Every love story gone wrong has three sides to it: his side, her side and the truth. But what happens when one side of the story is silenced by someone's wealth? Siovaugh Wade, former wife of Dwyane Wade answers that very question, as she shares her struggles to repair an image she feels was destroyed by the NBA superstar's money, power and fame. From losing her kids, to losing her own sanity, Siovhaugn Wade is an open book about the trauma she and her two sons have experienced. We may never know the truth, but the following is her account of her life pre and post-divorce and her desire to move on.
EBONY: Why have you decided to share your story?
Siohvaughn Wade: Well, one of the reasons I wanted to tell my story was because I have overcome the fear of speaking the truth about what has been happening to myself and to my children. I can also see how many other women and children have gone through what Zion and Zaire have gone through. I have an understanding that there is a purpose in this, and I believe that what we’ve been through is already helping a lot of people. I’m also speaking out for the other people who have suffered the same tribulations we have.
EBONY: Can you elaborate on what you and your children have actually gone through?
SW: A lot has happened, but one of the things is abandonment and the pain that comes with that. Both my children and myself suffered from that. When Mr. Wade left, for over three months, he didn’t have any contact at all with Zion, our youngest son. By the time Mr. Wade came back around and saw him again, Zion didn’t recognize his own father. I was trying to be the glue to hold the pieces together, at least for the sake of the children, not so much for the marriage. But their relationship with their dad was really, really tough.
EBONY: How old was Zion when he left?
SW: Zion was a few months old when Mr. Wade decided to do that.
EBONY: How is your relationship with your children now? How are they coping with the separation?
SW: It’s difficult even getting a phone call. There is always noise, where I can’t hear my children. I can’t get in contact with them for days at a time and I have no idea where they are. It’s been really, really difficult on them. Zion will cry, literally uncontrollably. To have my son say, “Mommy, I want to come home” or “Mom, why can’t I go to my green room (because his room is green at my house)?” Those questions like that are really, really difficult. To have my children crying out like "Mom, help us” or “Fix this”, and feeling like I can’t help them is so hard on me. I’m not able to give them the one thing that they’ve been asking for.
Just a few days ago, I found out that Mr. Wade transferred our son, Zaire, to a different school. I called the old school to get the calendar for the year and asked to speak with his teacher and they said, “Mrs. Wade we’re so sorry to have to inform you, but Mr. Wade took your son out of this school.” And that’s how I found out. So he [Dwayne Wade] basically shut me out.
EBONY: Can you reiterate the court’s decision regarding your visitation rights for your sons?
SW: The judge…made the decision March 11, 2011. Before the decision was announced in court, the children went on a visitation with their dad, a normal weekend. I kissed them goodbye and promised them I was going to see them the following Sunday. My youngest son Zion happened to say, “My dad and my aunt are going to take us away to Florida for a long time”. As we were hugging, I was explaining to him that he’d be back Sunday. It did not register with me at that point, what happened. Now, I’ve realized that Mr. Wade had to have known about the custody decision before anyone else did. The children were discussing how difficult it was going to be [being away from me] and I didn’t even know they were going to be taken away from me.
Following that weekend, the judge gives the decision to my attorneys and myself, and that’s when I found out. I don’t think things like that normally happen. I don’t believe that the construction worker, for instance, or the UPS worker would be able to know a verdict prior to it being released. But Mr. Wade is the million-dollar man in court, and he has the heads up. It really has been very, very, difficult injustices we’ve seen.
EBONY: So what are your calls and visitations like now?
SW: I often times find [the children] with different people, several different people.
EBONY: What does that mean?
SW: I call on one day and "Auntie so-and-so" is babysitting. I call on another day, and "Uncle so-and-so" is babysitting, I call on a different day and Zaire is crying because he hasn’t even seen Zion for two days. So they’re separated from each other.
EBONY: Do you feel in your heart that he had legal advantage over everything because of his wealth?
SW: Money and fame made every bit of difference. This was not a case about justice or what was righteous before court; this was clearly a case about fame and wealth. I watched men, before our case was called, be hauled off to jail for not paying child support and spousal support. Mr. Wade did not give any child support except for three months. Mr. Wade went over two years without giving a dime of support. The only way I was even able to feed my children was living off of pure savings, that’s it. While Mr. Wade rode around in a car that was worth more than most people’s salaries for five years straight. Even if he didn’t want to give me anything, children need to eat, children need clothes and children have to be educated. Our oldest needed extensive therapy because of what happened to him, which was directly a result of Mr. Wade. I had to pay for all of that out of savings.
EBONY: How do you feel you’ve been mischaracterized in the press?
SW: Mr. Wade has done what is very typical of abusers: If a person experiences mental cruelty, physical violence, and emotional violence and they speak out against it, the abusers response to that is, “That person is crazy.” A forensic psychologist did an evaluation on my family, and said that, Zaire has explained that Mr. Wade has hit him with a closed fist to his chest. Zaire has not lied; it’s her job to forensically evaluate custody cases and the court appointed her. She evaluated me and she testified to this: “A lot of what Mrs. Wade has gone though has been a response and a reaction of what Mr. Wade has done.” She also testified to this under oath: “Those children should be with Mrs. Wade.”
She also testified that if the court gives the children to Mr. Wade, it could be “irreparable harm done to them.” Mr. Wade has screamed at Zaire, telling him to man the “F” up. And when I say “F” I don’t mean “frankly.” He was telling Zaire at 5, 6, and 7 years old to“ man the “F” up”, screaming at him. That sort of thing takes a toll on someone.
EBONY: When did everything start to take a turn? Was the abuse from the beginning or was this something that gradually happened?
SW: It was shortly after the draft. That’s when I believe things began to spin out of control and I began to see sides of Mr. Wade that I never knew. I began to see him do things, and a fear began to develop and root itself in me. I realized how quiet I became. I became protective for my children and myself. He had been instilling intimidation in all of us. It became “go along with it or else”, and we knew what the “or else” was.
EBONY: What was the “or else”?
SW: One of the “or elses” for Zaire was the fist to chest. Mr. Wade would get his balled up fist, as big as he is, and punch him in the chest. He has literally caused an asthma attack.
EBONY: So if you saw those signs, why didn’t anything ever prompt you to leave him?
SW: Let me explain something, fear is paralyzing. It’s so important the women and even men in these situations do not walk in fear. It took years, years for me not to be afraid. The police had been helping him and walking in pure corruption. How safe was I really? I just don’t understand why people were doing this. Even if it was just a sheer hate for me, don’t you have some kind of love and mercy for two innocent children?
EBONY: How do you maintain your sanity?
SW: I believe that this is going to heal many women. God himself has answered me, even in the middle of this. I have hope. It hasn’t destroyed my faith in God or even my faith in people. I still believe in the love of God and that the love of God still flows through people. I haven’t given up on women even though it’s clear what other women have done to me. There was no other man to help me get through this. The only man was Jesus.
EBONY: What was your last interaction with your kids like?
SW: The last time I visited with the children, Zaire was telling me that his dad got angry and their punishment was to be put in the closet. He was telling me how he [Dwayne Wade] told them their punishment was to eat cold food. He said, “He is still hitting me in my chest mom.” Zion is even smaller than Zaire. I was saying to myself, “Maybe God allowed for Mr. Wade to have custody of the children because it’s an opportunity for him to change his behavior and to love, raise, and get really close to them.” Not so much.
EBONY: What would you want young women to know about your experience? And what kind of advice would you give women who may be experiencing abuse and abandonment by a lover?
SW: One word can sum it up: seek! They are going to have to open their mouths, as terrifying as that is. Even if their legs are shaking and palms are sweating. They are going to expose the abuse; it’s for their own sake. I would encourage them to go to the creator, the one who understands. He made them. He understands you the best. I’m not saying there aren’t natural resources to use on the Earth; I [see] nothing wrong with counseling. But they have to go back to the source.