For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Survivor Not A Statistic...Part 2

In my previous post I ended the entry with my attacker leaving me to die.  The sound of dogs barking was only that.  There was no one in the area to help me but within a week I would find out the angels were with me in so many ways.

I don't know how I made it to my car without people stopping to see what was wrong with me.  I honestly can't remember if I even walked past people.  It was the dead of summer so it was still broad daylight out.  Like I was on autopilot I drove straight to the Sheriff's Department.  I thought that if they saw what my stalker did to me it would convince them to act.  Here was the hardcore evidence...he did inflict physical harm to my body.

But I didn't get the help I was seeking.  Instead a Sheriff's deputy said he couldn't take my report because the incident didn't happen within their jurisdiction. Say what?  He said I had to go to the police department that had jurisdiction where the "scene of the crime" took place.  My family knows the Sheriff, he's a wonderful Christian and well established in his church and the community.  I told them that we would be speaking with him about this.  Then a female deputy came out and pulled me aside.  She was very compassionate and understanding.  She didn't take a report but she let me tell her what happened.  She explained that if I went to the emergency room they could come there and take my report because they have jurisdiction at the hospital, which ironically was within a mile of the outdoor concourse!  I told her I wasn't going to the ER because I wasn't going to get billed for something that wasn't my fault.  She said the victim's advocacy would cover the bill.  That wasn't my plan.  So she called 911 and had them dispatch an ambulance to the Sheriff's Department.  She said the EMTs could clean me up so that I could go to the police department.

I won't forget the "clean up" ordeal.  I had pieces of gravel stuck in the palms of my hands, in my knees, a gash in my thigh, and lacerations on back, buttocks, shoulders and face.  My head was spinning but I was told I couldn't take anything because I needed to be coherent to give my statement.  While they were cleaning me up the deputy was trying to contact my friend to let her know where I was and to see if she could come meet me.  I made my way to the police department about 15 minutes away and encountered more obstacles.  

First of all, I have just been attacked and left for dead and there is not one female in the building who can come be with me!  The officer that takes my statement informs me that he also needs to take pictures.  He proceeds to take Polaroid snapshots of any visible injury and he has this measuring tool that looks like a pen and with each photo he writes down an estimated measurement of the injury.  After he takes my statement he tells me I can pick up a copy within a week.  He says to keep it on me so that if Johnny bothers me again I can provide law enforcement a copy of this incident so they will know he needs to be arrested.

Then they have an officer follow me to the exit where my friend lives to make sure Johnny isn't following me.  I get to her house and run to the bathroom and just sit on the floor and cry.  There are no words to express how I am feeling.  Late into the evening I drift into the living room and her husband lets me know they are there for me if I need them.  Life as I knew it is gone.

The nightmares begin does my fear of being in public alone, a social phobia surfaces so that I am no longer comfortable being in large crowds, and I become more hyper-vigilant than ever.  

The next day, Saturday, July 28th, I make myself look at my body.  I inspect every part that hurts, that is tender to touch, that looks bruised and ugly.  This is what Johnny did to me.  I have injuries from forehead to ankles.  I end up at the ER because of a bad headache and CT Scan reveals I have a slight concussion from my head hitting the tree but I will be okay in time.  It's summertime so a little difficult to cover a lot of the visible injuries.  So for the next 2 weeks I don't go to work because I don't want people to see me and I don't want to answer questions.

My friend lets me know that Johnny followed me out to her house and her husband ran him off with a shotgun.  My wall of defenses have gone up and I trust no one...not even her.  My brother calls and asks if he can take me to the movies.  He needs to see me and know I'm okay and he needs to try to help restore my faith in some people.  After all the world is full of good people, right?  So, I head over to his place and when I get to the main house I see a new privacy fence at the back of their property.  I ask him about it.  He says it's been there for about a month because kids from the middle school were always trying to mess with their pets and then when the outdoor concourse was opened to the public it became more of a problem for them to have privacy.  It was then I realized I was on the backside of my brother's property when I was attacked.  It was one of his dogs that started barking.  We both started crying as he felt like he was within an arms reach of me and couldn't protect me.

Later that week my friend came home from work and told me that they cut down some trees at our new concourse because the county found out a young girl had been attacked at another concourse during broad daylight.  She said, "They were talking about you..." It seemed that for 3 1/2 years no one was able to protect me but now they were going to make a concerted effort to protect others.

I lived with my best friend and her husband for the next 6 months.  It wasn't because I had been attacked.  Something else happened which I am not at liberty to speak about publicly but in doing so it gave me an opportunity to try to heal. During the first few weeks after the attack I worked closely with the Chief of Detectives and representative from the victim's advocacy center.  They tried to help me understand some of the pathologies of a stalker.  Little things began to happen that were like God winks...His way of reassuring me He was there and He was going to get me through this ordeal.

While living with my friends I let the grass in my yard grow up and one month I accidentally let my phone get turned off because I forgot to pay the bill.  Well, my stalker began thinking I may have moved because my car was no longer at the house, my home phone was off, and employer changed my office number so that Johnny wouldn't have it.  I also got 23 inches cut off my hair to donate to Locks Of Love so that threw him for a loop when he saw me in public.  2 years later I bought a new home in the country.  

As time went by I got back into a normal routine but I was a more guarded person.  From 2001 to 2011 I had so much going on that I was learning to move on and even though the memories were there they didn't haunt me as bad as they did the first year.  That was until last year.

In the early spring I received a call from law enforcement asking if I could meet with them to archive my case record.  Yeah, it sounded like a Cold Case episode to me.  I was coming up on the 10 year anniversary of the attack and they wanted me to review all the documents so that they could enter it in a new database so that if they had reports of similar incidents they could try to tie the cases together.  I really didn't want to cooperate because I felt like they had let me down and I had done a pretty good job of moving on but they kept calling so I showed up at their office Friday, July 29th (my nephew's 17th birthday).  It was like reliving the ordeal.  I must have looked at 12-15 Polariod pictures.  There was more incident reports than I even remembered happening and oh I can't even begin to count how many phone calls they had logged from him to me.  This was taxing on me mind, body and soul.

My preacher's wife knew I had been dreading this and so she encouraged me to go to a youth rally with her and her husband that evening to get my mind off everything.  And this is where I finally felt God release me from the memories of the past 10 years.  I was totally exhausted by the time I met up with Pastor and Sandy.  She asked if I wanted to talk and I told her I just wanted to rest.  The church that was hosting the youth rally was about an hour away so I laid in the back seat and went to sleep and I slept and slept...

Another couple followed us and I remember Sandy telling the lady that they were welcome to sit with us but to save enough room so that if wanted to curl up and sleep on the pew I could.  I told her, "I'm not going to sleep in church!"  Well, I made it through the opening remarks and music and I thought I could pay attention because the guest speaker was an alumni from the Christian college I attended but the more he spoke the more tired I became.  My body was worn out from the recent events and it seemed like I was relaxing there in church.  Sandy looked at me and could tell I was struggling to stay awake.  She patted her leg and told me if I wanted to lay down I could.  I had already slept thru the 30 minutes while everyone was visiting before the service started.  I slid over and laid my head against her shoulder and slept for the next 4 hours!  She said she didn't know how I slept through all the loud music, the teens shouting as they played some indoor games while the adults visited.  There were about 6-8 churches present and Sandy said I never budged when people came over to see if I was okay.  I then slept the entire way home. 

The next day I called Sandy to apologize because I couldn't believe I slept thru the service.  She said there was no need to apologize.  They were just glad that I went because they felt like I didn't need to be by myself and she said it made her feel good that after all I had been through I trusted her enough to let her keep me safe while I slept. She said maybe being in a sanctuary gave me a sense of peace and at some point I released all tension, anxiety, fears, etc. and found sweet rest.

That night a year ago etched in stone my philosophy: "Life is hard but God is good and if He brings you to it, He will also see you though it."  Where am I today?  I still have severe issues of trust.  I still get anxious if people I don't trust try to get to close to me, touch me, hug me, etc.  I have social phobias with large crowds...if there are too many in the church choir I will not sing unless Sandy is right beside me, then I hover beside her.  She knows where my comfort zone is and she knows how to help me feel safe.  I am a very friendly person but I don't befriend many.

I am not haunted on a daily basis by the memories of my past.  The Lord has been good to allow me to persevere with only minor setbacks as something might remind me of the incident, my assailant, etc.  I have come full circle from July 27, 2001 to July 27, 2012.  It took 11 years for the date to fall on a Friday.  I have shared bits and pieces of my story in my testimony.  I enjoy public speaking and last August after archiving the incident I spoke at my church. 

I remember sharing some of my past because I knew the Lord wanted me to regain my voice.  I spoke about what it was like to be in the valley and how wonderful it was for me because it was there that my heart found rest, sweet peace and contentment.  I learned that sometimes we go through difficult times to make us stronger and more mature in the Lord.  I learned to trust in a God I couldn't see...I knew that He was always going to be there for me, no matter what.  I learned that, "When answers aren't enough there is Jesus...He is more than just an answer to your prayers."  

God let me live to tell my story.  I don't want to be a survivor because I feel like you have to put effort into surviving and I don't want to be a victim because I am not being harmed all the time.  I want the world to see a girl who learned to trust God as He took her through the fire.  He was with me each step of the way and He isn't finished with me yet!  The scars just show me where I've been...the Cross shows me where I'm going.

During the 3 1/2 years while I was being stalked I went to see a therapist occasionally just to help me.  I'll never forget something she shared with me on resiliency because she said I was like a rubber band.  I could be stretched and stretched and still bounce back.  She handed me a copy of an excerpt on resiliency from a book.  I don't know the title of the book or the author but I put the words to the passage in my journal of quotes.  It said:
Resilience is the ability to work with adversity in such a way that one comes through it unharmed or even better for the experience.  Resilience means facing life's difficulties with courage and patience, refusing to give up.  It is the quality of character that allows a person to rebound from misfortunes, hardships, and traumas.  Resilience is rooted in a tenacity of spirit, a determination to embrace all that makes life worth living even in the face of overwhelming odds. When we have a clear sense of identity and purpose, we are more resilient because we can hold fast to our vision of a better future.
I hold fast to the promises of God and claim Jeremiah 29:11-13 (see the top of my Blog).  My identity is in the Lord and He makes all things beautiful in His time. (Eccl. 3:11). 

I have learned that even when the storms of life assail me I can still dance in the rain.  Sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He calms the child.  My prayer for you is that you will hold fast to God's unchanging hand.  Yesterday, today, tomorrow...Jesus is the same.  All may change but Jesus never, glory to His name!!


  1. I would have been really upset with law enforcement. I don't know how you made it through the evening. When Brantleigh heard you speak at the youth conference last year she said you were very engaging and the young people were drawn to you. And this is have learned to give God all the glory. I remember when you slept in church last year. We laughed about that for days! Now I can't say much when my children fall asleep during a service :+) Thanks for sharing this part of your life. I'm sure it will help make the difference for someone. You take care and keep trusting the Lord...You are one of His masterpieces, a work of "heart." I love you little sis <3

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Last week at 5th Sunday Singing I was resting my head on Sandy's shoulder during one of the performances ("Trumpeteer's Lullabye") and the preacher said, "I don't know how anyone could fall asleep with this and then he said, "Well, yeah, G could sleep through anything. Is she asleep right now?" I told him no, that I had a headache and was reading the history of the song.

  2. Gigi, I'm speechless. (I had a hard time reading this because of the font type and size but I had to read it.) I am so sorry you had to go through all this. My heart aches for you. I'm so glad the Lord has been working in your life and I pray He continues to heal you of the leftover issues. May He bless you mightily! Love you!