Scroll of Ruth serves as new life manual for domestic violence victims

Felicia Haney | 10/23/2013, 9:55 a.m.
Pneuma Life was founded as a result of Ruth’s own real life experiences.
Ruth Johnson-Williams teaches domestic violence victims how to look at life with new hope through her Pneuma Life Foundation. (Photo by Vincent White) Vincent White

So it’s imperative that young women understand that it can be somebody you think you love turning against you.

Unfortunately for Ruth, she would have to learn that lesson once more and it would happen in her marriage of all places. Two years later, Ruth was still attending John Adams and was now living with her sister after running away from her parents’ home. Still looking for love, she decided to try the relationship thing again. She had her eye on one of her schoolmates, a young man she was so intrigued with because he dressed to the nines.

“He dressed so nice, all the way down to his shoes. He always looked good. I just wanted to know how I could be a pair of his shoes,” she said. So, just like her Biblical namesake, Ruth approached him and eventually “asks [him] to spread his cloak over her” – a biblical reference for she asked him to marry her (Ezekiel 16:8).

At the age of 17, Ruth got married. But, only two weeks into her marital bliss she would soon realize that the so-well-put-together exterior of her husband was only masking a brutal domestic violence offender. She was thrown down stairs, out of cars; even pregnancy didn’t stop the abuse.

“Why was this person violent?” Ruth posed the question before answering it so matter-of-factly herself. “He saw it in his home. His daddy beat his mama. This is how their home was run. This is how they stayed king of their castle. So, for him this was a norm. It wasn’t normal for me because I was a Christian.”

That classification would lead Ruth to stay in that violent relationship for 13 years. “I never was a fusser, a cusser, a dish thrower or any of those things,” she said. “You beat me, I’m still gonna have dinner cooked, the kids ready and the house clean. For 13 years, I was still trying to walk in my Christendom going back and forth to church. I went to college and pursued a degree in education because I saw that the people had needs and needed someone to speak up for them and that became important for me.”

But first, she had to speak up for herself. Seven years into her marriage she was still convinced that she must be the problem. That’s when she attempted to commit suicide by way of pill ingestion.

“I took a big bag of pills, shook them up and drank them down with a beer,” she said recalling the almost tragic incident. But, it didn’t work. The pills were only enough to knock her out. She needed something more hardcore. Something along the lines of the .38 pistol that laid underneath her mattress.

“I got up and walked to the park [with the pistol],” Ruth said. “[My husband] saw me and followed me. When I got to the park, I attempted to remove the gun and put it to my head. Instead, it got caught in my belt buckle and went off, shooting me in my lower abdomen. When I woke up, I was still alive in the hospital after two failed suicide attempts the day before.”