LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Domestic violence can affect anyone, anytime, anywhere. D.J. Williams is a former NFL football player, a television news personality and a musician. He shares his story of bravery and passion– bringing positivity and light to the darkness of domestic violence.
“I’ve seen him grab my mom by the hair,” said Williams of his father. “One time, he thought my mom had another man over and sat there and slapped her so hard on one side of her ear, she can still barely hear in one ear.”
At just ten years old, D.J. and his family fled Texas to escape from his father, who was violent toward his mother.
“My mom pulled out the map and literally– I put my finger somewhere,” said Williams. “She said son, where are we going?”
His finger landed on Little Rock, Arkansas.
His move to the natural state wasn’t any kind of mistake. D.J. and his family were fleeing from a form of abuse that comes in all shapes and sizes. Domestic violence does not discriminate.
“My father was a good man– my mom fell in love with a good man,” Williams said. “But he got involved with drugs and alcohol– and it changed who he was. My mom held on to who he was in the past, not the person he became over time. For the most part, I only knew a selfish, violent man– and that’s how I see my dad. I was fearful of my dad.”
After fleeing Texas to live in a shelter away from the hurt and hostility, D.J.’s mother left it up to him to find a place to start over.
“It got to a point where it became dangerous,” said Williams. “Not only for her, but her children as well.”
Since arriving in Arkansas, his family hasn’t looked back. From the football field to the anchor desk, living in this area– you’ve probably heard the name D.J. Williams a time or two.
“I’m just a happy, positive, optimistic person,” he said.
Throughout his life, D.J. has sung a song of high spirits. That’s his key to a happy life.
“I mean, a lot of people are surprised about my attitude– I’m always in a good mood, you never catch me on a bad day,” said Williams. “But they’re shocked when I tell them about my upbringing– being raised in a home of domestic violence.”
But even through the trials and tribulations of tough times, D.J. says he wouldn’t change a thing.
“They were essential stepping stones to get me where I am today,” he said.
D.J.’s father was sentenced to 26 years in prison. He was eligible for parole for the first time two years ago.
“As far as my dad getting out, that’s something my mom I’m sure thinks about every single day,” he said. “And I’m going to do everything to make sure she is protected and safe.”
His relationship with his father is non-existent.
“My mom hasn’t talked to my dad since he was incarcerated,” Williams said. “He’s written me hundreds of letters, and I haven’t read one yet. I’m sure the day will come where I meet face to face with him again and have a conversation, and we will see what happens when that happens.”
Until that day, D.J. feels its his duty to continue to share his own story and sing a song of hope– to be a light in the lives of others.
“God has been the belief in my life that I know got us to where we are today,” said Williams. “But the concept of faith, whatever religion it is, is being a part of something bigger than you– and I feel it’s my responsibility to use my platform nowadays to let men and women know– that there are ways to get help, there are ways to be be protected and safe.”
D.J. now partners with Women and Children’s First Shelter in Little Rock to spread his message, in hopes of helping others suffering from domestic violence.
“I wouldn’t change the spot I am sitting in for anything in the world,” he said. “Knowing I may reach someone who needs an answer.”