Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC) Part 1

by

Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC)

My journey as a victim

Patrick Jennings

The events of December 19th, 1999 changed my life forever when a friend called me needing a ride. I volunteered; the need to please trumped any distress about my lurking suspicion something was amiss. I recall feeling unusually agitated but discarded those thoughts.

After arriving at his home, my ‘friend’ asked “how are you feeling?”, I answered “better”, he replied “good” and then abruptly tossed his glass filled with liquid on my face and body. I immediately thought “what kind of joke is this? “he‘s joking right?” I suddenly heard a bubbling sound in my ear and felt intense pain. I remember him saying, “I’ll toss acid on any man’s face that pisses me off”. My earlier suspicions were confirmed.

Shock settled in quickly; I jumped off the couch screaming in pain. I had a terrible premonition that my face would slide off my skull. I began screaming “God help me”, I ran next door and my prayer was answered. His neighbour just happened to be washing his truck at 8:30 a.m. on a weekday! He quickly turned his attention to me and began spraying me with water while dialing 911. He may not have known it at the time but he was saving my life; water dilutes acid.

I saw my appearance in the truck’s side view mirror and became delusional. My hair was burning off, my head was bloating, my eye was falling out of its socket and there were large red creases across my forehead. I was hysterical, slipping into shock. “I am in a dream,” I told myself. I began to drift 20 or 30 feet out of my body like a genie. I felt complete peace and no pain. But, I was not to die that day; it was not my time.

The very last thing I recall was arriving at the hospital. Over the next several weeks I woke sporadically for minutes at a time. I underwent six plastic surgeries and was hospitalized two days shy of six weeks.

The trial began almost 18 months after the attack. I would finally learn why this happened. I recall the absolute dread of having to come face-to-face with the offender again. I spent three days on the witness stand and would never learn the answer to my question … why? The trial left me feeling empty and angry.

He was sentenced to five years and nine months for aggravated assault and drugs. He served his time and was then deported to San Diego where he was wanted for parole violations.

The months and years after that ordeal including his parole hearings, were bitter and painful. I became increasingly isolated and fearful of people. Upon wakening every morning I would see the permanence of those scars and they constantly reminded me of what had happened. I would return to bed afraid of what lay beyond the door. The nightmares were overwhelming. I thought of suicide.

“Keep going” were the words I heard over and over but I was often too afraid to act on it. I believe today that God was speaking to me in those desperate moments. At the time I didn’t know what this all meant but I knew I couldn’t give up on life and needed to put one foot in front of the other … keep going.

It was when I wandered into a church that my life took an unexpected turn. I sat at the back pews hoping not to be noticed. While sneaking out the door the pastor somehow managed to stop me and simply said “I think I can help you”. It was a God moment.

I contacted him shortly thereafter and we soon started on the path of forgiveness and inner healing. He introduced me to the spiritual realm. I hadn’t realized it at the time but by not forgiving, I permitted the offender to have complete control over me including my emotional, spiritual and physical life. The poison was killing my spirit. I entered into the healing process with a humble spirit willing to change and change happened. I have now gained freedom and inner strength and am no longer afraid of people. It has freed me up to become the person I am called to be.

I bear my story today in trust that I may help others in their quest for freedom from past wounds and hurts through the process of forgiveness and reconciliation. Today, I do not see my burn scars as a burden of my past but I see them with a sense of gratitude that they have brought me to this place of peace, joy and a deeper love of myself, of others, and of God.

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