Seeing her life after seven years of domestic abuse, Deborah Lemmons, says she was “lost and didn’t know what life could be like” without constant insults, fear and threats with a gun.
Lemmons is now the resident manager of Mary’s House, a shelter for female victims of domestic violence and their children. Now she spends her time helping women from throughout the upstate who find themselves in similar situations.
Back then she went through a period of what she describes as progressive control, insults, degradation, isolation and death threat at the hands of a man she one time thought she could trust.
In the end of the relationship, he did jail time for trying to shoot her in a drunken rage.
He came pretty close, according to Lemmons, who survived a bullet that came within a foot of her head. The second time he took aim at er head, the gun jammed and she was able to get away to her car.
Now she will say, “I am happy as I have ever been. “She helps take in woman at Mary’s House tring to give them direction to the places that offer a way out.
Many of the women need a place to stay until they can make connections to family who can take them into a safe environment. Some of the women need longer term assistance, direction toward finding a way of supporting themselves, shorterm access to health care and legal aid.
All need to talk talk. So she spends a lot of time listening to their stories. “The stories have so many similarities,” Lemmons said. “ut each woman and situation is different. We try to help them find what they need.”
Ask her why she stayed in the situation that to many seems to outsiders as obvious bad news and Lemmons answers dont come easily, even after a year of being away from it and many sessions of counseling. “I was lost in it,” she said. “It came on so slowly, I guess I didn’t realize what was happening.”
He started out for a coupe of years as being someone she could trust she said. He started with insults and degrading comments. Isolation was a part of it. “I wouldtalk to my sister some on the phone. She would know that something wasn’t right. I’d just say to her,’I’ll tell you about it later.’ He was, is and alcoholic. Then one time he shoved me,” she said. The frequency and intensity of the violence became worse.
“I could tell when he was in a bad mood. I would go into the bedroom and just sit on the bed. One time suted into the room and he had his shotgun and he pointed it at my head and said he was going to kill me. I still didn’t believe that he really would.”
Then one night he went into a rage and turned over a recliner chair pinning her to the floor with his knees.
“He shoved a pistol into my mouth and I couldn’t breathe I was so scared. He was so drunk, I was ableto push him off.”
When he stood over her again, he fired missing her by inches, Lemmons said. “I couldn’t move. He pointed it at me again and when he pulled the trigger, the gun jammed,” Lemmons said.
She spent severalmonths after that traveling between family members for places to stay.
When that became impossible for her, she found Mary’s House.
“I remember the night I first saw her,” Mary’s House Director Lisa Smith said. “She was quiet. Often times they don’t trust anyone. Her anner was not confident. She is a different person today, very confident and outspoken,” Smith said.