Last month TVOne premiered a film about a real woman, a woman who supposedly killed in the name of love. However, when I watched the movie, that’s not what I saw. I saw, young woman who grew up in an unstable home taken advantage of who killed as a means of fear and survival. The movie I’m referencing is When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story starring Lil Mama and Lance Gross. The film left me with questions so I did some research on the real Falicia Blakely post viewing and it’s a sad story. Falicia Blakely, who looks nothing like Lil Mama by the way, was only 18 at the time of these murders and Dino, played by Lance Gross is 13 years her senior. I was unable to gage the characters ages, let alone such a large age gap from viewing the movie.

What I was able to gather however, was that Falicia grew up in a home without a father or reliable father figure. Her mother was more concerned with having her moist loins tended to than the whereabouts of her teenaged daughter. Falicia started stripping because the money was good. Sh kept stripping because the money was good. Where she  started slipping was when she started looking for love in the club.

She didn’t have a father’s love or guidance in the home and her mother seemed to have revolving door of unsuitable suitors, so really, she didn’t know what to look for. She fell for a man who was down for the ride until the responsibilities got real. Then she met Dino.

He’s a smooth talker and a big tipper and he shows her affection. He convinces her she’s “Too good to be stripping” and she falls for a fantasy where he’ll take care of her, only to learn he’s only sold her half the dream. Once she buys in and quits the club, she reminds him that he told her that she’s “Too good to be stripping” and he conveniently adds, “at THAT club.”

Falicia is thrown off, but complies any way. She leaves the new club satisfied with how much money she’s made, Dino isn’t. He headbutt’s her and tells her if she worked longer she could have earned more. She’s left fearful and confused, he apologizes, but this is only the beginning.

The movie aims to tell the story of a young woman who kills for love, however I saw it as an example of the type of intimate partner violence young women are vulnerable to when they don’t have a representation of a healthy relationship in the home.

I read an article about how intimate partner violence that says something called “trauma-bonding” is what makes people stay in abusive relationships. Despite being tricked into leaving one club only to end up stripping in another, she stayed because she was waiting for the charming Dino she first met to reappear. When he headbutt her, he may have apologized, but he also showed her exactly the type of physical pain he was capable of inflicting on her at any unsuspecting moment. He even went so far as to keep her daughter away from her. If that weren’t  enough, he convinced her that he wanted to provide her and her daughter with a whole new life, but they needed a certain amount of money to make it happen. So she was stripping with a dollar amount in mind.

In a short time with Dino, Falicia experienced physical, emotional and financial abuse. She earned all the money he said they needed to leave and start a new life only to see Dino use it for other purposes. He convinced her that robbery was a faster way to make the money back than stripping. He gave her a gun and a deadline. Falicia didn’t kill those men for love. She killed them as a means of survival. She wanted a life where she Dino, and her daughter could live together happily, a life where she didn’t have to dance for dollars to make it happen. And they were only obstacles in her way.

If Falicia had parents she could turn to, would those men still be alive?