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Home Articles Your Voice A Letter to Gabby Petito from a Strangulation Survivor

A Letter to Gabby Petito from a Strangulation Survivor

What a survivor wishes she could say to the woman who lost her life at the hands of her boyfriend

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A Letter to Gabby Petito from a Strangulation Survivor

I'm sorry, dear one. I'm sorry you left this earth in such a brutal and unfair way. I wonder about you more now that I know how it happened. Did you get a chance to beg? Was it fast? How many times had it happened before?

I know the fear you must have felt. That feeling of your heart beating too fast while your brain tries to plan an escape and accept death at the same time. I got a break to draw a breath to frantically remind my attacker…my husband…that I had kids. He didn't seem to notice or care. The moment I begged "please" was a moment forever etched into my living memory. I wasn't ready to leave my family or leave this life. Not like this.

I will never forget running free, a stranger catching me as I fell to the ground in high heels. I remember the quick cost-benefit analysis I had to compute while in shock on whether or not to call the police and press charges. But mostly, I can see the look on his face as he glared at me with hatred, telling the cold and calculated story of how it was my fault and it wasn't that bad.

Unlike you, I was able to breathe again, to run, and to hold those children I desperately begged for in the brief respite when air was available. I get the luxury of going to therapy and meditating and re-writing that night in my mind. I get to rewrite all of those times and move closer to a place of peace.

You do not. And for that, I am more than sorry. I am aching for you and for the many in your place…the ones who did not make it and the ones still surviving. I hope that in your last moments, something besides the fear in your earthly body came over and you went fast and painlessly. Perhaps, you felt nothing at all and got to slip into a slumber as a flood of hormones coursed through your system in an effort to keep fighting or fleeing.

I will rewrite your ending. And although I cannot change it or bring you back or offer any ounce of comfort to your broken-hearted loved ones, I can hope that your mind, while it knew it was the end, quietly let you float away while your body lay waste to the very controlled rage of the person who took your young life.

May your story of abuse, of strangulation, of death, be a beacon for those who still believe their abusers who tell them it's not a big deal and who gaslight them into gratitude for still being alive.

I am sorry, dear one. I hold a space in my heart for you where the life once was. And I believe you will save another.

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-Liz
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Women who are strangled by their partner are six times more likely to be the victim of attempted homicide, and seven times more likely to be a victim of homicide, according to a study from the Journal of Emergency Medicine.

If you have been strangled by a partner, seek emergency medical help immediately. Even if a survivor regains consciousness quickly and there does not appear to be marks on her neck, the temporary lack of oxygen to the brain can cause long-lasting and sometimes life-threatening injuries

Survivors should consider reaching out to a trained domestic violence advocate for support. Visit domesticshelters.org/help to find a shelter in your area, most of which have 24/7 emergency helplines, and create a plan for safety before it's too late. 

This article is part of #YourVoice, an ongoing column published on this website by individual contributors in their own personal capacity and that involves the opinions, recollections and/or information provided by such contributors, and which does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this website.