Blue butterfly on leafy background

The day my divorce was final my girlfriends wanted to take me out for a celebration, however, I wasn’t up to going out. They somehow convinced me that it would do me good to get out and relax for a little while.

My girlfriends laughed at me when I showed up at the bar wearing a turtle neck. It had been so long since I had gone out that I didn’t think there was a dress code. At the time, I wasn’t even considering dating…that was the last thing on my mind, but one of my friends had lined up someone to introduce me to that night.

My friends told me he was divorced with two children and that he owned a business. That evening he gave me his business card and asked me to call him sometime.

I set the card aside, only to have my girlfriend call and ask if I had contacted him yet. She insisted I had nothing to lose by going out for an evening.  He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, so we started dating. Everything was really good for the first six months.

The Abuse Started, Then Escalated

That’s when things took a turn for the worse. He became controlling, and verbally and emotionally abusive. The change in him seemed to come out of nowhere. The least little thing would irritate him.

I tried to break it off…many times. I knew this is not what I wanted in a relationship, and being a single mom of two great children I didn’t want them to believe this kind of relationship was normal.

He’d call and say he was going to kill himself and I would feel sorry for him and take him back. I’m the kind of person who wants to help people. I should have realized then that you can only help someone who truly wants to help themselves.

My relationship with him continued getting worse. My ex-husband didn’t like him. He had him investigated and found out there were criminal charges against him in another state. My ex threatened to sue for custody of our children.

My children were more important than this man, and I finally got up the nerve to tell him it was over. But it wasn’t over in his mind. That’s when he began stalking me. He did many horrible things to me, once he put a gun to my head and forced me to do cocaine. He drugged me one evening, unbeknownst to me, and I woke up to someone sexually assaulting me.

Moving in the Middle of the Night

My life became a nightmare. I was terrified for myself and my children and I ended up moving out of my home in the middle of the night. I had no one to turn to because I had kept my distance from my family in order to protect them. He continuously threatened to harm them and my children’s father. I couldn’t tell them what I was going through for fear he would hurt them.

It didn’t take long for him to find me. He kept threatening suicide and continued to try to weave his way back into my life. He was pure evil; he thought only of himself and took so much from me. My self-esteem and self-worth were ripped away from me. The only thing I clung to was my children, and I didn’t want them growing up in this environment.

He always seemed to know where I was and what I was doing. I was always looking over my shoulder waiting for him to show up. He knew my routine. He called on nights when my children were away visiting their dad.

I was with a girlfriend one evening and he continued to call my cell phone incessantly. Finally my girlfriend answered the phone and said, “She doesn’t want to talk to you,” and hung up. He called back, she answered again and told him to leave me the hell alone. When she hung up, she said he was drunk, which for him was not unusual.

He Found Me Again

My son had a concert that evening, so I left my girlfriend’s house to go home and get ready for the concert. That’s when I found him sitting in my living room. I asked him to leave because I was going to my son’s concert. He stood up and walked over to me, grabbed me by the shoulders, and shoved me against the wall. I got away, grabbed the phone, and dialed 911. But he got the phone away from me and hung up. When 911 called back, he said, “You better make it sound good.”

The dispatcher said to me, “If everything is not okay, say ‘Yes, everything is fine.’” I repeated her words back to her, “Yes, everything is fine.”

I hung up the phone and he picked me up and threw me in the bathtub. Thank goodness it didn’t take long for the police to arrive. After they spoke to both of us, they arrested him. I went to my son’s concert and finished my report with the police that evening.

The Break-In and Rape

A few days later, the children were with their father. I was on the phone with my girlfriend and thought I heard a noise. I told her it couldn’t be him because he was probably still in jail. After I hung up, I walked out of my bedroom. He jumped me, held a knife to my throat, and then he raped me.

Afterward, I managed to get away. I grabbed my keys and ran for my car. Just as I was closing the driver’s door he opened it and started to crawl over me to get into the passenger’s seat. I thought to myself, while he is trying to get his fat butt in the passenger seat, “RUN.”

I ran back inside my house, grabbed the phone, and ran to my bedroom. I locked the door, put a chair up against it, and called my girlfriend by hitting redial. Her husband called 911.

The 911 dispatcher called me and asked if everything was ok, I told her “no,” that he was in the bathroom threatening suicide. She told me the police wouldn’t come in because he had a weapon.

Then everything got quiet, and a few minutes later I heard a voice say, “You can open the door now.” I said, “You need to slide your badge under the door before I will open it.” He did. It was the police, and they had him in their custody.

That night, the police officer handed me LACASA’s card and said, “I think you might need this.”

Discovering LACASA

I attended the arraignment the next morning. The judge said my perpetrator had violated the “No Contact Order” that had been put in place earlier that week and gave him a $1 million cash bond. I didn’t even realize there was a No Contact Order against him.

I called LACASA, and they were incredible. They explained how the process works when someone is arrested for domestic violence. There are so many programs available to the survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse. They have legal advocates who will explain the court process, too.

I began counseling at LACASA immediately thereafter. I wanted the counselor to tell me what to do. I had no idea where to go from there, after feeling like I had the rug pulled out from under me. “I’m not telling you what to do,” she said. “You need to get control back in your life.”

We Moved Again

After sometime, the kids and I moved again and began to feel safe, and things were slowly getting back to normal.

I started doing a lot of digging and discovered that this was his third offense. He had other charges from Washtenaw and Oakland counties, but the county agencies didn’t report to each other. What this meant was that he could be charged with a felony and a long prison term.

The legal advocate from LACASA went to the trial with me. I gave a Victim Impact Statement. He only ended up getting a one-year sentence. That was devastating.

After his sentencing, I had been told that I would be notified when he was released from jail.

One night, after coming home from my nephew’s birthday party, I asked my son to stay in the car while I opened up the door so that I could carry in my sleeping daughter.

The Final Break-In

When I walked up the back steps I noticed the door was open. I turned around got back in the car and called 911. I explained to them that someone had broken into my home.

When the police arrived, they went through the house, but nothing was out of place or missing.

Of course, the kids were frightened and didn’t want to sleep in their beds so we were all going to sleep in my bed. As they were getting ready for bed, I pulled the covers back on my bed and discovered a pair of panties on my pillow.

The next morning I called the jail to ask if he had been released and they said he was released about two weeks ago.

When I called his probation officer to find out why I hadn’t been told about the release, he said, “That’s not my job.” I mentioned to him that I thought it was my assailant who broke into my house the night before, only to be met with the words “Can you prove it was him?”

Making Another Move

I ended up moving yet again.

I think without LACASA’s help I would not be alive today. I consider myself a survivor.

After getting the help and counseling my family needed from LACASA, I asked if there was something I could do to pay them back. They told me that I could volunteer. Now I do volunteer for LACASA. I started as an On-Call Advocate to reach out and help those who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse.

I learned from my experience that we should not judge the victims. We have no idea what is being said or done to that person. I had a gun held to my head. He told me he would kill my children’s father. I stayed away from my family to protect them.

People kept asking, “Why did you go back to him? Why didn’t you leave?” I did leave. I did move. But he kept finding me. You DO what you have to do to survive and keep your children safe.

Society has this stigma that these things happen to a certain class of people. It happens to people from all walks of life. It affects everyone…your family, your friends and the community.

News of His Death

Not long after he got out of jail, his father called me. He told me that his son had died from a drug overdose. Four vials of heroin were found with him.

I asked his dad where he had died. “He was found in his car, parked right down the street from where you used to live,” he said.

There was no remorse when I heard he was dead. He was a human being, and it should have bothered me. But he was a monster, an absolute monster. He took so much from me and my children. I felt relief that I wouldn’t have to be looking over my shoulder the rest of my life.

Recovering and Healing

It took me a long time to recover from this experience.

One night I was home alone and I panicked. I propped up a chair against my bedroom door and felt paralyzed with fear. It has since gotten much better, but there are times that something will trigger an event.

When I told my counselor at LACASA about my panic attack, she said, “If it happens again, call our Crisis Line for help.” That option had never entered my mind.

LACASA does a lot of good in so many ways. I feel it is so important to get the word out in the community that LACASA exists and that help is out there.

Now I have a wonderful boyfriend. It took me a while to tell him my story. It was a year before I introduced him to my kids. He has been so supportive.

Not too long ago, my son said, “Mom, you’ve come a long way. It took you a while, but you found a great guy.”

At least this part of the story has a good ending. Thanks to LACASA, I am a survivor. I am one of the lucky ones who made it out alive and did not become a “victim.”