It is one thing to devise an escape plan; it is another to walk it out. The reality is that, as a helper and support person, it requires a lot of time, effort, and constant attention. Although Dick had been evicted from Ebony’s home, he managed to keep controlling her and, unbeknownst to anyone, was secretly going to her house, getting drunk and fighting with Ebony several evenings a week. Then that fateful night came when their secret would be exposed in an unforgettable and harrowing experience.
It was 3:15am and I had just gotten into bed when my cell phone rang. As soon as I saw Ebony’s name on the screen, I knew it was something bad. I answered the phone as I jumped out of bed and started changing into street clothes. I asked her what had happened, but her words were slurred, and she wasn’t making any sense. I ran to my car and started driving to her house while I continued to piece together what she was saying. She lived twenty minutes away…I made it in thirteen. Halfway there, she was able to tell me that Dick came over and they had gotten into a fight she had taken ten sleeping pills. I asked her the name of the medication and told her I needed to call someone to find out how bad this was and to answer her phone when I called her back. I called the Poison Control hotline1 and found out that the pills she had taken were very dangerous and could kill her depending on how many she had swallowed.
I called her back praying that she would answer and, thankfully she did. She was crying uncontrollably and begging me not to tell anyone about this. I assured her that I wouldn’t if I didn’t have to but that, if she was in danger, I had no choice. I arrived at her house and told her I was at the door and to open it. The phone line went dead and, shortly afterwards, I heard a loud thump as if something had hit the ground. A minute later, I saw her crawling on the floor trying to get to the door…I immediately called 911.
Ebony finally reached the door and, with much effort, managed to unlock it. When I walked into the house, there was worship music playing on her phone and she was singing and telling Jesus that she loved Him. I was trying to help her focus when I heard a tiny voice coming from the top of the stairs saying, “Mommy?”. I did not want her son to see her in this condition; I told Ebony to stay on the couch while I tucked her son back in bed. I ran upstairs, held him for a few minutes, explained that mommy wasn’t feeling well, and that people were coming to help her. I prayed with him, tucked him in bed and told him not to leave until I came back to get him.
I ran back downstairs just in time to see Ebony trip on a stool and slam her head on the granite counter as she fell to the ground. I ran over to her, picked her up and saw that her head was bleeding badly. I got her back to the couch and found her phone, called her dad, explained the situation, and told him he needed to come and pick up his grandson immediately. Just then, there was a knock at the door, and I was relieved to see that the ambulance and police had arrived. As soon as they saw her condition, they immediately rushed her to the hospital. Soon afterward, her father arrived and took her son home with him. One police officer spoke with me and said that he knew both Dick and Ebony from high school and that they had been called to their address on a regular basis. Because she was being hospitalized, they needed to open a formal investigation into what happened. I asked about the welfare of her son, and he told me that, because I had called the grandfather and made arrangements for him, CPS would not be called. Ebony had dodged a bullet because, otherwise, her son would have been taken from her that night. I found out which hospital she was being taken to and drove there. When I arrived, I was directed to a waiting room.
It was now 4:45am and I was the only one in a dimly lit and lonely room. I expected someone from Ebony’s family to arrive shorty after myself, however, no one ever came. At 6:45am, the doctor came in and asked where the family members were. I told him I was her friend and the one who had called 911 but there was no family present. He sat next to me and began to tell me what had happened. When Ebony arrived in the ER, she was unconscious. They had to administer lifesaving procedures and had almost lost her. They pumped her stomach and put her on IV fluids. He said the legal limit for blood alcohol level was 0.08 and hers was 0.40. It was the final thing he said to me that stuck with me for months afterwards, “If you hadn’t called the ambulance, she would have lost her life tonight.”
I was sitting by Ebony’s bedside when she finally woke up. She was confused and didn’t know where she was. I told her she was in the hospital and asked her if she remembered anything about the night. She shook her head no and said, in a raspy voice, the last thing she remembered was fighting with Dick. She had no recollection of calling me or of me being at her house. She had almost died and had zero recollection of any of it. It was later discovered that Dick and Ebony had finished off a six pack of beer and two bottles of wine before they got into a huge fight. After he stormed out, Ebony took, not ten, but twenty-one sleeping pills as discovered during the police investigation.
A week later we met for breakfast to talk about what had happened. To my surprise she was in a very peppy mood and was smiling a lot. I started the conversation about that night, but she interrupted me and dismissively said, “It’s all good. I’m ok. I get that it not a good situation and I am embarrassed that it happened, but I promise it won’t happen again.” I looked at her incredulously and said, “Really?”. She nodded her head and said, “Yes, this was a wakeup call, and I will not do that again.”
This response was not okay for me and here is the reason why. If anyone has a near death experience, they have a long road to figuring out why they got to that point. This takes a lot of counseling and digging and healing. There was no way she was ‘over it’ in a week’s time. I looked her directly in the eye and said, “Ebony, this is not ok. You are not ok. You allowed Dick back into your house with your child upstairs, got drunk with him and then swallowed twenty-one pills. You don’t even remember calling me but if you hadn’t, your son would have woken up to a dead mommy on the kitchen floor.” She just stared at me in stunned silence. When she could speak again, she acknowledged her realization that this was not something that could easily be dismissed.
There comes a moment when a victim is no longer willing to help themselves and, it is at this point, that an excruciating decision must be made. Even though Ebony had almost died, she still let Dick back into her house. When I found this out, I could no longer justify pouring my time into her life. My greatest desire was to see her set free; however, this was not HER greatest desire at that time. You can only do so much for a person until you realize that you are not being effective in their life. I had to distance myself from Ebony because I could no longer invest my heart, my emotions, and my time into her life when she repeatedly allowed Dick access to her. It took some time for her to realize that her unhealthy decisions were the reason for the necessity for me to pull back; but she eventually did and understood.
At last, Ebony made the wise decision to get counseling. I cannot stress how important it is for any victim of domestic violence to get counseling after they escape from an abusive relationship. There are reasons why they allowed themselves to be abused and they need to sort through them. If they don’t get the proper healing, they will always have struggles in their next relationships. Ebony’s counselor had her read the book, “Why Does He Do That?”2, and this book became pivotal in her ability to recognize abuse. She finally broke things off with Dick for good and has moved on in her life. She relocated to another state and is thriving in her job and focusing on raising her son.
Ebony’s story shows how, even emotional neglect, can harm a person. Growing up she knew her parents loved her, however, she rarely felt approved of. Today her worth and approval come from God, and she gives Him credit for divinely allowing our paths to cross during this part of her life’s journey. I am grateful that He allowed me the privilege of helping her walk out of that dangerous relationship so that she could have a better and fuller life. Ebony’s hope is that her story helps others to recognize how abusers think and how they can gain control over someone’s life. She wishes she could have seen these signs before she got trapped into them and hopes she can help others avoid getting trapped themselves.
Until next time, be aware and stay safe!
- Poison Control Hotline – https://www.poison.org/
- Book: Why Does He Do That – https://www.amazon.com/Why-Does-He-That-Controlling/dp/0399148442/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
- Domestic Violence Help Line: https://ncadv.org/learn-more