Mildred D. Muhammad is a sincere, thoughtful, and spiritual person. She wanted nothing more than to build a strong family unit in which she would be a good wife and mother.
But when her ex- husband -- John Allen Muhammad -- “turned” on her, Mildred knew she had to protect herself and her children.
Unfortunately, he was able to empty out their bank accounts, kidnapped their children, and disappeared. She had to learn to navigate the legal system, all while making sure that he did not find her. She had no money, no job, and she was living in a shelter, under an assumed name for safety, when she began her uphill battle to find and take care of her children.
She finally got the children back when a judge in Washington State awarded her full custody. She knew that if she was going to stay alive, she needed to be both strong, smart and leave the area. Mildred fled with her children from Washington State to Maryland. She honestly did not think that her ex-husband would be able to find out where she was living; she certainly did not believe he was a physical threat to anyone other than herself.
When a sniper began shooting people in the DC metro area, it did not occur to her that the shooter could be her ex-husband, John Allen Muhammad. Like everyone else, she was looking for a white van, barely taking notice of the blue Caprice parked in front of her house.
The chilling manner in which John Muhammad stalked Mildred, while senselessly shooting innocent men, women, and even children, places her in a unique position that allows her to address these major issues:
- There isn't an adequate system in place to help the victim who understands his/her partner’s capacity for violence, but who doesn’t know what to do to stop it. Why is that?
- Accountability is important for and major consequences should be applied if the abuser doesn't follow the procedures. Why aren't serious consequences applied to the abuser when it is clear he/she is not following the rules?
- The system should listen to the victims before it is too late, since the victim and the abuser have a language of their own. It is vital to understand that the abusers seem to control themselves after they have punished the victim either by physical assault or death.
Although loopholes are still prevalent, the system is changing and as it changes, the survivors, without physical scars, are being included in that process.
After she came through her trauma, she learned that resources are very scarce or are not available to survivors of domestic abuse/violence. "This must change"!, she exclaims. Which is why she established the 501(c)3, non-profit organization, After The Trauma, Inc.
Domestic violence and sexual assault are also a large problem within the military community. Given the emphasis on post-traumatic stress disorder among soldiers and their spouses, within this community, needs to be addressed as well. De-briefing should be available for the soldiers returning from a war-zone AND counseling available for the families waiting for the soldiers' return.
This process will allow for a better transition on both parties and the family will not feel they are left alone to handle their issues on their own. This should be on-going process until the family operates in harmony with each other, specifically and the community, in general.
"Keep in mind that it does not matter what educational or financial status, occupation, race, creed, or religion you are, domestic violence affects us all."