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Stacy’s Story, Part One

Stacy’s Story, Part One
Stacy Gaugler is a petite woman. Her hair is chestnut brown, framing a beautiful, delicately-boned face. As she speaks, the memories of her past shadow her eyes like misty ghosts. She is casually dressed. Her eyes sweep the Subway restaurant frequently, checking the exits and people as they come in. She sits defensively.

Stacy is a survivor of domestic violence. She suffered abuse as a child, so she never knew that her adult relationships could be different. Sam’s * abuse propelled Stacy and her six children into La Casa, a domestic violence shelter in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Her stay helped her to rebuild her life and learn what domestic violence is. Stacy graduated from New Mexico State University’s School of Social Work program with her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work just over one month ago, on May 13, 2007. She completed her internship at La Casa, where she and her children were temporary residents.

Domestic violence is any kind of physical, emotional, mental or sexual attack that one partner in an intimate relationship commits upon the other partner in order to gain or keep control.

Stacy agreed to talk with me last September (2006) and tell me about her own experiences with a violent partner. She talked about one very frightening and painful event, which led to the loss of an unborn child. This was only one of the many violent episodes that marked her relationship with Sam. It would not be the episode that caused Stacy to escape her relationship, although it led to the deterioration of the relationship.

“We were living in Houston at the time. We lived across the apartment complex from some friends. I was six months pregnant with my fourth child. While we were at our friends’ house, we were discussing basketball. My team is the Phoenix Suns, and I said something. Sam gave me ‘the look’ and I shut up.

“We went home. He beat me bad. I was on the floor; he was kicking me on the head, in the stomach, on my back and legs. He pulled me by my hair from the living room to our bedroom. Afher a couple of hours of this, he passed out.

“The next day, while I was picking up my daughter at the bus stop, I started bleeding badly. I thought I was losing the baby.” She pauses and bites her lip.

Stacy seemed to need time to come back to the present, even though she said she was okay talking about her experiences with domestic violence.

“I kept bleeding and passing clots. I saved the clots, ’cause I didn’t know what the baby would look like at that stage. Sam took me to the hospital, and the doctor told me that I was far enough along that, if I started to lose the baby, I would have contractions. I went home and stayed in bed.

“Sam went to work the day after I went to the hospital. I got up and braided his hair, which was long back then, and I went back to bed because I was having more contractions. The contractions stopped. I got up and went to the bathroom. I lost the baby in the toilet. I called Sam. I put the baby in a Ziploc bag. Same came home and put his head on my knees, crying and saying he was sorry. I told him it wasn’t his fault.”

*Not Stacy’s former partner’s real name

I will complete Stacy’s story at a later time. I want to give you time to digest what happened to this young woman; I also want to give you time to regain your emotional equilibrium, because this is a very upsetting, graphic story.

Please be assured that Stacy is a very real, very strong woman, and has managed to raise all six of her children, while keeping them safe. She has taught them what she has learned.

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