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I met my rapist when we were kids in the local church I was raised in. He was the pastor's son and was very kind when we were children. I moved away in high school and we ran into each other on campus five years later and over 100 miles away from our old town. We began to hang out over the next 6 months and catch up over the past five years. He had become a local police officer in the town we lived in and I was in my junior year of college. I was going through changes in my life and he seemed to be a good support for me at that time. He started coming over to my apartment frequently and over the next two months he would buy me flowers and shower me with gifts. It felt secure and safe at the beginning.

Skip to a few more months and his behaviors started changing. He started staying over at my house and refusing to leave, he started showing up everywhere that I was, coming over uninvited, looking through my phone, and demanding to know who I was hanging out with. Even though we were not in an relationship, he started to control me. I made excuses for these behaviors, because I thought that he might have just had a bad day or that he just cared, but was very wrong. I remember nights crying to my mom on the phone because he wouldn't leave my apartment and I just needed space. I remember doing homework at my apartment and him dropping by during his shift to make sure no one else was in my apartment with me. I remember him getting upset and angry when I didn't answer the door fast enough and him looking through the apartment, as if I was hiding someone. I remember him getting angry because I started exercising and he told me I was trying to impress other men. I didn't know what to do and I didn't know who to ask for help. When I would ask him or tell him that something was bothering me, things just escalated into a fight.

Unfortunately, the night I was assaulted I went out with a large group of his officer friends for his birthday. He was consistently buying me drinks all night for over 7 hours and encouraging me to drink more and more. During the course of the night, I ran into a few male friends and he became livid. He came up to me in the bar and started shoving me away from my old friend. Then stormed out of the bar and was screaming just because I said hi.
Unfortunately, due to the amount that I drank that night I do not remember how I got home, what time I got home, who took me home, etc. I do remember a small details of being dragged onto a mattress on the floor by my legs and him grabbing my face and screaming at me. When I woke up the next morning, I had bruises covering my entire body… hips, wrists, inner thighs..and by the pain I was feeling in other areas, I knew that something bad had happened. I called my mother immediately and took pictures of my bruises because they were so large. I later found naked photographs that he had taken on his phone from that night and I was clearly unconscious in the photographs.

I went to the state police, because I did not trust going to the local police (since he worked for them). I thought that they were going to immediately act due to the injuries I had. Unfortunately, I was very very wrong. The police took me to the emergency room for an examination and to photograph my bruises. This process was very invasive and unsettling after everything I had already been through. They interviewed me over and over and over until I literally was going numb to everything around me. Their questions consisted of “well if you were unconscious then how do you know that you didn't consent?” “He said the pictures were a birthday gift” “You sure do text a lot of males in your phone” “You know if you are lying you will go straight to jail”. I was consistently cooperating and getting upset and repeating my story over and over, but they were just not listening. They then demanded that I call him to record him to a possible confession. I did not want to do this but I was not given the choice. They wire tapped his phone and he admitted to knowing I was unconscious, that the assault lasted over two hours and was telling me that he was sorry and that he wanted to tell me that he loved me… I was hysterically crying because of what he had admitted. When I turned to the officers in the room with me for their reaction, they stated “well, its still a he-said, she-said”. I immediately left the station with my mother and refused to cooperate any further. The state police would not listen and did not take me serious. A month after I stopped cooperating they “lost the emergency room photos of my bruises” and “couldn't retrieve the photos” that he had taken of me that night, despite his admission of taking the photographs and the state police describing the photographs to me during questioning. The prosecutors stated that they didn't have a case due to lack of evidence. I was floored. Everything was gone, the taping of the phone conversation was gone, photographs from two different people were gone…and no one would listen to me.

He remained an active officer for 10 months until I was able to win a Title IX hearing at my university, where he was found unanimously responsible for sexual assault. He was banned from campus, a no contact order was put into place and he was suspended from the university.

I filed a protective order and was granted it shortly after. After 10 months of living in fear of his anger and him finding me, he finally was forced to resign from his job.

I went through the worst experience of my life and it took many, many things from me. It took my happiness for over a year, I lost my salaried job, I lost my apartment and became homeless, I wasn't able to attend classes regularly, I didn't want to leave bed, I lost friends because I couldn't share what happened to me without being embarrassed or ashamed… everything reminded me of what happened and I feared running into him or his friends on and off duty. I made the decision to move across the country to start over.

Although he took so much from me and two years of my life are gone that were wasted on trying to heal from the damages, he did not take my voice. I now dedicate my time to educating others on sexual assault and being a voice for the survivors who cannot speak out on their experience. I work at a local domestic violence shelter and also work as a mental health therapist. I graduated in May with my Master's in Social Work and I am planning on pursuing law school to make changes in the policies and laws surrounding sexual assault survivors.

I could have very well let that evil man take everything I had and I almost gave him all of my power. But, I have found strength and healing through speaking out and helping others who have gone through this and who feel as though they aren't being heard. I will not let him dictate my future or my success. I will never let him have control over me again and I will succeed regardless of what he tried to do. My goal is to help other survivors reach that point and reclaim their lives. My voice is what has pushed me through and what has kept me alive and I am so very thankful for my new life that I created.

Submitted by: Samantha McCoy

Stabbed & Beaten with Metal Baseball Bat

On June 05th 2006 my ex husband broke into my home & stabbed me repeatedly & beat me with a metal baseball bat. He was captured & arrested that same night & has since plead guilty on all charges & is serving a 22 years sentence on all charges. I'm sharing my story in hope that it may help other women know that they're not alone because other battered women have gone through abuse as well & I'm also sharing my story in hope that it might prevent another woman from going through or escape abusive situations.

Submitted by: Janice West

I’m a Survivor, Not a Victim

I have known my abuser for roughly ten years. We have dated on and off since I was in high school. I was seventeen, he was twenty one and I fell for him hard and fast. We were living together by the second month of dating and by month three he had me isolated hundreds of miles away from anyone I knew. And, of course, that's when the abuse started.

At first it was just a slap or him spitting in my face or dumping a beer over my head. But then I got pregnant, and things got worse. He'd choke me until I would pass out, punch me in the face, throw chairs and other objects at me. And I was well aware that he was cheating on me with a girl named Mindy who worked at Applebee's with him. Still I “loved him” and tried to make it work.

After our daughter was born, I left. Not because of the abuse necessarily, but because of Mindy. And that's when he ran to her. I warned her that Duane was dangerous, but she didn't listen. So one night they fought and he took off with her in her own car, beat her then left her on the side of the road and took off. He was charged with multiple felonies, but signed a plea deal which gave him five years in prison.

He spent the first four years of our oldest daughter's life in prison for aggravated kidnapping, and when he got out on parole I tried to make things work again…but only ended up pregnant and terrorized by his abusive ways once more. He ran from parole, and I kicked him out. Nine months later, I had our second daughter. He was already in a relationship with a new girl, Patrice.

I thought he was happy with her. I thought maybe we could co-parent better now. He did ok for a while, but then I started getting weird texts from him. Like why was I ripping his family apart? Why was I “letting” him get engaged to Patrice? And then the stalking started.

Eventually, I ended up in Houston with Duane and his mother where he held us captive for three days. Each night we got a worse beating. The last night, I ended up unconscious from a glass ashtray to the head. I woke up on the living room floor, bloody and certain that he would kill us both if this was to continue. He made me lay down in bed and refused to take me to the hospital. The next night, just as he began his drunken rant, his brother showed up and put it to a stop. I ran back home to Denton where I'd left our daughters with my mother and sister. Still, covered in bruises, cuts, and bite marks, I didn't report him to the police. But I did seek a protective order. I was denied.

Five months later, in August, we attended court for child support. Unable to talk directly to me because of the domestic violence flag on our case, he tracked down my car in the parking lot and left a note: “I've never been sorrier. I love you.”

I fell for it, again. He began to live by himself instead of with his new girlfriend Patrice. And we began to see each other once more. By September I was practically living with him. And then the abuse started…again.

He was mad about being on child support. He demanded I take him off of it, or marry him and move back in so it would be taken off by the state.
I refused to marry him while he was dating both myself and Patrice and because the girls get state benefits there was no way the state would let me take him off of child support.

What happened next was the scariest night of my life. He waited until his roommates were gone or in their rooms before he began attacking me. I tried calling 911 discreetly, but he caught me and hung it up before I could connect to the operator. I screamed out for help, but none came. He proceeded to beat and choke me until I fell unconscious. Then he'd wake me up by throwing me around by my hair. By the second or third time I woke up, the police were knocking at the door. One of the neighbors heard my screams and called them.

He immediately stopped. He begged me not to get him thrown in jail. I ran for the door, begging him to just let me leave. He didn't stop me, and I didn't tell the police what happened. My mother came to pick me up that night. The next morning I woke up covered in bruises. The worst of them on my face and around my throat.

I took one look at myself in the mirror that morning and burst into tears. I knew I'd almost died. If the cops hadn't shown up, he would have strangled me to death. He almost had. I went back to the city and made a police report. Pretty quickly I was granted the protective order I had been trying to get for months. The police report became an active felony investigation, which led to Duane running from a felony warrant for domestic violence strangulation.

Fast forward six months or so later, and a friend of mine informs me that his girlfriend Patrice has changed her last name to Duane's on Facebook and there's a new profile picture of them both. I informed the detective, and about a week later Duane was arrested at her place by the Texas Marshalls.

From what I understood at first, he was facing a third degree felony charge which could carry a sentence of two to ten years in prison. I just recently found out that because this is not his first violent felony, they enhanced the charge to a first degree felony. The minimum is twenty five to life. They first offered him thirty five years, but he hasn't taken a plea deal yet. He's currently sitting in Denton County Jail on two charges, the second of which was his violation of the protective order. His bonds are set at $450,000 for the felony and $150,000 for the protective order violation.

I was shocked at first, to know that the father of my children was facing twenty five to life because of me. And then my therapist reminded me it's NOT because of me. It's because of the choice HE made. He didn't have to get violent. He had other options.

He married that poor girl Patrice. I feel bad for her, married to a man who not only abuses his partners but is facing twenty five to life. I can't warn her, I tried with Mindy and it didn't work. She's better off with him behind bars. He needs help, and I need justice. I don't think he'll get better behind bars, but I know I'll feel safer at night. And I'll know that Patrice is safer too, even if she doesn't see it that way.

I spent over a year in domestic violence therapy and I still feel guilty, shameful and helpless sometimes. But I'm beginning to see my own worth, that I don't deserve to be abused, ever, no matter what the reason. Before, I felt in a way that I deserved it. I'd been brainwashed to think that my actions made me responsible for HIS actions.

We're in the court phase of this debacle, and it's dragging out. I don't think he's going to take a plea. I think he's gonna take this to trial. And I'm scared. Of facing him in court, of him getting out. It's all very up in the air right now. Despite my fear, I am going to stand up for myself this time. I'm going to make sure that he is held accountable for his actions.

Submitted by: Samantha Jones

Strong Enough Now

I've been stuck in my head a few days after watching the mini series Big Little Lies. And my ex last name was Wright. My ex husband was my high school sweetheart. The first time he hit me I was 15 in my bedroom. He was jealous of a boy I was friend's with. I forgave him when he cried and told me he was so sorry. I had no idea this would be the start to a 17 year cycle.

I divorced him at age 32, three and a half years ago. I was calculating in my head the number of attacks I have survived. The number is somewhere in the 60's. His cycle was every 3 months or so while we were young and into our twenties. Once I became pregnant at 26 it lessened. Although, I do remember him hitting me in the car very early in my first trimester. The car was a place he hit me back handed a few times, when I was 19 he split my lip and I had to tell my family a lie – that I had been hit in the face at a concert – as they took my bloody face and clothes to the ER, asking me over and over if it was my boyfriend and I stone coldly denied it was him and defended him. To this day I have a scar I wear on my lip.

Once our son was born, he'd pick fights less often, maybe every 6 moths or so. I remember being choked, slapped, shook and kicked sometimes punched with a closed fist. Sometimes I'd have to stay home a few days until my black eye looked OK with makeup. Just like the character in Big Little Lies, I fought back. And unlike her, I would call the police when I thought he was capable of killing me, but when they came, I took the blame, so afraid of the consequences that would come my way if he got taken to jail instead of me.

By the last three years of our marriage, he used his words more than his fists. And when he admitted to sexual problems and his numerous infidelities and encounters with prostitutes, I found a therapist and came up with an “escape plan”. I was weak and didn't know how to live without him. So I stopped seeing the therapist and decided to stay for my son. I left him after one last huge fight that my 5 year old son witnessed. He saw his parents attack each other in a hotel room, ripping my husbands shirt off him after he twisted and pinched my arm, screaming at him I was done and I was going to hurt him for all the years I had taken from him. I knew it was out last fight. A knock on the door and the police decide to detain me. My ex had a way to make sure I looked crazy and he the calm one. I spent a night in jail and moved out the next week. My charges were dropped. And my ex husband didn't fight me for custody of our child. We agreed to share custody.

Three and a half years later, I survived. I am strong. I am in a loving relationship with a new man and my son is doing great. I worry about the time my son spends with his dad and his new wife, I've heard from my son there have been fights, there has even been an arrest. My ex was finally taken to jail after a night of harming her. As far as I know the charges have been dropped. All legal advice I get it is California is a no fault state, it'll cost me a lot of money to try and fight for full custody, and it'll be very difficult to prove there is any problem or abuse. I hope I can combat any violence that my son may have learned with the love and stability I am able to provide him now, that I could not when I was married to his dad.

Submitted by: Anonymous