Earlier this week, I was reading a story in The New York Times, “A Revenge Plot So Intricate, the Prosecutors Were Pawns.” It’s about a woman, Seemona Sumasar, who was framed for robbery by her crazed ex-boyfriend.
The backstory: They had a long-term relationship and eventually moved in together. One night, he raped her, and she pressed charges against him and refused to drop them even after he sent his friends to intimidate her. To get back at Sumasar, the boyfriend devised a scheme, where supposed victims would say a woman fitting Sumasar’s description had robbed them and provide various details — her nickname, the out-of-state tags on her vehicle, partial license plate numbers –- that would all implicate her. Eventually, she was charged with carrying out a series of armed robberies, based on what the police said was a wealth of evidence, including credible witness statements and proof that her car was the getaway vehicle. If convicted, Sumasar, a mother, would spend 25 years in jail.
An informant eventually came forward to tip off the police that Sumasar’s ex had concocted the whole story. But, by then, she had spent seven months in jail, lost her restaurant franchise, her house had gone into foreclosure, and she missed priceless moments with her now 12-year-old daughter.
What struck me most about this story wasn’t the “deranged” ex, or even the painstaking detail and effort he put into getting revenge. We’ve all heard crazier stories. It was an observation that Sumasar made about him, that although he seemed all good, she had an inkling something was wrong. And even as her “inkling” grew — “ I said to Jerry, ‘You tell so many lies, I think you actually believe what you are saying,’” Sumasar recounted to the Times — she continued the relationship knowing she was with a man she could not trust.
Now, I’m certainly not victim blaming. Whether Sumasar trusted her partner or not, he had no right to violate her or to frame her. Only he is responsible for his actions. But I wonder why so many women, not just her, ignore that “inkling” of doubt that comes when something is not right. Why don’t we trust our “women’s intuition,” if for no other reason than to save ourselves the unnecessary and inevitable drama?
Trust is the ultimate foundation of a relationship, and if you don’t have it, whatever you build (and no matter whom you build it with), is destined to crumble. That also includes the relationship you have with yourself. By ignoring your warning signals, you place yourself in precarious positions that will lead you down a direct path into harm’s way. That nagging voice inside your head, that unsure feeling that sits in the pit of your stomach, or that sense that something is just not right, is there for a reason. Oprah calls it God speaking; I call it bottled common sense trying to get free. Whatever you call it, trust it!
Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. She has recently been nominated for an African American Literary Award. Vote for her now on literaryawardshow.com.