The ex-wife of the D.C. Sniper attacks is in Memphis talking about his three-week shooting rampage in Washington, D.C. that killed 17 people.
The attacks happened 15 years ago, but what you may not know is she was the sniper’s intended target.
Mildred Muhammad is hoping her story will encourage other domestic violence victims to get help and ultimately leave their abuser.
Muhammad says she treats every day as a gift, because back in 2002 she could have easily lost her life.
“John said to me you have become my enemy and as my enemy I will kill you,” Muhammad said.
After her ex husband’s conviction and execution, she learned from police that she was the primary target of his rage, and his end goal had been to find her and kill her, too
Muhammad was married for 12 years before things took a dreadful turn.
“When he went to Desert Storm, as you know when most soldiers come back they are not the same. So he was diagnosed with PTSD and he was debriefed. Issues began at that point,” she said.
According to Muhammad, the abuse was mainly mental.
“He was cruel, the things that he would say were things I wasn’t accustomed to. The way that he snarled and looked at me,” she said. “I would open my eyes to a slither, lay quiet. Watch him walk in the house. Go from one side of the bed to the other, lean over to listen to me breath, standup and then walk out the house.
She never thought his rage would lead to 17 murders.
Law enforcement said to me was that I was the intended target. So he was killing innocent people to cover up my murder, so that he can come in as the grieving father and get custody of our children,” Muhammad explained.
The mother of 3 was strong enough to leave her situation but not all victims are.
“We have to be careful with our words. What we say to victims of domestic violence and it can be something totally innocent but it could be like victim blaming,” said Mia Harvey, Communication specialist with the Family Safety Center.
Muhammad says she’s thankful she walked away.
“I would never tell a victim to leave but I will tell you to plan because in your planning you will know when to go.”
This Saturday, Muhammad is the keynote speaker at “Bridging Troubled Waters,” a free community forum aimed at ending domestic violence, resolving conflicts peacefully, and building healthy relationships.
The event will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the UTHSC Student Alumni Center, 800 Madison Avenue.
Topics include emotional intelligence with a focus on why victims stay, the forgotten victim and the impact of domestic violence on the family, and empowering victims through the church.