Bruised but not broken, domestic violence victim tells her story

Kristen Shawver
Kristen Shawver
James Shawver
James Shawver

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Last month, Kristen Shawver decided to leave her husband of 8 years. After family counseling, anger management courses, and three criminal domestic violence charges, the marriage had come to and end in her mind.

She was just not expecting James Shawver to respond the way he did.

"I said, 'What are you doing?' He looked at me, no emotion, dead serious and looked at me and said, 'It's too bad this time. I told you, you have to die. I'm going to kill you and I'm going to bury you now,'" said Kristen.

In that moment, James pulled out a box cutter.

"He pushes it up and has the blade out and he said he's going to cut my throat," said Kristen. "That's when I did up like that. This one was split open to where there is a blade mark on the bone."

Investigators say James stabbed her in the head, and he did not stop there.

"I got to the bottom of the steps and he tackled me from the steps and started dragging me by my hair into our woods where he attempted to slice my throat again," said Kristen.

Kristen says he threw her into their car and drove them to the end of their dead end street.

"He kept telling me over and over looking me in the face -- 'I'm going to kill you. I'm going to kill you,'" said Kristen.

"And he goes, 'I'm going to have to kill JC' -- that's my son -- and he said, 'I'm going to kill him because he doesn't deserve to live without you,'" said Kristen.

That's when Kristen says she snapped and jumped out of the moving car. Deputies say James ran over her legs. That didn't stop her.

"I just remember falling over and over again and I can't stop, I have to keep going," said Kristen, "and I literally did not knock on these people's door. I just ran through their house and just collapsed on their floor."

She says a neighbor ended up saving her life.

"She said, 'Somebody's trying to kill me.' And I said, 'Well, lay down on the floor,' and I ran in the bedroom, loaded my gun and came back out and sat on the floor with her," said the neighbor.

He says he couldn't recognize her because she was so battered and covered in blood.

"If it wasn't for that man, I would have died that day," said Kristen.

Shawver's bruises and broken bones are still fresh but healing. She was lying in a hospital bed less than two weeks ago.

As Kristen recounts the day her husband tried to kill her, her son is close by her side.

"I gave her drinks, I gave her tissues when she was crying," said her son. "I would risk my life for her. She means a lot to me. She's very nice to me. She loves me."

Her son did not see the attack but Kristen says it took her a long time to realize the abuse was hurting her son too.

Lexington County deputies say James Shawver is in a West Virginia jail for kidnapping and attempted murder.

Kristen is lucky to be alive. She's using this opportunity to let other abused women know that they don't have to be a victim forever.

"To the women out there who are allowing it to happen, you need to get out now. Don't wait like I did because you think 'I have a child.' It does more damage to your child than you might think."

Kristen will need reconstructive surgery, so she is just beginning a very long journey to recovery both physically and emotionally.

But it's one she will begin and complete thanks to the strength of her son.

"My son has been very strong through all this," said Kristen. "He's the one that gets hurt the most because he has to live with it and he won't have a daddy anymore because he's not ever coming around my son."

If you ever find yourself in a violent relationship, call your local law enforcement.

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