Waking up dizzy, trying to figure out where in the hell I was, my head was pounding in my ears. Slowly opening my eyes, I realized I was on my cousin's bed, thinking “Where's Amber?” I slowly got up and walked down the hall to find my cousin passed out on the couch with the dogs. As I turned around, I caught a glimpse of the garbage can full of beer bottles. Man -- what a rough night -- what did we do? Walking upstairs, our aunt had already turned on coffee for us. Tripping over a cat as I was walking up the stairs, I was sure Annette wanted to kill both of us at that point; she had to get up in a couple of hours and go to work, and Amber and I were up all night, drunk, annoying, and noisy...
Well, Amber still had not woken up, and my brain was about to explode. I guessed I would go home and get back in my own bed. Driving home, my phone started to ring. It was Brad, of course, wondering when Amber and I were leaving for North Dakota. I had no idea -- it changed every single day. But I was ready to leave! After being laid off two days, earlier, I had nothing left to do in my town. Nobody was hiring there, and I was sick of working for all the other stupid construction companies. Everybody was talking about this huge oil boom in North Dakota, and I was pretty sure I could make it up there.
Talking to Brad as I was walking up the stairs to my apartment, running as fast as I can so that I didn’t have to see the neighbors and because I didn’t want them to know that I was home, I ran into the apartment and locked the door as fast as I could. I spun around to see Melissa sitting there looking at me, wondering what in the hell I was doing. I hung up the phone and looked at Melissa, saying, "I know, I know, I look awful." She responded, "Yeah, you do ---- you look like shit. Where have you been?" I said, "What do you mean where have I been? I thought you were with us last night,” to which she replied, "Brett came and got me. I couldn't handle being there anymore."
I shut all the blinds and turned off the lights. I guessed we would start another movie marathon. What would it be today -- Sex and the City or Trueblood? "I am so sick of being laid off! We have nothing to do except drink all night and lie around and watch movies all day!" "We can go to the gym!" Melissa said, but I seriously felt like I had been beaten all night so I was just going to lie there on the couch all day. "If Amber is not ready to leave for North Dakota Friday, I'm going by myself!" Melissa just looked at me and shook her head, and said “okay” as she turned on Trueblood.
That next week, I was called into Knife River for an interview. I was hung over and had three people interviewing me all at the same time; I didn't even dare take off my sunglasses during the whole interview! What a freaking hot mess disaster I was. I honestly cannot believe that they hired me in the state I was in! I started the next day in the shop as the parts delivery girl, and I was also running the loader for the asphalt plant. The three main people with whom I worked were Pete, Sue, and Buck. I love those guys! When you are all from out of town working together, you turn into one big family, and we sure were one big family.
We were getting almost 80 to 90 hours a week. The money was out of control and there was nothing to do in that town except for go to either the bar or the strip club. So guess where we were every weekend?! Sam let me rent a room in her house for a month and then I finally got to move into the man camp with Sue and we had our own trailer. After working there for about a month, I finally met the other loader operator. Honestly, I wasn't interested in him or anyone who worked with the concrete plant or that side of Knife River. I had been working with the asphalt crew and at the shop with the mechanics, and that is who I wanted to hang out with. However, one night I was hanging out with the girls, and Brandon came over. I ended up going out with those guys and we went to the bar, and they left me there. I ended up finding Buck and he took me home that night. I was so mad that I had gone out with Brandon and the concrete crew and they had left me at the bar! I never wanted to talk to any of them again. Later that night, a drunk Brandon showed up at Buck's trailer demanding that he talk to me. He wanted to know why I had left him, and that he would just do his own thing and that I shouldn't even talk to him anymore. It was complete crazy talk, and I didn't even know what he was honestly talking about as I didn't leave him!! They had left me at the strip club by myself.
During the next month or so, I got permission to go home for a week. Brandon came with me. I introduced him to the entire family and all of my friends. He put on such a good show. He honestly acted like he cared. He was nice to my family and friends, but I did notice that he talked in his sleep every night and was extremely violent in his sleep, if he even slept at all, which he rarely did. He drank nonstop -- he was constantly drinking. He honestly made me think that he loved me, that he cared about me, and that he would do anything for me.
I was lying in the backseat of the truck dying of pain, and the only thing I wanted to do was reach up in the front seat and slap the shit out of him for taking all of my painkillers.
At Christmastime, he took me to pick out a ring! I was so excited and couldn’t believe it. He gave me the ring Christmas morning, and I honestly thought it was a wedding ring. Well, it turned out that it was not, and he never was planning on asking me to marry him! It was pretty much the biggest letdown ever.
Since we had gone to Minnesota and Wisconsin for Thanksgiving, he said we would stay in Utah for Christmas. It turned out that he wanted to go to Minnesota and Wisconsin, and he made me leave my family the day after Christmas. I didn't even get to spend my birthday in early January with my family. So there we were, driving from Utah back to Wisconsin again. We went to Minnesota for New Year's, which started out as a fun day; we all started drinking bloody Marys in the morning and playing games with his dad and step-mom. That night, we went into the Twin Cities in Minneapolis and went to a couple different bars, then ended up at Buffalo Wild Wings. I had been searching for Brandon with his dad for over an hour. I finally found him on the dance floor with another chick grinding like crazy. The bouncers knew what was coming because they saw me looking for him. There were four of them following me, and I walked up to Brandon and punched him as hard as I could in the face. From there, I was tackled and thrown outside, kicked out of that Buffalo Wild Wings forever.
At that point, we went back to his step-mom’s. I cried all night. Brandon left driving drunk and wrecked into a field, barely making it back to the house.
We got to Wisconsin the next day, and the only thing he wanted to do was drink and party. We went to his cousin’s house and he was dead set on getting a bunch of cocaine and who knows what else on the night of my birthday. He proceeded to call me all sorts of names, telling me I was the biggest piece of shit and that he wanted nothing to do with me. This was all on my birthday, and he took my ring from me. Seriously -- what a freaking shit show! Was I seriously that stupid? I put up with that kind of crap! What was I doing?
He is such a piece of shit for doing what he did, and I should have been done with him right then.
Brandon then went on a little drive with his dad down to Montana for a couple days. They ended up coming back on a Sunday. I woke up that morning feeling a little different than usual and decided I should probably take a pregnancy test. Sure enough, I was pregnant! I sat there on the toilet for probably 10 minutes crying, trying to decide what to do with myself. I had to tell him. Now that I look back on it, I guess I didn't have to tell him -- but I did. His dad started crying hysterically, and there they sat -- the two of them – bawling and hugging each other, while I stood there alone! There I was the pregnant person, standing there all by myself in the middle of the kitchen and those two idiots were sitting on the couch crying together! Yeah, that was really nice…. thanks for the comfort for me.
From that moment on, it was never the same. Everybody from work was so excited for me. My work family was so supportive and they made me go in and tell Brad, the boss of Knife River. He honestly couldn’t believe it, but he was happy for me. He mentioned several times that Brandon needed to settle down and get serious about life. I love all those people so much and they hold a special place in my heart for everything they did for me.
From the moment that Brandon found out I was pregnant, he was drinking nonstop and was gone all the time. I was not allowed to go out anymore because I was pregnant, but he was out every single night! He could not care less that I wanted him there with me, or that I needed support.
Over the next few days, I started bleeding and was in and out of the hospital multiple times. I tried to pack my things to leave, but I was too sick and was bleeding too much so that I just had to get into bed for a few days and let the neighbors put all my stuff back.
I kept working until May 13th when Brandon came into the shop where I was working and started screaming at me in front of all the mechanics. Several of the mechanics were sitting there biting their tongues as hard as they could, because most of them knew how he treated me, and they could not stand him. At that time, the bosses were too worried about the safety of my unborn child and decided it was best for the health of me and my baby to come back to Utah.
Brandon claimed he had changed, and he wanted me to go out to Wisconsin and Minnesota to see his family while I was pregnant. While we were there, he threw me onto the bed and ripped off all my clothes and was trying to examine me. He kept saying I was a cheater and that I had STD’s, and that this baby was not his. I cried the whole way to the airport. His step-mom took me and could not believe what he had said to me before we had left. When she got back to the house, she let him have it.
After I delivered my beautiful baby girl, Brandon continued to scream at me in front of all the nurses, saying he wanted a paternity test immediately because the baby had black hair and he didn’t think she was his. I was so happy and overjoyed with the birth of my daughter, and I could not believe that he was yelling at me! Looking back on it now, I honestly don't know why I didn't just kick him out of the house or the hospital. In fact, why did I even let him come down for the birth, after everything that he had put me through for that entire year?
We did the paternity test two days later and it came back 99.9999% positive that he was the father. I wanted my daughter to have the same last name as I have, and he freaked out and said absolutely not!
Brandon went back up to North Dakota and refused to help me with anything. A month later, he told me I had to drive up there because I had his other pickup truck. In November of 2012, I drove up to North Dakota to be with Brandon, but he was in jail for getting into a bar fight. When he was released, we got into a fight. Brandon picked me up and threw me on the bed while I was holding the baby. He then grabbed my hands, causing the baby to fall onto the bed. He then pinned me down, screaming that I could never leave him because I was his woman and couldn’t go anywhere. My mom and his dad were both on speaker phone screaming at him to let me go.
In February of 2013, Brandon started using methamphetamine and heroin, and he was drinking heavily. He grabbed the baby out of my arms and dropped her, causing her to hit her head. We were staying out at his dad’s house in Union, Washington, at that time. I told his dad that Brandon wouldn't let me talk to anybody, that he wouldn’t let me leave the house, and that he was being extremely violent with me and the baby. His dad seem to sweep it under the rug and said, "We will be going to Alaska soon and it will be better." He was dead wrong.
We boarded a plane with his dad in March and went to Alaska. Brandon had a job offer up there running equipment with the Local 302 Union for Washington and Alaska. The minute we got off the plane, Brandon started drinking and was up all night for weeks and slept all day. His dad was furious, but Brandon would not listen to him. Every time I told Brandon to call the Union for work, he claimed he was sick.
On Easter of 2013, I walked with my baby into the kitchen to look at her Easter basket and found Brandon masturbating while watching a movie. He was so out of control. I screamed and ran out of the room and hid the baby’s face. He then told me he would find someone else because I didn’t have sex with him enough. I had had it, I tried to book a ride back to the mainland with the only money I had saved up. We had been fighting for weeks and I couldn’t handle it anymore. He finally agreed to take me back home. I had been begging for him to take us back home for weeks.
Once we got to Washington, Brandon started using meth and heroin again. He wouldn’t let me leave his dad’s house at all. He would leave in the middle of the night and would show back up drunk or high. He took my phone away and hid the keys every day before he fell asleep. I started having serious depression. I hadn’t seen my family in over 4 months, and he wouldn’t let me speak to them. I guess the hardest thing for someone to figure out when he/she has absolutely no choice in anything is how, what, and where is he/she going to get help from? I remember looking out the windows at the water thinking, “How am I going to get me and the baby out of here?” I wished I could just walk out into the water and not come back. But then I looked back down at that beautiful baby’s face which I was holding and I knew that I had to do everything I could to keep her safe. Have you ever had somebody talk to you in a way that just made you sick to your stomach? They didn't talk to you like they cared about you, but like they owned you?
The next morning, I heard strange noises coming from downstairs. No one ever went downstairs because it was gross, it was dirty, and there were spiders everywhere. I walked down there and into the bathroom, and there he was. He'd made some sort of contraption with a bunch of bottles and pipes. I can honestly say that in my 28 years I had never seen meth, I did not know what it smelled like, and I did not know what it looked like. All I knew was that I was in the same house as the devil. I ran up the stairs as fast as I could to get away from him.
Looking back on it now I don't know why I let his words affect me so much. I wasn't losing my mind; I had not slept with anybody else! Why would somebody say that, and why would he make me feel so badly? The main thing that gets me now, looking back, is going into his bedroom one day and there he was, smoking heroin with at a ton of porn everywhere. I hate porn, I hate looking at porn, and I hate what porn does to people, I hate it!
We were at Brandon’s mom’s house for almost 3 weeks. His dad kept telling me that he would be home soon and he would drive me back to Utah to my family. He also talked to my mom and told her multiple times that he would be bringing me home soon. I had not heard from Brandon for over a week. His mom kept trying to say that he was sick out at his dad’s because he was trying to clean himself out. I knew that wasn’t true, but I let her believe what she wanted.
Later that night, Brandon came back. He brought everybody's phones back and came into the bedroom and asked me again if I was leaving. I said, "Yes I am!" and he said that he had gone to the courthouse and was about to file paperwork against me. He said, “You'll never take that baby out of this state and away from me!" He grabbed me by the throat and threw me to the ground, ripping off the hood of my sweater in front of our child. His mother came in and took the baby because he said he was taking the baby with him and his mother knew he wasn’t sober. She shut the door and let Brandon choke me and rip my necklace off, continuing to scream and spit in my face, then he got up and left. The baby was finally sleeping so I made sure Brandon was really gone. I walked outside and made the most important phone call in my entire life.
My 6:30 a.m. alarm went off. Nobody else in the house was awake yet. The baby was still asleep, so I grabbed a couple of our bags and took them outside. Fifteen minutes later, my mom called; they were 15 minutes away. My heart started racing. I started sweating and panicking, hoping that Brandon didn't show up and hurt my parents. My poor parents! They had just driven all night long to come get us, and would then turn around and drive right back to Utah.
As soon as his mom woke up and took one look at me, she knew something was going on. She asked me and I told her the truth. In a whirlwind of 10 minutes, my parents were there. I handed them my baby, we threw our belongings in the back of the truck and then strapped it down. As we were leaving, I asked Brandon’s mother to please not tell him for at least 10 minutes. My step-dad asked Brandon’s mom to offer us a prayer of safety, which she did, and we left. We were driving fast -- I mean really fast! My attorneys said we had to get out of the state of Washington as fast as we could.
I finally looked at my mom. I had been dreaming about looking at my mom for five months!! This was the happiest and saddest day of my whole life! "Happy birthday mom!" I said, and I just looked at her. I really didn't think it was real. I had been dreaming about this day, asking myself for so long "Why am I here? How am I going to leave?” My mom!! It was my mom who finally saved us! When I say saved, I mean it! She saved my baby and she saved me!
After we were out of the state of Washington, we called my attorneys and they electronically signed a paternity matter for me. They also filed a protective order against Brandon this same day. That was the longest drive of my entire life!
We finally drove into the valley around midnight, I will never forget the feeling I had when my home town came into view. I was home! I was FINALLY HOME!
On November 29, 2013, Brandon was arrested in Clackamas, Oregon, for robbery III and assault IV. He started calling me from jail. His father convinced the court that he had mental disorders and they committed him to a mental institute in Clackamas, Oregon, for a few weeks. He informed his dad as well as me that as soon as he got out of the hospital in Oregon he was coming down to take me away, that we were going to get married and be together forever. His dad and my attorneys asked me to talk to him and try and get him to start thinking clearly. I told him that we were not together, and that we would never be together again. He could not accept it. He was calling me nonstop from the hospital in Oregon, and since he hadn’t tried to harm himself or anybody else while he was there, he was let go to his father who promised he would return him for court a week later. He never did show back up and now has warrants in Oregon for over $30,000.
Brandon started calling me from jail again. At that point, I called the jail back after which they pulled the video and charged him with violating my protective order. They didn’t charge him for violating my protective order by going to my house the night before because they did not have proof that North Dakota had served him the protective order. Since my old pickup truck was at the impound, and because my name was still on the truck, I went and got all of the belongings of me and my baby which Brandon still had.
Brandon was released to his dad, who swore he would take Brandon up to a rehab in Washington and get him admitted. When his dad went and picked up the pickup truck from the impound, he ended up getting into a fight with the owner. They almost had to call the police on him. They couldn’t not let me get into the truck to get my things because my name was on the registration. His dad threatened the impound and almost beat up the owner. From there, they left and Brandon never entered a rehab/mental institute in Washington. He had multiple warrants in Utah.
Brandon then went back up to Washington, and I was informed he had been arrested for stealing a car on July 3, 2014. He got out of jail and three days later on July 6, 2014, was back in jail for assault. He was released again, and on July 19, 2014,he was driving intoxicated in his mother’s car and hit a police car. Brandon and the officer both went to the hospital. He pled guilty to these felony charges, but is now appealing them. I’m not sure how you can appeal hitting a police officer and injuring all parties involved badly enough that you both go to the hospital, but whatever.
Brandon remained in jail up in Washington state through the remainder of 2014. He was transferred down to the state of Utah in January of 2015, where he was being charged with violation of my protective order x5 and stalking. He had now been clean for almost an entire year, the longest that he had gone without any kind of drugs or alcohol. When people were talking to him, they could tell that he was not right in the head -- they said you could tell that something wasn’t clicking.
I had to go to court multiple times, but I was standing outside the doors so that Brandon did not get to see me. I did get to peek my head in the door and see him for about two seconds. It made me instantly sick and I wanted to throw up. Seeing him sitting there in shackles in a bright pink jail jumpsuit in the same room as me made me so sick. They had offered him multiple deals, but he refused all of them. Finally, the day before trial was set, he finally agreed to plead guilty to two Class A misdemeanors violating my protective order. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to go in front of him and testify against him. I was scared to death and was having panic attacks again. From there, he agreed to leave the state of Utah and not come back. He was put on probation and was supposed to check in with his probation officer monthly and let them know where he was. He has finally left me alone and not contacted me. I am so glad that the state of Utah took this seriously and finally got him to realize he has to leave me alone.
Brandon was released to his dad and they went back up to Washington. At this time, he is in jail again for domestic violence, which is a probation violation in Utah and Washington. I’m hoping they just decide to leave him in there.
Abuse is real! I have been free from Brandon for over two years now, but not one single day goes by that I don’t think about it. I wish so badly that I could forget what he did to me. I wish so badly that I had just left North Dakota right when I found out I was pregnant and that I had never let him know. I wish so badly that I had the courage to call the cops the first time I was thrown over a couch, or the first time I was locked in the house and wasn’t allowed to talk to anybody. However, I cannot change the past -- I cannot redo any of it. The only thing I can do now is move forward and protect my daughter at all costs. She is an angel; she was sent to me from God and I truly believe that she has saved my life. I don’t know where I would be without her, and it honestly scares me to think of where I would be. I have always been a strong person, and have never let anybody have this kind of control over me. It scares me, but it also gives me courage to be able to talk about it now that so many states are involved, and now that the law is on the side of me and my daughter to keep us safe. I will do anything in my power to keep my daughter safe and away from such an abusive person. There are many amazing people out there who can help you. There are so many counselors and amazing people who will do anything they can to help abused women and children. There is hope -- you can do it! My mother saved me and my daughter. I love her so much – she has always stood by me, no matter how bad I screwed up! She never gave up on me, and when I really needed her more than anything, even though she was three states away, she was there! Mothers are amazing, and I love mine more than anything. Thank you mom!
I grew up in the West loving the outdoors and writing. I write down everything. I am a list maker and a note taker. My family is the most important thing in my life and they have stood by me through thick and thin. My daughter is my pride and joy. She keeps me going and on my toes. This is a true story about myself and my daughter and her first few years of life. It was extremely hard for me to write.