She was a social services professional with two doctoral degrees, but life as she knew it changed forever on a fateful night in August 2017.
“Karen” — not her real name — described the man accused of strangling her as “a significant other from another time period.”
“I met him on Match.com. I call it ‘Murder.com,’” Karen said. “He was in and out of my life periodically over a five-year period or so.”
Karen is now hidden in a safe house she ruefully refers to as “witness protection.”
The man who allegedly strangled her has pleaded not guilty to domestic abuse by strangulation, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment upon conviction, and second-degree terroristic threatening, a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail. His trial is set for April and is free on bail. The Tribune-Herald isn’t identifying him to protect Karen’s identity.
According to Karen, the alleged incident is not the first time the accused assaulted her, adding he inflicted “horrible emotional and physical abuse on me in the past.” She said she left Hawaii in 2015 because her father was seriously ill, but ended up returning because the alleged abuser “pulled this pity party for me to come and help him later.”
“I had no intention of returning. And then he complained of being suicidal and stuff, and I came back to help him,” Karen said. “I’m a helper. He knows that. People with a good heart are prime targets for sociopaths, and they can see you coming a mile away.”
According to Karen, she left again for the mainland because her father died in 2017. She said she left her service dog — needed because of hearing impairment — with the man because she didn’t have the time to get the required travel certificate for the animal and she had nobody else to care for it.
Karen said when she returned in August 2017, she was careful to hide return tickets to the mainland for her and the dog, but thinks her alleged attacker found them anyway. She said she went to a restaurant with the man and had “two drinks and some pupus.” She believes the alleged assailant drugged at least one of the cocktails.
“I was profoundly drunk. I said, ‘I need to be taken home,’” she recalled. “I remember leaving with him, and I remember walking towards the car and maybe getting into car. I don’t remember going into the apartment, but I do remember walking from the kitchen, completely out of it into the bedroom and lying on the bed. I shouldn’t be completely out of it after a couple of drinks. And I lay down on the bed, fully clothed, on my back.
“The next thing I remember is a motion on the bed. And I turn to look. And he rolled over on top of me. He put the pillow over my face and pushed down on my face with both of his hands. He sat on my chest. He’s like 6-feet tall, 210 pounds, and I’m like 130 pounds, 5-foot-4. His legs extended over my legs and his elbows over my arms. He pushed the pillow really hard on the side of my face and said, ‘You f——-g bitch, I’m going to kill you.’
“I’m saying, ‘Stop! I can’t breathe.’ And I’m screaming to the pillow and talking to the pillow, as much as I can. And he repeated, at least twice, ‘You f——-g bitch, I’m going to kill you.’ And then he moved his hands and the pillow on the side of my head to cover my mouth and my nose area, because I’m screaming. He ending up pressing so hard there, there was blood on the pillow. He ended up breaking a (dental) bridge and cracking three or four teeth in my jaw. So much so that I needed a bone graft in my mouth. And I needed to have those teeth pulled, and I still can’t chew on my right side. And I also have a hiatal hernia from the pressure on my stomach and diaphragm area.
“He kept the pillow on my face and then moved his hands to my throat and proceeded to manually strangle me. And the first thing I thought was, ‘Oh, my God, I’m going to die.’
“There’s a quote from Amy Tan’s ‘The Kitchen God’s Wife,’ and I wrote this down soon after this happened to me. The quote in that book is, ‘You see what power is — holding someone else’s fear in your hand and showing it to them.’
“He definitely had my fear of losing my life in the palm of his hand — both of his hands.”
Karen said she went through denial while being strangled, thought of her adult children, and tried to pray.
“Then, it was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s real.’ And you accept it, and you see death,” she said. “That’s sort of what went through my mind. I saw, like, complete blackness and white sparkles. And then I was gone.
“There’s a real resignation to death. And I accepted it, because there’s nothing you can do to survive. I just knew that I was going to die.”
Karen said she was unconscious for “an hour or two.” She said she saw the pillow on top of her, thought it was a green sheet and feared she had been buried alive.
“I was surprised to find it was the pillow, and I pushed off the pillow. I was still on the bed and he was passed out next to me on his stomach,” she said.
Karen said she managed to get out of bed without awakening the man, went to another room and found her dog “cowering under the desk.”
“I’m sure he saw the whole thing,” Karen said. “I slid a suitcase out of the closet and put as much stuff as I could in there. In the meantime, I’m dialing a girlfriend of mine and her husband. They said, ‘You need to call the police.’ And I said, ‘Come get me. Just come get me.’ He said, ‘I’ll come get you but I’m calling the police.’ By the time my girlfriend and her husband came to get me, the police had already come, and I’d been taken away in an ambulance.”
Karen said she suffers from expressive aphasia, which causes difficulties in speech, amnesia and other neurological problems.
“I think hope is something that you can regain over time. I didn’t have a lot in my life. But the one thing I did have in my life as a single mom was my brain. And he stole that from me,” she said.
“He strangled me so hard my pituitary gland was swollen and out of its little pocket at the base of the brain. I have glaucoma in my left eye. I have a headache every day, every single day that I’m alive. I’ll have headaches the rest of my life.
“I was once a very intelligent, productive person with two doctorates and two master’s degrees. And you would think, ‘How would somebody like that be subjected to that extreme violence?’
“The courts call it domestic violence. I call it attempted murder.”
Victims of domestic violence are urged to call the police emergency number at 911. Those in need of social services because of domestic violence on Hawaii Island should call Child and Family Service, 933-2188 in Hilo and 323-2664 in Kona.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald