Kirby, a survivor of domestic violence and activist
I met someone in high school and we started dating. I fell pregnant 3 months before graduating and moved in with him. The first time he put his hands on me was while I was pregnant. I wanted my daughter to have a father so I stayed with him.
The violence progressed. It was sexual, physical and emotional abuse. No one knew what went on behind closed doors. He treated me like I was his property.
I got my first restraining order after he showed up at my apartment, threw me around, choked me. I got another one four years later, but I ended up dropping it because I didn’t have anyone to represent me and I was afraid of his threats.
"The police treated me like a delusional, hysterical, uncooperative person"
In June 2017 I woke up to him sexually assaulting me in my bed. I stood up for myself and told him that what he was doing was rape. He told me he would show me what it was really like to be raped. He threw me onto the bed, I swung at him and bit him hard. He got back on top of me and started strangling me. My daughter came and yelled at him to stop.
I was able to call the police. They treated me like a delusional, hysterical, uncooperative person because I didn’t want to repeat what I had already said four times in front of different men. The police report says I refused to write a statement, but I was never asked to do so. They told me I needed to decide if I wanted to press charges of breaking and entering or if I wanted them to call whoever does rape kits.
One police officer talked to my daughter, then told me my husband he was being arrested for domestic abuse and battery by strangulation based on her statement. They told me: “Just sign the paper Ma’am, I’m done handling you with kid gloves.”
I met with my counsellor and next thing, I have Child Protective Services called on me for allowing my children to see spousal abuse. I was instructed to get a Protective Order for me and the kids. At the hearing, he was granted supervised visitation and required to take 26 weeks of family violence intervention classes. He was arrested four times while he was taking the classes, but he still got his certificate.
"I am determined to fight him every step of the way"
After that he decided to file for sole custody of the kids. The closer it gets to trial, the more I fear that he will kill me and my kids and flee to another country. He used to have an AK 47 and a Glock, always loaded. I don’t know if he surrendered his guns. He’s probably just hiding them in his garage. Yet I am determined to fight him every step of the way.
I co-founded VOICES of Acadiana, an organization which advocates for victims of domestic violence.
"When these women stood up and clapped for me it felt like my chains were broken"
A women’s abuse group was started at the Bayou church – and that’s where I broke my silence for the first time. Now I am a trained facilitator. I spoke in front of a group of 150 women and shared my story of domestic abuse. It was an incredible feeling when these women stood up and clapped for me – it made me feel as though my chains were broken.