Aubrie Mindock

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

Eight weeks after shooting

It has been two months now since the man in this photo, Eric, came to my home with a gun with the intent on shooting me. That night, September 14, 2016 was a night that I will never forget and now that a few weeks has passed I am finally able to come to terms with it all.

I decided to open up about domestic violence and share my story because it can happen to anyone. It does not matter who you are. You can get trapped into an unwanted, violent relationship. Domestic violence happens everywhere. I am sharing my story in hopes that I help someone who is currently in a dangerous situation. 

Before I talk about Eric I want to share how I got into my relationship with him. I met Eric when I was 25 years old. I was fresh out of school and figuring out my career. Being young, you are still in your party life. It is normal for someone in their early to mid 20's to go out to the bars with their friends and have a few drinks with dinner. I am not a huge drinker but I was the typical college student and young person going out to have some fun. My life in my early 20's was a party but I was also responsible and worked and paid my bills and did what everyone else does. 

My father was diagnosed with cancer shortly after I graduated from EMT school. We knew that my father was only going to have a short time to live and that was difficult for me. My parents ended up moving to Texas so my father could get treated at MD. Anderson. It was the right choice and because of that hospital in Texas my father lived longer than expected. 

Meanwhile, I was left alone at home. I did have my friends and my job but when I was off my friends were working and when I was working my friends were off. My job was only 12 hour shifts. When I was home the dog couldn't talk back. I was lonely. I was depressed because my father was dying and scared. I was extremely vulnerable. When I became vulnerable that was when Eric came into my life. 

At first I thought Eric was great. We had a lot of fun together and we laughed. Eric had more time off than me or my friends. His work schedule was better for a social life than mine was and he seemed to have more time to hang out than my friends did. My friends and I got together when we could but work often got in the way of our social lives. Eric was that friend who could be there and we could go out and laugh and joke around and just have a good time. He really was a lot of fun to hang out with at first. He was like my best friend in the beginning. 

Eric and I had something in common as well. My father was dying of cancer but years prior to my father's diagnosis, Eric lost his mother to cancer. Eric often answered questions I had about cancer and what to expect as that time grew near. It was very scary not knowing how my father was going to suffer or what to expect going forward. Eric also happened to be my comfort in a time of need. 

Although Eric and I had losing a parent to cancer in common we did not really talk about it much. Seldom did cancer or death come up. When it did, Eric talked about it but our time spent together was to just have fun and be normal young people trying to better ourselves. 

I do not exactly remember when I noticed things changing with Eric. The changes were so subtle that I did not really think twice about them. I thought of Eric's behavior as a little off but just a part of who he is and his personality. Everyone has faults. I mean no one is perfect so I just saw these small quirks as normal. Now I know that these small changes were huge red flags but I grew up in a home where I was told to give everyone a chance and to be nice so I overlooked it all. 

The first sign that something was wrong with Eric was his drinking. Yes, I was drinking too. I was going out with my friends to the bar and having a few drinks and dinner but I was not getting trashed. Well, once in a while I would drink too much but for the most part I would just have 2-3 drinks and call it. I had work to think about and I could not afford a hangover so I would limit myself most of the time. 

Eric however, would not limit himself. He would often tag along or if Eric and I were out alone Eric would not be able to put the bottle down. At first I did not see it as a problem. I was 25 and 26 years old. People in their 20's typically do go out once every couple weeks to have some fun. What I did not realize was that I was in my 20's but Eric was in his 30's. Eric always drank way more than my friends and his friends. I noticed that while everyone would have 2-3 drinks when out Eric would have 7-9 drinks and shots. There were nights where we all lost count of how much Eric drank. 

Another sign I overlooked was Eric's personality change. While sober Eric was the nicest man around. He was kind and caring and sweet. When he was drinking he was completely different. Eric went from the good guy to a monster. He went from being a friend to being violent, dangerous and deadly.

 Eric was extremely scary and eventually my friends would become terrified of him. I overlooked this as well because no one is themselves when drinking. Alcohol changes a person. I was also confused because when Eric was sober he was really nice.

Eventually I could not take Eric's drinking. Enough was enough. Every time Eric drank he became more and more possessive. He would often cuss me out, run after me and name call. I slowly grew to fear Eric and I had no choice but to end it. When I told Eric I no longer wanted to see him I did not realize that it would be 2 years of begging him to leave me alone. I had no idea that he would stock me, terrorize me and my family and eventually try to kill me. 

Day after day for 2 years I told Eric to leave me alone. It became exhausting the number of times I told him my reasons why I did not want to be around him. I lost count of the number of times I told him to leave me alone and to stop sending me gifts and flowers. He just did not want to hear the word no. He did not want to listen.

Soon Eric started following me and my family. He even showed up for Thanksgiving dinner one year unannounced and uninvited! When he knocked on my parents door he expected my family to just let him in to eat turkey. This man was crazy and psychotic. He did not understand that no one wanted him around. He was annoying and obnoxious. 

I did not know what to do about Eric. He was showing up to my home, coming over to my parents place for dinner and to drop off threatening letters, following me to my work and calling and texting. It was never ending. I had no clue how to just get him to leave me alone so I did the only thing I knew how to do, play his game right back to him. 

Eric was extremely threatening and violent. My mother constantly feared him. She would tell me that she felt that he was going to try to kill her. She feared for her life. I knew that if I could keep Eric happy then I could keep him from harming my mother and family. I knew that if I talked to him and pretended to be his friend then I could save my life and my mothers life. If Eric was not going to listen to me telling him to stop and to leave me and my family alone then I had no other choice but to play his game back. That is exactly what I did. I did whatever it took to survive. 

Eric and I did start talking again and we did start hanging out again. I hung out with him and pretended to be his friend because I knew that if he was with me then he wouldn't be stalking my mother. If Eric was out with me then I knew my mom was safe. I did literally whatever it took to keep the man happy so my family could live. 

I knew I was putting my own life at risk but I was the one who met Eric and I was the one who introduced him to my friends and family so I had to take the responsibility of keeping him away from everyone who knew me. I had to put myself in harms way to protect those I love. It was my fault for bringing him home and for bringing him into my friends and families life so I had to fix it. I knew that I did not want to be with Eric but I also knew that if I was not with him then he would physically harm someone I love.

Finally enough was enough of me pretending to want to be with Eric. I was miserable. Eric was happy but I was scared and I knew that it was just a matter of time before something really bad would happen. I wanted more than anything to move on with my life. I wanted to be free. I felt like I was trapped behind bars. I was a prisoner of Eric. I was chained into his life and there was no hope of escape. I was so tired but I knew that I had to keep this game up to keep him happy. I also knew that one mistake and he would become deadly. 

Well, I was so tired of Eric that I started to sneak around. I wanted more than anything to have a real relationship. I wanted a meaningful relationship with someone who I loved and who loved me. This fake relationship with Eric was just to keep him happy and to keep him from hurting me or anyone else. I didn't want that for my life. I wanted more. I started dating.

I met two really nice men but I knew that I could only have one so I chose to date Jay. I was a little nervous dating Jay because it was my first relationship in a long time. Plus, I still had Eric who was forcing me to be with him. All I knew from men was control, abuse and lies. Jay however, was different. He was not controlling. He was very attractive and easy to talk to. Jay listened and he was the complete opposite of Eric. Our relationship grew naturally and I started to really enjoy Jay's company. I actually looked forward to seeing Jay and talking to him. 

I knew that Eric was still a major problem and I wanted to see where Jay and I were going to go. I wanted to develop a relationship with Jay but Eric was not going to ever allow me to be happy. Eric did not want me to have a career or to be with anyone except him. Eric actually did not want me to do anything with my life. He only wanted my life to revolve around him. Jay on the other hand, wanted me to do whatever God called me to do. Jay wanted me to have the world and Eric wanted to rip the world from me. I knew that I needed to get Eric to move on and to stop once and for all. 

It would be a week before my 29th birthday before I would tell Jay all about Eric. Jay already knew a little about Eric but I did not tell Jay everything because I was hoping and praying that Eric would get the hint and move on. One week before my birthday I told Jay everything. I do not know why the subject of Eric came up but it did, thankfully. 

After I told Jay everything Jay immediately looked Eric up on Facebook. Jay told me that he just had a strange feeling that Eric was up to no good and he wanted to know what Eric looked like and what his car looked like just in case Eric stopped by. Jay had every right to look Eric up. Eric was a threat and Jay needed to protect himself now. Jay was the other guy in my life and Eric would not be happy if he found out that I was in a relationship with Jay. 

My birthday came and Eric did drop off a birthday gift. Actually, my neighbors said that Eric had been around for quite some time though the week. He had been at my pool and lurking around the neighborhood. Jay of course found out and two days later we went to the police. 

September 14th 2016 Eric once again stopped off at my place. I called Jay and Jay came home from work. Both Jay and I went to the police out of concern for our lives. What we did not know was that Eric had a gun and hours later he would be back at my home with that gun to murder me. Jay intervened and thankfully both me and Jay survived. Eric took his gun to his head and committed suicide on my doorstep. 

It has been two months now since Eric took his life. I am still coming to terms with Eric being gone. I did not want Eric to die. No one did. All we wanted was for him to find someone else and to marry and have a family and be happy. All Eric wanted was a family but I simply did not love him. I did not want to be with him. He was an alcoholic and I did not want to constantly have to worry about when or if Eric would put the drink down. I had no choice but to leave him.

I am glad that I no longer have to worry about a stalker. So many women out there do have to worry. Their stalkers are like Eric, dangerous and deadly. I feel so sorry for women who have restraining orders but the piece of paper does not stop the men from coming around. I know what it is like to live in fear daily and I am so sorry if that is you. 

It is difficult to rebuild my life after two years of stalking. Eric wanted me to have nothing. He wanted me to be stuck in home with no goals or dreams. Slowly, I am picking myself back up. I am now learning about who I am and what I want. It is a slow process but one day I am certain that I will have my life back. I am certain that I will have a good career and a wonderful life. I am no longer being controlled by a psycho but only time will heal my wounds.