By Claire Cappetta, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
October is here once again, the leaves turn gold and red hues, and the sun is struggling to make its once heady heights in the sky as it did in summer, casting long shadows on the ground. This time of year brings back memories for me of how I survived, as it was this time 18 years ago that I was amidst selling my house and organizing my new life to start afresh.
I had ended a relationship due to many reasons. I found out that not only was I fully supporting him financially, but he had cheated on me, as well as several other reasons. He didn’t accept it. He held me hostage, threatened to kill both myself and my children. I turned to family, asking for help. I told them I had been given an opportunity to start afresh, but my plea fell on deaf ears. There were only two people who could hear me: the policeman who was assigned to my case after I called to ask them what I should do, and my closest friend, Chrisie.
Chrisie gave me the strength to call the police. She knew some, but not all, of what I was facing. Out of all the people I knew who could have even just listened and heard how traumatic life had become, she was the only one who could hear me. She knew my ex-boyfriend and, in fact, was a member of his family.
She stood by me when the police were trying to convince me to have my ex-boyfriend arrested for stalking and harassment. That day, I completely broke down after hearing that one of the policemen had released him. They had let him just go home after I had found the strength to say, “Yes! Take him and arrest him!”
One evening, he pushed his way back into my home, knowing my friend was due to arrive soon. I had warned him with a simple, “You need to leave, Chrisie’s coming!” When she did arrive, his car had already been noticed, parked 10 yards down the road, as it was every night. He slept, ate, and lived in his car for four months. I believe he may have had a change of clothes and a shower twice in the time he called his car home. He had lost weight, he looked drawn and haggard. His eyes had become dark, sunken, desperate, and depressed. There was nothing I could do to help him.
The police told me he had become fixated and was now a danger to me and my children. That evening, Chrisie grabbed him, dragged him down my hallway, shouting at him not to return. We both knew he would.
He was arrested, finally around Christmas time, under a new “Harassment Law” that was brought in to power in 1996. I also was given an Order of Protection, meaning that he couldn’t come near me or drive down the road I lived on. I had very quietly sold my home, packed my belongings, and organized my children for the move. I was making the big push to a “normal” life, sanity, and freedom. We needed to survive. I had told someone close that he had threatened to kill us. What was their response? “At least your graves will be nearby and we can visit,” they said with a smile.
Moving day arrived. A truck parked outside my house as we loaded my life into it. I collected my children from school and picked up a rental car so I could leave mine outside, hoping people wouldn’t know I had left for a couple of days. I needed everything to “look” normal.
That didn’t work. He had passed my house and seen the truck. When I walked into the house to collect the remaining bags to take in the car, the phone was ringing. It was my friend, screaming at me to get out and leave. She told me he had seen the truck, and he was getting a weapon to come back and kill us. We had fifteen minutes… We left, immediately!
I think back now each October of how a friend saved my life. She is a wonderful, beautiful, kind, loving friend. Without her friendship, I would not be here today. We lost contact over the years, but two years ago, we found each other again, 16 years later and 3,000 miles apart. I dedicated my second book to her, she will always be my friend, my hero, and the one who--if she hadn’t been there then, in my life--I wouldn’t be here today.
Please remember those struggling to survive, to stay alive. I’m alive today because of my friend. She heard me. We do our best to raise awareness every October, but we need to continue this message all year round. You never know if by listening, believing, and helping, you too could save someone’s life.
Claire is the author of A Broken Ring ~ A journey of Empowerment and Stalking Liberty ~ Are you safe?..., (Parts One and Two of the Ride to Liberty Trilogy). Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, she recently retired from the financial world to concentrate on writing her personal journey through relationships, child abuse, rape, domestic violence, through to healing and empowerment. Although at times heartbreaking it shows healing is possible. The story is heartwarming and inspiring. She now lives in New York with her husband and step-daughter, while her two grown children live in England.