Before I get into my story, I want to make it a point that I set this monetary goal for myself two years ago. Two years ago I had a car and it was easier to get things done. You will soon find out why I no longer have a car and how relying on Lyft to get around has been so expensive. When I set this goal two years ago I never would have imagined the consistent series of unfortunate events. Even though I always make it through, I truly feel as though the events that transpired on 7/31/2018 was truly the last of my set backs. I had set similar goals in the past with no issue but the last two years have made me feel absolutely cursed. I keep telling myself that everything happens for a reason and I honestly believe it with all my heart. If I dont at least secure my domain name, business license, P.O. Box and laptop, I will be crushed beyond belief. I can provide proof to any part of my story upon request, I just did not want to upload them publically since since they were graphic photos of domestic violence injuries, medical reports and court documents but please feel free to ask because the story you are about to read is not some dark comedy where the main character endures everything with a joke and a smile on her face….this has been my life. There have been many tears cried and many breakdowns had but I make it a point to smile everyday and find something, no matter how small, of what I’m grateful for.
Warning: This is might be a long read (took me over two hours to type out on my phone) but I could not leave anything out. I needed to explain the last two years of my trials and tribulations and the reason for request
As to not violate any rules , i will not post the name of my project but I will tell you where I got the inspiration for it and the struggle I have had to keep it alive (once I at least file the business license and secure the domains I will disclose the name of my project…noticed I said “Once” and not “if” because if implies that I might fail and that’s not an option for me) What originally started out as a hobby making shirts for dogs turned into so much more. Let me tell you, trying to keep a project alive that you are 100% dedicated to while trying to persevere through all the setbacks is absolutely heart wrenching and I’m trying to keep it together as i type this. I’m not sure if it’s required but I can provide proof for any part of this story I am about to tell so if the mods or anyone can let me know what I need to do.
This project of mine started a little over two years after I lost my best friend of 12 years, when I began training my then pup for therapeutic purposes to help me get through sleep paralysis and night terrors along with helping me through hyper-vigilante episodes. Unfortunately during this time, I was also in a highly abusive relationship that felt impossible to leave because the safety of my dog was always held over my head. My dog, Zeus, is an Amstaff Terrier; or better known as a “pitbull”. He is the only reason I made it out of that relationship alive. The catalyst for me finally being able to escape was when my ex had lied about paying rent and becoming evicted as a resulted. We rented an AirBnB for a couple of weeks while we tried to figure stuff out. I found out I was pregnant despite taking birth control and when i told my ex, he yelled asking how I could let that happen amongst other things. When i turned to walk away, he punched me in my shoulder blade area and the pain was enough to knock me to the ground. I crawled to the bathroom and locked the door. When it was quiet enough, I felt safe enough to open the door. He was waiting for me and I saw a look in his eyes I had never seen. I ran down the hall as fast as I could and locked the door behind me. Zeus was in the room with me. It didn’t even matter that the door was locked because no less than a few second later I saw his fist come through the door and he was tearing through it like it was made of tissue paper. A part of me accepted that this is how I was going to die. He tried grabbing me and I was trying to get away, I tried to jump over the bed, he grabbed my foot and started punching me over and over in the thighs and legs so I wouldn’t be able to run away. Zeus jumped on the bed and on top of me and started barking at him. Zeus caused him to hesitate for a split second which allowed me to get away but unfortunately Zeus also got punched in the head as a result. I had no idea his friends were even there but they are the ones that pulled him off of me, and one was pushing me out the door telling me I needed to leave before the cops came. I couldnt find Zeus, I was dazed, hurt and processing what was happening so I called my mom and unloaded the truth to her. She told me to walk away for my safety that she was coming for me, my ex was afraid of the cops so he actually stole my car and left. When my mom got there, she ushered me into her car while she said she called the cops and reported the car stolen. No less than 5 minutes later his friend returns my car and my mom has her friend follow her back to her house with me. I’m screaming for Zeus because I couldnt find him. If emotional pain could kill I would have died that very moment I was driving away without Zeus.
A few hours later my ex texted me and said he found Zeus. At this point I knew he was going to use Zeus to manipulate me into going back. At this point in time, I didnt care what happened to me, I NEEDED Zeus back. He stood up for me and in my mind, it was my turn to fight for him. She drove me to urgent care because I had a moment of clarity and wanted my injuries documented. Once we got back to my moms, I was crying and told my mom i was so sorry, I needed to go back for Zeus and I didnt expect her to understand. At that point in time, I figured that as long as I was with Zeus and was a “good girl” I would come up with a plan for Zeus and I to escape. I grabbed my car keys and left back to him.
Keep in mind we were at an AirBnB. They told whatever lie they needed to the cops to make them think it was just something little that was blown out of proportion. Our stay was up at the AirBnB and we still had no place to go, but I had Zeus so i didn’t care. After the owners left a bad review on my profile stating it “appeared a violent incident had happened because the bed was broken and there was blood on the wall”. There was no mention of the door because I found out they replaced it themselves at Home Depot.
My ex arranged for us to stay at his friends house. We dropped our stuff and Zeus off and I drove us in my car to go get food. I was on the freeway, my ex showed me some weird text he received in Spanish, and in the split second I looked down, I rear ended the car in front of me and ended up totaling my car. My ex was yelling at me saying I needed to hurry up and leave and I just remember not being able to move because I was in so much pain. First responders arrived and took me to the hospital. I remember the ultimate panic I felt when I saw the ambulance doors close on my ex. I just wanted Zeus. I knew that he had no more use for me: he got me evicted from my apartment he was staying at, his controlling way cost me a management position I had at T-mobile so I was jobless, he drained me of every last penny and now he didn’t have my car to use.
I was released to my mother. As a result of the accident, I lost my baby at 12 weeks. That’s all i wish to speak about that because i still struggle with the guilt and emptiness. As expected communication got less and less and when I asked about MY dog, I received a “fuck you Zeus is mine” in response. The next day a police officer showed up to my moms and asked for me. HE SERVED ME WITH A RESTRAINING ORDER and the specifics he listed were as follows “I fear for my life because she is making false allegations of abuse to try and get me sent back to prison (he told me he went to prison for a weed charge, I was dumb enough to not follow up because he actually went a few times for armed robbery and aggravated assault), she is trying to take my service dog Zeus away from me and she is calling my place of employment non-stop (he’s a tattoo artist and ended up securing a spot at a shop)”. I told the cop it was bullshit to look at my bruises for himself and he said all he could suggest was to fight it and serve him with one.
What proceeded next was the longest month of my life. On the restraining order was the address i was instructed to stay away from: i knew in my heart that’s where Zeus was. A victim services program was able to help me write a statement and ask a judge to provide me with a protective order. The judge told me that under Arizona Statues I was able to also add Zeus to the restraining order since it was a domestic violence case. I was advised to not mention the restraining order I was served in another jurisdiction as the judge may tell me to plead my case to that judge and this might be the only opportunity I had to get Zeus back.
In the early hours of August 5th, 2016, Mesa PD met me to serve the restraining order at the address on the bogus protective order he served me with. They told me there was a chance I may not get Zeus because they couldn’t force him to hand him over. After almost a month of being without Zeus i was down to the final minutes as I saw the cops walk around the corner to serve him. The next ten minutes felt like forever until I saw one of the cops walking out with Zeus on his leash. We ran towards each other like a scene out of a movie. I cant describe how I felt having Zeus back. The second he jumped in the car I promised that no matter what I would never leave him again and I would always fight for him until the day I died.
I went to court at the date and time listed on the restraining order he served me because even though I had Zeus back, I didnt want that showing up on any background checks. He showed up as well to dispute his. He presented his case to the judge and gave me the opportunity to defend myself. Remember my moment of clarity at the beginning of my story? I told the judge my allegations of abuse were not false and I showed him the medical records of the documented injuries and pictures. He turned white and had nothing to say. I told the judge I did not know what “service dog” he was referring to, that I just had my dog who was not recognized under the American Disability Association (this detail is important for the next part of my story), and he couldn’t prove that it was or wasn’t me calling his shop (it wasn’t). The judge dropped the restraining order against me and upheld the one I served him with.
It was finally over, I was free to move forward with my life (or so I thought). I was not prepared for the aftermath of the physical and psychological trauma I endured. I developed PTSD and was convinced at any moment he was going to show up and kill me and my family and Zeus. I was afraid to sleep, I was constantly checking the security feeds. It was during this time that it really hit me that my best-friend/soulmate/sister was dead. I really needed her. I felt alone. Zeus was my only comfort. He laid on top of me during anxiety attacks, he somehow knew when I was having a night terror/sleep paralysis episode and would lick the tears off of my face until I woke up and came out of it. The hyper-vigilance combined with sleep deprivation was the worst because I started hearing mumbled voices and my ex. I taught him a “who’s there” command when I heard voices to see if he heard them too, if he didn’t and returned to a relax state I was able to calm down and tell myself it wasn’t real. I was left alone at my moms while everyone was at work and I was afraid to be alone. Which lead me to then teach him “go find them” and he would check the house for me before I entered or a closet or a room to make sure no one was there.
I was having a hard time holding onto the crappy job I got because I went from being in management to working in a call center and I lost my drive for a lot of things. When I was diagnosed with PTSD I was given medication that made me feel worse. I explained to my doctor that I didnt want to be medicated because Zeus was helping me cope. He accepted him as part of my treatment and as a recognized medical intervention for PTSD. My mom didn’t understand the diagnosis because I had never been in the military or been to war.
It was then that it hit me and I wanted to evolve my hobby into something so much more. I did some research and found out that domestic violence victims are diagnosed with PTSD at a higher rate than those in that served in the military. And it’s no secret that Bully Breeds are the most understood breed as they are always labeled as aggressive and unpredictable. Zeus saved my life and is the reason I get up somedays.
So here we have domestic violence victims that are often judged and misunderstood (“why didn’t you just walk out the first time he put hands on you?” “You’re stupid for staying”), a PTSD diagnosis that’s highly misunderstood and disregarded (“bad things happen to everyone you need to get over it” “just change the way you think”) and a breed that’s also misunderstood and ridiculed (“your dog is going to hurt or kill someone one day” “your dog is aggressive and it’s only a matter of time before he turns on you”) how could I turn this problem into a solution that would allow me to still use my creativity that was dying with each passing day?
The answer had been literally right next to me the whole time. When the victim services advocate tried to comfort me enough to open up to me about the whole truth, she gave me a blanket. She said people either make them or donate them to give to victims to provide comfort. And that’s what I wanted to do. BLANKETS.
So I got motivated enough to put more effort into my shitty job so I could save up the money for the things I’ve lost to help me start this. I had a plan to create a website showcasing stories about Bully Breeds shattering their negative stereotypes, I wanted to make these comfort blankets because not only was it therapeutic to me to stay busy but i want to provide any comfort I could to domestic violence survivors. I wrote down a monetary number goal and started working towards it.
Well, no more than a month and a half later i got a call at work from my sister telling me I needed to come home because Zeus wasn’t acting right and that he appeared to be very sick. My heart sank and I called a Lyft as fast as I could since my car was still totaled. Zeus did not look how he did when i left him that morning. He was drooling and vomiting so I took him to the emergency vet. At the time i wasnt too concerned because he had all his shots. Well, even though he was considered a vaccinated adult dog, he managed to still contract parvo. My heart sank and I asked the vet “ok so where do we go from here?” She said he needed to stay in the hospital for a few days and explained the cost. I broke down. I didnt have thousands of dollars and even knowing my ex ruined my credit, i still applied for their credit program in vain and got denied. She then proceeded to tell me how with parvo, he would soon start shedding the inside lining of his stomach, and he would be in unable to eat or drink and how he had a high chance of going septic and dying. She told me that euthanasia was a human option. I fell to my knees and just cried. It wasn’t real. I begged her to tell me it wasn’t real. She left the room. So there i was alone in the room with a dying Zeus. I told her that I was just trying to get my life together and had only managed to save $600 at my $10/hr job. I begged her to please do something.
She told me he would need a lot of monitoring and care and said she would give me fluid IV bags, sterile needles, antibiotics and syringes to feed him a liquid diet of ensure. She asked if I was willing to learn how to administer his IV but that she couldn’t provide any promise that he would survive since she suspected he has been ill with the virus for at least a few days before showing. I told her I made a promise to him that I would fight for him and I didnt plan on breaking that promise any time soon. So I handed over all the money i had managed to save. I didnt think twice, I didnt care. As we left the vet he threw up in their hallway. I looked him in his eyes and told him I loved him more than anything and that he needed to trust me that he was going to be okay. I was going to fix this somehow.
I called off of work for two weeks, explained my situation and told them I understood if they needed to fire me.
I turned my room into a makeshift infirmary and in between his IV sessions, administering his medications, feeding him with a syringe and carrying him outside to use the restroom, I laid on the floor right next to him and didn’t leave his side. After the 5th day my sister came in and told me I needed to shower and eat. I explained to her I couldnt leave his side, I didnt even realize it had been five days. Around the 8th day he woke me up by dropping his toy on my face. It was the first time in nearly two weeks that he was standing on his own. I knew that was his way of telling me he was feeling better and needless to say he pulled thru and survived.
After being flat broke again I needed a change of scenery. I had started talking to an old friend from college who offered me his spare bedrooom and no cost until i got back on my feet. It was a nice area so I said why not. I moved in, got a job almost right away and then landed an at home position I had been trying to obtain for nearly three years. I had started dating again and saving money and still was trying to work towards my goal but my first couple of paychecks went towards a bed since I had been sleeping on a blow up mattress. I bought myself makeup after having next to none for nearly a year a small 27 inch TV and some new clothes because I needed some bad. I even started paying half of the rent because he was suddenly having money issues. We’ll call my roommate Robert. Robert had seemed different and kind of off but I just brushed it off as quirky weirdness. I brought a date home and we were in my room talking and I excused myself because I needed to pee. I hear Robert yell at the guy I brought home “you think you can fuck my girlfriend, huh?!” And HE PULLED A KNIFE ON HIM. I was mortified but more embarrassed than anything because Robert was just not the intimidating type, even with a knife in his hand. My date said he didn’t know what weird shit was going on but he wasn’t down so he left. I didnt even care to explain, I called the cops. I filed a report and the cops told me that since I wasnt on the lease that we were at risk of getting evicted because sub-leasing is illegal in my state (I didnt know). I told Robert that I was going to move out I just needed time to save money to move back towards where I moved from. He apologized and said he had been meaning to tell me for a while that he loved me and he didn’t want me to leave. I told him I didnt feel the same way, he tried to hug me but Zeus lunged off the couch and placed himself between us because he sensed my uneasiness. I told him in order for me to save that I couldnt pay my half of the rent ($750) anymore but I would help with what I could including groceries. I was disappointed in him and asked him to just please stay on his side of the apartment and away from me as I didnt trust him. He obliged and I felt bad because of how sad he looked…but it did not excuse his behavior of pulling a knife. Fast forward three months and I’m still saving up and doing my own thing and i started talking as just-friends-only to my Lyft driver to took me to jack n the box one day. After a few weeks of talking he asked if we could actually hang out and get to know each other. I said yes. I told my roommate Robert that I was going to be having company over and that we would be quiet since I knew he worked in the morning and we were probably just going to watch a move. Alex, my lyft driver/date showed up and we were talking for hours, sipping drinks and having a genuine good time. All of a sudden Robert storms out of his room and says “I cant sleep I so I think I’ll just watch TV with you guys”. I already knew what was happening and grabbed Alex by the hand and told him let’s just finish watching the movie in my room. Robert starts throwing stuff at the wall and acting insane. Alex asked if he had something wrong with him because of how he looked and talked and I said I honestly didn’t know and explained what happened to the last guy I brought over. I was scared he was going to leave like the last one but he needed to know. Alex offered to stay the night since I was off the next day and he wanted me to feel safe. I said sure. Every time Alex walked outside to smoke, Robert would lock the door behind him. Alex said he didn’t feel comfortable leaving me alone so he said to come out, meet his friends and have a good time. I went into Roberts room and told him I was leaving for the night and that Zeus was already taken care of and asleep on my bed. I had the time of my life. I met his friends, played video games and cards against humanity. As the night was turning into morning Alex said he was hungry and tired and I said me too. He explained that he was actually moving right next to his cousins (where We partied) in a couple days. He offered to take me home because of Zeus and said that I was more than welcome to get some sleep at his friends place where he was crashing until he moved in. I declined. He asked if he could walk me upstairs and go on a walk with me and Zeus before he left. I said sure. I was happy. He was growing on me and Zeus loved him too. Alex accepted me for my past struggles with no judgement. We both expressed an interest in each other but said we weren’t really looking for anything serious. Well, after our walk, we went inside and Robert was slamming dishes and I think Alex saw how nervous I was getting considering my past. He approached Robert and said “dude come one, what’s wrong. Man to man tell me what is wrong.” Robert blurted out “you’re fucking me ex”.
I nearly choked on my water. I had reached my wits end. I yelled at Robert and asked him why he was lying and told him he had some serious mental issues he needed to address. I was in his doorway and didn’t see he kicked the door closed behind him with his foot. The door hit me in the eye. Alex saw, and jumped up and said he was going to show him what happened to guys who put their hands on females. It was WAY too much…was this really happening? What is my life. I pushed Alex back and told him to calm down that I genuinely believed it was an accident. Alex told me he wasn’t going to tell me what to do but highly suggested I just grabbed a few things for myself and Zeus and that I was more than welcome to go back with him to his friends. I really wanted to. But I was so exhausted I said I think everyone just needed sleep.
Fast forward to the next day, Alex called me and said he thinks one of his drunk passengers he had a few words with reported him because he got a notification he was suspended until the investigation completed. I asked him to hold on and I marched right into Roberts room and said asked what the fuck had he done and what was he thinking. He denied. I grabbed his phone and opened the mail app and saw right there with my own eyes that he reported Alex for trying to sell weed and other drugs during the ride. Alex heard the conversation and all I heard him say was “I’ll be right there”. Alex showed up and said he gave him the benefit of the doubt, maybe Robert was my ex and he was acting out because he got friendzoned…he kneeled down and said “tell me the truth right now, is she your ex?” He looked at the ground and said no. He then explained that Robert had screwed him out of a $500 bonus since he was suspended and couldn’t finish the five required rides. Robert apologized and offered to pay him. I felt so uneasy over everything I asked if I could just hang out for the day and he said sure. Well, when I was with Alex, Robert sent me a text stating that he didn’t know how he was going to tell me but he was too far behind on rent and he was getting evicted that he was moving back with his mom and said I needed to figure something out. My heart sank. It was an all too familiar feeling. I showed alex the text and said well it looks like I would be staying with my mom, over an hour away, yet again until I got approved for a place. Alex looked at me and gave me this silly smirk and said “I have an extra room just move your stuff here” I said “uhhhh you have two cats, what about Zeus?” He said “what do you mean what about Zeus he comes too”. Well I took a leap of faith and moved in and we spent the better part of the past year getting to know each other despite living together”. After a few months we decided that we were exclusive and there was no rush for me to move out. I was added to the lease. He supported my dream, and we had been good for each other. Everything was going great up until the middle of June. There was a knock on the door and it was the landlord serving eviction papers. I was confused. He handed me the papers and said “no unauthorized pets” and pointed to Zeus, who was not even barking. I apologized and told him that he was not a pet, he was my service dog. I disclosed my PTSD disability even though I didnt need too. I said i would have my doctor fax him the paperwork by the end of the day. He said he didn’t care that he would see us in court. Well the judge dismissed the case and I thought that was the end of it.
Two weeks ago the landlord sent back July’s rent with a form stating they weren’t accepting partial payment that he neeed to pay a $700 unauthorized pet fee for June and July. I used to be a property manager and knew what he was doing was illegal. We got the Arizona Attorney General involved. He took us back to court and were convinced it would be dismissed again because Zeus is legally not defined as a pet. We got a different judge who sided with him. We were told we had five days to be out (July 31st). We scrambled to find a place by then but it was impossible. I had been working on my credit and raised it 30 points. Alex stopped doing Lyft four months ago and went to go back to selling cars. I forgot to add that business was slowing down for him as a Lyft driver and our cat Harlem got hit by a car and accumulated $800 in vet fees. Yes we chose to save him and not put him down because that’s what you do with family. It nearly died and i had to syringe feed him food and water for a month because he could not move his jaw (he’s all better now but that was just one more thing added to the list of everything else that had happened so far). We couldn’t get approved and we still had no place to live on the 31st because of income and Alex on paper showed he only had been working for five months and no place we applied accepted his 1099 even though he actually made decent income doing Lyft. Even though our previous landlord is being investigated there was nothing the Attorney General’s office could do to stop the eviction. All of our stuff was in a uhaul and we had no where to go. Alex told me to go stay with my mom for a day or two until we found a place and he would stay with his cousin. We kept extending the uhaul. Day one and two came and gone. Denied denied denied. By day four Alex was contemplating moving back east because he felt so defeated. I did too. I couldnt believe it was happening. I felt so wronged. He called me at 9am on the 5th and said he found a nice two bedroom condo that was petfriendly. He applied in person, and I applied online at my moms….we were tentatively approved pending the background check. After waiting three gut wrenching hours we were approved. He called me with the good news and apologized and said he needed me to Venmo him money because after rent, pet deposits for the two cats (and not Zeus because it’s illegal to charge a pet fee for a service dog), security deposits and the cost to move utilities we spent nearly $3000 in move in costs. I didnt think twice about sending him the money I had since he damn near emptied out his bank account for this. He spent over 12 hours moving our stuff in and told me to just come on the 6th with Zeus to help unpack the boxes inside. So that’s what I’ve been doing since is unpacking.
If you stuck through my story this far then you are so amazing and I thank you for your time. As you can see, every time I make some progress and take five steps forward, life throws me a curve ball and i have to take ten steps back. The good definitely outweighs the bad but each time I put my project on the back burner a part of my soul dies because I think of the victims of domestic violence that I maybe could have helped…or a pitbulls life I could have saved because I was able to change someone’s mind. If I can help educate just one person, provide comfort to at least one victim and change just ONE persons mind about Bully breeds….that’s all I need. Just one to make it worth it.
I understand that life happens but if anyone can please hear my plea and find it in their heart to help secure a used laptop and Wacom tablet and expenses for business license/trademark so I can continue working on my project, I would truly be forever grateful. I miss writing so much and the desire to start writing again is so strong since I feel so passionate about the issue.
Below is a picture of me and Zeus