March 2019 Stunningly Strong Woman: Tara Alston

T R I G G E R• W A R N I NG

March’s Stunningly Strong Story is one that is full of violence but also redemption and I want my readers to be fully aware of this. If you have suffered violence, physical, sexual, or emotional I urge you to proceed with caution. If someone you know has lost their life due to domestic violence I also urge you to proceed with caution. I HIGHLY recommend that you have someone you trust read the story first then tell you if they feel it’s something you can handle. For the rest of you, I want you to meet Tara, March’s Stunningly Strong Woman. I’m beyond honored that she was so candid in sharing her story with me and that she has trusted me to write it.

Violence from the Beginning.

During my childhood, I was emotionally, physically, and sexually abused; and as with victims of abuse, especially sexual abuse, I became promiscuous and didn’t have a lot of self love or self respect. I left my house when I was seventeen.

I already had a job that I was working when I left home, and that was when I met my now ex husband; he was was twenty-two years old and honestly my first impression of him was that he seemed like a jerk. I didn’t see him again for a year, and that second time, he left a very different impression.  He was a police officer, had a career and appeared to have a lot of things going for him, which to an eighteen year old seemed like a good thing, so we started dating and I became pregnant very early into our relationship.

Once I became pregnant, that was when the abuse began. He was upset that we weren’t married, that was he was just my boyfriend. He started to threaten me saying that if I didn’t marry him he would kill me and take my baby. Again, going back to all the abuse I suffered as a child and how my mind worked, I agreed to marry him. At eighteen, and just a few months after my son was born I became his wife.

He had a history of violence that I didn’t know about. After we were married, I learned that he had been married before, and had been in the Air Force. He told me that he had gotten in trouble because he had beat his ex-wife and had pulled a gun on someone.

The longer we were together, the domestic violence increased. For four long years, I suffered at his hand. The physical violence was unreal. I was beat often; his favorite thing to do was to choke me. He would rape me. In fact two weeks after our first son was born he raped me at gunpoint. He would drag me through the house by my hair. The day before our first son turned one, I delivered our second son and the violence continued. He knew the boys were my heart and he began to threaten them. He would ask me what I thought would happen if he hit the babies as hard as he could in the face and he would constantly threaten to hurt my family and friends.

There was extreme control. I was not allowed to use the dishwasher, he told me how to wash my hair, and he had complete financial control. I was allowed to go to the grocery story by myself until I bought a package of cookies that were not on the list then I couldn’t go to the store by myself ever again. He tried to sever all my relationships with family and friends by controlling my schedule and dictating when I could do things.

I did leave with the boys on several occasions.  We would get out but he would find us and threaten us and the people who where trying to help us. I didn’t want him to hurt anyone else, so I would go back and the abuse would be even worse. One time he hurt the boys and that was it. I felt like he could do whatever he wanted to do to me and as long as he was abusing me he wouldn’t touch them, but once he hurt them I was done. I waited until he fell asleep and I left with the boys and just their diaper bag and I didn’t go back.

The Justice System is neither blind nor fair.

After the boys I left for good, I filed for divorce but I really felt like I wasn’t taken seriously. I don’t know why, I don’t know if it was because he was a former police officer, but I do know that he was incredibly manipulative. He would contact my attorney after court sessions and spin stories, asking for more concessions to the point that MY attorney was telling me I needed to be more lenient on him. The Court system really failed me and the boys, after everything that he did us they still granted him unsupervised visits, but God was looking out for me.

My ex wouldn’t come to all the visits with the boys so the place that had to mediate them recommended that they didn’t continue. He was upset about that, because he was controlling and wanted to be in charge of everything so one day when I was at church, he showed up and just took the baby right out of my arms. He completely ignored the temporary protection order that was against him and because he refused to follow the court order, he temporarily lost ALL parental rights.

The fear and terror continued.

Losing his rights didn’t stop him from showing up at my job and my house. He continually ignored the protection orders of the court and he would constantly make threats against me and the boys.  I was living in complete fear. The whole time, I was trying to make sure the boys didn’t know anything that was going on, but it was terrifying. I had hit rock bottom, I was living in constant turmoil, and I felt like I couldn’t handle the terror anymore.  One day I pulled out my Bible and started talking to God. I just told Him that I needed HIM to protect us, and that I wanted to live because I wanted to do great things for HIM and I wanted to raise my boys to do the same. I opened up the Bible to Deuteronomy 28, and it was exactly what I needed to read. I just started praying those scriptures over me and the boys. I was still scared, but I knew God would protect us. From the day that I felt like I couldn’t go on and told God He HAD to protect us, I did NOT hear from my ex husband in over a year. It was truly a miracle and a reprieve that we desperately needed.

Violent men, continue to be violent men.

During the year that I didn’t hear from him it was because he had met another women and she had a baby, a little girl. One day, while I was at work, one of my co-workers told me that a woman was out front and was asking to speak to me. It was my ex-mother-in-law. She had driven all the way from Georgia to Ohio to hand deliver a letter to me. The letter was from my ex-husband and was stamped with a detention center name on the envelope.  He was in jail in Georgia on charges of murder. He had murdered the mother of his daughter, beating her to death, when the baby was four months old. I don’t why he wrote that letter, or why his mom felt that she needed to deliver it, but it was shocking, and at the same time not surprising. The only thing I can think of was that he wanted to continue his reign of terror over me, because in the letter he told me he was going to come back for me and the boys.

Revisiting the Justice System.

I called the detention center to find out what was happening and if he was there, when I told them who I was they immediately put through to the prosecutor who asked me questions and listed me as a similar transaction witness.  The violence that I suffered at his hands was the same as what he did to the mother of his daughter, except he murdered her. The prosecutors said it was the most gruesome case they had ever dealt with. Because I was listed as a similar transaction witness, the defense had my name and he saw it. Once he saw my name listed I got a death threat from him. The prosecutor decided after the death threat that he would only call me to the stand if it was absolutely needed for a conviction. Thankfully, I did not have to go to Georgia to testify against him. When his sentence came back he was given life with eligibility for parole AFTER fourteen years! He could possible be free fourteen years after beating the mother of his child to death in one of the most gruesome cases the DA’s office had ever seen? It was unbelievable.

The scales of justice.

In 2014, he became eligible for parole. The terms of his sentence stated that he had to be reviewed every one to eight years once his eligiablility for parole began. The first few request for review where denied, then in 2018 I received that dreaded letter stating that he was being considered for a work release program. When I received that letter I was floored. How could someone that brutally murdered the mother of his child be considered for release? My oldest son and I drove to Georgia in the fall of 2018 to meet with a parole board member and the Deputy Director of Clemency. I provided everything I had; court records of violent behavior, a description of the violence he had committed before me, according to what he had told me, a description of what I had endured as well as what my boys endured, and our concerns.

He was denied parole for January 2019, however, he will be reviewed again in January of 2020. I was really hoping that after they looked at everything I showed them, and heard everything that we went through they would at LEAST agree to not review his case for another two or even three more years. I so desperatly wanted a reprieve from all of this. But, the parole board has still chosen to review him in a year, so I’m going to have to do this again in January of 2020, and possibly in January of 2021 and 2022 and on and on it goes. This is only if he does not get relseased in January of 2020.  The law is so flawed.

I feel like there is someone with pull working on his behalf, he was after all, a police officer, and he is without a doubt manipulative.

Honestly, I’ll go to Georgia, for as long as I need to in order to make sure he stays in jail. This whole situating has very little to do with me, but it has a lot do with the woman he murdered. He TOOK her life. She will never raise her daughter and her daughter will never know her mother. She will never have that mother daughter relationship that is so fulfilling, she won’t have her mom with her when she gets married or has children of her own. My testimony is for the victims that can’t speak for themselves. And yes, it angers me that if he gets out (of jail) in 2020, he will only be 50 years old not to mention that he got remarried in jail to a woman who has children.

The day I testified in Georgia at the parole hearing, when everything was over, the Deputy Director of Clemency came to me and said,  “I need you to be a voice, not just for yourself but for others”. THAT’S why God protected me. To be the voice for those who no longer have one.

My boys and I have been able to move past the violence and trauma and I did get remarried; it has not been easy, but we have overcome so incredible obstacles. We’re both very involved in the church. He has three girls and I have my three boys so we are very much the Brady Bunch. He is incredibly supportive, and he is amazing at balancing his concern for me and my safety and not being overbearing or stressed out about what might happen if my ex is paroled. Yes, we both have concerns but we are careful and we refuse to be ruled or governed by fear.

My Stunningly Strong Story SO FAR;

From birth there seems to have been such an attack on my life. From abuse and violence of the worst kind, and how judicial system failed me several times, but God stepped up every time. He has made Himself real to me, He has kept me and protected me and my boys. He has kept my mind sane and He has brought me through it all.

So much good has come from so much bad. I have a passion for the hurting and I am thankful that God is using me to bring hope to others. I have been able to help in a battered woman’s shelter and I am a part of a new non-profit that will help others in abusive situations.  This month I have gone through training so I can begin volunteering at a home for minors who have been rescued from sex trafficking. I am the true example of what was meant to destroy you can be used for HIS purpose.

Gena’s PS: Tara is currently working on a book that will go into more detail about her life and her escape from the violent abuse that almost claimed her life. I’ll have release dates and website posted once it is completed and available for purchase.

Gena’s PSS: If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of domeitic violence of any kind and you need to reach out to someone you can contact Tara at yetstillistand@gmail.com

And check out her Facebook page: http://yetstillistand.com/ Yet Still I Stand And her blog http://www.yetstillistand.com where you can hear first hand from her how she is taking on the justice system and the struggle with the laws in regards to her ex-husbands parole.

2 comments

  1. Shawnna McGraw says:

    This is a story that so many can relate to. I am honored to have beautiful fearless lifelong friends that are courageous enough to share the hard stories and truths that can possibly begin to affect change. There are so many people living with abuse or the memory of it. Watching God use you both is incredible. I’m so proud of you Tara for sharing your story and for stepping up as a voice for those who dont, cant, or wont use theirs. I am so proud of you Gena for giving it an platform. There are so many people who need to see this light at th he end of the tunnel. Love you both so much.

    Liked by 1 person

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