Finding Jenn’s Voice: Debra’s Story

The final writing and editing are taking place on the Finding Jenn’s Voice as this publishes. The documentary is about Jenn Snyder, a 27 year old vet tech who fell in love with, became pregnant, and was killed by a veterinarian. He went to a cocktail party with his wife later the evening of the day he brutally murdered her. Sensational headlines? Sadly, no.

What the media fails to convey and help the public understand is that abusive and homicidal men are not rejects from society; sketchy people who can’t get along with anyone, who are always losing their jobs, who have mental illnesses. They are veterinarians, they are sales managers, they are military officers, they are computer programmers. They can even be your child’s trusted soccer coach. Their ability to meld in seamlessly and have their behavior go unnoticed among peers tips the scales of credibility towards them, leaving their victims unbelievable. That is until finally the headlines shout what is true.

Debra’s Story
As I was sitting alone, blood running down my face. I had to face the beginning of a very harsh reality…that we were over.

Almost seven years with my abuser and this was my final day. Sitting in my car, after ending our relationship for the 100th time, but this time something was different. Not with him, but with me. I felt it. I felt more afraid to stay then to leave. I felt so frustrated, like a caged animal would feel waiting to be let out to go to the bathroom or maybe even to get a few bites of kibble. Always at his mercy. Always his rules.

This was my decision and I knew there was going to be a price for my freedom. Both my girls were out of my house and I knew if he was going to kill me, it would at least just be my life. The cat was leaving that morning to go live with my ex-husband and the only one left to worry about was my beloved Izabelle. My dog, my buddy, who through this tumultuous relationship brought me such love and peace. I would keep her close with me and guard her with my life.

I broke up with him. He came to my home and refused to leave so I grabbed Izabelle and I left. I couldn’t go far because I was expecting my ex-husband and my youngest daughter to come by and pick up the cat. My abuser sent me a text….. “I left your door unlocked”. I thought he left. He was a soccer coach and I knew he had a tournament that weekend, I was sure he had to get back.

I relaxed and drove to a church nearby my home so that I could watch my house and see when my ex-husband would be leaving. It always seemed to be less stressful on our daughter for us not to be in the same room. But then a car pulled up and blocked the church entrance. It was him, my abusive boyfriend. He had come back.

He walked up to the car and started yelling, I remained seated and as he told me that “everyone ends up leaving you”, “no one wants you” I remember looking up at him and saying “and that’s ok.” That’s when he punched me in the face and knocked the phone out of my hand so that I could not call 911. He kept trying to pull me out of the car by my neck and I remember thinking that Izabelle was in the car and I prayed that she wouldn’t growl. She was already afraid of him, she didn’t move. He told me he would kill me and it would be worth it. “I’m going to give you one more chance to make this right”.

Right after that I heard my ex-husband’s voice calling from the distance. I looked up and there they were, my ex-husband and my daughter. As soon as my ex-husband approached him, he cowered and backed up, swearing he didn’t put his hands on me. That he just pushed me. My ex saw it all and my daughter called the police. That was the very last time I ever spoke to my abuser.

All my prayers, and dreams, but most of all my hope; had to come to an end. As I began the very long and emotionally draining process for my “freedom and safety”; I watched every move every person involved made. From the police, rescue squad, to the very first advocate I met from Providence House at the police station, to the doctor at the emergency room; the very first meeting with my attorney, where his paralegal shouted “Oh Frank, I hope you get a permanent restraining order because I can tell she will go back to him.

I began writing in my journal; it was the only way to keep my sanity. It was like I was moving but I was somehow above my body and watching how I responded to everyone and to everything. I remember a conversation I had with one of The Pastors at my church. I told him that I believe if a complete stranger had broken into my home and assaulted me; the world would be on my side. The sympathy and the outpouring of meals and prayers would be all so encompassing. Unfortunately, that was not the case. My assault came from a man that I not only invited into my home, but one who I loved and defended for years. Some in my immediate circle knew this was not the first time and probably shook their heads in complete dismay (the times) they would hear that I was giving our relationship “one more try”.

Even though (he) didn’t love me or want any type of normalcy that would include me feeling trust, safe, secure in the things (he) said and the way (he) behaved, (he) didn’t want to let me go.

I will continue to live my life in freedom. Free to love without limit, to forgive, to be merciful, to be generous, to be compassionate, to be humble, and to continue to practice humility. I firmly believe that our circumstances don’t define us, our characters do.

I am changed from this experience but now know clearer than ever before that I must continue to walk with my head held high in truth. There, I believe, lies true freedom. I will be more from my comeback than from my fall.


About Lisette d. Johnson

Murder-Suicide Survivor, Mom, Writer, Speaker, Serial Volunteer in the Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault Arena, Entrepreneur, &amp Friend. I survived, my kids survived, and I am here to tell the story.
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3 Responses to Finding Jenn’s Voice: Debra’s Story

  1. Debra, I love that you realized your hope had died in that moment. One of the key ingredients that keeps an abuse victim tied to her abuser is hope that things will improve. When she at last loses all hope, she is ready to end the relationship.

    • Lisette Johnson says:

      Yes. It’s almost counter intuitive. You have to give up hope to get it. “It’s easy to look back now and realize in leaving the relationship I wasn’t giving up hope. I was actually grasping hope and bringing it closer to me.” Oct2010

  2. Debra says:

    Thank you Caroline. One of the topics I want to help women with is just that. Hope can keep you paralyzed and what freedom the actual “awakening” is. Dangerous yes, that’s why an escape plan is necessary but such relief as the process continues until you are finally finished and free.

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