TBI One Love Survivor LaTasha Unseld
Hello, my name is Latasha. I would like to thank you, for allowing me to join this family and share my story.
Having to go through all of this doesn’t make me happy, give me satisfaction, or make me boastful. August 29, 2014 will always be the worst day of my life. I still remember that day like it was yesterday because it will forever be embedded in my memory. That is the one thing I can remember clearly. It was the day I tried to protect myself from the hands of someone I trusted, someone I spent half of my life with and someone I thought loved me. It was also the day I thought my life was going to end. If someone would have told me that they saw my future and knew this was going to happen, I would have told them they were crazy because that man loved me. I was never afraid of him until that terrifying night. That night he was a stranger in my home. That weekend was supposed to be a good one because it was my first free weekend after finishing school in two years. I came home to relax and tried to spend it with him, but instead I found myself wiping blood from my eyes from the blows I took from his fist, yelling, screaming, and begging him to stop punching me, kicking me, choking me, pulling my hair out, and raping me while all at the same time he kept telling me he loved me.
To make matters worse than they already were, our than seven-year-old son was on the other side of the door screaming and crying. Who does that!!! I couldn’t understand why he was doing this when all I wanted was a peaceful night with no arguing, but of course I was asking for too much. I didn’t know me saying I was tired and couldn’t take this relationship anymore gave him the authorization to hurt me beyond recognition. I kept telling myself that this was just a dream and that I was going to wake up and things would be alright, but when I came to after the first time he strangled me, he was standing over me with a look of hate, and I knew than it was real. I do believe if I wouldn’t have gotten away, I wouldn't be standing here today because he wouldn’t have let me leave if he caught me trying to get over that fence. I’m not exactly sure how long the attack happened, but to me if felt like hours. It was hard to believe that this was the same man that threw me a surprise graduation party with family and friends just six days prior. It didn’t make sense to me. Enduring that physical and mental trauma not only changed my life, but impacted the lives of my kids and family forever. Standing here and reading this statement is the second most difficult thing I had ever had to do, but for me to get closure and try to move past that nightmare I suffered on August 29th, I must express how that horrific crime against me has haunted me and has my affected my kids mentally for the last three years.
I spent over a week in the hospital due to my injuries, spent a couple of weeks in the behavioral health hospital because after seeing myself in the mirror out of my one good eye at the time and not recognizing myself caused me to have a nervous breakdown and be put on medication for six months. I took myself off the medication because it made me gain weight and I didn’t want that added to the long list of things I was already depressed about. As a result of my injuries I couldn’t speak clearly, move any part of my body, or see anyone that came to visit me in the hospital. I couldn’t eat due to my throat being swollen from the extension cord being wrapped around my neck. It even hurt to drink juice and water. The most embarrassing moments for me was pushing the nurse call button and having someone come in and turn me to my side and put a bed pan under me because I couldn’t get up to go to the bathroom on my own. I had and still have constant headaches from the concussion I had because of the numerous punches to my head. I also have memory problems that are a result of the attack. I sometimes ask the same question because I would forget that I’ve asked it just minutes earlier.
A physical therapist had to teach me how to walk again with a walker. After weeks of that, I could walk with the use of crutches. I would be up for days at a time without sleeping because I was too afraid to close my eyes, so I was put on medication to help me sleep. I couldn’t go in my room for a long period of time because that night kept playing over and over in my head. After three months, I was finally able to lay in my bed, but not without having my tv on because I could no longer sleep in the dark without seeing the image of him standing over me which frightened me the most. I had to wear hats because my head had several spots where I had hair pulled out and other spots where it was too tender to the touch. It took six weeks before I could see fully out of my left eye. I lost the desire to be around people because I became severely depressed. I was no longer able to interact with my kids like I normally did because I was in shock. The mental and physical pain was so unbearable that I didn’t have the will to live anymore. There were times that I wished he had finished me off because living with all that pain and suffering was the worst I’ve ever felt. When people hear my story, they probably think the worst part was the physical abuse, but for me it was the Rape. Letting him take that away from me and all I could do was lay there out of fear for the worst is the most humiliating, demeaning, and disturbing encounter a woman can ever endure.
The fact that I've known him over half of my life, makes it worse than a stranger doing the same heinous act. After everything was all over, I lost my dignity, trust, respect, self-esteem, love I once felt for others, and the excitement of me walking across the stage at my graduation with honors was taken away from me because he robbed me of it, and most important of it all, I lost my identity. I could no longer function doing everyday task and I kept blaming myself for telling him I wanted out of the relationship. I kept saying over and over if I wouldn’t have said that, that wouldn’t have happened. I was eventually referred to a therapist and was diagnosed with PTSD and Depression.
My family basically had to put their lives on hold for a few months to take care of me and be there for my children. My oldest niece stayed the first night in the ER with me and in my room with me after I was admitted to the hospital. My brother moved in for a couple of months and took care of my children while I was in the hospital and continued after I got home. He had to take over my responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, taking my kids back and forth to school, helping with homework, all while coming back and forth to visit me at the hospital and in the Behavioral Health Hospital. My cousins had to come to my house to clean up all the blood that was left behind from the attack. They bought new things to redecorate my room and tried to make it comfortable for me, but that didn’t help. They also were traveling back and forth to visit me in the hospital and even after I made it home.
I knew they were trying to uplift me, but nothing they did made me feel any better. My cousin Tonya and my Aunt would come to the hospital almost every other day from Calumet City to visit and stay with me to keep me company even though my Auntie was severely sick herself. When I got home from the hospital they had to push the kitchen table up to the sink and pile pillows on it and put me on top of it to wash the dried-up blood from my hair. Everywhere they touched was tender and painful, but it had to be done. I remember one of my cousins telling me just last year that you could tell where he held you down at, because those were the places that had the big puddles of blood. When I finally did go in my room, I could still see some of the dark spots that were on the floor from the blood, even though they did their best to clean it. My daughter slept at the hospital every single night while I was admitted. My brother would pick her up in the morning for school and bring her back after she did her homework and spent time with her little brother. She became my caretaker. No child should have to see their mom in that type of situation, but all three of my kids did and that is going to be something they’ll never forget.
All my kids suffered psychologically from the attack that he brought upon me, but Tre my youngest son (Demetric) suffered the most because he was the only one at home when it happened. He became angry in the beginning and would sometimes hit his sister for no reason. He would cry at the drop of a hat and became terrified for me to leave the house. It hurt me to see my son like that because I know that wasn’t normal for him, so with the assistance of my Advocate he was/is attending counseling too. My daughter became sensitive, confused, annoyed at times about any and everything, and she was also scared for me too. I was told that once my daughter arrived at the hospital and they told her what happened, she fainted. He turned what was supposed to be the most memorable year of her life (her senior year), into one she wanted to be over. She was so beautiful on her prom day, but she ran out crying and saying this was one of the most important days of her life and how her dad was supposed to be there, but he wasn’t. I heard her crying often and I knew it was because of the abandonment, not only from him, but her brothers too. I knew she was hurting and I couldn’t do anything to take her pain away.
She was supposed to be hanging out with friends and having fun, but instead she was trying to help me recover. She would receive text messages from him saying he was going to get to her to get to me. What father would tell his daughter that after she watched her mother struggle to be herself! She was so afraid that she wanted something to protect herself. My oldest son did not come back to the hospital after the first time he saw me because he couldn’t bear to see me in pain like that. He told my niece that I didn’t look like his mom and he left the hospital crying and distraught. They all blamed themselves for not being at home when it happened. Kimani said if I didn’t have to go to work, I would have protected you. Momie (Demetrica) said if I didn’t go to the football game, he wouldn’t have done that, and Tre (Demetric) said my dad was mad because I didn’t clean my room that day. Tre constantly asks when he’ll see his dad or if his dad will write him, but I tell him it’s up to his dad to write him and I often tell him one day he will see him again, but he’ll be old enough to make that decision for himself. Tre went from talking about him every day to rarely bringing him up. I read his emails and texts he sent to me about how he was missing his son so much, but it took our than 9-year-old son to send him a letter first in which his therapist mailed it off from the Counseling Center. He responded to the first letter, but after that, there were no follow up letters to his son. A dad that loves his son so much, would have kept writing him, but he did not. Not one time was our daughter even mentioned. He must have forgot he had a daughter. They all felt like they should have protected me from him, but what happened to me was not their fault, it was only the person that did that to me. Out of all the things I heard, the one that imprinted on me the most, was hearing my daughter tell me what her little brother said to her before she left for college. He told her he should have called 911 or left to get someone to help me. Hearing that made me feel worse than I already did.
Due to my attack, I was off work for 5 months. I wasn’t physically or mentally able to return to work. During that time and thereafter, I also struggled financially. The first 90 days was considered short-term disability and I received 80% of my income and the last two months I was paid at long-term disability at 66%. Even though I went through this and couldn’t work, my household bills, child care fees, feeding and clothing my kids, and paying senior fees didn’t stop. Everything around me continue to pile up. I also accrued numerous medical bills for all my doctor visits I had to attend because of the attack. The kicking he did to my legs caused a lot of internal damage to my knees that I still suffer from today. I had to have major knee surgery in January 2016 which caused me to be all of work for an additional 6 months. I started physical therapy 6 months before the surgery and continued physical therapy until June of this year.
My knees continue to swell up when I walk for long periods of time, I still have extreme pain when I stand for too long, I can’t bend my knees without them getting stiff, and I still have to visit the Orthopedic doctor to get injections to help ease the pain, inflammation, discomfort, and swelling. I’ll eventually need knee replacements to both of my knees according to my doctor, but he’s trying to delay them for as long as possible. I often decide on what I can pay and what can wait for me to stay afloat. I pay all my own utilities, child care for my youngest son, a portion of my daughter’s college tuition, buy food to feed my son, clothed them, buy them personal items, and pay medical bills depending on how many doctor appointments, therapy appointments, and physical therapy visits I have. I do this all on my own. I often sit and think that my attack is the only reason I’m suffering from all this pain. I do what I must do for my kids because I’m their only parent. Most of his family disowned my kids, which is not fair to them.
I also had to move from my place that I loved and put a lot of work and money into. I was there for over five years, but no longer felt safe in my own home. I became more terrified after I received texts from him saying he was watching me, what clothes I had on, and who I was with. I no longer left the house at night by myself. It took me eight to nine months before I would even take a walk outside. My Advocate would come and get me out the house. When I would come home from work, I would call one of my kids to make sure they came to the door to greet me, so I could pull in my garage because I was afraid to get out my truck. When I went back to work, the security guard would walk me in and out every day until he was caught because he knew where I worked. I’m now easily startled when someone gets too close to me. I still suffer from anxiety and panic attacks because of this. I had to buy a club to lock up my steering wheel to my truck because he took my keys with my alarm on it. For a whole year I was stuck in that house with all those memories of my attack. I eventually moved so I could have some type of peace of mind. Do you know how it feels to live in fear in every aspect of your life? Well I do and it’s the most gut wrenching feeling in the world.
I’m standing here today because God has something greater in store for me. He kept me. He has brought new people into my life that not only care about me, but care about the well-being of my kids too. They make sure we are ok, and they are always there when we need them, so for that I’m very grateful. I’m grateful for my family that have stood by me during the most difficult times in my life without being asked. I’m grateful for my previous neighbors that answered their door and helped me when I was bloody all over and gave me clothes to put on when I had nothing but a shirt on. I’m thankful for all the doctors, nurses, paramedics, ambulance driver, police officers, detectives, and physical therapist that took care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself. They treated me like a person and not a Domestic Violence victim. I’m thankful for Detective Johns for promising me that he’s going to see this through to the end and he kept that promise. I’m thankful for my friends that were there from the beginning to the end. They visited while I was in the hospital, visited me at my home, constantly called and checked up on me, provided emotional support during those times when I was struggling and crying.
They made sure my daughter had the perfect send off for prom and graduation by contributing financially and physically. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it on my own. I’m grateful for Patrick whom is Tre’s therapist. He has given Tre his smile back, is teaching him about trusting people, about being open and honest, guiding him in the right direction, and is enlightening him about new and exciting things. I’m grateful I was introduced to a therapist that was dedicated, sincere, genuine, caring, and empathetic towards me. He helped me find myself again, taught me how to trust people again, continued my therapy sessions at my residence every week like clockwork when I was unable to drive for six months after my knee surgery, and gave me extra therapy sessions during the times I struggled the most, so thank you Larry Frank. I’m grateful for the States Attorney (Jackie) who took my case and fought hard to seek justice for me. I know now that there are people that fight hard for you, so the truth can be heard. I’m proud and grateful that she was on my side. I’m appreciative for Pastor Edmond and my Church family for welcoming me into their church with no questions asked, loving me, and supporting me mentally, financially, and spiritually through this whole ordeal. My Pastor promised me they wouldn’t let me go hungry or homeless and they didn’t. Without my church, I wouldn’t have been able to move because they gave me half of the money for my security deposit, they helped me get caught up with my rent at my old house, and they bought my daughter's college books this year, so I’m blessed to be a part of that church.
Last, but not least my Guardian Angel, Kristin Jordan who took charge of everything from the beginning. She is my Advocate, Mentor, Confidant, Protector, a blessing, and most of all someone I consider a true friend. She always made sure the kids and I had what we needed. She made sure my kids were never left without during the holidays, she gave me advice, was truthful, open, honest, sympathetic, sincere, genuine, was there whenever I needed her, always checked in on me, would visit me at home after I had my surgery, was present at all the court cases, and listened to me even when I didn’t make sense to myself. She is, has, and always will be a Godsend to me. I knew I was in good hands when I first met her. I know I wouldn’t be where I’m at without her in my life, so I’m eternally grateful for her.
My kids are what keep me going. I fight to be a better and stronger person because of them. I see a little of me in all of them. I'm proud of Tre for being a kind, gentle, sweet, loving, warm, and caring soul, that cares about his mom and others. He puts other’s needs and cares in front of his own and that’s something he gets from me. He continues to get good grades, get praises from his teachers, and continues to become Student of the month. Because of what you did in front of him, he ALWAYS makes sure that I’m ok without thinking about himself. He doesn’t go to bed without hugging me, kissing me, and telling me he loves me. I constantly remind him that he's only 10 years old and his job is to stay a kid for as long as he can.
I'm proud of Momie (Demetrica) for continuing with her college education despite all that has happened in her life, our lives. She’s proved you wrong by going to school and not getting pregnant like you said she would. Even though she might struggle, she continues to go and not give up and that is something she gets from me.
My oldest son Kimani can't be here today, but I'm proud of him for taking responsibility for his own actions. He's also a kind, warm, and caring soul and will give you the shirt off his back. His only dream for me was to be happy. As he got older, he stayed away from home a lot because he was tired of all the yelling, screaming, hollering, and put downs. I’ve learned the last few months that he felt responsible for me because he was the oldest. Having you in my life has caused a lot of heartache for him and certain members of your family know exactly why that is, which is also something I’ve learned of a few months ago. I’m glad our mother and son bond is stronger and that is something no one will get in the middle of.
Going through this trial have caused my nightmares to come back. Seeing the pictures, listening to the 911 call and hearing the false accusations has triggered my PTSD. It was difficult to sit and feel like I was being ridiculed for the abuse I endured by you. Listening to the closing remarks that were all lies put knots in my stomach. It doesn’t feel good being mentally and physically drained to the point where you can't get out of bed to go to work, to cook, to eat, to go to church, or not wanting to talk to anyone. That is what this whole trial has done to me.
When people first told me, it would get better and I would get stronger, I didn’t believe any of it or them because I couldn’t see past the hurt, pain, and betrayal I went through. There were times when I wanted to die because I didn’t want to live in pain anymore. Do you know how it feels to be in and feel pain all over your body at the slightest bit of movement, cry at any given moment, not love yourself because of what someone else did to you, look in the mirror and see the stitches on both sides of your head and not believing you are pretty because all you could see were the bruises that covered your whole body, well I did. I lived it, and I’m here to say what you thought you did was going to break me, but it only made me more durable. I found it disgusting and appalling that you tried to blame Kimani for what you did. Trying to make it all about him, when it was you, and only you. I know he's not your son, but he's mine and you didn't make yourself look better, only more like the demon you are.You tried to silence me, and you did for a while, but I found my voice and I will no longer be quiet or held back from speaking the truth. I’m no longer ashamed and embarrassed to tell others what happened to me because I didn't do this, I didn't deserve it, and it will always be a part of what happened to me. I’m not completely healed from this, but I'm stronger than I was three years, two years and one year ago. I’m now more cautious of the people around me and I pay more attention to my surroundings. I tell my kids often that there are still good people in the world and they will go out of their way for you just because they care, have big hearts, and are genuine without wanting something in return. I’ve taught them to take responsibility for their actions, apologize when they’re wrong, and don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry, and because of those values, I know they’ll be better human beings. I look forward to watching my kids get married and becoming a grandmother. I’m going to love my grandkids, spoil them, listen to them, care for them, protect them from harm, be there whenever they need me, and support them. I could never sit back, roll my eyes, or smile at any woman who has endured that kind of torture and pain because I am a woman first and foremost.
My kids lost one side of their family, but it’s ok because they’re better off without them anyway. I told my daughter that people who really love you, will never leave or forsake you. They won’t love you just when the conditions are right for them, they will love you forever. It’s sad that you have to say that, but it’s the truth. We know that we were only loved and dealt with because of convenience. It’s amazes me that people will hurt you and act like you hurt them. I constantly remind myself that I’m still alive and I’m no longer a victim. I sit back and think about how I put up with so much for so long and I know now it’s because I wanted my kids to have their dad around and I was afraid of being alone, but you know what, I rather be alone than to have someone tell me they love me and then cheat on me, belittle me, criticize me, devalue me, tell me how to wear my hair, what clothes to wear, and try to control me. I know my worth and I know I deserve better than what I had, and I didn’t deserve what YOU did to me. I’ve also learned that crying doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human.
So regardless of what others may say, I do feel, I hurt, I cry, I'm in pain, agony, and I still suffer physically to this day. I won't try to cover it up because I’mhonest to myself, and I won't put on a front for anyone because I only have to stay true to myself and GOD.I’m still the same Tasha, but with scars and pain that I’ll always carry from this trauma. At first you defeated me, but now I’m an Advocate for other victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, so I’ll continue to hold my head up high. I’ve learned some valuable lessons from all of this. I know that Real love doesn’t hurt you, critique you, manipulate you, demean you, make you feel worthless, devalue you, terrorize you, threaten you, physically and sexually assault you, nor try to take your life away. No one else will ever have that much power and control over my life again. My will to live dominated the weakness I once had in me to shrivel up and fade away and I know it was only the devil trying to defeat me, but GOD said NO!!
I can now smile at times without reason, celebrate me just because, love my kids because I am still here to be their mother, cry at sad movies or for the death of loved ones, leave my house without being afraid, and praise God for carrying me when I was too weak to carry myself. He kept me, so I wouldn’t let go. It is because I am his child that I’m able to stand here and read this statement. What others may not understand is that I don’t have hate for you, but it’s not for them to understand. I know I’m closer to God because I no longer fear or have hostility towards you, instead I feel pity and sorry for you. I’m able to be around my kids and watch them grow up to be amazing people and you lost that opportunity when you chose to do this. I can stand here and say that I forgive you.
It took me a long, long time to even bring the word forgiveness and your name in the same sentence. I know now forgiveness is not about you, it’s about me being free of what you did to me. Holding in whatever I was feeling towards you only weighed me down and it made my heart heavy and that’s a feeling I don’t want to carry with me forever. We are the ones that suffer the most when we choose not to forgive, and I’ve already suffered enough by your hands. I know and trust that God will help me, guide me, and bless me with the good life that I deserve. I hear all the time that you don’t look like what you been through and I say yes that might be, but I have the scars to prove it.
Now when I look in the mirror, I see battle wounds that reminds me that I survived what would have killed most. The quote I live by now is “I AM NOT WHAT HAPPENED TO ME, I AM WHO I CHOOSE TO BECOME.” I am an amazing person who has her whole life in front of her. I AM NO LONGER A VICTIM, I’M A SURVIVOR!
Thank you for allowing me to join this helpful family!