Corrine’s Story: Almost The Hero

Eleven years ago, I nearly lost my life trying to protect and save my four-year-old son, Dominick. For three days, the man I was in a relationship with turned violent; his eyes looked black – void of anything human. I honestly believed that death was imminent. I thought I was doing all I could in those terrifying moments to keep my children and myself alive.

As the abuse escalated, so did my fear and desperation. I froze where I should have fled. I used my body as a shield against a six-foot, 240-pound weapon. It was my only line of defense to protect my son in those moments. I didn’t leave because when I tried, the abuse escalated, and he became even more violent. I gave up screaming for help because I was silenced every time he wrapped his hand around my throat, holding my breath captive. I found my life literally hanging in his hands. One wrong move and my life would be over, leaving my two children defenseless against this monster. My only thought: I HAVE TO SURVIVE TO PROTECT MY CHILDREN.

In those moments, I never imagined my survival would be the thing that condemned me. I will never forget the words of Genesee County Prosecutor Tammy Phillips: “IF YOU WOULD HAVE DIED YOU WOULD BE HAILED THE HERO. BUT BECAUSE YOU SURVIVED YOU MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.”

Now I am in prison for second-degree murder.

In that instance, my survival was criminalized. The fact that I fought to the best of my ability during the abuse did not matter. There was no compassion, no mercy, no acknowledgment of what I just witnessed and survived. My bruises, burns, and pain were discarded like I was garbage, for no other reason than I wasn’t dead. There was no joy of relief from my “loved ones” or “family” that I lived, only condemnation and hatred. They cried for justice, but their motive was revenge. In their eyes, I became the monster because I lived.

My survival is my cross to bear. The pain that comes with living through this tragedy will forever live in my heart. I replay the terror over and over again. The should haves and would haves are the thoughts that will continue to imprison my mind long after being free from this physical one. No amount of time will remove the awful memories or unbreak my shattered heart.

My entire life, I was molded to believe that I was unworthy and unlovable. I was groomed from a young, vulnerable age to think that abuse was the way “it” was. In my world, women were objectified and dehumanized. My father was abusive to my mother and me, so he was my example of “normal.” Growing up in society only reaffirmed my core belief that I “deserved” what I had coming because I placed myself in “dangerous situations.” When I reflect on my past, it is clear that my circumstances conditioned my responses. Toxic environments, drugs, abusive men, rape were all a part of my story. I survived life as I knew it. There is not anyone story that is the same, but many derive from the same cracked foundation.

The purpose of telling my story is two-fold, to bring awareness to the worst-case scenario of not leaving and the injustices that women are still facing today. I tell my story, not for pity but to let women still suffering know that they are not alone. No matter the reason(s) you stay, know that you are strong and brave. You don’t deserve the abuse being inflicted upon you. I don’t want to see another mother or child suffer at the hands of an abuser. Please don’t believe that what happened to my children and I can’t happen to you. I lost my son in the worst way imaginable. My oldest son lost his baby brother and his mother. This is a tragedy that we as a society have heard one too many times. I lived so that I can be a voice for those trapped in silence.

No matter your situation, whether you are young, old, rich, poor, Christian or Muslim, white, black, educated or uneducated, addicted to drugs, or struggle with mental illness, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE is a struggle amongst all who suffer. REMEMBER THIS: THE ABUSE IS NOT YOUR FAULT. THERE IS NOTHING THAT YOU DO TO CAUSE HIM TO HURT YOU.

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