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17 Dec

Teresa Caldwell, Bow Wow’s Mom, Gets Candid About Surviving

Teresa Caldwell

Photo by Kelley Raye

Teresa Caldwell can call herself a domestic violence survivor—and an writer—helping other women overcome emotional and physical abuse. Caldwell re-released her book I Once Was Her, which details her life story,

her experience with intimate partner violence, and the way she fought to beat her trauma. Along with her advocacy work, the  multi-hyphenate is the previous momager to her son Bow Wow and an entrepreneur.

Caldwell is quick to indicate that there must be a cultural and mindset shift in relation to domestic abuse. For the Black community, this month needs to be of particular importance—in keeping with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “[d]ue to systemic racism, racist policies,

and racist societal structures, each Black women and Black men experience intimate partner violence at a disproportionately high rate.” Per the numbers, greater than 45% of Black women and 40% of Black men “have experienced intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking of their lifetimes.”

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, Caldwell recently sat down with ESSENCE to speak about her book, being the OG momager, fighting through adversity, and the way she hopes to encourage other women.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

ESSENCE: What was the inspiration for writing your book and telling your story and why did you are feeling compelled to re-release the book now?

I’m a survivor, and I felt like I could help one other survivor. Why not tell my story and share my experiences and what I’ve learned? Nobody ever taught me to like, so I desired to share my story, hoping that I will help at the very least one person. I re-released it now because my launch date was right in the course of the pandemic, and I couldn’t really market it before due to COVID.

ESSENCE: What advice for do you will have for many who are affected by domestic abuse?

People at all times say, “why can’t you only leave?” It’s not that easy. It’s hard. My advice can be to refer to someone that you just really trust, any individual who’s not going to guage you.

I formed a plan, and the person who I talked with helped me form this plan, and that’s how I used to be in a position to get out. I at all times tell people, “You’re not alone on this.” There are such a lot of women, and men too, and kids that have this unfortunately.

ESSENCE: Indiana State Rep. Vanessa Summers said, “…sometimes in Black culture, it’s looked down upon if you ask for help. You lean in your support systems.

You don’t let others know what’s happening within your property.” Why is that this viewpoint so toxic, and the way can we modify that narrative inside the Black community?

You attract who you might be, and I attracted what I’ve been through. I assumed it was okay because that’s what I saw. I saw my mom being abused, so I assumed that that meant love, that meant they cared about me, and loads of women feel like that.

We’ve got to speak about it more, because even for me, I used to be ashamed. I didn’t even want my son to know my story. We’ve got to speak about it, and it’s alright to get a therapist. I did and spent a lot money and time on attempting to fix myself, to guard my son and ensure that that he didn’t must undergo what I went through.

ESSENCE: You only mentioned that your mom was a victim. What may be done to interrupt this vicious cycle?

I need to emphasise again that you will have to speak about it. You will have to get help. Getting a therapist really helped me, because, should you don’t fix the difficulty, you’ll bring that issue to whatever relationship you’re in. If you will have abandonment issues,

you’ll bring them into your next relationship, and it’s hard coping with a one who struggles from abandonment or being a survivor of domestic violence. Even now, if any individual talks to me in a certain kind of tone, I feel like I even have got to guard myself and a shield goes up.

ESSENCE: What resources or tools do you utilize if you feel such as you’re in a situation where your “shield” is coming up?

Any kind of relationship that I enter, I allow them to know that I’m a survivor, and these are the things that trigger me, these are the things that make me put up a wall, these are the things that make me defend myself. I hope that after I let people know what triggers it, that they are going to understand and never do [what triggers me].

ESSENCE: Switching gears barely. You were a momager before Kris Jenner trademarked the term back in 2015. Are you able to tell me about your experience because the OG momager?

For me, it was hard to balance the 2 because as he got older, I noticed that I used to be at all times in a manager mode, and never in mom mode, and for him, it was like, “oh my gosh, if you call you’re at all times talking about business?”


So, that was form of hard for me to maneuver forwards and backwards. I at all times needed to fight my way through because there was at all times any individual attempting to remove me, like “you bought your mom being a manager. You’re 18 years old, your mama mustn’t be managing you.” Any person was at all times trying to come back between us.

I do know my value today, but I didn’t at all times know my value. Now, I do know who I’m, and I do know what I bring to the table.

Then he got here to me perhaps three years ago and he said,” Mom, I not want you to administer me anymore.” I used to be so hurt, but I understood why when he said, “Mom, you will have been managing me my entire profession.

You will have given so a lot of your years to me. It’s your turn to do what you desire to do. Let me aid you.” Now, I used to be able to put in writing my book. I used to be in a position to open one other boutique, and my interior design business took off, so now I’m in a position to do me!

ESSENCE: You wear so many hats. Are you able to tell me about your different roles?

I’m an interior designer, and I’ve done that for years—I used to do loads of athletes’ homes, but Atlanta Falcons’ player Grady Jarrett pulled me out of retirement and since then, I’ve been back! I even have a partner, Michael Elliott,

who has really elevated my profession, and we opened up a recent boutique in Atlanta called The Taste Boutique. One thing about me and fashion is that I really like seeing women feel beautiful. I just want women to feel empowered. I need them to know their value, and I need them to at all times feel beautiful!

ESSENCE: Speaking of empowerment, what can we as Black women can do to empower ourselves, and what’s something that you just do to empower yourself?

I’m a real, strong believer and am very, very, very spiritual. I even have a very deep reference to God, and I allow God to guide my steps. I don’t do anything unless I pray on it. I do know my value today, but I didn’t at all times know my value.

Now, I do know who I’m, and I do know what I bring to the table. I don’t allow anything negative into my soul. In the event you sent me a protracted text message and I do know that it’s negative, I’ll delete it and won’t even read it. With social media, I don’t even read anything.

For empowering others, I’m at all times right down to support my sisters and my brothers, and I feel that we as women have to do more uplifting of each other and I feel we want to support one another more, especially within the Black community.

ESSENCE: What do you hope that readers will take away after ending your book?

I might love for them to remove that she went through lots and have a look at where she is now. Know your value, put within the work, and that pain is temporary. You will have control over you. Again, the pain doesn’t last ceaselessly. You will have the alternative and the power to alter that, because I did, and I hope to encourage that in others.

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