June 12th 2006 started off as a really good day. The sun was out, I got my son to daycare and I made it to work on time. My biggest issue on this day was traffic and the fact that my now 4 year old son was so full of energy that I couldn’t have a full conversation with his teacher without him running down the halls of the daycare.
After grabbing a bite to eat and getting home, something made me want to do a load of laundry. Since this was a family building, I decided to stop down stairs at my cousin’s apartment to waste a little time while my load washed.
Her door was locked which was unusual. So I knocked. There at the dining room table, her and her ex-boyfriend sat at the dining room table. I sat my son in the den to watch cartoons and made my way into the back of the apartment so that I could chat on the phone with a friend.
Moments into my phone call my son ran into the room where I was and said, “MAMA, he hurt her”. I immediately got up and went into the den to see my cousin laying on the floor as her ex-boyfriend stood over her with one of the biggest guns I had ever seen.
I quickly grabbed my son dialed 911 and ran into one of the bed rooms and proceeded to drop my son out the first floor window. In my mind, a broken leg or arm would beat death by gun violence any day. When my son saw what I was trying to do, he screamed begging me not to drop him.
Suddenly I felt someone grab my hair and pull me back, it was my cousins ex. With the phone in one hand, my son on my hip, he dragged us into the dining room where my cousin laid there. I thought she was dead, but then she moved. She got up but because the blow to her head was so hard, she frantically stumbled around with a confused look on her face.
When she saw my son and I she begged her ex to please not to hurt her little cousins. He raised his foot and kicked her so hard that her body flipped over and when she landed she was unconscious.
I watched in horror as he beat her with his gun for about 30 minutes. He then walked over to me and proceeded to hit me in my head with the same gun beat my cousin with.
I never stumbled, I stood still. My son was on my hip the whole time and as he beat me, I remembered replaying back my day. I whispered to my son “I am so sorry for yelling at you today a daycare, you are a child, you are supposed to be filled with life and energy, I’m so sorry this is happening”. He never cried, smiled or frowned. He just looked at me and said “ok mommy”.
The next blow was a surprised. My attacker noticed the phone in my hand and literally lost it. He hit me so hard that the phone broke into several pieces. He then walked back over to my son and I, put the gun to my son’s head and told him that he was going to die with his mother tonight.
I remember looking closing my eyes, still with my son in my arms and asking God “How his life could be over.” He had never been giving the chance to even mess up in life. He was only 4 years old.
My cousins ex lead us to the back door where he demanded that we walk straight to his car. I whispered to my cousin and told her that that was soon as our feet hit the concrete, we had to run.
I remember thinking that I could not be tortured any longer and if he was going to kill me, he was going to do so, outside in front of people. I was not going to be taking to a foreign place, tortured, murdered and unfound.
When we got outside, it was completely dark, no street lights, no one outside. The same back yard I played in as a kid was now the place I longed to never see again.
As soon as we made it out the door, I ran until I felt a steel object on my head. When I looked up and saw the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. He looked at me and told me to get down. By this time I saw nothing but police lights. I turned and saw that my cousins ex-boyfriend now was holding her at gun point.
The police asked him several times to put the gun down. When he refused I heard 2 gun shots. For the first time that night, I cried and my son held me tighter than he ever had.
My child home and memories were once again, tainted, and all I wanted was to forget that where I grew up existed.
Our attacker suffered 2 gun shots in the face but lived. My cousin through hospitalization and counseling, my cousin is recovering from her physical and mental wounds.
My son suffered years of violent behaviors and outburst at school. For the next 12 years I would sleep with knives under my pillow. I become an over protective and over bearing mother. Ive has to take sleeping pills as I have yet to have a good night of sleep. I entered unhealthy relationships for the sake of not being alone. I would fear break ups due to thinking that I would have to re-live the experience as my cousin.
I lived in “survival mode” and was not thriving.
February 2018 I decided to reclaim the life that God gave me. I got into counseling, worked on the health of my relationship and chose to actively practice a faithful lifestyle while intentionally letting the one of fear diminish.
It took me to attend a conference (Fearless 2k18) and hear Charity and Ashley (ashleybebrave.com) speak to understand that there is life after the death and misery in our lives. If Ashly could face her father and the world, Erica does not have to live in fear and just survive.
My son is now 17 years old, honor roll student and runs track. By the grace of God he is a remarkable young man, mentor and son.
I am finishing my last few courses in my doctorate program where I will be receiving my Ph.D. in psychology.
Life has a way of tearing us down, but there is not one broken heart, home or circumstance that God can’t fix.
Therapy is amazing but without spiritual guidance it just won’t work. I am a living witness of what God can do. It wasn’t by chance that I lived or the gun didn’t go off while it was at my 4 year olds head or striking my cousin. This was nothing my God and His mercy. Domestic Violence is mighty, but God is almighty.