Legitchics.com | What Domestic Violence Looks Like | The Brieanna Norwood Story | A Woman’s Fight for Life | Part Two | By Vicki Marie ~
Brieanna’s real-life story is an in-depth look of What Domestic Violence Looks like starting from the time she was a young teenage girl who fell in love with a handsome and charming older boy/man, their relationship and all the warning signs leading up to the day of the horrifically brutal attack on her life, to the warrior she is today. Share this story with your daughters, with your sisters, mothers, friends and family. You never know who could need your help. Brieanna’s story could save a life – the life of someone you love.
Part 2 of my story is here!! Wow Vicki Marie, founder of Legit Chics, and the amazingly talented writer!! I cried, and I cried some more!! It is so awkward to hear my story from someone else telling it. You captured word for word and I couldnt be happier nor luckier that you have done such a beautifully written piece on such an ugly thing that happened to me!! Thank you from the depths of my soul!! ~ Brieanna Norwood
Brieanna is running completely naked, broken and bleeding to death, slipping in the rain – and she hears footsteps. “Like in a Freddy Kruger movie he’s coming for me and every time I back he’s closer.” She almost makes it to the main street when he catches her knocking her to the ground. He drags her by the hair over the asphalt and starts bashing her head into a pole in a carport.
Two maintenance men who were working in an empty apartment thankfully heard the commotion and came to her rescue. David takes off running. Her only thought was “Oh my God, my baby.” She was saying, “He’s got my baby, somebody get my baby.”
One man stayed with Brieanna, calls 911, and the other ran after David. A shower curtain was used to cover Brieanna’s naked broken body. Brieanna is “convulsing” in a puddle of her blood, yet she is so terrified that David is going to kill Blake that she somehow has the strength to get up again and starts to run. She is so sure he’s going to kill Blake – everything was so certain – he’s serious and he’s not going to stop.
She runs and tries to get into random apartments – she doesn’t know what she’s doing – she’s in shock. Brieanna said, “They have pictures of my bloody handprints and pools of blood mixed with rain water up and down all these hallways, on the doors, and windows and everything.” Her injuries are too extensive and she finally collapses. She is almost lifeless.
The maintenance man quickly finds her and once again covers her naked body – this time with his own hoodie he ripped in half. Brieanna remembers her last thoughts were “not knowing if my son was alive – not knowing what had happened to my baby.”
What Brieanna didn’t know at that time was that the other maintenance worker caught up to David at his apartment. David had grabbed Blake and was holding him hostage – holding his own son by the throat. The maintenance man got his arm broke trying to get through the door while David was trying to keep him out.
Brieanna hears, “Move it move it I’m not getting a pulse.” She has been fading in and out – mostly out. She could feel the rainwater on her skin. She felt her body being placed onto a gurney and felt the neck brace being put on. What she wasn’t aware of is paramedics called a life flight to the scene. It had landed in a parking structure next door to the apartment complex. She would be life-flighted to the hospital due to her extensive life-threatening injuries.
“If you throw a China plate on the floor – I was nude – I was bleeding – they didn’t know what the Hell – I had internal injuries – I’m convulsing – I’m in shock.”
Brieanna had no idea she was in a helicopter. She regained semi-consciousness for a brief moment during flight. She saw IV bags and someone over her – and she remembers them trying to hold her eyes open and asking her, “What’s your name” and telling her to, “Stay with us.” She remembers saying, “I’m dying” and he said, “We’re doing the best we can – stay with me.”
She was out again.
There was a police officer on scene who was commanded to leave Brieanna so he could lead in the search for David. He went against his direct orders and stayed with her. He stayed with her on the helicopter. He held her hand. When she woke up in the trauma center he was still there. Later he came to visit her when she was home. He had a daughter named Brieanna – she was 9 – and he said, “I couldn’t let you die alone.”
He lost a promotion over that.
Back at the apartments the maintenance worker had somehow convinced David to let Blake go before the police arrived. David took off running on foot wearing nothing but his boxes (he had stripped down when he was going to rape Brieanna). Law Enforcement had all the streets closed off – there were helicopters aiding in the search – they had the dogs out – all in the massive manhunt for David. A man who two weeks prior had no criminal history. They found him – well the dogs found him. His legs got, “chewed up real good.” David was found hiding in a ravine behind a grocery store.
For some reason, Blake had found screaming outside the apartment in the pouring rain, crying out hysterically, “momma momma.” Thank God, Blake had not been physically injured. Psychologically and emotionally that is another story.
Brieanna is beginning to regain consciousness in the trauma center. At first, she was confused thinking she had been abducted by aliens, as there were so many bright lights and dozens of people over her prodding and poking. And then all at once the pain hit.
“I could feel everything and I wished I wasn’t alive. I was in so much pain that they couldn’t even do the CAT scan and they had to keep taking me out to give me more morphine – I was screaming in pain. I had hundreds of pieces of glass stuck in my body so I’m like stuck to these sheets with glass and dried blood and my injuries are so horrific and I’m in so much pain…”
Officers arrived at Brieanna’s parent’s home notifying that Brieanna had been assaulted, had to be airlifted to the hospital, and that they had sent an officer to the school to pick up Jeremy. The school had just called Brieanna’s mom saying Brieanna hadn’t picked Jeremy up from school and was heading out the door when the officers arrived and notified her what was happening. Another officer brings Blake from the scene to the house and they are escorted to the hospital with all 3 boys.
When they arrive at the hospital, staff immediately takes her parents into a family room by themselves separating them from the boys. Brieanna’s mom thought they were going to tell her that her daughter was dead. Instead, they were informed of Brieanna’s dire condition, and what David had done to her. Instinctively, her mom wanted to go to her daughter, to be with her, to see her but she looked so “horrid” that hospital staff wouldn’t let her mom go back to see her yet. I’m sure they were trying to save Brieanna’s life and that also played a role in the delay to family being allowed to go back in the trauma unit. Her step-dad, who Brieanna calls her “father”, tells the staff that Brieanna needs someone with her – that she needs to know someone is there for her – that they are there for her – and he told the staff, “I’m a man I can handle this.” So, they reluctantly agree to let him see her.
Brieanna is in and out of consciousness and she remembers being wheeled down a hall and she felt her father’s hand holding hers. She remembers looking up at him – and that he turned and looked away. “I thought oh my God, he can’t look at me – I realized he couldn’t even look at me.” When they first let Brieanna’s mom go back to see her, she walked right out of the room saying, “that’s not my daughter.” She didn’t recognize her own baby girl. Brieanna said, “I didn’t even look like a human being.”
“My injuries … oh, my injuries were missing teeth, broken jaw, broken nose, broken cheek bones, blunt force trauma, swelling and leaking of my brain, 6 broken ribs, broken elbow, broken leg, broken vertebrae, one of my kidneys was destroyed, the spinal damage at that point was not known exactly how bad it was, my main artery in my left wrist was cut open, my hand was basically falling off, hundreds of pieces of glass shredded all over. I was black, blue, purple, red, burgundy, every color of the rainbow. I was bitten everywhere. Severe nerve damage, I had to learn to walk again.”
On top of her physical injuries she was also worried about how she was going to get through this physically – how she was going to survive – and how she was going to get through this emotionally – and how she was going to take care of her children. Brieanna was in the hospital for about 5 weeks and had to learn to walk again. Brieanna was transferred to the rehabilitation unit in the hospital for continued medical care, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. It was a long, physically exhausting and painful process. She was still in a wheelchair when she went home. When she was released from the hospital they had showed her where the helicopter had landed – she didn’t remember the helicopter ride. She had always wanted to ride in a helicopter – but not like that.
While Brieanna was in the hospital she had told her mom about a dream she had about that day. She had dreamed that her grandmother, who died when she was 7 months pregnant with Blake, had carried her over a chain-length fence. She had no memory of going over a fence that day. Her mom told Brieanna that she did go over a fence that day. Brieanna told her mom “no” there is no chain-length fence at the apartment and her mom said, “Yes, there is!”
“They showed me pictures where it bent at the top where I had gone over it – so I feel like my grandmother did carry me over it because I don’t know how I was able to do all this.”
Brieanna arrived home from the hospital to learn everything she owned had been stolen, “There was nothing left but the wallpaper.” People knew she was in the hospital and David was in jail and they took absolutely everything. They had the clothes on their backs and the few of their belongings that were at her parent’s house, as her and the boys had been staying with her parents when the final attack happened. She had to start over with almost nothing. They had lost the business, she lost her car, she couldn’t pay bills, she went into debt, she had to start over with “every single thing – including to walk again.”
“Life will never be the same but I’ll tell you – the best comparison I can give is like the movie the Wizard of Oz when it goes from black-and-white to color – that’s what life’s like for me. Everything became clear. I get chills. I found my voice again. I appreciated every little thing. I would rather walk than be in a car because I want to see the flowers and the bugs and I realized, because to this day, I look back and I still can’t even believe I lived. I remember the exact feeling of surety that – that’s it. And, actually I died, I went somewhere else, which has completely enhanced my faith. I wouldn’t even call it faith – I call it surety – I know for sure – I know for a fact that there is something after this. I am no longer afraid to die.”
David was convicted and found guilty on only 3 out of the 8 felony charges he faced for the heinous attack on Brieanna. He had had a clean criminal record, up until two weeks prior to the attack when he kidnapped Brieanna and the boys. Brieanna had never called the police, had never reported the abuse, and that played a big role in David’s sentencing.
The judge openly told told Brieanna at the sentencing hearing, “You know what – had you reported any of this he would have had priors and I could’ve given him the book.” The judge was very upset.
“That’s another thing that I so stress – you have to report it. Had I reported any of those things before he would still be in prison. David was sentenced to 9 years, 8 months in prison. The judge was floored. The judge said that in his 20 years of being a judge, that he was ashamed of the justice system that day, that he has served on death penalty cases and that David was just as bad, he said he was sitting in the presence of a murderer, I mean I died, I had no pulse. It was premeditated attempted murder. The justice system … it sucks. There were witnesses – everything you could imagine – and this was still the outcome.”
Years later after the trial, a woman who had been on Brieanna’s jury ran into Brieanna’s mom at a grocery story. She told Brieanna’s mother that the verdict happened the way it did because of one young female juror who thought David was “so hot.” Brieanna said, “So, that one juror messed everything up.”
Brieanna was disappointed in the justice system after the trial so she went to school and got her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She quickly learned she was not going to change the court system so instead she became a crime victim advocate to help other victims of violent crimes. That was empowering and really helped her to rebuild confidence. “And, that was a definite key factor in my healing.”
“Statistically, 85 % of victims are aged 16-to-24. Twenty (20) people a MINUTE are physically assaulted. Over 10 million victims a year, just in the US.” Brieanna says, “When you are in that situation, it is very hard to leave. Take my story and word for it though, GET OUT NOW before it is too late. They will do it again, it will get worse, and you may be murdered.”
Blake’s psychological trauma being exposed to such horrific violence against his mother – at the hands of his own father – was significant. He for a long time he would reenact what happened that day with complete strangers and kids at the park. Brieanna remembers one visit with Santa Clause, Blake had told Santa what had happened to his mom. That’s what he was telling Santa – not about what he wanted for Christmas like other kids. He would cry all the time – he was confused – he slept with a giant “crucifix” until he was around 12 years old. At night, Blake would put all of his stuffed animals in a circle around him and said they were his protection. He had nightmares every single night. He was afraid of everything. “He was afraid of sharks (who isn’t?), water, heights, fire, driving. Everything – he feared everything.” Blake was in therapy for a very long time. His therapist, who he got very close to, moved away so after that, he kind of “shut down,” and he didn’t want to talk to anybody else.
He was very confused when he was little. He would tell Brieanna, “Dada sorry – dada sorry – dada does love us – but dada monster.” He would tell her, “Don’t worry momma – I save you,” and he would sleep with his lightsaber to save her – that and his crucifix. And, they would pray together every night.
Brieanna recently found a journal of Blake’s, back from when her was small and he could barely write. He would thank Jesus for his mommy a lot and he had written, “Mommy, if you read this someday, I just want you to know you just told me a story and said your prayers with me and I love you so much.”
One day, Blake had told Brieanna,
“Mom, you know I saved you that day – I made a deal – I gave away my heart so that you could live.” Brieanna told him, “Blake, you are my hero.”
Brieanna felt that in his mind he didn’t have a heart anymore – that it was gone. She promised him they would get his heart back.
To this day, Blake doesn’t even want to talk about David, and he doesn’t recognize that he is his father. “He hates him and wants nothing to do with him.” Brieanna has been told by therapist’s that the Domestic Violence Blake was witnessing – especially what he witnessed that day – happened at a crucial point in his development. “Probably the worst age for this to happen in his child development,” and “This has affected him for a very long time. His dad is dead to him.”
Blake and David had been extremely close and David had a special bond with Blake when he was younger. Blake had missed David desperately after that day – despite what he was exposed to, he had still loved his father tremendously and was so confused. “It just broke my heart – I grew up with two dads – they got none.”
Chase, who was an infant when that day happened, has no memory of his dad. But, he has always been the man of the house and compensated for their not being one. He’s very adult like and has always been that way. He is in ROTC and wants to go in the military.
Brieanna’s dad died in 2007, and he was her best friend. She felt a big part of her had died with him. “I lost my daddy, but I still have my father (her step-dad), who is the most amazing man – he is like Jesus nowadays – that’s how I feel about him. He has been a fill in – he has been their dad – he is so wonderful and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”One night, just about 8 years after the trial, her youngest son Chase screamed, “Mom, there’s someone in the backyard looking in at me through the sliding glass door.” Chase had said the person was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and he didn’t know who it was. She called 911 – and was thinking to herself how odd it was that that someone would be just standing in her backyard. She wasn’t dating anyone – there was no reason someone should be there – why would someone be in their backyard – strange right? Then, she had a sick feeling – a feeling that she had better check – just in case – just to be sure. She didn’t think it could be David – he was still in jail. Or so she thought. David had been released from prison without her being notified. He had served just a little over 8 years in prison.
Now, she knew it was him. He had found her. But he got away.
After learning David was out, “I got scared at every little noise,” Brianna said. Even when David was in prison Brieanna had felt anxious, nervous, and was going through, “Many many different stages and emotions.” For a long time, Brieanna had thought of going underground, changing their names, and disappearing forever. She was terrified – even while he was in prison. Not so much that David could get to her, but she had thoughts that maybe his friends or family members would get to her or try to kidnap the boys. She wouldn’t allow the boys to play outside, ride their bikes, and she said, “It was bad.”
Shortly after Chase saw David in the backyard she started getting mail in her mailbox with no postage on it. He had been hand delivering things to her. And then couple weeks or so after that, she caught him following her, and she called 911. This time, Law Enforcement found him and he was re-arrested for violating the protection orders.
She has moved 3 times since David was released from prison in 2012. She thinks he knows where she lives now but she is tired of being afraid and said, “I’m fighting back – I’m using my voice.”
Today, David is off parole. He’s what we call “off paper” and so no one is monitoring him at all. There was not a lifetime protection order granted so Brieanna must file for a new one every time it expires.Due to the extensive injuries Brieanna had suffered during the violent attack she lives in constant physical pain every day. Doctors have prescribed her pain medication but she doesn’t take it. She said she doesn’t like the way it makes her feel so she has learned to live with her pain. “It’s part of my life now – it’s what I know – I don’t ever remember life without pain.”
On days she out does herself, she becomes “partially paralyzed” and her leg will give out on her and she will trip or fall. As well, Brieanna needs major back surgery due to the broken vertebrae and nerve damage. Brieanna’s been told by doctors that if she falls the wrong way she will be paralyzed from the neck down. “But the surgery is so intricate it’s scary. And, there is a 50% chance I may come out of surgery worse. I’m really afraid of that.”
Brieanna has had to learn to rebuild her confidence, to re-find herself again, and it was through therapy that Brieanna discovered a hidden talent she never knew she had – she is an amazing artist. Brieanna now paints murals on buildings, works with children, and makes life-size props for theater events and private parties.
Brieanna says she was never depressed, “I never allowed that to happen – that’s not me.” “I’m extremely positive – to the point it’s probably annoying sometimes.” She laughs. She firmly believes God will not give you more than you can handle.
“I feel like God complimented me that day – because he knew that I was so strong that I was going to do something with this – and I felt like that was something on my shoulders – that this was something that now I had a big duty – I had a big calling I had to respond to. I’ve always known that actually since I was a small child – before this happened to me – and I used to talk to my parents about it and we never understood it – but I knew I was meant for something on a bigger level that will affect a lot of people.”
Brieanna had such severe nightmares that she had to sleep with her parents for about 6 months after that day. Her and all the boys would sleep together in her parent’s bed – with her parents. To this day, the nightmares still remain – that is the one thing that has not gone away. When she is awake, she feels strong, resilient, and she is not afraid. “But when I sleep I’m vulnerable – it does something – and I still suffer extreme nightmares.”
“Sleep is scary for me. He’s in my dreams in a different way almost every night and I dream extremely explicit – I dream so intensely that my dreams affect me well into the next day.”
Her dreams are always different. She always goes back in time when her boys were small. In some of her dreams, David is not trying to kill her, but he is trying to be back in their lives. And, Brieanna felt “stuck” in that time period.
For that reason, Brieanna contacted the Dr. Phil show. She needed closure. “I’ve got to move forward. I’ve got to move past this so I can go on with my life.” Brieanna sent in an audio clip to the Dr. Phil show and within no time the staff had contacted her to be on the show. Listen to her audio clip, appropriately named, “closure,” here.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard they tried, no matter what they offered, David would not agree to appear on the show.
Blake had really wanted to be part of the Dr. Phil show too. He needed to confront David in a safe place, and gain closure as well. In his younger teenage years, Blake was suicidal. “Now he’s 16 and he’s doing fantastic. He has a 4.0 GPA, he is intelligent, he is the most amazing wonderful boy you could ever ever imagine. He really wanted to confront his dad so it really devastated him that it didn’t get to happen.”
Brieanna knows now that God has different plans for her. She doesn’t need David for closure. This is her closure. “Me helping other people and saving lives is more closure than I could have ever anticipated.”
The boys are watching Brieanna prosper, grow, and heal.
“But, it’s been a long journey.”
Brieanna offers words of encouragement and wisdom to all the other young girls and women out there who are in an abusive relationship.
Close your eyes and remember who you were before you met this person. Remember life before they were a part of it. Were you able to live? Could you live without them? Of course!
Remember and find – no matter how small it is – that little bit that’s left in you and remember that life you had when you were happy, and seek to be brave.
There is something inside of all of us – it’s a spark – and it only takes a spark to create a fire – just one spark.
As hard as it may be, you need to realize that your life is very much in danger. More people die from their spouse from Domestic Violence than a combination of all the wars we’ve had, car accidents, cancer – this is a cycle – this is a repeated cycle of abuse – it is a pattern and 99% of the time, which means all of the time, they are going to do it again and it’s going to get worse.
You were born to shine – you were born to live – you were born to be free and happy. And, if anybody that you allow into your life that does not enhance your life – that takes from your life – should not be there. It’s not worth it.
The fact that I lived is crazy to me but many are not that lucky. I recently drove past a crime scene where I saw a sheet over a body and I learned later that she was a young girl who had just been shot to death by her ex.
There is happiness in your future and you deserve it. You need to find it and the only way you are going to find it is by eliminating that person. There is help. There are resources. There are people who care.
No matter what He says – no matter what threats – no matter what – nothing is worse than continuing to live in fear and then losing your life over somebody who does this to you.
Why should we protect somebody who doesn’t protect us? They don’t protect us.
Your life is special. When you were born – being born you are luckier than the odds of winning the lottery – so your very life here and being here in the first place is a bit like winning the lottery – even more so.
Your life has purpose and meaning and you need to find it.
We were all born to shine. We were born to be everything that we want. I still dream like I’m a little girl. I still believe in the fairy tale. I haven’t given that up. And, the difference between making it happen or not is action.
So, take your dreams and put them into action – that is the best advice I could give to anybody. Put your dreams into action – don’t wait for anybody or wait for the perfect time – there is never going to be the perfect time – don’t think you are not good enough – everybody is capable. Everybody that has done anything remarkable started somewhere and many of them started with hard times and trials.
Brieanna Norwood is a survivor, a warrior, and an advocate for victims of violent crimes. She works tirelessly to raise awareness of Domestic Violence. Brieanna and her “soul sister” and Domestic Violence survivor, Helen Marie, have started a nonprofit called “BriElen’s D.R.E.A.M.S Corp.” Dreams is an acronym for DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESISTANCE EDUCATION AWARENESS MOVEMENT FOR SOLUTIONS.
“85 % of victims are aged 16 to 24. 20 people a MINUTE are physically assaulted. Over 10 million victims a year, just in the US. When you are in that situation, it is very hard to leave. Take my story and word for it though, GET OUT NOW before it is too late. They will do it again, it will get worse, and you may be murdered.
We will be launching a campaign throughout the US to bring our program into High Schools. “DOMESTIC VIOLENCE YOUTH AWARENESS WEEK”. We hope to catch many cases, both potential victims and abusers, BEFORE IT HAPPENS. We will educate the youth on how to recognize, avoid and prevent Domestic Violence. We have to save them. One-in-four will be a victim. This is NOT OK. WE HAVE NO TOLERANCE. Please support our cause by spreading the word! Fight the battle against DV by using your voice, bring awareness! Thank you for reading this, I know it was long. But in reality….I’m just beginning! Lol”
You can reach Brieanna on her Facebook page and/or her website listed below.
BriElens D. R. E. A. M. S. http://dreamscorp.org/ https://www.facebook.com/dreamscorp.org/ https://www.gofundme.com/dreamscorp
A note from Vicki Marie ~
If you or someone you know is in a Domestic Violence relationship contact:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
or for Deaf and hard of hearing 1.800.787.3224 (TTY) http://www.thehotline.org/
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Until next time,
Love Vicki Marie ~