Aubrie Mindock

Professional skier, author of "When I Saw Heaven" and "Back Up On Skis," Olympic hopeful

Too scared to tell

I remember seeing the headlights pull into my neighborhood. I remember watching the break lights parking. I heard the music blaring from Eric's car and I heard my door being jiggled. I did not know it at that moment but my life was soon to be changed forever. September 14, 2016 was the night that I would almost be shot and it was also the night that I would be free from my ex boyfriend who had been stalking me for years. 

The shot sounded like a knock on the door. Actually, I did not know there was a gun until the police informed me that Eric had brought a gun to my home and eventually shot himself on my doorstep. I knew Eric was a violent, abusive man but I did not know that he wanted me dead as well. I did not know until that night that Eric had the mindset that if he could not have me then no one could. 

Eric's life was a failure. Everything he tried to do he failed. He was a loser that I had met during a very difficult time in my life. I was vulnerable because my father was dying of cancer. When women are vulnerable that is usually when abusive men come into their lives. It is like men can smell vulnerability. This was Eric. He was weak and he wanted to be strong and powerful. Eric prayed on those who were vulnerable because it made him feel powerful. Eric felt strong and in control when he was able to control another person.

I am glad that Eric was such a failure, for if he had lived a successful life then his plan on September 14, 2016 would have played out. Had Eric been a success he would have shot and killed me along with himself. Because Eric lived on impulse and he failed at everything, my life was spared. I never saw the gun and I did not see Eric. I saw nothing, except the aftermath. 

People often wonder why I did not tell when Eric would abuse me. I am often asked why I kept everything a secret. The truth is I could not tell. No one would believe me if I opened up about Eric. No one would care or take me seriously had I tried to get help while the abuse was happening. 

Eric was a very popular man. Everyone who met Eric loved Eric. He had many friends and of course his friends highly respected him, trusted him and loved him. Had I opened up to his friends or family they would have shunned me, told Eric what I had said about him then I would have probably ended up severely injured or dead. I couldn't tell anyone because my life was on the line and I was terrified of not getting help. I was too scared to tell. 

If someone comes up to you and tells you that they are being controlled, verbally abused or physically abused by their partner please act. Please take them seriously. It takes a strong person to open up and talk about what is going on behind closed doors. If someone comes up to you and asks for your help then you need to believe them and help them get away from their abuser. 

Victims of domestic violence are terrified. They are always threatened with violence, whether that is physical or verbal. Domestic violence victims are closely watched, stalked and bullied by their partner and the vast majority are even isolated. Yes, men do isolate women to keep them from escaping. If you notice anything wrong call the police and get the victim the much needed help she needs.

You never know what is going on behind closed doors. Out and about Eric was the nicest man you could meet. Everyone loved Eric. He had many friends and everyone trusted him. Most abusers are just like Eric, popular. They have to be. Because of their popularity, they are able to control the situation at home and keep their victim under full control. No one will believe the victim because of his popularity. Behind closed doors is a different story. He becomes a monster. That nice man in public is a devil alone. 

Domestic violence is very common, yet not really talked about. No one thinks that they can be a victim. We do not believe it could be us. I come from a great background. I grew up playing sports and I was and still am involved in my community. You would think that I would be the last person to experience domestic violence but guess what? It happened. I was in an abusive relationship and that relationship almost killed me on September 14, 2016. 

Saying this, anyone can become a victim. Anyone can become trapped by a deadly madman. This is why it is so important to reach out and talk about such things. Domestic violence happens everywhere. It happens in poor neighborhoods and wealthy neighborhoods. It does not discriminate. Black, White, Hispanic, Native American, male and female can all become victims. It is important for you to know the signs so you can better protect yourself and those you love. 

Most important, if you see something, say something. Even if you cannot confront the abuser or victim you can always call the police. There are many resources out there for both victims and witnesses. Help is only a phone call away. Just remember that victims are always terrified to tell. They have been brainwashed, controlled and threatened. It could take time to get them away from their abuser but never give up. Do what it takes to protect yourself and your loved ones. It is okay to tell and talk.