BY JAMIE GADSON
I was sitting at the table. I wanted to be in a quiet space because I knew he was in one of his moods. I thought that if I just removed myself, he would not take it out on me. The children had gone upstairs and I was downstairs by myself sitting at the table.
When he came into the room, I could feel his energy, but I said not a word. He sat down beside me. I could feel his eyes beaming at me, but I was not going to stir him up. He looked at me with all the anger that was in his heart and said, “I’m sick of you.”
Then he pushed me onto the floor — in my own kitchen — and he climbed on top of me and placed both of his hands around my throat and began squeezing and shaking.
I was in shock. “Why? Why would you do this to me?” I thought. “Don’t you love me? Why would you hurt me?”
As I looked at his eyes, piercing through me, I thought, “The first time he did this, he released already. Why hasn’t he released me yet?” Then I thought, “He’s going to kill me.”
I told myself, “I’ve got to fight back this time.” I began swinging and hitting him in the face. Scratching his face. I knew he would let go, but he did not stop. He just locked in even tighter and continued to shake.
I felt my hands fall to the floor and everything went black.
I didn’t know, but he took my body and drug it through our kitchen and laid my body in the garage next to my car.
I wasn’t aware of what was happening. When I finally came to — when I finally opened my eyes, which I could barely do, I heard my children screaming — all three of my sons — I could hear their feet running back and forth and screaming, “What’s wrong with Momma? What’s happening with Momma?”
I could hear them, and I knew I had to tell them something. “They think I’m dead. I have to tell them I’m OK.”
I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out but mumbles. I could hear it in my own ears, but it didn’t make sense. Why couldn’t I talk? Let me get up off the garage floor and let them know Momma’s OK. But my body was dead weight. I couldn’t move my arms. I couldn’t move my legs. “What’s happening to me? I have to let them know I’m OK.”
So I’m lying there moaning, probably making it even more terrifying for them.
Then my father — I heard my father come in — and he placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “It’s gonna’ be OK, baby.”
I stopped moaning. I stopped thrashing around. I just lay there — finally in a place of peace.
I went to the hospital. My children didn’t recognize me, because of the blood in my eyes and the heaviness on my heart. I was numb. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to put the pieces of my life back together. But someone told me I might want to look into counseling, and I found Family Services.
And I go, and here are all these people who are so willing and so open to say, “I can help you. I can give you some tools. I can point you in the direction to put all these pieces back together.”
There were these advocates who brought hope, and there were these other survivors who are sharing their stories, and I could speak to them and ask, “It happened to you, too? And you’re OK? You’re not crazy? I’m not crazy?”
It let me know that it is possible to survive after trauma. I didn’t think it was possible.
Editor’s note: Jaimie Gadson was assaulted in Winston-Salem on April 3, 2017, a day she now refers to as her Resurrection Day. A little more than two years later, after hearing her powerful testimony, The Alliance for HOPE, which helps start Family Justice Centers around the country, flew her out to San Diego to share her story at its national conference. Jamie’s story of survival was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Jaime is now working with Family Services to promote Domestic Violence Awareness Month and help bring a Family Justice Center model to Forsyth County.