Survivor of domestic violence breaks silence to help others

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on September 18, 2013 at 11:49 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 19 at 4:20 AM

Janet Parker can sit, in peace and quiet, and read. Or she can sit at her laptop and type.

She can giggle.

She can live.

"Oh, I've laughed more in the last couple months than I have in the last 20 years," Parker said with a smile. 

She has scars. Several of them. But they are daily reminders to give thanks.

One year ago, Parker almost died. She was stabbed seven times inside the Denny's restaurant where she was working a graveyard shift.

At 1:30 a.m. on September 18, 2012, her husband — Thomas Parker — came in, armed with a knife. Janet had finally gained the courage to leave him just days before.

"The look on his face was the most frightening thing I've ever seen," she said. "The only thing I remember seeing is his hand go up, and I saw the shiny knife."

Police captured him just outside the restaurant. Witnesses told detectives that in the moments after the stabbing, he was in the parking lot, "holding his hand high up in the air, as if he was proud of what he'd just done."

Janet Parker survived, recovered, and spent the last year following Thomas' case through the court system.

He pleaded guilty and has been sent to prison for 10 years.

She is finally living comfortably out on her own, thanks to the help of shelters, counselors, and donors.

Through their 23-year marriage, Parker said she was slapped, choked, and verbally assaulted.

"But he made a point of hurting me in a way that would not leave marks," she said.  "Any time I even suggested or threatened, or he thought I was moving toward leaving, it was, 'Nobody's going to believe you. There's not a mark on you.'"

Parker said she didn't realize how bad things truly were. And then — once she recognized the danger  — she didn't know how to leave.

"I had no idea where to go. I didn't know I could call the police and the police would help me. I didn't know I could call 211 and they could connect me to shelters. I thought a shelter was a place homeless people went."

Parker heaps praise on Parkland Memorial Hospital and the Salvation Army, both which provided her with care and counseling.  

Parker wants people to keep donating to agencies that help domestic violence victims because she believes charity helped her through. She is living in her own apartment, filled with items donated to her for free.

She also wants victims in similiar relationships to recognize it doesn't have to be that way.

"I believed nobody would help me... that there was no way to get help. I was stuck," she said.  

Parker is spreading this message to abused spouses: Call police. Call a shelter. Get out. Get help. It is readily available. 

Janet Parker found it; she only wishes she'd found it sooner

"They are not just going to be handed a lot of stuff; they have to work with their own recovery; and they have to deal with the fact that they want to be alive, they want to laugh again," she said.  "At the start of each day, I'm just so happy that I'm on the top side of the dirt."

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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