Names of the people in my story have been changed to protect their identity.
I grabbed the gun as he pushed me off the bed. I landed on the floor on my stomach with him on my back. My hands were extended over my head holding the gun. A gun I knew nothing about except I had to pull the trigger. The weight of his body on my back made it impossible to move and hard to breath. As he struggled to take the gun from me my only thought was all I need to do is pull the trigger. If I pulled the trigger the neighbors would hear the gun go off and call the police. This was going to be my last stand. I was screaming as loud as I could while trying to get my finger on the trigger. Next thing I knew the cloth that was wrapped around the gun was being shoved in my mouth. The strong smell and taste of gun cleaner filled my senses. I don’t know if it was the cloth, taste, or smell that caused me to gag.
I finally was able to get my finger on the trigger and pull it just to hear it go click. I never knew if it malfunctioned or was not loaded. My last hope to get help was gone. It was too late now to do anything but fight. The only thing I could do was bend my arms over my head. With the gun still in my hands I tried to hit him on the head so I could knock him out and get away. He fought me by biting me and pulling my hair. I tried to roll him off me but I didn’t have the strength. Would this be where I would die? Was this how my life would end?
I had used the last bit of energy I had as my final effort to get help. How could I fight any more? I had a 200 pound man lying on top of me with a cloth stuffed in my mouth that was making me sick with its smell and taste. I let my body go limp. He took the gun away from me and let go of the cloth. As he got off me I quickly pulled the cloth out of my mouth.
I sat on the floor of the bedroom thinking it was only my life that was in danger. With that thought in mind I resigned myself to the fact that I may die here, but the possible consequences could be worse. It was as if he read my mind because at that moment he added another twist to my life or death decision.
He said “I have a contract out to have your parents killed.” My blood seemed to freeze in my veins and I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move! It was no longer just about me! He told me if I didn’t do as he wanted they would be killed. If he didn’t call a specific number at a certain time my parents would be killed. He explained that he had to call from the phone on top of the file cabinet in the walk-in closet at a certain time and a specific code given to call it off.
I know it sounds crazy that I would even believe this stuff, but I did. His erratic, unpredictable actions made me believe he was capable of anything. After hearing this, my whole thought process changed. It was not just about my life but the lives of my parents, too.
I lay on the floor exhausted and no fight left inside of me. I told him I give up. If he would call the contract off on my parents I would do whatever he wanted. He went to the phone in the closet, dialed a number and rattled off some numbers and then hung up the phone. I looked at this person I no longer knew and felt nothing but anger and hatred for him at this point. I remained on the floor feeling defeated and not sure what to expect next. I chocked the words out “Ok, I will marry you.” As unbelievable as this sounds all this was to get me to agree to marry him. What happened next is even more unbelievable!!!
He said let’s go watch TV. I got up and followed him into the TV room like an obedient slave. I don’t think I had one shred of self-esteem at this point. I felt like a shell of a person just going through the motions. He sat on one chair and I reluctantly sat on the sofa. He said, “I am hungry. Do you want some pizza?” as if nothing had happened. I said no as he picked up the phone and had a pizza delivered.
I had no idea how to process what just happened. Minutes ago I thought I was going to die and based on four words, “I will marry you”, it was as if nothing in the past 12 hours had ever happened. If these few words changed his attitude that quickly, was there another phrase or sentence that would set him off again?
I sat there afraid to say anything for what seemed like hours. Finally I struggled to speak. I submissively asked if I could go home because my contacts had fallen out. At some point during those hours of off and on trying to get away, both of my soft lens contacts had fallen out. I didn’t really think he would ever let me leave but I had to at least ask. To my surprise he said yes. Cautiously, I got up and slowly walked to the door. It took everything in my body and mind not to bolt for the door. My mind kept warning me “this could be a trap.” I was afraid at any moment he would grab me and the nightmare would start over again.
I got into my car and pulled out of the driveway. My mind was racing! What just happened? What do I do now? I pulled into my apartment complex and quickly ran up the stairs. I locked the door even though there was the chance he got a copy of my key again.
The sliding glass door in my bedroom looked out over the parking lot. I left all the lights off and sat in the corner of the bedroom crying uncontrollably. I carefully moved the vertical blind so I could get a view of the parking lot in case he pulled up. I felt the cold wall against my right arm as I hugged the wall as close as possible. I curled up as small as I could in that dark corner as tears ran down my cheeks. I was crying so hard at times that I wasn’t able to catch my breath. I thought he was going to be pulling into the parking lot at any time. Looking back I wonder why I didn’t go directly to the police. I have no explanation for that. Finally I got courage to get my phone and called Dean, a friend I knew in law enforcement. In between my sobbing I tried to explain what had happened. There was nothing in my life that could have ever prepared me for this and I had no idea how people would respond to me. He advised me to call a friend and get out of there.
I called one of my friends, Amber, and she came over with her boyfriend. By this time it was about 3 am. We loaded up my car with my cat and some clothes and went to her house. I felt like a fugitive fleeing from a crime. I will be forever grateful for her help and for letting me stay with her. Sleep did not come easy when I got to her place. When I got up, I would not have believed what I went through except for the fact I was feeling the battle wounds. Every muscle in my body ached when I moved. My neck felt like I had whip lash from him pulling my hair. I had marks on my body which would eventually turn into bruises. Dean came over that morning and said I needed to go to urgent care for a checkup and to get a tetanus shot. I understood why I needed to get a record of my medical condition, but I didn’t understand why I needed the shot until he pointed out the marks on my arm and nose was bite marks. I don’t remember feeling him bite me but they were definitely bite marks. You could see the teeth marks. The reality of the event set in more as we took pictures of all the bruises and marks on my body. When I posed for these pictures that would be used for evidence I felt embarrassed and vulnerable.
After the trip to urgent care, the next stop was the sheriff’s office to fill out a restraining order. As I was inside filling out the paperwork Paul pulled up to the Sheriff’s office. He knew Dean and when he saw him outside the main door he walked up to him to tell him he was concerned because I was missing and wanted to fill out a missing person’s report. Dean informed him that I wasn’t missing and that I was inside filling out a restraining order against him and he should leave. Paul tried to convince Dean that he really needed to talk to me. If you are in awe of the fact that he came to fill out a missing person’s report on me, you aren’t alone. I could not figure that one out myself. I wish I could say that was the end of the encounter with Paul but it proved to be just the beginning.
I am not sure how I made it through the paperwork for the restraining order. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my friends and the clerk at the Sheriff’s Office. After the paperwork was done that next step was to get it signed by a judge. It was the weekend so I thought it wouldn’t happen until Monday. Since I believed that piece of paper would be my salvation, my protection from anything else that he could possibility do, I thought it was almost over.
From the Sheriff’s office we went to see my boss. I respected my boss and the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint him. As I look back, I see how distorted my thinking was about what had happened. I was under the impression I had done something wrong. I dreaded telling him. That was the second hardest conversation to have with someone. The hardest was telling my parents. Remember, I was guilt-ridden and remorse over something I had no control over. At the time I was judging myself and thought everyone else would too. I now have a better understanding why women remain in abusive relationships. I understand how women can get into situation they feel there is no way out of. I don’t expect everyone to understand these things. Sometimes you have to experience something life changing or traumatic to know what it is like to walk in another person’s shoes.
As I recalled the events of the past few hours with my boss, Frank, and I shed many tears, I felt very vulnerable, not sure of how he was going to react. My boss ended up becoming my protector and one of many angels that would come forward to help me through this. He made a call and the restraining order was put into action in hours not days.
One of many important lessons I would learn during the days to follow was that safety and security are things I need to provide for myself. I always thought restraining orders and gated communities were answers to being safe. I see them now as nothing more than a false sense of security. For anyone that thinks they will keep you safe, I implore you to think twice. For me, I look at them as illusions of safety and security. The purpose is only to keep law abiding people away from you as you will see as my story continues.