “Over time, you begin to question yourself and second guess because you love this person…it kept me in doubt.”
Shia was punched and choked throughout her abusive relationship
The last two to three years of Shia’s relationship took a harrowing turn. The holistic lifestyle coach said that at one point, she and her ex took a break, but they got back together, hoping to make things work. Shortly after they reconnected, he became even more controlling, and “that’s when the physical abuse started,” she explained.
On one occasion, Shia’s ex-fiance punched her in the face after he became paranoid about her cheating with other men during their brief split. During another violent dispute, the New York native said she picked up a knife to defend herself after her partner strangled her, leaving marks across her neck and body. Ironically, Ashanti was on the phone with her sister during that scary incident.
“It was gut-wrenching because you can’t get to her,” the Grammy winner recalled of the chilling experience. The “Baby” hitmaker said at first, she was hesitant about getting involved in her sister’s turbulent relationship because she wanted her to make her own decision.
“It had been something that was going on, and you don’t know how to deal with it. We gotta respect whatever her decisions are,” she explained. “I used to say to them all the time, you guys being together, it’s like you’re each drinking bleach. It’s toxic. But with everything that she’s gone through and growing up Ashanti’s little sister, right? It’s like you want your own stuff – How do you deal with following her lead but still knowing this is not the right thing? No one gets a book on how to handle this.”
Ashanti wanted to take matters into her own hands
At one point, Ashanti said she almost resorted to violent “resources” to end her sister’s abuse.
“Listen, I’m not a violent person. But when that call came in, as an artist, you have resources. I made the call, and to be honest with you, her being the amazing person that she is, she didn’t want to take that route. Even though through the vile, disrespect, the manipulation, and even how he kind of tried to come in and divide us.”
Shia finally gained the courage to walk away from the abusive relationship in 2020 after her ex-fiancé knocked out 8 to 9 of her teeth during an altercation, leaving her bloody and bruised.
“He had come home around 7 am In the morning, and I questioned him on where he was and what he was doing. He didn’t like what I had to say. So, he literally punched me in my mouth,” she said as she shared images of the “unthinkable” experience. “I could literally feel my teeth; I could feel everything just shift.”
Shockingly, Shia revealed that her mother and sister were both in the same house during the violent dispute. “I almost told myself this too shall pass, as if I was going to continue the relationship,” she confessed, noting how she never once called the police on her partner– “still trying to defend him.”
“I didn’t see myself really without him. It was hard those cycles.. that codependency.”
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, Shia shared some of the startling injuries she endured from her abuse via Instagram, hoping to support and empower other victims.
“I thank GOD! My ancestors, angels, and guides for pulling me through this Warzone alive!” the wellness guru wrote. “This is all a part of my story, my life, and my journey…This post is for any woman or man who has yet to truly recognize the power they possess and finds themselves in an environment that is unhealthy, please know if they’ve done it once they will do it again… it is inevitable!”
Tune into the new episode of Red Table Talk on Wednesday, November 23 at 9 am PT/12 pm ET only on Facebook Watch.
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