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Selena Rodgers Dickerson, domestic violence survivor: ‘I choose not to see myself as a victim’


Salena Rodgers Dickerson, owner of SARCOR LLC, and Birmingham engineering firm, will serve as an ambassador for domestic violence survivors for the City of Birmingham’s Mental Health Awareness Day on May 17. (Juwan T. Dickerson, Provided)

By Chanda Temple | For the Birmingham Times

Selena Rodgers Dickerson’s college years were supposed to be filled with happy days as she continued her studies. Instead, part of her college career was marred by fear and pain as she experienced domestic violence.

Dickerson is the owner of SARCOR, LLC, and an engineering firm in Birmingham, and her survival story is a difficult one because a friend she had when she was a co-op student in Huntsville, Alabama, choked her and slammed her body on a coffee table. . He then hit her so hard in her left eye that she suffered a swollen face and a partially detached retina.

Her ex-boyfriend may have left her beaten, bloodied and bruised, but she was determined not to be broken forever.

After the brutal attack in December 1999, she returned to her studies at Tennessee State University. A program offered by the state of Alabama helped her seek the help of a domestic violence counselor with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. She was 22 at the time and her then boyfriend was 25.

Prior to the attack, Dickerson placed her then-boyfriend’s needs above her own. As a result, her schoolwork suffered. “I got the impression that my relationship was more important than my education,” she said, adding that the two worked together at her co-op job in Huntsville, and that he berated her at her desk.

“I didn’t recognize the verbal abuse and manipulation,” she said. “It took me a counseling session to know that. I thought (what he did) was love because it felt like someone cared about what I did and how I did it.”

On Friday, May 17, Dickerson will serve as an ambassador for survivors of domestic violence for the City of Birmingham’s Mental Health Awareness Day at Linn Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mental health and domestic violence experts, health care settings, free depression screenings and more will be available. present that day to remove barriers for the public in accessing needed resources.

In 2020, Dickerson shared her story publicly in a written op-ed after her ex-boyfriend filed for a court hearing to restore his gun rights. He didn’t get it.

Now people contact Dickerson several times a year asking for advice on what to do in cases of domestic violence. Sometimes the callers are afraid or ashamed. Other times, the callers don’t know where to go. And then there are those who praise Dickerson for sharing her story because they experienced something similar.

She feels their pain and doesn’t want anyone to feel the fear she felt in 1999, or even that she still faces today. The attack also left her with a deviated septum; a left jawbone that sits slightly higher than the right side; and a left eye that sometimes twitches involuntarily.

“It’s something I have to live with, and I’m silently praying for it to stop,” Dickerson said of the eye twitching. But it hasn’t stopped the 47-year-old from running SARCOR, a 16-year-old civil and transportation engineering design company in the Magic City. “I am a survivor of domestic violence. I choose not to see myself as a victim.”

Dickerson hopes the May 17 event in Linn Park will allow people to overcome their fear and find and use available resources that can help them.

For more information about the event, please email Crystal Mullen-Johnson of Nurture Alabama at [email protected].