It has been 10 years, 11 months, and 7 days since you changed my life forever. 10 years ago, I had no idea how I would ever move on or live a normal life again. This morning in my living room, I fell to my knees and I cried. I bowed my head and thanked God for that night. You see, you’re in the big city newspaper today. You lost control while intoxicated and once again are facing felony charges. I read a story this morning about you and there is a picture of you – I stared at your picture for a while. I see familiar eyes that haven’t changed a bit and show nothing but hate. I used to think those eyes were about me. I’ve learned differently since then. You never hated me, you hated yourself. The only reason you ever thought you hated me was because I saw the real you. Today, I read that you showed the real you once again. I hope this time, the courts see it too. I hope that everyone else can see that behind those eyes lives a monster contained by it’s abuse on others and that every once in a while alcohol sets that monster free.
In 3 hours and 15 minutes, I get to go pick up the keys to an office. It is the first official office for my nonprofit called Standing Courageous. The name comes from the bible verse, 1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. I started the nonprofit to help educated medical professionals, law enforcement, legal professionals, and the general public about strangulation, malignant narcissists, and conditioned victims. I vowed to do my part to make sure what happened to me doesn’t happen to others. I have suffered long term affects from what happened that night. I have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. I am committed to making sure medical personnel understand the mental and physical consequences of domestic abuse and strangulation. I am devoted to changing social stigmas against victims and to make sure that the public knows abusers like you don’t wear signs that announce who you really are. I am dedicated to doing my part to make sure law enforcement, judges, attorneys, prosecutors, and all people involved in the legal system understand the dangers of letting people like you go free. I want people to understand that abusers like you are 75% likely to abuse again. That abusers like you make up 57% of the mass shooters in America. The article says you held a gun out at others, that you fired your gun, you could have easily become one of those statistics. We here in Northwest Ohio could have had a mass shooting event but we didn’t. It sounds like you didn’t physically harm anyone, this time. I will thank you for that.
So here is where I thank you. Thank you for choosing me back then. I am strong, I am courageous, and I have survived. I will continue to share my story. You are nothing more than a reminder now. Albert Einstein said “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” I am silent no more. I will no longer do nothing. I will be the change.
This is where I thank God. I thank God for giving me healing and strength. I thank God for letting me be a voice. I thank God for those who believed in me and for those who saw in you what I did. I thank God for my board members and all those who support Standing Courageous. Today, I thank God for the quote “The Power of One. Don’t fall for the lie that one person cannot make a difference. All powerful movements began with the actions of individuals striving for change. Your actions count. Be the change. ” I live my life by God and that quote now.
Today, I cried because this weekend when you set your monster free again, you raised your hand publicly and said, “Paula wasn’t lying. I am the danger she warns about”