An upcoming event scheduled just a few days before the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month will offer a first-hand experience about domestic violence, as well as resources to help.
The “Saving Lives, Celebrating Courage breakfast,” which is scheduled for Sept. 26 at Tumbleweed Recreation Center in Chandler, is a free event that will offer community members an overview of issues related to domestic violence.
Set to speak during the event are Chandler City Prosecutor John Belatti, who will provide updates on domestic violence legislation. The main speaker is a domestic violence survivor from Wisconsin named Terry, whose story spans multiple years and began when she met what appeared to be a charming suitor a few years after her divorce.
At first, Terry said the man treated her like a queen and put her on a pedestal, but over multiple years the situation turned sour and the person who became her fiancé revealed a different side of himself. He spent more than two years taking away access to her friends and family, seizing and maintaining control of their finances, and criticizing her appearance in order to gain control of her life.
“I was a size two, and he would say ‘have you looked in the mirror lately?’ ‘Do you know how ugly you are?’” she said.
As the relationship continued, the ex fiancé began to threaten her life — she said he spent hours telling her how he’d kill her, how he’d dismember her body and where he’d hide her remains — and threatened to kill her three sons, all of whom were in front of her.
The situation became physical when she said the ex fiancé held a gun to her head and a knife to her throat on two separate occasions and sexually assaulted her. He also choked her to the point of unconsciousness on at least one occasion.
After four years with him, Terry left the ex fiancé and fled for Arizona and eventually settled into life in the East Valley. The man, however, tracked her to Arizona, and he consistently harassed and threatened her via mail, email and phone calls, even though she moved and changed her phone number six times and had three different employers.
Her initial attempts to find help from other East Valley law enforcement agencies were unsuccessful, but she said things began to turn around once she connected with the Chandler Police Department, who helped her file an order of protection against the fiancé, which led to multiple charges filed against him.
The situation wasn’t over though, as Terry said the ex fiancé found a way to put a contract out on her life. Fortunately, the Chandler Police received information about the attempted hit from the prison in Wisconsin, and they were able to remove Terry from the apartment and place her in protective custody. They also arrested the people hired to kill her, and the fiancé later entered a guilty plea on the ensuing charges related to the murder attempt in 2012.
Terry first began to speak about her situation about a year ago, and said she was treated, “with the utmost respect and sensitivity” by the Chandler Police and the community itself.
“Anywhere else, I might not be alive,” she said.
The breakfast comes five days before the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month — a nationwide observance dedicated to the issues and the victims of domestic violence both living and dead.
The event is from 8 to 9:30 at Tumbleweed Recreation Center, which is located at 745 E. Germann Road in Chandler. For more information, or to RSVP, contact Peggy Dudinyak by calling (480) 821-1024 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Saving Lives, Celebrating Courage Breakfast
When: Sept. 26, 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Where: Tumbleweed Recreation Center: 745 E. Germann Road Chandler
Information: (480) 821-1024 or email@example.com
Contact writer: (480) 898-5647 or firstname.lastname@example.org