I am a huge fan of Tina Turner.
She has an amazing voice, with a presence on stage that could move mountains.
She is a singer, songwriter, dancer and actress. Now retired, her career spanned some 6 decades, with well-known early hits including “Proud Mary,” “Better Be Good To Me,” and “Addicted To Love." Later she blew up the charts with “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “Private Dancer,” and “The Best.” She has won Grammys for Best Song and Best Female Rock Vocal Performer, Lifetime Achievement awards, an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in the motion picture “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” and another 50 or more nominations/awards/accolades for all kinds of work.
Born Anna May Bullock, she was renamed Tina Turner by Ike, who “discovered” her by giving her a platform to sing right alongside him in his band…and then he took away her voice.
When the recent HBO documentary aired about her, during which she thanked her followers as she bid adieu from the public spotlight after 60 years, I was left heartbroken.
For the 15 years she was married to Ike – and during which they performed and raised children together – he tortured her. She endured emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse. Her childhood was also very disturbing. Her parents were abusive, and they abandoned her when she was 11. Finally, at age 37, she mustered strength through the study of Buddhism and was able to leave Ike.
It’s hard for me to picture this woman who is bigger than life being a victim and not going after him with all that power she brought to her performances.
One of the most difficult aspects of the abuse, she stated in the documentary, was having to relive it in interviews about their separation, despite repeated requests not to be asked about it.
Yet, questions continued. One that a reporter actually asked was, “When you were married to Ike, what was the worst moment?”
On what planet is that an acceptable question?
It seems so very cruel to ask Tina to go back to that dark place to share her dreadful memories, but I wonder...What is the impact of keeping all this pain and horror private? What does it do to the abused woman? All women? Her child? All children? The abuser? All abusers? To humanity?
Without talking about it, the abused woman’s daughter could see such acts as permissible, even by a man who supposedly loves her; her son could see this as acceptable behavior for a man, even when he loves a woman; a child could think this is normal behavior for parents, and on and on.
I would hope that the abused victim would be able to open up to someone, learn of her options, get some assistance, and free herself from this harmful reality. She will continue to suffer immeasurably either way—keeping it private or sharing the details—but I have to believe that keeping those emotions simmering within is not the way to go. As for the abuser, he must be held accountable, whatever that entails.
However, since I have not been in her position, I have no idea if I would have been able to talk about such horrendous experiences - during or after.
I have been using gender-specific pronouns but, in reality, anyone can be an abuser or be the abused.
While I am still cringing at the reporter’s question to Tina, I do think that, as a society, it’s better for us to be aware of the danger that can and may lurk behind closed doors so that the abused in particular knows it doesn’t have to be that way.