By: Atlanta Northcutt -- Reporter for the Southern Standard
Domestic violence victim Beverly Parrotta hugs her son Skylar. Beverly said she realized she had to leave her abusive relationship when her boyfriend stuck a gun in her mouth.
- photo by Atlanta Northcutt
Beverly Parrotta knew her life had to change when her boyfriend stuck a loaded 12-gauge shotgun in her mouth and she was forced to beg for her life.
She managed to escape the house that night and hid in a sewer ditch while her boyfriend walked around trying to find her. Hampered by a broken ankle and on crutches, Beverly would eventually make her way to safety, walking miles to get away.
“I believed he was going to kill me through starvation and dehydration,” said Beverly, who was held hostage for six weeks with the broken ankle suffered at her boyfriend’s hands.
Her own children weren’t even allowed to bring her food and water. “He had me right where he wanted me,” Beverly said.
The beginning of Beverly’s life was filled with physical and sexual abuse, as well as child pornography, causing her and her siblings to be taken by the state, separated and adopted by other families.
As an adult, she survived many more years of living hell with the father of her child and the man who was supposed to love her, ending with him putting a shotgun in her mouth.
Beverly’s adoptive parents showered her and four of her siblings with love and kindness. When Beverly was 17, she moved to a nearby town where she earned her CNA license to help others while working at NHC and as a caregiver for Caring Hearts.
At 20, Beverly met Curtis. She believed he was her knight in shining armor.
Curtis had two young children from two different women. He worked in the construction business. Beverly fell in love with his children, as well.
After two months of dating, Curtis asked Beverly to move in with him. He wanted her to stop working and promised to take care of her. Shortly afterwards, he proposed. Beverly’s friends tried to warn her about how quickly the relationship was moving, but she was young, naïve and couldn’t begin to image the horrors she would face.
In 2008, Beverly’s mother committed suicide following deep depression. Beverly wanted to attend her mother’s funeral, yet Curtis told her in a very firm voice that she could not leave the state and grabbed her for the first time. Beverly was unable to attend the funeral due to Curtis’ control. Her family became extremely weary of the relationship.
As months passed, the verbal assaults became a regular part of life. Curtis began using meth and drinking heavily. The jealousy, paranoia and rage would escalate as his drug use progressed. He began trying to keep Beverly indoors and away from the public.
The first time he hit her, they were in the car. He raised his hand and slapped her head so hard it ricocheted off the window. Beverly hopped out of the car to escape.
“He told me if I didn’t get back into the car, he would snatch me up by my hair and drag me into it,” Beverly recalls.
Beverly left one night after the abuse became too much to bear. Curtis called and pleaded for her to come home, using his children pawns to guilt her. He promised he would never lay a hand on her again. He kept his word for several months, until Beverly realized she was pregnant with their son.
“It was the happiest, but worst, day of my life,” says Beverly.
Curtis began to accuse her of cheating and denying the baby was his. He slapped her to the ground. She feared he would try kicking her in the stomach.
“He was always drinking and working on his truck in his shed,” says Skylar, the now 7-year-old son of Beverly and Curtis.
Curtis would stay in the shed through the entire night making and use meth. Using prescription pills, binge drinking and smoking meth kept him inebriated all day, every day.
At five-months pregnant, Beverly tried to escape the home while Curtis was passed out. She called her friend begging her to come get her. While carrying her bags to the car, Beverly turned around to see Curtis.
Beverly told him she was leaving. Curtis broke every baby object and piece of furniture Beverly had. After sneaking off for months to clean houses or do side work for friends to make her own money and provide for the child she was expecting, all of the items she had worked so hard for laid in a broken pile on the front lawn.
Curtis began throwing beer bottles at Beverly, with a full bottle hitting her in the back of her head. He said, “You better go before I kill you.” After that incident, Beverly called the police on Curtis for the first time.
She left and stayed away until Curtis called, begged for forgiveness, promised he would never hurt her again, would begin attending AA meetings and sober up. He told Beverly he wanted to create a family with her and their unborn child. She returned.
The day Skylar was born, Curtis began stealing pain medication from Beverly at the hospital after a complicated birth.
Beverly discovered Curtis was cheating on her and using meth again. When she confronted him with the other woman’s panties and meth pipe she had found, things began going downhill.
As the years went by, the verbal abuse and dehumanization had broken Beverly’s spirit, and she had lost herself. Curtis kicked her for accidentally spilling his food and held her face down to the floor, forcing her to eat the spilled food.
The accusations of cheating, punching body parts and slaps in the head increased. Finally, he grabbed her by the hair, threw her face-first on the bed, jerked her pants down and began to rape her. This abuse brought back memories of being raped as a child.
Beverly wouldn’t tell anyone what was happening. She was so afraid and felt helpless since Curtis and his family were well-known in town.
When Curtis broke her nose, he told her she was a good girl for keeping her mouth shut and not calling police. Beverly told him she was going to call them now. Curtis snatched her and began choking her until she blacked out. Beverly later realized the assault had made him sexually aroused.
Beverly went to bed and locked the door, trying to escape. Curtis came in, sat on top of her and said “I like the way that felt. Let’s do it again.” He began choking and raping her throughout the night until the kids woke up the next morning. Before leaving the room, he urinated all over her, making her feel like scum.
“I felt worse than dirty. I felt tainted, alone, worthless and as though I’d never stop being in eternal pain,” says Beverly.
In January 2015, the choking and punching got worse as the children watched. He threw Beverly in the bathroom and told her to lay there, and if she got thirsty, she could drink from the toilet. He locked her in there for hours at a time.
Beverly finally grabbed her phone and threatened to call 911. That’s when another physical confrontation ensued.
“During the struggle, he put my hurt foot between his legs. He kept telling me to give him the phone, but I continued to refuse. The third time I said no, he snapped the rest of the bone breaking my ankle in two,” says Beverly.
Curtis finally took her to the hospital, where the doctors could see the bruises and marks on her body. She said a domestic violence investigation began.
One night in February, Curtis told the children to go into the living room. He then shoved a loaded 12-gauge shotgun into her mouth. Beverly begged for her life and to let her live for her child.
At that moment, Beverly decided she had to leave. As much as it devastated her to leave Skylar in the home, she couldn’t possibly carry him with a broken ankle. When Curtis turned his back, Beverly told Skylar, “I love you and I will be back for you. I promise.” She then made her way down the driveway on crutches, ignoring the shooting pain in her ankle and foot. She hid in a sewer ditch as she heard Curtis yelling that he’d find her and kill her. He was banging on the neighbors’ doors trying to locate her.
“It was February, cold and raining. As I lay in the sewer ditch, I lifted my leg up to keep the cast from getting wet. I then began to hobble and use my crutches to make my way miles down the road. My crutches began to break from the gravel and weight I was putting on them. I couldn’t walk anymore so I got on the ground and crawled to someone’s house,” said Beverly.
Beverly ended up hiding for two days and went to a shelter on Feb. 8. As she was sitting at the police station and telling her story, officers went to get Skylar and bring him to be reunited with his mother. He ran to her, crying.
Skylar’s eyes grew big and full of joy, as he said, “Mommy! You’re alive!”
Beverly and Skylar were taken to Families in Crisis, finding safety and comfort. Families in Crisis helped Beverly get her GED, save up enough money to pay for the apartment they live in, find a therapist and doctor for Skylar, and taught Beverly important information she didn’t even know she needed to recover.
Curtis only received six years on probation for pleading guilty to aggravated assault and strangulation, which angers Beverly to this day.
When it comes to Curtis, Skylar says, “I have many feelings about him, but the words that come to mind are the cousin of mad.”
Beverly is now thriving as she works at Pacesetters, attends Motlow and continues to work toward becoming an RN. Beverly is also in a new, healthy and loving relationship with her fiancé, Justin Chrestman. He is respectful and understanding of the trauma she has endured. They have been together almost three years and are engaged to be married Nov. 16.
Beverly tells other women who may be going through the same thing she went through to continue to fight and don’t give up. She realizes it takes courage to break those chains and find freedom, but it is more than worth it.
“If you can’t say anything, then slip a note to someone,” said Beverly. “There is a better life after this. It will take time, but you will find happiness. I am not a victim. I’m a survivor.”