There are many types of domestic and family violence: emotional, physical, verbal, financial, murder. None of it is insignificant; all forms harm us in one way or another. Sometimes it leads to murder. I believe that’s what happened to Little Cooper Harris.
Below is an article I wrote on another blog, but felt this was an appropriate forum for reblogging:
Please share, abuse isn’t always obvious.
Thank you and be safe,
Danita Clark Able
Author, Letters From A Whoremonger’s Wife
By the time Joan McCauley was seventeen, she was dreadfully familiar with Narcissistic Behavior. In 1952, a narcissist had given birth to her. And as a toddler, Joan’s narcissistic mother abused and humiliated her. Her mom, the woman who should have loved and protected Joan, would punish her three-year old daughter by having her stand naked in a corner, in front of an open doorway; so that “everyone could see how bad she was”. Joan’s mother was embarrassed by the congenital hip problem her daughter had been born with, especially when, between the ages of four and six, Joan was placed in a full body cast (from her arm pits to her toes). Her mother’s bitterness over having a disabled child, her embarrassment over her daughter walking differently than other children, escalated. As if it was Joan’s fault. And during the years that she spent in the cast, Joan reports the abuse from her mother became sexual.
Sometimes, even though we hate what we know, it is all we know and it is what we are comfortable with. Abnormal is our normal. And that’s how it was with Joan. At seventeen, she became pregnant by a narcissist. She married him. She had children with him and she attempted to please him. Eventually he tried to kill her. He thought he had been successful in killing her when he turned the gun on himself.
In Joan’s Words
I tried my best to please him, which was impossible. We had two children who I love with all my heart. He was a good provider. I was a stay at home mom and then put myself through nursing school when my children were in high school. I thought this life was normal. He was never happy and I blamed myself and I tried harder. He was emotionally and verbally abusive all the time. He worked the abuse cycle over and over and I was forever confused and extremely sad that I could not stop it.
(For those not familiar with the abuse cycle…After the abuse, there will be a period of “remorse” on the part of the abuser. They will apologize. There will be a “honeymoon” period…it can last for days, months, years. But the abuse will return.)
I became suicidal several times and began seeing a therapist off and on. My healing began with therapy and ALANON meetings. I found my voice and I realized it was not my fault that he and my mother were never happy. I was not responsible and I could never change them. They were INCAPABLE of love. That is the word I used over and over in my mind as I worked my way out. Incapable. It was a good word because it kept me from getting angry. It made me secure in my decision to get away from their destructive ways. For a year I saved money in the bottom of my pocket-book. During that time, my husband actually began therapy and stopped drinking. Then he got worse. One day he screamed at me for something. He screamed, “ENOUGH!” And I knew the word was from God, for me. I had taken enough. It was time to leave. In two days I was out in my own place. I left on February 14, 2009. My 39th wedding anniversary.
Abusers are never done. Although he had told me a million times he did not want to be with me and that he wanted a divorce, my leaving angered him. He was nice at first, or seemed to be. But inside he was boiling mad. I had stopped watching him, the way an enabler watches her abuser, and that was not a good thing for me to do. But I was moving on with my life; he seemed to be also. I was at peace in my little apartment. I had made friends with new people and was enjoying going to plays, to lunch, playing pool, listening to music. It was all new to me and wonderfully fun. I was not paying attention to him. I had banned him from calling me because he was abusive on the phone, so our communication was in email.
Let me add, my children were not happy with the situation at all. Even though they knew what their father was like, and neither liked him, they still wanted the family intact and they sided with him. That was and still is the most painful thing for me to deal with. I had thought for sure, because they experienced first hand what we had gone though, they would be understanding and supportive of me. I was wrong. As the first year progressed, they seemed to be adjusting, but then their dad asked me for a divorce and things changed.
It was a year and I had not filed for divorce. I would have never filed because I knew it would anger him. But he asked me to do so and I did. Then, a few weeks later, I was out with friends listening to music, playing pool. My friends were ready to leave but I decided to stay longer, to listen to the music. I was sitting alone, listening to the music, when he came in. He looked angry, but in an odd, blank way. He looked determined. He sat two feet away from me. This is the conversation that ensued:
Him: Do you love me?
Me: I am not going to discuss that here. (I knew any answer I could have given him would have been the wrong answer).
Him: Oh, now that you have boyfriends you don’t love me?
Me: I have male friends. I do not have boyfriends.
Him: So you don’t love me?
Me: I am not going to discuss that here.
Him: Well, I love you…
And then he pulled out a gun and he shot me. The impact from the bullet knocked me off my chair onto the floor. He leaned over the table and shot me two more times. He thought I was dead, then he shot himself in the head. He died, I did not. He was a good shot. But for some reason, reasons the doctors couldn’t explain, the bullets entered near the base of my skull and they exited at the base. I had a shattered thumb from attempting to deflect the bullet with my hand.
I’ve had three surgeries to repair my hand. I had hearing loss and a broken eardrum. I still experience dizziness and ringing at times. When I hit the floor, the impact was so harsh that two teeth broke off and lodged in my throat; causing respiratory arrest and a lot of damage to my throat. Gum and multiple dental surgeries followed.
A few months after I was shot, I met a wonderful, caring man. We fell in love immediately. We bought an RV and we took off.
The worst part of all this was not the abuse I suffered my whole life. It is not being shot. The worst part is the loss of my children in my life. They blamed me for the shooting and for his death. They look at me as if I am a murderer. I wrote them to explain how hurtful their actions were, but it only made them angrier with me. I was devastated. Over the years I’ve reached out to my children a few more times with no response. So I’ve had to give up on that. I would like for them to come back, but that will be up to them now, their choice. I have eleven grandchildren, two of them I have never seen. The older ones and I tried seeing each other. But when we visit, they become upset. So I’ve stopped trying. I occasionally try to leave the door open, tell them I love them. But for now I am done trying. I am taking one day at a time. I am living at peace with myself and this wonderful man, but my heart is broken.
Joan, I feel your strength and your heartache in your words. I am so thankful you have found love and I pray your children return to you.
Your artwork is beautiful. That you have been healed from traumatic devastation…and are able to produce such beautiful things, is truly miraculous.
Much love to you,
Most of us, as kids, thought the devil was a red little man with a long forked-tail…horns on his head, a sinister scowl stretched over black gums. But that’s not what the devil looks like at all. He comes calling dressed in his finest attire, or in her Jimmy Choo’s, or his cowboy boots, or her new business suit. The devil looks like you and me. Sometimes he looks like a boyfriend.
Experts agree it is empowering for a victim to speak out about what happened to her. But most are shamed into silence. We’ve been told we’re crazy for so long, we come to believe it. We’ve been told everything is our fault for years…and we begin to accept the blame. We’ve heard our mother-in-law ask, What did you do to make him do this? We’ve seen the unmistakable look of unbelief in the eyes of friends…so we don’t talk. It’s easier to remain silent and stay invisible.
But silence is deadly. And silence doesn’t warn others. Silence doesn’t teach. Silence doesn’t help.
Gabbe Rowland is no longer silent.
Gabbe first met the man who abused her when they were still children. The two reconnected as adults and began dating. The man was honest with Gabbe about his past. He didn’t try to present himself as a perfect man and she liked that. He had some admirable qualities, his honesty was one of them. Yet there were some red flags. One was his drug use. But he never attempted to force the drugs on Gabbe; she saw that as respect for her. And like many men and women before her, she thought he would change.
Gabbe’s abuser claimed love for her. He took the time to learn of her dreams. He familiarized himself with the things she wanted most in life and he began to weave a beautiful tapestry of stories; using her dreams as the threads and needlework of the charming scenes he created…pictures of what their life together would look like.
Gabbe and her boyfriend moved in together a few months after they began dating. Almost immediately, things changed. Gabbe wants her story told. She wants her name used and her face exposed so that when others read her story, they will know she is a living, breathing, surviving woman. She wants other potential victims to recognize the warning signs and to leave at the first hint of trouble.
After the incident that could have ended her life, Gabbe knew she had a couple of choices. She could fall into an anger riddled, drug induced, self-serving, dank life…one much like that of her abuser, or she could fight. She chose to fight.
In Gabbe’s Words:
We argued and fought. I moved out and had at one point I took a restraining order against him. I dropped the restraining order a few days later because I still loved him and I believed I was pregnant. Once we got back together, he seemed more alive. He appeared sober. We began to ride bikes, have cook-outs. It was fun, normal things couples do.
The enjoyable times lasted approximately one month, then he began accusing me of cheating on him. I had never cheated on him and told him as much, repeatedly. But he was bent on getting me to crack and admit I had been unfaithful. I had nothing to admit and he wouldn’t accept my answer. That began my week of hell.
On day one of hell week, he picked me up from work and accused me of being unfaithful. At one point on the drive home, I picked up my phone and he became enraged. He pulled to the side of the road, grabbed my phone and tossed it out the window. I tried to get out of the car to look for my phone, but he grabbed me by my hair and pulled me back inside. He said I didn’t need my phone. He had never put his hands on me before. We had argued, yes. But nothing physical. I was in shock.
He dropped me off at a friend’s house, saying he wanted nothing to do with me. Later, he brought me his cell phone and text-ed me from another phone all night. He said he would take me back if I took a lie detector test. I agreed because I knew I had nothing to hide. We made up. While we were caressing, he snapped. He began slapping me in the face, hitting me repeatedly. I tried to get away and he pulled me to him by my hair. He was livid. He got on top of my and held me by the throat, choking me. When I tried to move away, he became even more furious.
Later, he apologized and I believed him. We made up and went to sleep.
The next day he wanted me to try heroin so that I would understand his struggles. This made no sense to me and I refused. I was not interested in trying heroin, not the least bit curious and told him so. He grabbed my arm and forced the needle in.
He shot me up everyday for the next five days. I remember feeling continually sick, nauseous and itchy.
He was bigger and stronger than me. As long as he kept me under the influence of drugs, he had control over me. He had to weaken me to get me to go along with everything he wanted me to do. Somehow, I went into survival mode. At one point during the week, he drove me to a secluded spot. He made me undress and remove his belt. He beat me with his belt in the same spot, over and over. I cried, begged, pleaded with him to stop. I screamed out in pain. When he finally stopped the beating, he forced me to have sex with him. Then we got in the car and never spoke of it again.
Later that night, still in the car, he told me he was driving me to Western Massachusetts where no one would find my body. I began screaming. By now, I knew he was capable of this. In my foggy, battered state of mind, something clicked. I knew I had to lie to stay alive. I told him that, yes, I had cheated on him. He began to make up a scenario and I agreed it had happened that way. He was calm now and I remember thinking, now I’ll make it out a of here alive.
But my hell just got hotter.
We drove back to the Cape and into Falmouth and he told me he wanted me to throw rocks at my ex-boyfriend’s house and scream out that he was a rapist. My abuser dropped me off near the house of my old friend and drove around. I threw rocks into the bushes. When my abuser came back for me, he was angry because I had not committed the crime as he had instructed me to do.
We drove back to his grandparent’s house and he told me he wanted me to perform oral sex on his pit bull. I was confused. What could he mean? I was afraid. I did as I was told and I could hear him clicking photos with his phone. I remember wondering how I would ever get away from this. I was traumatized, horrified. Scared.
He instructed me to go to the bathroom and brush my teeth. Then he instructed me to perform oral sex on him.
The next day, I was in tears. He saw my bruises and told me I looked sexy all beat up. What kind of person would think that? Later that afternoon, he shot me up again. Then he forced me to show his friends the bruises on my backside. I was aware he now considered me his property. The next day, he took me to work and told me to tell my boss I was quitting because we were moving. Instead I told my boss I was afraid I wouldn’t make it through the weekend if I went anywhere with my boyfriend.
Talking. It changed things for me. Once I told my boss, once another person knew what I was going through, I got help. I filed a police report. I showed the police the scars from the needles and the bruises from the beatings. I learned of resources available to victims. My week of hell was over, and once it was over, I understood what others have gone through.
I am an advocate for victims now. I never thought about domestic violence until it happened to me. I recognize unhealthy relationships now. I want people to know they can have a future if they leave their abuser. It only feels like the end of the world at the beginning. My motto now is, “I Refuse to Sink”.
Gabbe, I am amazed at your strength and your will to survive. I know the tragedy you endured will help others. But I’m so sorry you had to experience such violence and abuse.
Much love, stay safe.
Often, when we think of abuse victims, we conjure up an image of an under-educated, unemployed woman. Perhaps our mind’s photo is a snapshot of a haggard looking woman with three or four dirty little faces clinging to her legs and hanging off her hips. A filthy trailer in a run-down, rusting trailer park. Seldom do we visualize a beautiful college co-ed, a scholar, an employed honors student, a journalist for her university newspaper. But those are the things Shereka Dunston was before and during her abusive relationship. Afterwards, when the relationship ended, she was still those things. But then she was a survivor…and she became an advocate.
I am intensely proud of Shereka for taking a horrific time in her life and using the experience to help others. I can’t do her story justice, so here is her story, in her own voice:
In Shereka’s Words
When I was a 19-year-old college student, a mutual friend introduced me to a charismatic guy who wasn’t my type. He was a thug; I was a Chancellor’s Scholar, a member of the University Honors Program, a writer for the campus newspaper, and a part-time sales associate at a local grocery store. I was in no way interested in a relationship at that time, but he convinced me to give him a chance.
As soon as we became a couple, he immediately displayed controlling behaviors. He took my cell phone whenever the urge hit him so he could make sure that I wasn’t talking to anyone else. He continuously called and emailed me to check on my whereabouts. He went as far as to stop by my apartment unannounced to make sure I was there. He forced me to cook for him like I was his wife. He made it clear that he considered me his property, even going as far as to refer to me as his “female.” He said that it was my job to please him. The first time I refused, he forced me to undress for him so that he could see “what he was working with.” Despite my repeated refusals that first night, he wouldn’t take “no” as an answer. He ended up sexually assaulting and raping me repeatedly over the course of 48 hours. Sadly, I didn’t even realize I had been raped the first day because I blamed myself for “giving in” after he became increasingly angry each time I refused.
He told me that I wouldn’t treat him like some random guy on the streets. He said he wouldn’t leave my bedroom until he got what he wanted from me. He screamed at me and he got closer to my face each time he raised his voice. I feared him and I feared for my life. In my mind, he was capable of physically assaulting me or worse. As a 19-year-old young woman, I thought it would be better if I endured the rape instead of becoming his punching bag because I didn’t want him to hurt my pretty face. I had hidden sexual assault before, but I didn’t know how to hide a black eye or a bloody lip.
The last time he raped me, he stopped briefly when I started sobbing. He actually seemed concerned that I was upset, despite him ignoring my earlier plea. Of course he “finished” before completely ending my torture, and then he gave me a hug. He held me as my entire body shook and my soul cried.
I ended up telling our mutual friends about he had done to me, and he never contacted me again. But I still lived in fear. I was afraid to leave my apartment. Some days I couldn’t even go to class or work, and I quit writing for the college newspaper. A couple of weeks after the repeated sexual assaults, I started seeing a therapist at my university. She diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Although I attended individual counseling and group therapy sessions while I was in college, it really didn’t help at the time. I suffered from panic attacks, crying spells, hyper-vigilance, insomnia, flashbacks, nightmares, and memory loss for many years after that relationship ended.
By the time my aunt was murdered by her boyfriend on March 14, 2012, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had been dealing with my past demons from that dreadful relationship for over five years. My aunt’s death was the catalyst I needed to transform from victim to survivor to advocate. I went back to therapy, I became a sexual assault and domestic violence advocate volunteer for the Durham Crisis Response Center, I received my stress management coach and life coach certifications, I started sharing my story, and I created pod-casts and teleconferences to give other survivors a chance to share their stories.
Shereka’s experience is, sadly, more common than most people realize. So please, if you suspect a friend is in trouble with a relationship…or if you are in trouble…Say Something.
“Hey, it’s mom. Just wanted you to know I’m thinking about you and I love you.”
No matter the age of the child, her children are never far from a mother’s thoughts. A prayer is not whispered without their names being gently lifted. We may not see them or speak to them daily, but they are always with us. They sit at the front of our minds and they take up every bit of the space in our hearts. To think those deeply rooted love notes could be removed from a mother’s song is foolhardy. It can’t happen. Even death isn’t that strong.
Tammy Willett sings her love song loudly, because she wants you to hear it. You have to hear her song.
Domestic Violence changed Tammy Willett’s life on Thanksgiving night 2010, when Tammy’s only daughter, 22-year-old, Brandi Nicole Kubos, was murdered by her boyfriend. He shot her while she was sitting in a vehicle. He then took her body into his house, set the house on fire; placed himself on top of Brandi and committed suicide with a gun. Brandi had never mentioned abuse to her mom. Like the majority of victims, Brandi kept the problem to herself. Tammy had seen her daughter and boyfriend three days earlier, and she seemed happy. The relationship steady. She had no idea her daughter was in a troubled relationship. But Tammy didn’t know the signs of domestic abuse. She didn’t know what to look for, to listen for. She didn’t understand what she was seeing. Brandi’s death changed Tammy’s life. Part of her mission now is to teach others about the signs of abuse. And she wants every woman, man and child to end the silence about intimate violence. And I want the same…victims, please understand…you have nothing to be ashamed of. The problem doesn’t come from you, no matter what you’re being told. The problem lies with the one hurting you.
In Tammy’s Words
I read somewhere that a woman who loses her husband is a widow, a child who loses his parents is an orphan. But there is no name or title for a parent who loses a child.
It never gets easier. My daughter was murdered on Thanksgiving. I will never be able to celebrate Thanksgiving like I did before November 2010. It will forever be a dark memory for me. This has forever changed me. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her. Brandi and I didn’t always see eye to eye; we lived different lifestyles. I called her weekly, she didn’t always answer. But I would leave basically the same message: Hey, it’s mom. I love you and I miss you. I have peace knowing that she knew how much I loved her.
The me that existed before domestic violence intruded into my life is gone forever. I will never get back to the Tammy that existed before. I can never get my daughter back, so I go through each and every day, trying to make a difference in the world. How to give Brandi a voice since she can longer speak for herself. Domestic Violence almost destroyed my marriage because I was even angry at my husband because he still had his two daughters and my only daughter was gone forever. Some how we came thru that. My health suffered because of it. I went into a depression that was so profound that I couldn’t get out of bed to go to work or even take a shower. It took grace to bring me thru that too. I emotionally withdrew from my step children who were also hurting, but I was so far gone that I couldn’t help them, I couldn’t even help myself so how was I supposed to help them? Domestic Violence even hurt me spiritually and I am a born again believer but after her murder I was even angry with the God that I claimed to trust and love. The devastation that Domestic Violence heaped on me as a very proud loving mother of two biological children and two step-children was astronomical, it almost destroyed my existence. I am slowly trying to put back together an existence that somehow makes sense. When I gave birth to my baby girl on Feb 25, 1988, I had dreams, really big dreams of seeing her graduate from college, dreams of helping her get ready for her wedding and watching her walk down the aisle. Dreams of her giving birth to my first grandchild. Domestic Violence stole those dreams from me. I still dream today, but a very different kind of dream. I dream of a world where domestic violence no longer exists and mothers don’t lose their babies to this horrific violence.
Please, if you’re being abused, talk to someone.
If you know someone you feel or fear is in an abusive relationship…Say Something. After Brandi’s death, friends came forward and told her of their suspicions. But it was too late for Brandi.
It isn’t too late for your friend, if you act now.
Abuse effects your daughter, your sister, your best friend. It effects you.
One in three American women are abused at some point in their life.
Abuse thrives in silence. That’s why I want you to talk. Talk to everyone you know and when you talk, tell them the whole truth.
I stand in awe of Amanda Beckmann. She is an overcomer. A gentle fighter…yet fierce in the battle. Love for her girls propelled her to make incredible changes in her life. And though the hurdles were high and wide, she met each challenge and conquered it.
Compassion for other and future victims compelled her to initiate changes across our state.
This is Amanda’s Story:
“I am no longer a survivor, I am a Warrior”.
At 20, Amanda married her sweetheart, a man she had known since she was seven years old. She approached her ‘happily ever after life’ with zeal; more than ready to put her childhood behind her. As a little girl, Amanda had lived in a home of Domestic Violence and now she was eager to start her own family; carve out a different life for herself. Create a soft buffer between her past and her future.
Amanda was eight months pregnant with her first child when her husband put his hands on her for the first time. Like others before her, she wanted to believe it was an isolated incident. Something that would never happen again. But it did. Also like others, her husband had an emotional stronghold on her. With Amanda, it was tied to the absence of her dad. She had grown up without a father in her home and she didn’t want that for her children. She wanted to keep her family in tact. She wanted her children to have the love and support of their dad. So she stayed. And the abuse continued.
During her second pregnancy, her tormentor ran her over with his car. She was sitting on the sidewalk, doing chalk art with her little girl…and in an angry, drug induced state, he ran over her. Thankfully he missed their daughter. While being treated for her injuries, an emergency room nurse asked Amanda if she was being abused. Amanda denied the truth. While she never admitted the abuse to the nurse, the nurse’s warning forced Amanda to finally admit it to herself. And she began to formulate a plan of escape.
She decided she would leave during her pregnancy. But lack of finances and no local support forced her to stay in the home. She felt trapped, doomed. Her husband was her only source of income and support. She felt helpless and alone, unaware of any type of assistance that might be available to her. She felt she had no choice but to stay. How would she feed her babies? Buy diapers? It was easier to accept the abuse than to allow her children to go without food. But she didn’t give up on her plan to leave. And when she was able, she walked away from him. That’s when she learned she was pregnant for the third time. So she went back. Pregnant, no income, no job skills; family in another state. She briefly considered giving the baby up for adoption because she couldn’t bear the thought of introducing another innocent life to the hell she and her girls lived in. But her love for her baby was strong. She decided to keep the baby. And she continued to plan…she strategized, hoped, and waited for change.
During this third pregnancy, a social worker spoke life changing words to Amanda. The caseworker had been assigned to the family because of the still open car incident case involving Amanda and her husband. The caseworker clearly saw the severity of the family’s situation. She warned Amanda that in staying with an abuser, she would be teaching her children to accept abuse as a natural form of behavior. “So you want your girls to grow up and marry a man who will abuse them?” The question was a jolt of reality for Amanda and she began putting her years of planning into action. With the help of her social worker, while nine months pregnant, Amanda earned her GED and obtained a Florida drivers license. Together, they made what seemed to be a fail-proof plan for Amanda and her little tribe of girls to break free… once the baby arrived.
Early one morning, Amanda delivered girl number three. Her stress levels were high and her blood pressure higher. Then, two days after the baby was born, Amanda became very sick. When the baby was three months old, the twenty-five year old mom of three had a mini stroke. Now what would she do? She was stuck and could not fathom any possible way for her and the children to leave. She had no car, no income, no work skills and three babies. When the baby was five months old, fate intervened. Amanda’s grandpa was dying and the family was called to Georgia. By this time, Amanda had discovered her husband was also a drug abuser. While they were in Georgia, he created a ruckus and the family asked him to leave. He did, he left without Amanda and their girls. Until then, Amanda’s family had no clue what her life had been like. They were in the dark on the gritty details of Amanda’s marriage. Silence enables the abuser to abuse.
“When she was 5 months to the day, my grandfather passed away. That day has become my Independence Day.”
Amanda was in Georgia for a month, and in the course of that month she “decided what I have to do and what I am going to do”. During that time away from her abuser, a fight began to well up in her. She made more plans. Amanda decided to go to college and become a nurse. That seemed impossible to others because Amanda was a high school drop out. She had not been employed and had no marketable skills. She had no car. She had no place to live. And she had three babies between the ages of five months and four years. But the fight was now burning and she wouldn’t back down. In four weeks time, she enrolled in college classes, full-time and she found two part-time jobs. Then she went to her home in Florida and packed up her belongs and traveled back to Georgia. Alone, except for the three babies she had in tow.
“One weakened woman can get back up strong enough to change the world”.
For three years Amanda went to school, worked her two jobs and cared for her children. She knew what she had to do to make life for her little family. She was open and honest about her life, willing to reach out to others for financial assistance. And she received help. She applied for assistance with food and shelter from the state and community, and received it. There is no shame in that. For a short time, and for the benefit of her little ones, she used the resources available to her. She was ensuring that she and her children would find a way to eventually be self-sufficient. In the meantime….she understood it would “take a village”. And the village stepped up.
Amanda told me this:
“I am so thankful for the multiple people who stepped up to help me. I can’t even put into words, it’s nothing short of a miracle.”
“At this point I am no longer a survivor. Survivor is a victim’s statement. I am a warrior. My story isn’t about what I’ve been through, it’s about what I’ve become.”
What she has become is:
A hands on, supportive mom to three girls.
And the founder of The Peach Project, an organization Amanda created to implement the awareness of Domestic Violence within the medical community.
Several years ago, Kim Kight met a handsome man, a male nurse with an intriguing South African accent. His name was Brian. The two began dating and were soon in love.Brian was an intelligent man. During their courtship, Kim learned that along with his medical background, Brian also held a business degree and was the father of two sons, whom he adored and doted upon. As the single mother of a daughter, Kim respected and appreciated the love and attention Brian bestowed on his boys. He seemed a perfect fit for her life.
Kim’s South African beau was charming. He lavished attention on her during the time they dated and the his sweet attention continued after their marriage. Imagine her enchantment with this man who left her daily love notes, brought her coffee each morning, sent flowers, cooked dinner and prepared candlelit bubble baths for her. Kim was a woman in love. Until she became a victim. Until she became a survivor.
Kim’s life as a victim of Domestic Violence, from the hands of a man who said he loved her.. a caregiver, a nurse… began suddenly, out of the blue, and without warning.One day she wasn’t victim, the next day she was almost killed. Kim survived the kind of nightmare we read about in the paper and see on the evening news. She has my respect and admiration, and my gratitude. She is brave. Not because she survived, that goes without mention, but because she speaks out in an effort to help others. She has shaken off the stigma associated with domestic violence by using her voice.
In Kim’s Words
In the summer of 2007, I began to notice changes in my husband’s behavior, especially his sleeping habits. He would either sleep days on end or be up all night. When questioned, his explanation was logical. He said his work schedule had changed and had thrown his sleep habit off. By November, I knew something was up. Brian finally confessed he was taking large amounts of diet pills, steroids and growth hormones. He had not wanted me to know. He said he could handle it. But things in the home got worse and by late November we separated. On January 11, 2008 he was served with divorce papers.
On the morning of January 12, 2008, I was awakened suddenly from a deep sleep. I had heard something but was uncertain of the sound. I thought it was my cat Scratch. But Scratch was sleeping beside me. Then I heard a crash, then the sound of something breaking. My cat jumped on top of me and I jumped out of bed. I didn’t have my contacts in and couldn’t see clearly, but to my right, I saw the figure of a man and I could tell he was holding a gun. I did not know who it was, I had no idea it was my husband. I began screaming as loud as I could and started running. The man called out “Stop!” and it was then I realized it was Brian. Without another word, he fired the gun and hit my hand and grazed the back of my head. Then he began beating me with the butt of the gun. He beat me until the gun was bent. The next thing I remember is waking up in my bed. I asked him what he was doing and he told me he was there to kill himself and me. He asked where my pistol was and I told him I didn’t remember. He left the bedroom to search the den and kitchen for my gun. I used that opportunity to grab the phone, (one I had just had installed that week) and dialed 911.
When the 911 operator answered, all I could say was, “Help, help, help”. Somehow, with two broken arms and hands, I found the strength to crawl from the bed to the front door of the house and unlock a slide lock, a deadbolt and an old-fashioned keyed lock. I made it outside and called for help. No one heard me. I collapsed and the next thing I remember is waking…back inside the house, on my bed in my bedroom.
The 911 operator had called back numerous times trying to get someone to answer. Eventually Brian answered and refused to let me speak with her, telling her it had been a small dispute and I was now sleeping. She would not take no for an answer and eventually he brought the phone to me, realizing she would send enforcement if he didn’t allow us to speak. She asked if I was ok, and in an unsteady voice, I told her “I am ok”. She asked if he had a gun and I answered affirmatively. When he understood what was being discussed, he beat me again with the gun.
Of course, the operator had already dispatched enforcement to my house. I don’t remember all that happened after they arrived, but I do remember Brian yelling through the window to them. They asked him to let me come outside. I begged him to let me go outside and he said, “I think I have already killed you, you’ve lost too much blood”. The pillows and bed were soaked with my blood and he was sitting up in the bed with me, his back against the headboard as if nothing was happening; all the time, still holding the gun. I began telling myself repeated, “I’ve got to live for Jenna (my daughter), I’ve got to live for Jenna”. Then I told him to think about is boys. To think of what his actions would do to them.
I do not remember him placing me on the front porch. However, he would not let the deputies get close to me and I could not walk. At one point, the deputies said he belly crawled out the front door and placed the gun to my back. Then he crawled back into the house. The deputies say I then crawled down the steps and Deputy Dustin Renfroe was in a position to reach me while Sgt. Brian Thomas and Deputy Brian Scott covered for him. When Deputy Rebfroe picked me up, he was so warm… and it felt like he put life back into me. He ran with me to his patrol car and drove me to the ambulance.
The stand-off last six hours. GBI, county deputies, SWAT and hostage negotiators were all on the scene. Brian Poulton taunted them at one point, saying, “Come and get her if you are brave enough”.
The stand-off ended when Brian began firing at the officers. They fired back and one of them hit him, fatally wounding him.
I arrived at the trauma unit of Medical Center of Central Georgia with numerous injuries: gashes to the back of my head which required 30 staples, numerous stitches on the side of my face and behind my ear, a crushed right hand, a nearly severed pinky finger, two main bones in my left arms were completely broken, my nose and cheek bones were broken. I lost seven teeth, two of which I swallowed; two were found on the front porch and three were surgically removed from my gums…gums which had to be reconstructed during surgery.
My recovery was long. My home had been destroyed by Brian and I could not return there. Friends and family had to care for me for many months. I was unable to bathe or feed myself, drive or administer my own medication.
The physical pain was great, but even greater was the social aspect of the rumors and accusations that began to circulate around town. Brian was such a nice man, a good father and a good nurse. People had a hard time believing he could do this to me. I can only guess it was the drugs and alcohol he consumed that changed him. But with that in mind, we should all understand that no matter how nice a person is, their personality can be altered with substance abuse.
I still have psychological pain; fear when I see a similar truck or a man in scrubs. Fear comes back to me then. I am here by the grace of God. And I want everyone to know, male or female, no one should endure abuse of any kind. I want to stress to everyone in an abusive situation or if you know anyone in one, they need to get help immediately. Things can happen without warning.
I have something I say to everyone:
Thank your local law enforcement officers as well as your 911 operators; they saved my life. Yours may be next.
In an effort to assist victims of domestic violence, Dr. Phil and his wife Robin have created an APP for smart phones. When the victim is in trouble, the APP, Aspire News, will assist victims of domestic violence by alerting several friends or resources at once. This application is an incredible tool.
Every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States.
In fact, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women — more than muggings, car accidents and rapes combined.
Please share this with everyone you know. Because you never know who may need it.
Please view this video. http://youtu.be/qooHj4QLh3s
I want you to be free. You may not realize yet, just how strong and capable you are. Physically you may be weak. Your face and limbs may be bruised and battered. Emotionally you may be broken. But you, dear one, are powerful. And the strongest muscle you have is your tongue. So please, tell me your story. Your past stories. Your present story. Your fear of the future. Your hopes for the future.
Change is frightening, fear of the unknown cripples us and keeps us prisoner. Help is here. Help is out there. But if you don’t talk to anyone, no one knows how to help you. If, like me, you smile through the pain and hide the truth; if you keep secret what happens when no one is looking…then you are aiding your abuser. Someone once said, “The first time he hits you, you are a victim. The second time he hits you, you are a volunteer”. While I don’t agree wholeheartedly with that comment… because there are many compartments to the rationale of a victim…there is a lot of truth to it.
You don’t have to be the victim any longer. You don’t have to volunteer to be a punching bag ever again. You deserve a happy life.
I am looking forward to watching you soar…and hearing you roar, even while you’re in the fire. Especially while you’re in the fire. That’s when you should roar the loudest.