Paris native and published author Tamisa Hunter is someone who instantly comes across as the most confident woman in the room. Not a single question had to be asked of her when documenting her ascendance from near-fatal domestic violence to famous author, influencer and talk show host. She simply took charge and let it flow with the eloquence and poise of a seasoned professional.
“Growing up in Paris was the hardest time of my life,” Hunter said. “I was bullied throughout my entire childhood and on up into high school. I don’t know what it was about me that the bullies sought out. I would have to say that it is most likely because I developed very early and the girls never accepted me because the boys were relentlessly objectifying and harassing me, so I really felt like I had nobody most of the time.
“When I would get out of school, I would walk two miles to the house so I wouldn’t get hit by the kids waiting for me under the bleachers near the bus stop. One time I was paralyzed for almost a year because I fell on a rock on the playground when a girl pushed me down so hard.”
Hunter said she also was molested by a family friend, an abuser still close to some members of her family today. She didn’t tell anyone at the time, opting to let it go “because Black people always say ‘what happens in this house stays in this house.’”
“It was a culture of keeping up appearances that scarred me deeply at the time,” she said. “After high school, I started dating my abuser. He started out buying me things and swearing he loved me unconditionally, which was something I had never really felt from a man before, so when he started hitting me, I would just go from hospital to hospital, back when there was two hospitals in Paris, so nobody would know I was getting hit so bad.”
One day she looked in the mirror at herself. Her head was bandaged, and through it she could see the spreading circle of blood. She told herself, “no more.” When her abuser came home that day and tried to hit, Hunter picked up the biggest object she could find and she struck him repeatedly with it. Each swing carried all the emotions she had buried for so long, she said.
“Suddenly, he was on the floor looking up at me like he had no idea who I was,” she said. “I walked to my momma’s house and never looked back.”
Hunter experienced a moment of clarity when writing her book, “But, I Am Still Here” — her father’s leaving when she was a little girl left her damaged and scarred, lowered her self-worth and led her to stay in abusive relationships. She calls that epiphany “my truth.”
“I never felt like I was good enough since he left, so it was my fault if he hit me and if I could just be good enough he wouldn’t leave,” she said of her thoughts during those bad relationships.
She knew her father lived in town, but didn’t see her, she said. One day, while at Buddies, a gas station once in Paris, she saw her father buying a pack of cigarettes. He looked at her, then looked at the counter. He put his change down and walked out.
“The hole his eyes burned in me that day was the void I couldn’t fill until I surrendered to the grace of God,” Hunter said.
Soon after, Hunter started her mentorship for young girls and her ministry, “Women of Truth.” She also wrote her book and started a talk show, “Table Talk with Tamisa,” which has now been picked up for livestreaming on most platforms.
She now lives in Dallas with her husband of 27 years, a man she calls “her grace.” She shared that she recently dreamed of returning to Paris and she saw it much different from the Paris she knew growing up.
“It felt so different; I felt so embraced by the community. Maybe that’s where I’m meant to make the biggest impact as that’s definitely one of the places that’s made a big impact on me,” she said.
“I needed to tell my story so people would know why I have dedicated my life to helping young girls who feel like nobody is listening. I let them know I am here to help them speak their truth, no matter who it offends — that’s their problem and this is your story. And then the cycle of love goes on as we pay it forward, so girls out there still suffering, afraid to speak out, can feel heard, seen, loved and safe.”
For information on Hunter and her services, visit tamisahunter.com.