The following material contains graphic images that may be disturbing. Parents are advised that these images may not be suitable for young children.
According to statistics, every nine seconds a woman is abused in the U.S., and every day three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Brandi almost became one of those murdered women – this is her story.
“I met Steve two years ago. He treated me like a princess!” says Brandi. “After being married about nine months, there was a lot of jealousy.” When he tried to forbid Brandi, a nurse, from seeing male patients, “That’s when I knew I was in trouble.”
Things came to a head on the night of Brandi’s daughter Taylor’s 21st birthday. Steve allegedly became drunk and was asked to leave the party. But when Brandi went to his car to give him his cell phone, “He reached up and grabbed my shirt. And he floored the car and took off.”
Taylor adds, “He dragged her 500 feet in front of me.” She recounts the events, saying Steve stopped the car, dragged her inside the vehicle, and began beating her. When the car struck a tree, he dragged her out and continued to beat her, she continues. Finally, Brandi heard the siren of an approaching ambulance. “I guess Steve realized he wouldn’t be able to kill me, so he tried to pull my eye out,” she says.
Brandi was rushed to the hospital. “I didn’t see myself for three weeks, and when I looked in the mirror I threw up,” she says. “I felt like he ruined my whole life.”
“I am just so very sorry that you had to go through this,” ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork tells Brandi. “What’s pretty remarkable about you is when you were talking about everything you were experiencing, your primary concern was ‘no daughter should have to see that.’”
“I feel very guilty because I’m the parent and I’m supposed to protect my kids,” says Brandi. “And I brought this man into our world.”
Brandi doesn’t just suffer the aftereffects of emotional trauma – her damaged right eye is causing double vision and it’s difficult for her to read because the ripped eye muscle keeps the eye from tracking back and forth. The Doctors sent her to Eye Surgeon Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler to see what could be done to help.
Dr. Boxer Wachler tells Brandi when her eye was gouged, the lower muscle anchoring the eye was ripped. “Outside this door is Ken Wright, who literally wrote the book on eye-muscle surgery,” he tells her.
Brandi and both eye surgeons join The Doctors, and he explains that without the anchoring muscle, her eye drifts upwards. “As a doctor, hearing what you’ve gone through,” he adds, “This is not what humanity is about.” But Eye Surgeon Dr. Kenneth Wright has good news – the muscle was detached from the eye, but it’s still present, and he believes it can be reattached.
The eye surgeons are going to make a team effort to perform the repair. In the meantime, they have a solution for Brandi’s double vision – a pair of glasses with one prismatic lens, to bring her vision on both sides into alignment. “Oh my gosh!” she exclaims as she tries them on. “I see normal! Thank you.”
Brandi’s team will also include Oculoplastic Surgeon Dr. Christopher Zoumalan, who will focus on reconstructing her eyelid and reducing her scars. “This means so much to me – not just because of looks, but because it’s who I am,” she sobs.
Finally, Spine Surgeon Dr. Hooman Melamed has heard Brandi’s story and has something to offer her. In his practice, he’s encountered other women who have suffered abuse similar to what she endured, and he knows they sometimes don’t want to come forward and tell their stories. “We need to bring this forward and protect all women.” He’s donating $5,000 to help with Brandi’s medical bills, as a way of thanking her for sharing her story and helping other abuse survivors.
“Your story is powerful,” Dr. Stork tells her, “And you yourself are equally as powerful.” He concludes, “I think if we can save one life, save one other circumstance like this one from happening, today will have been worth it.”
If you or someone you know is in danger of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 before it’s too late.