A Violent Truth

To be honest, we struggled with publishing this story because we do not want to encourage violence of any kind. However, it is one woman’s truth, and there is value in acknowledging that the type of violence she was victim to is still very real for far too many women. We have taken out any identifying information, but feel it important for this Truthteller to be heard.

Our advice is, and always will be, for those who are being abused to seek help from friends or relatives, or from a domestic violence hotline like the United States National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233). There is help, and there is a better life waiting for you.

May 10, 1984 at 9 a.m., I was arrested for murdering my husband. I had been married for just six months.

My marriage had started with my new husband knocking me around in our bridal suite after our wedding reception. He said I was flirting with the men at our party. I was shocked and insulted at this and stood my ground. He punched me to the floor. I took the phone, locked myself in the bathroom, and called my mom.

She came right away and banged on the hotel bridal suite door. I ran to open it and ran out the door. She took me to the nearest hospital, and they gave me a shot to calm me down. A few hours later, my mom drove me back to the hotel. After all, it was the first night of our marriage.

The front desk let me into our room. I climbed into bed and went to sleep. When my new husband woke, he cuddled me and asked if I was hungry – just  like it never happened. I went along to avoid causing problems.

This began a slide into pure hell.

A few weeks later, it happened again. This time he broke my nose and blackened both of my eyes. He learned from the first experience: I was not allowed to grab a phone or leave the house for days. When he finally left to run some errands, I called my mom and told her what was going on. She seemed to be in some kind of shock and wasn’t helping me with any ideas.

I called my stepmother and told her. I asked if I could return home to stay with her and my dad. She said yes, but only for two weeks. That was the time limit she and my dad had agreed to about “house guests.” I felt hopeless and alone. I hung up and waited for my husband to come home.

I became more and more convinced that I was stuck in this hell. He knew I had nowhere to go, and the abuse continued. May 10, 1984, my husband was snorting cocaine and insisted I do it too. When I refused, he grabbed me by the hair and flung my face into the mirror, and he continued to beat me throughout the night.

In the morning, I climbed in bed, exhausted. He pulled me out of bed by my feet, banging my head on the wooden foot rest. He stood me up and told to say my prayers because I was going to meet my maker. He held a small handgun up in the air and spun the barrel.

He put the gun to my head and pulled the trigger.

I waited for the sound or to feel the impact – I didn’t know which to expect, and everything was happening so fast. When neither came, I ran. I went through the house and out the front door. I did not want to die.

I hid, in my pajamas on back seat floor of our neighbor’s car. I heard him as he noisily search for me, and I held my breath until I heard his truck start up and pull away. I got out of the neighbors car and tried my front door. It opened. I went inside, barricaded myself in, and dialed 9-1-1. Police came, and a short while later, so did my husband. He spoke with the police outside of the house – and they left!

I felt a level of desperation I had never felt before, and that I doubt I will I ever feel again.

I ran and got that same gun he’d held to my head a little while earlier. He was still locked outside of the house. I peeked out from behind the curtains and showed him I had the gun. He banged on the front door until neighbors came out of their houses to see what the racket was.

I screamed at him to go away and he stopped banging. I shot the gun toward the sky out the front window so he would leave. He had disappeared and I could no longer see him. I ran from window to window trying to find him because his truck was still in front of our house.

I finally couldn’t stand it anymore. I slowly slid open the bolt and chain on the front door. I unlocked the door knob and gently opened the front door.

He jumped out from behind the door and I screamed and shot him.

Once again, I called 911 and told them what happened. They arrived 10 minutes later and took me into custody.

Part 2

I was arrested, taken to jail, and questioned by a detective. After a time, the detective left and returned. “I have some bad news for you. Your husband died,” I was told.

My world spun. I felt faint and cried, “No! This can’t be!”

I was placed under arrest and charged with second degree murder. I was processed and was taken to a women’s facility. In the morning, I was brought to a courthouse and put in a line with other prisoners to go inside. Once in the courthouse, I saw my dad with my older sister. I tried to wave, but it was difficult with cuffs behind my back.

My name was called and I was put in front of the judge. A lawyer I had never met before stood next to me and was speaking to the judge about me as if I wasn’t there. After court, I was given clothes to wear and was brought out to an office where I was united with my dad and sister. We left. My head was spinning.

My dad tried to make it clear for me. He told me we were getting ready for a trial that would determine where I would be for the rest of my life. Second degree murder carries a sentence of 25 years to life.

My dad stayed with me in the house where the shooting took place for two weeks before he he returned home. I made arrangements and moved back to my home state, too, to await trial. My trial was set for December 2, 1984.

The first week of December, I flew back for the trial. Most of my family was with me and my dad had gotten a new lawyer who had a “win, win” record. A lot of meetings and preparing was going on.

The trial lasted only about a week or so before the jury was sent to decide my fate.

Three hours later they returned with a verdict: Innocent, they jury foreman declared. Justifiable homicide!

I had lost my faith in God, I had decided life was not right for me. But I now had a new life!  God had held my life within His hands, not once but twice, and saved me.

I flew back home that night. I cried all the way home.

Thank you God.

About the Author | S.M.

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