West Virginia domestic abuse survivor shares story to empower and protect others

Raise Up Your Voice

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Nearly 20 people per minute are abused by a partner in the U.S. One West Virginia woman who is thankful to be alive tonight, is now encouraging others to “raise up your voice”.

June 5th, 2011, is a date Joyce Richmond will never forget. “He told me he would kill me,” said Richmond. “He said ‘I will choke the life out of you,’ and he tried.”

Months earlier, Joyce had filed for divorce, after her husband started drinking and having affairs. But while their relationship was over, they still shared time together once a week with their granddaughter Lucy.

“He asked me to stay for dinner as he was going to grill,” Richmond said. “I said that’s fine. While I was putting the baby down he started drinking and I didn’t know it.”

Moments later, Joyce refused his request to reconcile and before she knew what happened, her life was in danger. “To this day, I don’t know what he hit me with,” exclaimed Richmond. “I went to one knee, he hit my head…and I had Lucy in my arms.”

“He beat me with a lead pipe, he kicked me, he would choke me unconscious, bring me back, and choke me again,” Richmond stated. “He ground my face into an electric heater.” Joyce endured the nightmare for 2 1/2 hours.

“I could hear Lucy,” said Richmond. “I could almost reach her. She was screaming, she was covered in so much blood, and it was mine.” When her abuser left the room, Joyce somehow got out of the house and stumbled to the road.

“The lady who finally stopped took me to the local convenience store and they called 911. Officer Craigo showed up. He was the first on scene.

“All we knew was that someone had been beaten up and that she was at the local gas station,” stated Officer Anthony Craigo.

Officer Craigo rushed to get baby Lucy.

“I am glad that you are the one who went to the house to get Lucy,” Richmond said to Officer Craigo. “I knew when you got her, she was okay.”
Her ex-husband was arrested.

It would be two years before he would be prosecuted. When asked what that was like for her, Richmond exclaimed, “That time was terrifying. I had my protection order, but I got my permit to carry. I would occasionally pass him on the road and he would stop and watch me until I drove out of sight.

While the physical injuries healed in weeks, Joyce says the emotional scars are much more difficult to deal with. “I still sleep with a night light,” Richmond stated. “I still sleep with a loaded gun, I still have nightmares, and I probably will the rest of my life.”

The saving grace in Joyce’s ordeal was her domestic counselor. “She held my hand no matter what I needed,” Richmond exclaimed. “She would tell me this is what I’m going to do today. This is what we will do tomorrow. They would notify me when he would come up for parole. Your counselor whether it be YWCA or Branches, your domestic counselor will help you thru.”

Joyce has found her voice again and uses it to share her story in hopes of empowering and protecting others.

“If I can reach one person with my story and they say wow, and they realize this is what’s coming and they leave before it gets to that point,” Richmond stated. “Then something good came from what Lucy and I went thru.”

Joyce also found her voice again by sharing domestic abuse sensitivity training for law enforcement with Officer Craigo.

At this year’s Girls Night Out to benefit the YWCA’s resolve family abuse program to help people just like Joyce. It is Saturday, August 10, 2019, from 6 until 10 PM at the Charleston Collesium and Convention Center.

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