Faces of Homelessness: My Story

I was born in Columbus, Indiana to two loving parents. I have one brother and two sisters. I attended Columbus East High School where at the age of 15 I found out I was pregnant. I dropped out of high school because the school encouraged me to do so. I was told being pregnant at school was an embarrassment.

At the age of 18, I started working at United Technologies. My father had built the facility and encouraged me to put in my application. I got the job! After I had my second son I got a new job at DSI/Platinum as the Assistant Industrial Coordinator. While I worked at DSI/Platinum I had two employees that turned out to be a connection that would drastically change my life forever. They had a cousin that I often saw come up to my job and have lunch with them. He was a ranger in the army. He attempted to get close to me, but I rebuffed his advances. I would see him at cookouts or in passing, but at some point I began to feel increasingly uncomfortable about the tone he was attempting to set with me. He would compliment me at first, but then he would say things like, “You’re a terrible mother,” or he would say something derogatory about me and how I got my position in the company. I began to distance myself from him and to tell others I wanted him stay away from me. I knew he was going to be a problem, but I had no that about the way it was going to happen. It all happened so fast. 

At the age of 24, I went back to Lear Corporation (who had bought out United Technologies) because they had sought me out to be their second shift supervisor of the interior system division. I supervised 50-150 people at any given time because we were launching the GMT-900, which was the interior system for the General Motors line of SUV’s. I really was proud of the way my life was coming together. I signed a contract for $55,000.00 and with overtime I was paid $68,000.00 per year. I rented a house, bought a tanning bed, created my own workout room, and had it decorated perfectly to fit my family’s needs.

Within a few weeks of starting my new job, I discovered my life would forever be changed. I came home from work and the garage door shut behind me. I walked through the breezeway and I opened the door into the basement. I was on the phone with my friend and I noticed something odd by my bed. When I hit the landing and took a step toward the foreign object, I realized it was a tri-pod. At that moment I was hit in the head, dropped my phone, and my nose and mouth began to bleed. I was semi-conscious when I realized who my attacker was.

My attacker told me he was going to kill me. He went on to rape me and videotape 8 ½ hours of torture. Five of my teeth were broken out of my mouth and I was left concussed and bruised. Eventually, he dragged me upstairs. He said, “You are covered in blood. Bitch, get upstairs and take a shower. You are ruining my video tape.” He made the mistake of leaving the gun downstairs as he dragged me upstairs. While I was in the shower he said, “Bitch, I’m going to go downstairs and get the gun and blow your brains out.” When he went downstairs I realized there was a window in my bathroom but it was painted shut. I could see out of the window but it wouldn’t open and I could see my neighbor’s wife in the kitchen feeding her children. Seeing her there gave me hope, and I knew if I could get to her front porch she would hear me screaming. I immediately bolted from the bathroom and out the front door. My attacker was on the front porch and had the gun. My neighbor saw me through her sliding glass door, and I was screaming for help. She opened her door and I fell to the ground. She dragged me through her sliding glass door and into her house. I remember glancing back and seeing him in my yard with the gun.

My attacker came to her sliding glass door and was beating on it saying, “Give me her back, she’s mine.” What he didn’t realize was that my neighbor’s husband was a sheriff’s deputy. We were afraid he was going to break the glass doors and were screaming while calling 911. When he realized he couldn’t get into her house, he ran back to my house and barricaded himself in. Within a few minutes the whole house was surrounded. While he was barricaded in the house, he hid the gun and video tape in my home’s walls. SWAT came in and apprehended my attacker.

I felt a sense of peace wash over me as I realized that he was no longer going to hurt me. When I saw myself in the mirror; I was embarrassed by my broken teeth, my hematomas, and my cuts and scrapes. Because of the launch of the new product line I only missed one day of work. I put on make-up and covered my injuries as best I could. I can remember people telling me that they couldn’t believe I returned to work. They said if something like that had happened to them, they would have crawled in a hole somewhere. There was no way that I could hide what happened to me, because it was all over the front page of the newspapers. Shortly after the attack I was informed that he was a serial rapist. I was embarrassed by what he had done to me.

I was horrified that after the police lights faded, they left me in the house alone. I had to walk through the horror of what had happened to me every time I walked passed the bloody hand prints on the wall. I had to clean my own blood from the walls and the floor. They had to hire a sheetrock contractor to fix the places where my body had been imprinted into the walls. I eventually was left in the silence of my trauma. I realized that I could never bring my kids back into the house and that I would never feel safe there again. So I gave up my home and moved in with my mom. I went to work the next day and saved money to try to leave town. I was horrified that he might get out of jail and attack me again. As you can probably understand, I never wanted to be around another man.

I eventually saved up enough money to rent a house in Franklin. In 2008, I met a man who was a Staff Sargent E-6 in the military at Camp Atterbury. He charmed me with his care and even recognized me as the women that had been attacked and raped in Columbus. He constantly pestered me until I gave in to him and allowed my guard down. He was my first boyfriend after the attack.  We dated for a year and I feel like I began to drink to numb my pain and forget what had happened to me. I would work my butt off, and then come home to get my buzz to relax. My boyfriend and I spent more and more time together. One night we went out to a club and were drinking. I asked to go home, and he was showing off to other people. I immediately began to feel like things were going to go a wrong direction. After we were in the parking lot, I decided that I didn’t want to go with him, and he made me get in the truck.

I finally got in the truck with him, and I told him that we needed to end the relationship. We were only about three to four blocks away from the night club, and he began to say, “If I can’t have you then nobody can.” So, I opened the truck door to step out, and he floored the truck and shoved me the rest of the way out. I shattered my foot and leg. A passerby called 911, and they rushed me to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. I underwent surgery where they put screws into my foot. I went back to my mom’s house to continue my recovery. Eventually, I had to leave my mom’s house because my family was pushing me further and further away. My mental disorder, which I believe was caused by my attack, began to affect my moods. I pushed the people away that I was closest to in order to not end up hurt. Homelessness happened so quickly for me. I found myself on the streets and I ended up at Brighter Day Shelter in Columbus.  I sometimes would sleep at the graveyard near my father’s grave.

I eventually realized that my attacker, who had received a 30-year sentence, was out in 10. He had a 30-do-15 sentence, but his sentence was reduced by 5 years for good behavior. Once my relationship was over, I began to be increasingly paranoid about being around men. One day I realized a car was following me and I pulled into the parking lot of a church to see if they would pull in, and they did. It was my attacker. My life was falling apart and I knew I had to get away. I was addicted to alcohol and I also became addicted to the pain medication prescribed to me for my injury. Brighter Day Shelter paid for me to get to Jeffersonville. I dropped everything and left my former life behind.

I’ve been fighting every day since 2017 to get on my feet. I have applied for disability and I’m currently fighting my case in the courts. But today my life has taken a turn for the better and I’m getting my first place of my own since 2009. Tonight I will sleep in my own bed of my own apartment. I still feel a little bit alone but I’m trusting that I will receive peace from my relationship with God. Tonight is the first day of the rest of my life.

2 Replies to “Faces of Homelessness: My Story”

  1. Clara

    God Bless You!
    Stay strong and work on just being you. I’m so happy your life is getting better.

  2. Karen Ellis

    Congratulations on fighting and being determined to go on with your life. This is a beautiful testimony, share it as often as possible. Other women need to know that they don’t have to be remain in a bad situation. Prayers, hugs & blessings ❤?❤

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