Over the past few years I learned that true evil does really exist, however there are amazing people who will go out of their way to help you. I grew up in Fairport, NY, I have a Master’s Degree, I am a teacher, I am a mom, I am a Knightingale and I am a domestic violence survivor. I have always been outgoing, friendly and wanted to help people. My mistake was believing that I could change someone. I got involved with someone who I knew had a history of violence, but was convinced I could make everything better. When we first started dating, he put me on a pedestal. He told me I was his “dream girl.” He always wanted to be around me, was very affectionate and we could spend hours just talking and laughing. I told him everything about myself. I was convinced his past was just some misunderstanding.

The first time he broke my cell phone, I was in complete shock. The first time he pushed me, I scraped an elbow on a table and I thought it was an accident. Looking back, there were signs that his temper was uncontrollable. He got mad one time because I jokingly told him to “shut up.” I had done it a million times before, but the rage in his voice that time made me just stop in my tracks. I began to try and change my actions and behaviors so that I wouldn’t make him mad. I wasn’t allowed to have any social media and at first I thought that was sweet. He told me too many relationships were ruined over social media and he didn’t want that to happen to us. However that was a lie, it was one of his ways to isolate me.

Very soon after him breaking my cell phone came one of the worst beatings I received. I left a Knighthawks game and he was angry that I had people putting their arms around me for photos. He had been drinking and was upset that he wasn’t able to eat until I got home because he had no food. He poured a drink and heated up some pizza. For some reason I hesitated. I had already started to notice the signs of his anger. He became angry and threw his pizza at me. What followed was one of the scariest nights of my life. He wanted to open my old Facebook account and read all my old messages. He wrapped a brown kitchen towel around his hand and started sort of play punching me in the face. I told him it wasn’t funny because it hurt my teeth. Then he exploded. It became a blur of punches, shoves, him picking me up by my hair and throwing me onto the ground. He strangled me and dared me to scream. After a while of being spit on, punched, kicked and strangled, he got up and I thought it was over. He picked up a pen and started stabbing me with it and then held it to my throat while making awful threats. Eventually he put the pen down and stepped back again. Tears running down my face, he grabbed me and threw my head in the dirty dish water, calling me all kinds of horrible names. When he released me, he grabbed a knife and held it to my throat and dared me to scream again. He then walked out the door and I reached for my phone. My mistake was not locking the door behind him. He came back through the door, grabbed my phone and smashed another IPhone 6 plus so that I couldn’t call for help. The beating went from 10:30 pm into the next morning. At one point he punched me so hard in the stomach I begged him to call 911. He told me if I ever told anyone he was going to chop me and my whole family up and bury us under my pool. It was surreal to me. The person I wanted to be with the most I the world ripped my heart out.

Later on that day, he cried. He told me how sorry he was and that he just couldn’t control himself. He loved me so much and it made him so upset to think of me with other people. He was worried about me. When I went to work the next day everyone knew immediately that I had been beaten up. Coworkers tried desperately to get me to call the police. I broke down and told them the story. They took photos of me. I had gotten a new phone and had taken pictures the night before, but I couldn’t text or email them to anyone because he had changed my IPad password and could see everything I did on my phone. My movements were always monitored. I was convinced he bugged my cell phone or followed me. He knew things and I never knew how. One of my co-workers took pictures of the pictures on my phone before I erased them. They contacted the police officer at my school without my knowledge and they were told I had to go down myself and make a report or they couldn’t do anything. I flipped out when a male co-worker texted me and told me I had to call the police. I was terrified he would see the message or ask who the number was. He had my password to my phone account and would randomly ask me who certain numbers were. I was still in shock. It is a very strange thing to have the person you love, attack you. It doesn’t make sense in your mind. You wonder if you had done something or said something differently if it still would have happened. I never thought I would stay with someone if they hit me, but I did and it was the worst mistake I have ever made.

The next month was his birthday and he had become very strict about what I wore and what I did. I left the dance team after that brutal beating because he hated it and all the girls would have known what happened the second they saw me. He began to monitor everything, my bank account, my phone, he made fake internet accounts to see if people would try and contact me. He smashed my MacBook Pro laptop because it had been a gift. It didn’t matter that I needed it for work and still haven’t been able to replace it. He got mad if I wore shorts or skirts or paid for anything like getting my nails done. According to him I was selfish to be spending money on myself when he needed money. However, I was always paying his rent, phone and everything else we did. He would make comments to people everywhere if they even looked at me. I wasn’t allowed to speak to males at all, even my kid’s friend’s fathers or coaches. Even though he was working, he spent his money on things for himself or alcohol. I got us a hotel room for his birthday. We had a great time at dinner and went back to the room. After having a good time, just talking and laughing like before, he wanted to get drinks at the bar. He ran into someone he knew from school. I knew better than to speak to the guy so I sat on a bar stool just hanging out and drinking. At one point his friend got cut off by the bartender. I asked if the manager, who I met once during our Knightingale photoshoot, was there. Immediately, Collin told me to get up. He had murder in his eyes. It was silent on the walk to the elevator. Once the doors closed, he asked me who the manager was. I explained I met him once. He walked into the room before me and I turned and shut the door behind me. I didn’t even see it coming. As I turned around, he punched me right in the face and broke and detached my nose. Blood started gushing from my nose. I turned and screamed I hate you and tried to run out of the room. He grabbed me and threw me into a table and smashed my shin so hard that I thought I broke it. I was bleeding and couldn’t walk. He got me a washcloth for my face and I bled for hours. I told him my nose was moving and he told me I would be fine and wasn’t allowed to go to a doctor. My lip and upper gums were black and blue for a month.

Again, he cried and told me how sorry he was. He began to tell me I was no fun, that I had no personality and that no one would want me if I ever left him. I was afraid to do or say anything at this point. People who didn’t know me that well at work started thinking I was really sick. He started becoming more and more verbally abusive. I had no idea where that amazing, sweet caring man who loved me unconditionally went and I naively tried harder to bring him back. Over the next few months, the beatings were minor. I say minor, but I mean a black eye here and there, split lips, bruises on my arms and legs. I had become numb to the abuse. He had told me once before the abuse began that I needed to promise him if I ever became afraid of him I needed to leave. He knows he is a monster and can’t control it. He remembers everything he ever did to me, even if he had been drinking.
Two major and final beatings happened within two days of each other. The first one began after a movie. We stopped at his friend’s house and he went inside to go the bathroom. His friend and another man were hanging out in the garage. His friend told me to have a seat. The seat was in between them. I hesitated. I knew Collin would be mad that I was sitting in between two men, but I also didn’t want his friend to tell him I was rude, so I sat down. Big mistake. I saw it in his eyes when he returned and went to stand on the other side of the garage. I got up and went over to where he was. We hung out for a while, but I knew that the damage was done. On the way home, as I was driving, I suffered my very first panic attack. I couldn’t breathe and I didn’t think I would be able to drive the whole way home. He grabbed my hand and talked to me sweetly. Told me how much he loved me. He was always extremely affectionate especially in public. When we got to my house, I started taking off my necklace and earrings. I will never forget it. I knew the beating was coming and I didn’t want my earrings ripped out of my ears. Not even a minute after I had taken them out, he was grabbing me by the hair and throwing me into the wall. I tried to convince him to go to sleep. We went upstairs and he threw me on the floor and got on top of me. He rotated between choking me, punching me in the ribs, banging my head into the floor and holding his hand over my mouth and nose. He ripped my shirt off of me and as it dangled around my waist, picked me up into the air by it. I thought I was going to die and wished I would pass out so I wouldn’t feel the pain any more. The more I struggled the more he beat me. He finally crawled into the bed and I crawled in hoping to sleep. He suddenly turned over and punched me so hard that I thought he broke my arm and my leg.

Again I forgave him. Two days later I got a text from a friend from college who I hadn’t spoken to in over a year. He was livid because it was a male. He drank all day at the beach and we went home to make dinner before my kids practice. As I was making tacos, he came over and grabbed the raw hamburger and shoved it into my mouth. He then went into the garage and came back with my son’s cleat in his hand. He told me to get into the garage or I was going to get beat right there. My kids were eating dinner and I went into the garage. Immediately my head was bounced off the refrigerator and I saw stars. He started spitting in my face and took me to the ground. He kicked me in the head, took a garden rake and I thought he was going to drag it across my face. At the last second he changed its course and he raked it down my arm. He hit me in the head with the handle. He took my sons cleat and beat me with it all over my body. He picked me up and threw me into my car. I weigh 105 lbs. and I dented my gas tank. That gives you an idea of the force he used. I ran around the other side of the car and tried to hide. He picked up a black wife beater of his that was in the garage and strangled me with it until I saw black. I thought I was going to die right there in my garage. I had a concussion at this point and was very out of it. He let me get up, clean myself off and drive my kids to practice. As my kids practice started, he told me to take him home and he was going to make sure the car went off the road. I refused. There were a ton of people around. He told me if I took him home I could get my stuff and never see him again. I reluctantly agreed. At his house, his put his bottle that he was drinking on his dresser. I went to grab all of my stuff. As I leaned over to grab stuff out of a drawer, he grabbed me by the throat, threw me onto the bed and punched me in the face. His mom heard me scream and came into the room. She asked what was going on and I said Collin is a mean drunk and you can see the bruises. She grabbed my stuff and put it by the front door. She dumped his alcohol down the sink and told me it would be best if I left. He followed me out to the car and started crying. He told me he was sorry, but I was grabbing the photo album of us and he wanted to keep the pictures of the best thing he ever had in his life, meaning me. Of course this melted my heart and I felt sorry for him as he cried. I drove away with my concussion and returned to get my kids.

Over the next few days, I didn’t see him. I got up enough courage to go to the doctor because I knew I had a concussion. They took really good care of me at Urgent Care. They didn’t print out a discharge form because I was afraid he would find it. I broke down there and knew I couldn’t stay long. I had to return his messages or send a photo of where I was at all times. I left and was convinced I was going to call the cops. Over the next few weeks, we didn’t really see each other. We went out to dinner once and he told me he loved me and wanted to be with me forever. I thought he was getting better. School started and everyone saw the bruises. I had a student who didn’t show up until one week after school started and he asked me what the bruises were from. The last beating was on August 17th, 2015. School started after Labor Day.

On September 26th, 2015, he wanted to go to a movie and spend the night together. He was mad at me from the night before because I was sick and didn’t leave my house to go buy him more alcohol. He was mad first thing in the morning because it took me three minutes to say I love you in a text. Throughout the rest of the day I just knew if I saw him, I would get a beating. I stayed at a kid’s birthday party with my son because he asked and he went off on me. Then five minutes later was apologizing and saying he was off because he hadn’t taken his medicine. The ups and downs of his mood continued throughout the day. He finally told me to forget our date and I felt relieved. I decided to speak to call 911 to just ask a Sheriff for my options. I had written out everything that had happened over the last 9 months. He was on parole at the time for a physical altercation with his ex-wife. My friends had contacted parole and told them I was being beaten up and there were photos. They told my friends I had to contact parole myself or they couldn’t do anything. I wrote emails to my Senator and Sandra Doorley explaining how parole was not helping me and I was scared. I thought if he was picked up on parole, I would be safe enough to press charges or escape.

I called 911 from my parents’ house so that my kids wouldn’t see police. The sheriff who came and listened to me was amazing. While I talked to him, my phone went off over and over again. Collin was livid I wasn’t answering and thought I was out with someone. He started getting nasty over texts and kept calling demanding that I answer. Then his messages turned sweet and he told me how much he needed me and loved me. I was torn. Then the sheriff said something that completely made sense to me and clicked. I told him I just felt so bad hurting someone I loved by sending him to jail. He asked me if I thought Collin felt bad when he was punching me in the face. The answer was no. It would never have happened or continue to happen if he did. I signed the police report and returned to my house where my kids and mom were. Not even 10 minutes later, there was a pounding on my front door. I looked out the window and saw a taxi. As I dialed 911, I ran to lock my back door. Collin was calling on the other line and was pounding on the front door. He ripped my Halloween decoration to the side and looked in and started yelling and cursing. My kids watched in horror as he smashed the glass on the window to try and get in. I screamed at the 911 operator that he was trying to get in and kill me. I was terrified. He ran back to the taxi and sheriffs were there within minutes. The last message I got from him was that there were cops at his house and “good job Amy.”

This is just a small glimpse into the horror I lived. I cried every night for months. I have nightmares of the beatings. I get cold sweats when a male comes up behind me. On August 24th, 2016, I finally had surgery to fix my broken nose. Originally the doctor told me it would cost me $10,000 and part of my rib or ear to correct it. Luckily, it needed to be broken again for my breathing. I had it broken at the base where it attaches and my septum broken and realigned. I will have a year of follow up appointments with painful shots in my nose and possibly to the side of my face because after a year, the swelling still hasn’t gone down all the way. I started my second school year with bruises. I was lucky. I know I would have died if I didn’t get away from him. I was lucky enough to have people around who kept telling me that I needed to get out. I had a lot of connections from my community experience and I kept reaching out. I have met amazing people and continue to meet more. While I am much more timid when it comes to certain aspects of life, I am finally starting to find my light out of the darkness. I will carry the scars from my abuse throughout my lifetime. The one person who was supposed to fix me almost killed me.

He was finally sentenced as a second time violent felony offender on September 6th. Out of 15 felonies, he was able to plead down to one violent D felony. His sentence is three years plus five years of post-release supervision. He has already served one of the years in Monroe County Jail, so that means in as little as two years he will be out looking for me. I am terrified for that day, but will not let him control me anymore. While I still feel ashamed for what happened, I know it is not my fault. I am still picking up the pieces from the damage he did. It doesn’t matter who you are, no one deserves to be beaten. Abusers do not change, you will never be able to alter their behaviors. Some people are just broken. No matter how much you love them, they won’t change. I would have done anything for Collin, except let him kill me. I encourage anyone who is currently in an abusive relationship to just reach out to someone. Don’t stay, it will not get better.