It started out like any normal relationship, with the dating and the dinners. But it moved quickly and the abuse started quickly, too. Within a month or two, this man I had started dating became controlling. He was verbally and psychologically abusive. He’d constantly be asking questions like why I was wearing that to work.
I had just moved to Colorado for a new job prior to meeting him, and I didn’t know anyone. He started to isolate me from my friends and co-workers. He managed to use fear, guilt and intimidation to maintain control over me. I was known to be very independent, happy, strong and confident, so of course, I began doubting myself and feeling guilty for what was happening.
He was so controlling that I ended up moving in with him after just six months. I still had my apartment, but I was living with him full-time. That’s when the abuse started getting physical. He’d do things like slam on the brakes while we were in the car, hoping I’d slam my head into the dashboard.
I Couldn’t Escape
I tried breaking up with him several times, but it never worked. At first when I tried to leave, he’d make promises to get me to stay. He’d say, “I’ll change” and “I’ll get better.” (Editor’s Note: See other common phrases used by abusers.) Then there were the flowers and the gifts and the “I love you’s.” So, I’d stay. And for a couple of weeks, his demeanor would be different and things would be good.
But of course, the abuse continued. And after a while, the empty promises turned to threats. Instead of apologizing and telling me he loved me, he started harassing me at work or when I went back to my apartment. He’d leave me voicemails calling me names and threatening to get me fired from work.
At one point, he left me a voicemail and said, “It’s on. I’m coming for you.” I got really scared for my safety and called the cops. When the officer came out, I played him the voicemails. He said, “Well, you can get a restraining order, but that takes time and it’s a lot of paperwork.” He more or less talked me out of it. As soon as the officer left, my abuser showed up. He had been hiding, watching. I was scared, and so I went back to him.
On March 30, 2012, it started with me coming home and him asking, “Why are you late?”
The argument escalated to threats and yelling. I again attempted to break up with him, but that only made things worse.
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He pushed me off the bed, pinned me to the ground and knocked me unconscious. It’s possible he pistol-whipped me. I didn’t see a gun in his hand at the time, but that’s what my surgeon later told me likely happened, given the amount of damage he inflicted.
I don’t have any idea for how long I was lying on the floor. When I woke up, there were police and EMTs in the door to the room. My abuser was in the doorway to the bathroom opposite the police. He had a gun in his hand.
I could hear the officers and the medics yelling, “Mimi! Mimi, come here! Come over here!” I was covering my face, trying to stop the bleeding, and I was in a complete state of shock. At that moment, all I wanted to do was get to the mirror in the bathroom to see if my face was still intact. But my abuser and the police began yelling at each other. I remember him threatening to shoot them if they didn’t leave the house.
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I started to make my way toward the officers, but my abuser began shooting. I stood in the crossfire in the middle of our bedroom while eight to 10 shots were exchanged. It’s so vivid, even today, that I can still smell the gunpowder.
A few of the officers and EMTs were hurt and lying on the ground. When the shots finally stopped, my abuser grabbed me and pulled me into the bathroom at gunpoint. I was his hostage. He took me into the tub with him and sat me on his lap facing away from him. I was still unable to see from my left side, but what I saw to my right was the gun. I thought, “I’m going to die. He’s going to kill me. Oh, God, please no.”
He slowly put the gun in his mouth. When I turned to look at him, he turned the gun sideways and fired a shot. It went through his cheek he fell into the tub. That’s when I was grabbed by the first responders and taken to the hospital. I had broken bones, and he had fractured my nose, cracked with jaw and several teeth, and blew out my eye socket, causing me to have to have surgery, but I can say with confidence that he did not break my spirit.
My abuser survived. His court trial lasted one year. This period of time was quite a journey for me; I moved back home to California with my family and dealt with nightmares, PTSD, anxiety and insomnia. I currently still deal with that.
Having to go back for the trial and see him was the worst, but I was happy to hear the results of his sentencing—he got 144 years. It’s a tremendous relief to know he will not be able to do this to anyone else. I am proud to say that now, five years later, not only am I able to share my story, but I was also able to obtain my domestic violence advocate certification. I am looking forward to be able to share my story, my services, my heart, joy, tears and gratitude with all those who I can reach out to and help in one way or another.
What I Want Others to Know
You’re not alone. When I was being abused, I felt so alone. I didn’t think anyone would understand, and I felt guilty. But abuse can happen to anyone, and it happens more often than one thinks. I share my story in order to try and help others find their voice and hopefully empower them to overcome their fears. We need to give survivors the courage to speak up about it.
As told to DomesticShelters.org.
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