Domestic violence: fighting back and getting help - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Domestic violence: fighting back and getting help

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A Chesterfield woman was shot three times in her own home, not by a stranger, but by a man who said he loved her. Lisette Johnson's story is just one of many horrific cases of domestic violence in the county.

In January, 2014, Terrell Davidson ran his wife Nequia off the road and killed her, before killing himself. 

"I remember just falling down and crying my eyes out," said Quadel Webb, one of the couple's sons.

In July, 2013, Barbara Hogue was found dead on her porch on Lark Hill Lane, her son dead inside. Police say he shot her, then killed himself. Court records show this wasn't the first time he had threatened her life.

These are just two cases of many tragic stories of domestic violence in the county.

In October, 2009, Lisette Johnson was shot by her husband, with her two children in the home. Her husband killed himself. And in a twisted way, she is one of the lucky ones. She survived.

"It was very serious," said Johnson, reflecting on that day. "It was very serious. I didn't even understand how serious. I lost two liters of blood."

Shot three times in the chest and back, Lisette Johnson spent ten days in the hospital. And she's spent years since then replaying what happened, thinking about how she missed warning signs and looking for ways to help others fighting domestic violence.

"I thought domestic violence people got black eyes and broken bones and went to the hospital with broken ribs," Johnson said, describing what she believed before she was shot.

Lisette said as her husband threatened her in their middle-class home, she kept thinking she could just solve the problem by separating, divorcing and moving on. But she never got that chance.

"I knew something had changed," said Johnson. "I knew I had this sense, and a sense of danger is very telling," she said. "We live in a society where we put this behind us and try and rationalize that fear away, and I am all about when you feel fearful, you should feel fearful. Fear is designed to kind of get us out of the way of danger."

She says he came in her bedroom, pointed a gun at her, told her he loved her too much to live without her, then fired. Amazingly, she was still able to fight for her life.

"He did not like that I was running away and he had to shoot me in the back, too," said Johnson.

Johnson collapsed in the grass while  running to the neighbors, and she said most of that day is a fog.

"I said to the EMT, why am I here?" said Johnson. "And he said, "You've been shot!'
And I said, who would do that? And I remember him sort of composing himself and saying, 'I think your husband did.' And I was in such disbelief. I said, well why? Why would he do that?"

Johnson joins a long list of domestic violence victims in Chesterfield County -- the ones who died, the he ones who lived, the children who watched, the ones who escaped, and the ones still living it.

"Some of the most difficult and some of the most horrific cases that we have had have been victims who have been from Chesterfield County," said Becky Lee, Chief Program Officer for the YWCA of Richmond Programs.

It's why so many today are talking about what might help. Tana Mooney, who works as a domestic violence coordinator for the police department, said the county really needs an emergency shelter.

"Unfortunately, I just see this as a hole," said Mooney. "A gaping hole in our services here in the county."

Right now, there is no designated emergency shelter in Chesterfield County.

"Most of our challenges are where it's extremely violent, and a victim's trying to find a place to go," said Mooney. "Unfortunately, the abuser knows where the victim's friends are, where their shelter is, and all the places they would go for safety and for shelter. So, sometimes they need some time alone to sit and think about what their options are."

The YWCA in Richmond does provide emergency help and shelter in a variety of ways. Sometimes they shelter victims in hotels or apartments, and they provide emergency hotlines and exit planning. But they do say the demand is huge in Chesterfield County.

"To date, from July of 2013 to the end of March, we have had 204 callers self-identify as being Chesterfield County residents," said Becky Lee, Chief Program Officer YWCA of Richmond Programs. "In the entire 12 months prior, there was 267. And so, even at this point we are well on our way to not seeing a reduction in that number."

It's why Johnson said she is working now to help other domestic violence victims, and why she speaks out about what happened publicly in a blog.

Johnson said she can relate to what victims are feeling, what might be happening, and what they might be missing.

"It's never really over like we want to think," said Johnson. "'Why don't you just leave?' That doesn't make it be over. No one has the crystal ball, like, 'Oh, he's going to shoot me, and then he's going to shoot himself and the children are going to be there.' You know, obviously if I had had that information, I would have high-tailed it out of there."

But she said with the right support in the County, people can escape and survive domestic violence. It just takes the right tools.

"I am here to say, it's great on the other side!" said Johnson.

Here are some resources for those coping with domestic violence:

Lisette Johnson's blog:

YWCA 24-hour Hotline: 804-643-0888

Chesterfield County Domestic and Sexual Violence Resource Center: 804-318-8265

Emergency (police, fire, rescue): 911

Non-emergency (police, fire, rescue): 804-501-5000

Safe Harbor (24 hour hotline): 804-287-7877

Henrico Police Domestic Violence Coordinator: 804-501-5732

Henrico Victim Witness Assistance Program: 804-501-1680

Henrico Community Corrections, Domestic Violence Unit: 804-501-5188

Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office:                     

Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court 804-501-4338

General District Court 804-501-4218

Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court 804-501-4688

General District Court 804-501-4723

Henrico County Adult Protective Services 804-501-7346

Henrico County Child Protective Services 804-501-5437

Magistrate's Office 804-501-5285


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