Part 4 of How I Escaped: The Story of a Domestic Abuse Survivor

The conclusion of a 4-part series as told by Brie Alexis, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Warning: This is a true story.

Part 4:

On The Run 

He called me 20 times a day begging me to come home, saying he would never hurt me again.  When he realized I wasn’t falling for his lies he became enraged, and that’s when the stalking began.  He would pop up at my job unannounced. He even found out where I lived and would sit in the parking lot of my complex, watching me.  I knew he was there…always there.  Everywhere I went, he’d show up.  I’d be in the grocery store, look around and there he would be, standing at the end of the aisle. I’d be at the airport returning from a trip out of town, and there he was, waiting for me at the top of the escalator.  It didn’t matter where I went, somehow he would always appear.  I continued to live in fear each and every day.  Some days he would show up with cards and gifts, and other days he would show up furious and disappointed that I would not come home.  I didn’t know what to do. I believed that he loved me, but I couldn’t understand why love had to hurt so much.  Why does being loved mean that he can talk to me any kind of way and beat me whenever he feels like it?

He would regularly invite me to dinner. Some days I declined and other days I would go.  I know what you are thinking, but he wouldn’t leave me alone and eventually he wore me down.  One night we left dinner and he begged me to go home with him.  Against my better judgement I did. I figured since he was in a good mood that night that things would continue going well. And they did, until he asked me to have sex with him.  Well, I never wanted kids and especially not by this monster. So sex with no protection was out of the question, so I thought. I refused his advances and tried to leave, but he locked me in the house and forced himself on me.  It’s called rape, even if it’s by your abusive, estranged husband.  That turned out to be another night that I wish I could forget.  I felt stupid for going to the house with him.  I just wanted so badly to believe that I hadn’t married Satan himself!

She said if I continued down this path, he would surely kill me. I knew in my heart she was right.

I was hurt, embarrassed, confused and scared all at the same time.  I consulted with an attorney about divorce, informing the attorney that my husband had threatened to kill me.  The attorney ran a criminal background check and discovered that my husband had eight felony convictions, including murder.  I was scared for my life. 

I had to find someone to talk to so after doing some research, I found a domestic violence counselor.  We met twice a week.  She kept telling me that I needed to stay away for him, but it was hard. He would always follow me; he was always somewhere nearby, watching and waiting.  I’m sure he followed me to her office a few times. Each session I would tell her how he always managed to magically appear. She told me that based on this reported behavior and considering his background, that it would be best for me to go away.  And she really meant go away, like disappear.  She said that if I continued down this path, he would surely kill me. I knew in my heart she was right.

I sought help from an underground source and began crafting a detailed plan for my escape. I knew he was watching my every move, so I had to be smart and strategic.  I was nice to him. I even told him how much I missed him and that I was seriously thinking about coming back home.  I knew that would buy me some time to figure things out.  I had a 60-day plan. I made a checklist and completed one task at a time.  For the next several weeks, I would schedule my time with him so there would be no need for him to follow me.  Since we were talking every day, I knew his whereabouts.  I put my plan in motion:

  1. We went to the movies one evening and while we were out, I had movers at my apartment transporting all of my belongings to a storage unit.     
  2. I knew he was planning a trip out of town for a few days. While he was gone, I went to the car dealership and traded my white Lexus for a black Mercedes and parked it in my cousin’s garage.  I drove her car and told him my Lexus was in the shop. 
  3. I had the counselor write a letter to my employer stating that I am resigning with no notice because of an unforeseen emergency.  I kept the letter in my purse until I was ready to use it. 
  4. I wrote letters to my closest friends and told them I was leaving town and not to worry about me.  I told them to pray for me and I would reach out to them when I could.
  5. I closed all of my bank accounts and used cash for all purchases.
  6. I sent letters to my creditors and closed all of my credit card accounts.

He believed every word coming out of my mouth.

I noticed my husband was becoming more and more impatient.  He didn’t suspect anything, but I knew he wanted me to return home soon. I kept telling him that I knew he loved me and I was coming home.  About 30 days into my plan, he became belligerent.  He wanted me to come home and he wanted me to come home now.  The counselor told me that I wouldn’t be able to wait; she said I would have to leave sooner.  She was right. He showed up at my job one afternoon and made a scene.  So it was time; it was time for me to escape from this crazy man once and for all.  I finally told him, “Baby you are right, today is the day”.  I said, “Get your mother on the phone”.  He called his mom and I told her that I knew her son loved me and I had decided to go back home.  He was excited and she was excited.  I told him that I had one more meeting at work and I needed him to go home (home was at least 45 minutes away from the office) and get the house clean so that we could move my things back in that day. I told him that enough was enough and that we needed to get back together because this situation was draining us both.  He agreed.  I told him to call me from the house phone so that I knew he was really cleaning like we had discussed. I told him that I could not come back to a nasty home.  He believed every word coming out of my mouth. 

As soon as he walked out of my office, I started packing my personal belongings from my desk.  My heart was beating so fast.  Once he called the office from the house phone, I told him I would call him in about an hour or so when my meeting was over.  Before I knew it I had put my plan in motion:

  1. I immediately took my resignation letter written by my counselor and gave it to my manager. Just like that I was out. 
  2. I called my cousin and told her to meet me at the house so we could swap cars. 
  3. I stopped by the storage facility and filled my car with as many clothes as I could carry.
  4. I stopped by the post office and mailed the letters to my friends.
  5. I stopped at the mall and purchased a pre-pay cell phone with a random number and threw my phone in the trash.

I got back in my car and headed 75 south. I had not figured out this part of the plan yet, but I knew I had to go to Florida or California for a fresh start based on my research on domestic violence programs.  I left Georgia and escaped to a totally unfamiliar city where I had no friends or family.  I slept at different shelters and at times, in my car.  I had to persevere in an attempt to start a new life for myself.  All the while, however, fear was still there looming over me. I never stopped looking over my shoulder.  I cried constantly; my eyes were never dry.  But I had faith in God that He would pull me through this horrendous situation.  I was afraid to get a job using my social because I was sure he would find me.  I worked with the program and got a new identity fairly quickly.  A new name, a new life and a fresh start.

I soon learned that after my departure, my husband was under federal investigation, and was subsequently arrested and sentenced to ten years in the federal system.  Thank you Jesus, you do answer prayers!  The thought of him being locked away did bring me some comfort, and after being on the run for a while, I returned to Georgia with my new identity. 

By the grace of God, I am telling you my story 18 years later.  I am a strong and powerful woman.  I hope that I can share my story and help others gain the strength to leave abusive situations.  No one deserves to be mistreated.  No one deserves to live in fear.  Lift your head up and ask for help. 

I am now about to leave my cushy, great paying government job to open my very own consulting company!  I am excited about the future. For the first time in my life I am doing all of the things that I want to do.   

And YES, he is out of prison but NO, I don’t know where he is or who he may be abusing now; I just know it’s not me! I hope that my story helps someone find the courage to walk away. You deserve so much more.  And trust me, the material things are just that, but peace of mind is priceless!