Grammy-nominated singer James Fortune has been speaking publicly in recent months about overcoming thoughts of suicide after he and his estranged wife, Cheryl, separated following a domestic assault two years ago.
Fortune talked about his domestic abuse conviction and the assault that occurred at the couple's home in October 2014 that resulted in Cheryl being admitted to the hospital during an interview with Essence magazine this week.
"As I'm sitting in the back of the cop car, I watch officers bring my children out of our home. My wife is at the hospital, where she reported my assault. We had just gotten back from a trip to South Africa. My wife and I had an argument and I decided to physically remove her from our bedroom. In doing so, I assaulted her. I abused my wife physically," he said.
Fortune pleaded guilty in a Houston, Texas, courtroom to a third-degree felony charge of assault–family violence on March 8. He served five days in jail and was given five years probation with 175 hours of community service and was ordered to attend a "batterer's intervention" program.
The singer told Essence that his need for control is what fueled his abusive behavior. He also talked about the dark pit he found himself in after the public heard about the felony charge.
"This season was the lowest time of my life and I brought it all on myself. It's one thing to go through a storm privately. When it's all over the news, it's tough," Fortune said.
"I could not see my wife or my kids for months, I wasn't welcome at a lot of churches. That's when you feel you have nothing to live for and the suicidal thoughts begin. When I was contemplating ending it all, I had to talk to myself: James, you've encouraged everybody else to trust God, and now you have to believe."
The Christian Post reported back in March that Fortune said he once thought of taking a "whole bottle of Xanax" but after attending a Tasha Cobbs conference for worship leaders called iLead, he changed his mind.
"I had a whole bottle of Xanax back in Houston I was gonna take. I need somebody to know iLead saved my life," Fortune confessed in a clip from the event posted by Cobbs on her Instagram.
Unfortunately, the domestic assault in October 2014 was not the first time the popular radio host and choir director had been charged with committing domestic violence. In 2002, Fortune pleaded guilty to punishing his stepson, then age 4, by putting him in bathtub filled with scalding hot water.
Fortune and Cheryl are now legally separated. He is also barred from having any contact with her for five years.
Local news station ABC13 reported that initially Fortune was ordered not to have any contact with his children for six months but in a follow up hearing, Cheryl testified that she believes it's in the best interest of the children for them to have visitation with their father. The judge granted the request and Fortune was given visitation rights, but only when members of his wife's family are present.
Despite the aftermath of the past two years, the "I Trust You" singer says he doesn't believe all hope is lost.
"It took a while for me to admit I was an abuser. I wouldn't be healed if I didn't take accountability. I realized that I'm an abuser and I may never be forgiven or trusted again. When you release the shame, you can live again. God still has a purpose for my life," he told Essence.
Fortune was also interviewed by CBN's Efrem Graham. Watch the full interview below.