Award winning music producer
Winner of 6 Grammys
Sold over 25 million records
B.A. Psychology & M.A. Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy, Pepperdine University
Former Miss Southern California, 1988
Domestic Abuse in the Church
By Mimi Elliott
The 700 Club
Tony (born Anthony Johnson) was born in Nuremburg, German and raised in Panama until he was 13. His father was a staff sergeant in the Army. Tony says he saw a lot of abuse when he was growing up.
“My father was loving, but when he drank he was abusive,” Tony said.
He decided that when he grew up that he would not be like his father. At the age of 18, Tony began promoting Gospel and R&B concerts. Then, at the age of 28, Tony released his first independent record that landed him sales exceeding three million copies - Dazzy Dukes by Duice. He says his rap was clean "party" rap. He continued releasing hit records throughout his career naming himself, “The Hitman.” He worked at chart-topping LaFace Records in Atlanta and was soon promoted to A&R Director. He produced four Grammy winning artists, including Usher, Outkast and TLC.
With over 25 million records sold and one Grammy publishing award, Tony started his film company to supply videos for recording artists. After directing over 30 videos, Tony set his sights on the Urban Christian Market as a film maker and started the First Family Film Group in Los Angeles.
Tony and Tamara met at a friend’s wedding in 2003 and have been married for two years.
“There was no pattern or one incident [of abusive behavior] during the time we dated that ever indicated a problem to me,” Tamara said. “He’s Latino, so they’re known to be passionate.”
One day Tony and Tamara got into an argument and Tony found himself reacting to his wife in a threatening way. Tamara, whose background is in counseling, called police and Tony ended up in handcuffs.
“It was surreal,” she said. “I’ve been on the instructing side, so I knew how to pick up the signs. I had absolutely zero tolerance for that behavior.”
Tony left the home for two weeks to regroup and Tamara went to counseling.
“If my wife is terrified because of my anger, then something’s wrong,” Tony said.
They decided to work on their relationship and today are stronger than ever. Dedicated Christians, Tony and Tamara realized domestic violence in the church was becoming more prevalent but it was being hidden. After a prominent evangelist who was recently married left her new husband due to abuse, the church opened their eyes.
“It’s embarrassing that a man of God could act like that,” Tony said. “And there are more and more stories.”
SIGNS TO WATCH FOR
Forty percent of women who are murdered are killed by their husband or partner. One in four women is abused at some point in their life. Every 15 seconds, a woman is abused and three women are killed every day in America.
There are signs of abusive relationships that Tamara says to watch out for. She says it’s a control issue. If a partner or loved one criticizes you, talks down to you, or intimidates you, it could mean you are in an abusive relationship. It could also be financial, where the partner controls the money. If it is a life threatening situation, Tamara says to call a domestic violence center in your area and make sure the kids are taken out of the threatening environment. The counseling shelters know what to do to help a person through the process of what Tamara says can be an intimidating system.
Tony began production on a documentary, Laying On of Hands, which exposes the ugly face behind the silent cries of many women (and men) who conceal acts of domestic violence in the church.
“We are a conduit for this situation,” Tony said. “It’s too big to ignore.”
The message they want to proclaim is clear:
“We want people to know that you are a product of your environment,” Tamara said. “You may have grown up in an abusive environment, and until you’ve had an ah-ha moment, you really don’t realize you have a problem.”
“No man should ever push a woman or raise his voice to a woman. God gave us a choice and the ability to reason. There is no excuse," Tony said.
To be sure no one thinks Tony is pointing the finger, he said, “When I point the finger, I’m pointing at me, too. I am not immune to domestic violence. The devil is always at work. We have to work on it, but we worship a God whose name is above all names.”
For more information on obtaining the video, please visit www.firstfamilyfilms.com
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