On Friday, July 14th, 2017, I will be given the opportunity to face my abuser for the very first time since his incarceration. I will have prepared my “Victim Impact Statement” to read before the courts on that day.
Victim Impact Statement
My children and I are now on our journey to freedom. We escaped extensive
domestic violence, unimaginable abuse, at the hands of Mr. Sheerer. Our lives will never be the same. To this day, I still find it difficult to fall asleep at night. I toss and turn, having re-occurring night terrors, most often than not. The flashbacks of being terrorized still haunt me. I had lost everything- my home, job, vehicle, personal belongings, self-esteem, self-respect, self-worth. Everything right down to my sense of identity. I had forgotten who I was. My personal rights were stripped from me.
Estranged from family and friends, I felt so alone. Mr. Sheerer controlled every aspect of my life, for seven years. When I did not comply with his demands, he would get violent. The physical abuse was nothing compared to the psychological damage that he would inflict. Although my strides and efforts of rebuilding my life seem to be working in my favor, I’ve been told that the recovery process may be lifelong, due to its severity.
About a year ago, I made the brave decision to take my two young sons, and leave my husband. It was the first of many attempts. Throughout that year, my children and I stayed at a domestic violence shelter four times. We were homeless, on our feet, with nothing. The impact of the emotional trauma landed me hospitalized twice, and the boys in foster care most recently.
Mr. Sheerer has continuously shown a complete disregard for the Protection Orders issued by judges in Athens-Clarke County. While I accept the responsibility of being weak and going back to him on numerous occasions in the past, I have successfully moved on. I am a Georgia state certified teacher. Within one month staying at the shelter, I received therapy, moved out on my own, bought my own vehicle, and accepted an offer of employment teaching Pre-K.
I continued to receive several phone calls and text messages. I was being harassed, intimidated, and left without peace. Throughout the day, I found that it was nearly impossible to focus. I became fearful for my life. I did not feel safe- anywhere. This may explain why I bounced from county to county, unable to give my children the stability they deserved. We had been to nine counties in Georgia within one year, and out of state to Bryson City, North Carolina on one occasion.
On April 16th, 2017, I walked out to my car after school was over. I felt as though I was being watched. I glanced over to see a stranger passing through, whistling. My gut told me that something was not right. As I began to unload my school materials into the back seat of my car, my eyes caught a glimpse of dead flowers that were placed underneath the windshield wipers of my car. I picked them up. And I knew. I knew before I ever saw him, that he was there. He had found me, again. As much as I want to, I cannot describe the pure terror that I felt that day. From inside the school, I peered out of the window watching him, watch me.
From the office, I called police and he was arrested.
Overtime, I made connections with members at a local church. I was never allowed to pursue my faith before, and really felt like I belonged somewhere for the first time. I received several messages on social media from friends and acquaintances of Mr. Sheerer, trying to “check up on me”. I attended a recovery group for domestic violence and codependency when I recognized one of the men who was asked to get in touch with me.
Nothing could have prepared me for this; I’m not quite certain I was ready. It’s easy to say, “be strong”, I’ve been strong for a really, really- long time. I was give out, exhausted and spinning wheels. I had no plan, couldn’t see past tomorrow. I felt numb, scared, and had no answers. PTSD consumed me. I was there, but not really. I was ready to give up. It was time to ask for help.
I wasn’t even safe at church.
Still, from behind the jail walls, I am being sent threatening messages. My children and I have been deeply traumatized. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, fearful.
I’m learning to trust my inner-self again. I thought it would be painful, letting him go.
But one day, I just knew.
I felt relief as I FINALLY cut the ropes that once shackled me to him. I no longer need him, his opinion, affirmation, or approval. I no longer needed his judgements, criticisms, his condemnations. The expectations that I could never meet, the hoops that were too high to jump through. I didn’t need his blame, excuses or justifications.
I thought I would miss him, but I don’t.
My heart has been awakened to the truth of who I am. I am more than the lies he made me believe about myself. I’m more than the look of failure in his eyes when I fell short of his demands. I no longer carry the shame he made me suffer under the weight of.
I have chosen to forgive, for myself- not for him.
I chose freedom, love, and I stand firm upon the unshakeable truth.
I am empowered, I am enough, and I am free.
Seven years is a long time to take from someone. What do I want? I want justice. I want to be free, and I want Mr. Sheerer to be made to let me be free.
My children and I deserve peace.
I have faith that no matter what the Honorable Courts decide, your honor- that ultimately there will come a time when Mr. Sheerer will have to face a powerful God one day. He will have to answer to the wrongs he has done my children and I, and others in our community.
With that being said, I pray for him today as well. Despite what happens in your courtroom today- he has a long, hard road ahead of him.
Good always wins over evil. In this case, I have already won the battle.