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This is actually happening features real experiences that often include traumatic events, please consult the show notes for specific content warnings on each episode and for more information about support services.


Where do I go from here? Why do I even do? How do I pick the pieces up from this and then go back to having a life? From wandering eye witness misalign you are listening to, this is actually happening Episode 78. What if you narrowly escaped with your life? Today's episode is brought to you by ACORN's with all of the complicated options out there, investing can seem super intimidating. But let me ask you, would you start investing if you knew how simple and easy it could be?


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That's ACORN's dotcom happening. I grew up in a really small town in upstate New York that has about a thousand people in it. It's absolutely beautiful. It's in the mountains, lots of hiking and ice fishing, lots of snow.


The economy there is really bad. And I wanted to go into an art career. And unfortunately, the options there, like work in a paper mill or be a prison guard. And so if you want to have any other type of career, you kind of have to leave the area. Atlanta is the first city that I've ever lived in, the largest city that I've ever lived in, I had never been to Atlanta before I moved here, and so I was kind of winging it.


I didn't have a job here and I just packed up my car and drove down. And when you come in to Atlanta from the northeast side, these two highways merge and the highways like 14 lanes wide or something like that.


And I was just driving on it and looking at the buildings like, what the fuck am I doing?


I caught. Am I doing here? I had a couple of college friends that were already living here, but none of them were really sports fans, so I was kind of missing people to watch sports with.


I'm a huge football fan and I put my name on the waiting list for Falcons season tickets. And they called me the next day and I was like, oh, yeah, no, I have to do that.


So I posted on Reddit and the Atlanta Falcons, Subrata and in the Atlanta Subrata basically saying, I'm looking to get a group of people together to get season tickets just like a meetup group or whatever.


I got a lot of responses, a lot of them were really creepy, so I wound up filtering out most people and in the end I only met up with three people. The next guy that I met up with, I met him for the first time in person on New Year's Eve, we went and grabbed a beer together before I was going to New Year's Eve party just so I could kind of vet him and see what he was like.


And if he was normal and if I wanted to spend an entire football season sitting next to him every Sunday. So we meet up at this little dive bar. I don't know, he was so charismatic and I wasn't necessarily attracted to him at first, but our conversation was so good and he was absolutely hilarious. It was like my face hurt from laughing so hard for so long. We were maybe at the bar for an hour before I was like, OK, I have to leave.


I'm going to New Year's Eve party. He wound up texting me really early in the morning the next day, asking me out on a date, and I was like, yeah, why not? We wound up going out the next day, so New Year's Day, and we went out drinking and dancing and it was so fun, it just kind of like went on from there. Like, we were just inseparable after that.


The only red flag that I saw was that he had dropped out of college and he was working as a car booster, which is a really hard job, especially in Atlanta. It is an ugly, ugly job, it's a really confrontational, really crappy hours, and you pretty much only get paid by the boot. It's kind of terrible because you're commissioned to ruin people's day. It's like the more people that you just ruin their day that you get more money.


In hindsight, it's not necessarily a red flag in and of itself, but it was definitely an indicator of some facets of his personality.


He also had served in the Marines and he would complain about not being able to afford to go back to college. I kept being like, why use the GI Bill? That's what it's for. And he would be like, I can't and have an excuse. He was just the most charming person I had ever met, and we had so much fun together, so I feel like I was willing to sweep a lot of things under the rug.


He got abusive so slowly that I don't even think it dawned on me until months later that I was just like totally downtrodden and miserable, he would make these weird comments, like about my appearance or comparing me to an ex-girlfriend.


When I would confront him about it. He would act genuinely remorseful and he would be like, you know me, I'm just awkward. Sometimes I don't think before I speak, I didn't mean it.


He would be like, well, like my ex-girlfriend wouldn't get mad at me about that, but like, you're always harping on me about that, and then I would step back and be like, maybe I am being too hard on him about, like, picking up after himself at my apartment or whatever it was. I mean, he was very manipulative, very and he would lie about really weird stuff. One time I came over to his house and it smelled so much like pot and I was like, so weird.


Your whole apartment smells like pot. What's up with that? Like, your neighbors must be smoking in like that's coming in through the vent or whatever.


I was like, your clothes smell like pot. Did you smoke pot? And he kept lying to me about it. He was like, no, no, of course not. No. I like I got in my car to go home and I just felt really confused, it's like I know he smoked pot. I don't care that I smoked pot. Why would he just not tell me the truth about something so insignificant?


Really little stuff like that. And it happened infrequently enough at first that it was really easy to just kind of be like, that's weird. I wonder why. And then, like, move on. I dated this guy through college for like four years, and we had broken up pretty amicably and we talked like maybe once a year about his favorite football team, but like he had moved on. I had moved on like he has his own life.


He saw a text message from that guy and just lost his mind and was like, are you cheating on me? And blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, well, what's the text about the Eagles?


You can see the last time I texted him was over here.


Go. It became pretty apparent that he had a drinking problem, so when he got really drunk, he would just be so mean and then the next day he would act like it didn't happen.


You get in this warped little bubble with these people and their whole sense of reality is so warped and it's so built on lies and denial that you genuinely start to doubt yourself in your sanity, your ability to remember things that happened the way that they happened.


I can't remember what the occasion was, but we all went out to a bar with a group of his friends. It was like a karaoke night and he was like, so wasted, just like bombed. Could you could just look at his eyes and like, they weren't focusing on anything. He really wanted me to dance with him for some reason. And I was like, you're going to knock me into somebody because you're really drunk and you're freaking me out in front of his friends.


He was like, I hate you. You're disgusting. I don't even know why you came tonight. I wish you weren't here. I hope I never see you again. I was like, all right. So I got in my car and drove home because I wasn't drinking that night. I offered to do so. He could hang out with his friends. Not even five minutes later, I got a call from one of his friends, all panicked.


And he's like, he's walking home from the bar. And he did not live in a good part of town.


So I'm like, oh, OK. I find him blackout drunk in a supermarket parking lot. Like, I pick him up in my car and drive him back to my apartment. We get to my apartment.


It was like all of a sudden he realized where he was or something and he started freaking out like he was throwing stuff. He was screaming at me and I was really scared. So I called his friend who had originally called me and I was like, you need to come here and you need to pick him up because he's out of control and I can't handle it and I'm scared.


Or his friend was like, Oh, what's going on? I'm like, I don't know. I don't know. He just lost his temper completely. I don't know what happened. We go in perfectly calm. It was like sixty seconds later, it was like nothing had happened.


He picked up everything that he had thrown and he was perfectly calm, had a normal conversation with his friend and his friend, wound up leaving him there. And like I went to bed that night, terrified. It was like I felt so trapped. It's like he was sleeping in bed next to me and I was like, I have no idea who the person is that I'm sharing a bed with.


His electricity gets turned off at his apartment, I kicked myself that I did this, but I was like, you know, you can come stay at my house for a week until it gets turned back on, but then you really need to, like, move back to your place. And he moved in and just didn't leave for weeks.


I'm a graphic designer and I do a lot of freelance work, so I have a really nice computer and he was using it to job hunt because he got fired from booting and he spilled beer all over my computer and ruined it and then was terrible to me about having to pay to have it repaired.


And I was like, this is literally my livelihood. You need to fix it. And I got up the next morning after that fight and I looked in the mirror and I was like, I don't even recognize myself right now. I don't know who this person is that is letting this happen. I need to get out of this relationship.


I'm looking in the mirror at myself thinking like, where did you go and how did you get to this point? Like, how did you just let this person take over your life and take over you? And it's like I didn't even realize it was happening until it was that bad.


It's like I just didn't set any boundaries for myself and he was just grinding down my sense of self and my self esteem until my self-esteem was nothing and I felt like I had no option to get out and I was afraid to get out. So I was planning on taking some time to kind of like get my ducks in a row and then break it off clean. His friends were having a housewarming party, as was now my habit, I was like all drive us there and back everyone.


So the party was actually pretty fun, but I also didn't spend a lot of time around him at the party. And so we go to leave and he insists on driving. And I'm like, OK. So we're lost on the west side of Atlanta. I just knew we were in a really bad neighborhood and we were lost. And the person I was with was wasted and I was like, I need to drive this car. Why don't we pull over and you let me drive?


He's like, no, I'm fine, and it just escalated from there because I was starting to get really panicked. I really didn't like where we were. He just freaked out, totally lost his temper, was screaming at me, calling me names. He grabbed my hair so hard that he pulled like a whole clump of hair, like out of my scalp. He finally pulled over and he made like he was going to come around to my side of the car and I completely panicked and I just started out of the car.


He stood in the driver's side with the door open and looked at me.


I can't even explain the facial expression that he had. It was like a mask, like so much contempt, hatred and anger, just like all twisted. And he just got back in his car and, like, peeled out and left me there. Today's episode is brought to you by Audible If you are looking for the best way to listen to audiobooks, podcasts and meditation programs all in one service, check out Audible Audible's, the leading provider of spoken word entertainment and audio books ranging from best sellers and new releases to celebrity memoirs, languages, true crime and now podcasts.


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Hey, I'm Brooke in America and we're the hosts of Even the Rich, a show about the occasionally outrageous behavior of people who have a lot of money and a lot of feelings in our very first year end special.


We're going to talk all about how the uber rich handled quarantine this year and how some of your favorite celebrities went a little bit stir crazy from all the isolation.


Subscribe to even the rich on Apple podcast, Spotify, the Wonder App or wherever you're listening right now, join Wonder E-Plus in the Wonder app to listen ad free. I don't know where the fuck I am. It's midnight, I call one of my girlfriends and she doesn't pick up. My boyfriend's best friend was a night owl, so I call him. I just got left here. I don't know where I am. I need your help. Can you come pick me up?


And he's like, I've been drinking. I can't come get you, but just stay calm. Look around. Is there a gas station? Down about a block on the other side of the street, there's this mini grocery convenience store. I turn and look the other way and there's like a Sunoco or something, some sort of gas station. So I started walking toward the gas station. The next thing I know, I heard like quick footsteps behind me.


And somebody grabbed my arm. Somebody else grabbed my phone. And this woman gets in front of me and she's like, if you cooperate, we won't kill you. But if you scream, if you like, make noise, we're going to leave your body behind one of these houses.


There are three of them, there's one of me there are all much larger than me, my gut sense was like, just give them what they want because I don't think they want you. And they were like, OK, we're going to walk to this food store and you're going to take money out for us at the ATM. The guy walks me there basically, like in an arm lock, I was wearing these heels from being at a house party and the guy puts me into a headlock.


They take me into this alleyway and they're like, OK, we need your debit cards and your PIN number. And I was wearing, like, actually a pretty expensive antique ring that was my grandmother's. And I don't even think they looked at it twice. And I was like, whatever you guys want, just don't hurt me. I'm willing to cooperate. I just want to get home like, you know, let's all stay calm.


The woman who took my phone takes my card, goes to this convenience store and like she was trying to use my credit card as a debit card, she kept calling the man and he would like shake me and shake me and put his hands around my neck and be like, you better not be lying to us or I'll kill you. And I'm like thinking to myself, these people are idiots and I'm going to die because they're fucking idiots. Like, they're going to kill me because they can't figure out how to use a debit card.


Because I kept being like, it's the one that says debit, it's the one that says debit. Growing up, my parents always joked that I was Murphy's Law, walking, talking, Murphy's Law, I would be the one to get robbed by, like, the world's dumbest criminals. That would be me. I don't think they were like hardened criminals. I think that they were opportunists.


And I don't think they quite knew what to do with me. The guys like holding on to me, waiting for them basically to get back. I slowly slipped my feet out of my shoes and was just kind of waiting.


He gets another phone call and he stepped away from me and I was the first time he let go of me since they had me and I just took off. Like, I just ran, I didn't even know where I was going and I just ran. I was like, if I turn around, it's going to slow me down. I'm not an athletic person by any stretch of the imagination, but I've vaulted a fence like I crawled in the mud, like I had one mission in mind, which was like get as far away from these people as possible and hide until they're gone.


Unfortunately, I picked a dead end street, so I get down to the end of the street and there's this 10 foot fence and I look around and I realize there's this little trailer with some sort of white plastic tank on it. I run over to it and I was wearing like this red pashmina scarf and like a white shirt and jeans. I, like, rubbed the scarf all over in the mud and covered my body with it and wedged myself underneath the trailer where I could see, like on one side I could see the street and on the other side I could see her on the back of the house that I was hiding behind so that if they were coming, I could see them coming.


And then I had like the dead end fence behind me. So I just waited there and my adrenaline was so high I was laying on a fire ant nest for like hours and I had no idea.


And I had bites literally behind my ears and then my scalp, my toes, because I wasn't wearing shoes.


I heard him yelling and I heard them come back. They're all like yelling about it. And I thought they might have been looking a little bit, but I don't think it lasted that long. Like, I think in hindsight, I tried to find me thinking I was nearby and then they were like, screw it. We got our money. So I was laying there and I was like, I have no idea where I am, I have no shoes, I don't know anybody here, and I don't want to get either picked up again by somebody or, like, robbed again.


So I laid there under that trailer practicing what I was going to say, I'm going to go knock on this door. So I knock on the door and as quietly as I could while still trying to talk through the door, I don't want to come in, but I just want to let you know, like I got robbed. Can you please just call me a cab? Like, I don't want to come in. I don't need to use your phone.


Just please call me a cab so I can get home.


And the person looked out their window at me and then just never came back. So I went to the back to the trailer and got back underneath it and was like, OK, I need a new plan. Like that plan didn't work out. I needed a new one. I decided I would run as fast as I could and hope that there was cover enough to hide me on the street, that I could maybe get to a business that was still open and they would call a cab for me, ran down the street and I was like kind of crouching between bushes, running as fast as I could.


And I look around and I see that I'm only a block away from the main street where I originally got robbed. And I'm like, OK, there are two businesses there. And I decided it would be bad luck to go back toward that gas station.


And I ran toward the Food Mart. At this point, it had been pouring rain all night, I was laying under a trailer, I had no shoes on. I probably looked crazy. So I come flying into this place, it's like 6:00 in the morning, I've been robbed like please, please call call me a cab. Can I use your phone to call somebody? And the guy's like, we don't have a phone. You need to ask somebody who comes in here at this point, it's like starting to be daylight.


The first person who comes in is wearing scrubs, I'm like, please, I've been robbed. Can you please call me a cab? And he's like, I don't have time for you. And, like, bought his coffee and left. So I'm like pacing. So I waited until the next couple of customers leave and I go back to the counter and I look at the guy behind the counter and I'm like, listen, I'm not from here.


I'm lost and I've been robbed. I promise I won't call the cops. You just have to help me get out of here. And he didn't say anything, but he went in the back. This man comes out who I'm presuming is maybe the owner, and he's like, oh my God, what is wrong with the world? He goes back in back and brings me out a jacket, he's like he's like, I hate to tell you this, pedicabs not going to come here.


Can I try calling somebody and he's like, of course, so I get the phone in my hands and I realize the only local number that I have memorized is my boyfriend's. So I try calling his number. It goes straight to voicemail. I'm like, is there like a MARTA station nearby? He's like, oh yeah, it's down down the road like a mile. I'm like, OK, I'm going to head toward the MARTA station. Thank you.


And he's like, you can't you can't go to the MARTA station. You're going to get robbed again. So he calls his brother, takes 250 out of the cash register, which is enough for a one way MARTA trip. He gets me in the car with his brother and like I am. So just this man was so kind to me. I was just, like, holding his hand. And I was like, oh, my God, I just never want to let your hand go.


His brother drives me to the metro station and he hustles me out of the car and is basically like, good luck.


I get to the Martin machine and I realize they took my MasterCard and a MasterCard costs a dollar and I only have enough for the fare and I just start crying. I'm just like holding on to the machine, sobbing. I'm never going to leave this place, this place where I thought I was going to die and this guy in the chef coat comes over and he's like, what's going on?


And I'm like, I just need to get home. And I don't have a dollar for the Marda. And so he gets me gives me one of his cards that I can reload so I can get on the train. I'm riding the train and this guy gets on like a couple like around midtown ages, like staring at me and staring at me. And then he's like, Did you party hard last night?


Like, yeah, you could say that is what happened. I was watching everybody on the train because I was not convinced I was free.


Yeah, I guess it probably sounds dramatic, but I was laying under that trailer saying my goodbyes to people because I didn't see a way out of there. And all I could think was my parents had no idea where I was and my body would never be found because I wasn't where I was supposed to be at all. And nobody would ever look for me on Bankhead Highway. Nobody. And so when I got on the train, I was not convinced that I was safe yet.


I get off at my stop, I walk back to my apartment. I put on shoes and even change my clothes, and I took my work laptop and I messaged my parents on Facebook, I got robbed, I'm OK. And going to the police, I don't have a phone.


My car was at my boyfriend's house and I go up to his door and I had to pound on it for probably like 10 minutes before he finally came to the door.


He was like, what happened to you? Because I showed up in my muddy clothes covered in fire ant bites.


I looked like I had been sleeping under a trailer all night, like I looked like it, I was like, what have you been up to since you deserted me in Bankhead? And he was like, Oh, I went out for drinks. I'm like, oh, so did you, like, try and figure out if I got home? And he was like, no, I figured you made it.


I just took my keys and. Went and got in my car and I just sat there. I didn't cry, I didn't feel angry, I just sat there just so stunned.


Wow, what how do you even put that into words? That was my moment, just so Eye-Opening to me. That man only cared about himself and about getting drunk. Hi, I'm Lindsey Graham, the host of one of these new series Business Movers, where we dive deep into the inner workings of some of the most successful companies of all time. Business movers is available early and ad free on one tree, plus from the origin stories of their famed leaders to the million dollar ideas that catapulted them to success.


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I go to the nearest police precinct. They don't even know what to do with me. Like I don't even think they believe me. I thought. I think they thought I was crazy. The guy was like, well, that food mart's not online. And I'm like, why would a tiny little convenience store in Bankhead have a website?


Can you please just call me a detective to talk to or just direct me where I need to go get a detective and the detective takes me in his car? This is probably like 10 a.m. and they take me back to where it happened. And he just hands me off to these two detectives that handle that neighborhood two hours after I got home. They make me walk them through and take them to all of the places where things happened so that they could scope it out.


I felt like a wild animal, like I thought I was going to get out of here, but now I'm back. On that side of Atlanta, like a strong armed robbery, is small potatoes. So they go into the food store, talk to the people in there, and I just felt horrible, I told them that I wouldn't bring the cops there and then I did after they helped me, I got to talk to my mom a little bit.


She was totally freaking out, understandably. The detective talks to my mom. They start kind of playing like good cop, bad cop with me trying to figure out what I was doing on that side of town. One of the detectives was like, you, we're going to make you take a lie detector test and if you take this to court, only only one person can leave that courtroom and it might not be you. I went home that night and I was like, you know, convinced either the cops or the people who robbed me, we're going to come to my house because they both had my address and I felt like they were both after me.


So in the meantime, they run a background check on my boyfriend and finally one of the detectives is like, all right, well, I'll bring you home. So he walks me out and we drive home and he's kind of asking me questions in the car, but I'm not really answering. And finally, we pull up to my apartment building and he puts the car in park. He's like, I believe you, but this isn't going to go anywhere, so I recommend that you let it go.


But I do want you to see what we found.


It's the background check on my ex. He had been dishonorably discharged from the Marines, he had committed vehicular manslaughter. He had served time in jail. I was so stunned, I felt like somebody had punched me in the face. I have been in extremely close contact with a person for over eight months and I don't even know him, didn't know what he was capable of, didn't know him at all, really didn't know him.


I just went inside my apartment and laid on my bed and stared at the ceiling. I don't even know how long.


I didn't even feel relieved. I was just terrified. Where do you go? What where do I go from here?


What what do I even do? How do I pick the pieces up from this and and then go back to having a life. How do I ever trust another person again? I wound up staying at a friend's apartment for probably a week. I didn't go to work for that week. We did confront each other. Actually, I think it was the next day he came over to my friend's apartment who I was staying with. I told him what happened.


He basically didn't really believe me. He still had a key to my apartment and a bunch of his stuff at my apartment, so it actually took me a couple of weeks for it to finally break up, like I had to do it all in one fell swoop where the locks were changed and then his stuff was gone and phone numbers changed. And my bosses warned in case he comes to my office, it took a little time for me to be capable of making that plan and then to execute it.


When he found out, well, after we had broken up, when he found out I was dating somebody new, he was trying to contact me to get me to spend time with him. It's just like to this day, I don't think he even realizes that he did anything wrong. Like, I think if you were to ask him why we broke up, I don't even know if he would know. Like, I was very numb and very reclusive for a long time about it.


My mom was really worried about me because I couldn't go to the grocery store except really early in the morning so I could have it to myself. I had a lot of trouble just even walking around my neighborhood.


I was super depressed, drinking a lot. And my mom was like, I love you. I'm really concerned about you. You need to get help. It really took some serious control of my life.


And finally I was like, I you know, I can't do this anymore. I'm not even I'm barely I'm a barely functioning person. And I went through some very serious therapy.


I was diagnosed with PTSD and had horrible night terrors and just a slew of psychological issues that followed trauma. Went to Alan meetings, you know, like I did move forward, but it took me a long time to feel even like a person and again. I felt just really scared. It was like I couldn't differentiate between a safe scenario and an unsafe scenario, so like I felt like I couldn't read a situation. And I also felt like I couldn't trust myself because it was like I got myself into that situation and working through the guilt of that and acknowledging that I was the victim took me like probably a year of therapy to get to that point where I was like I did get out of the car, but it's because I was in fear for my life.


It was easier for me to admit that that I did something wrong than to admit that I let myself be in a relationship for so long that it got to that point.


What the heck were you even thinking, what were you doing, why did you stick around? You get this question from people like why did you stay for so long? And it's really easy to be like, oh, it's because I'm you know, I didn't see the red flags.


But the reality is maybe you shouldn't expect your partner to be horrible to you and you shouldn't have to have such extreme boundaries where somebody doesn't leave you some place to get mugged.


You know, my boyfriend shouldn't have been a terrible, abusive person.


One of the big things that came out of it is that I got distance from it and I felt really fortunate, actually, I was in this horrible neighborhood where people live. It was really scary for me there.


It was really dangerous and bad what happened to me. But ultimately, I got to come back to my comfortable apartment, my good job, my circle of loving friends and family. My great support system, and I just felt like I'm really lucky, really fortunate person to have all of these wonderful things in my life where I grew up is pretty poor, economically depressed.


But poverty in a city is so acute, I just felt bad for those people.


I've never been in a situation where I felt like my options were robbed, somebody or not get by. I've been lucky enough to never be in a position like that.


I did this kind of experimental therapy called brain spotting, when you have PTSD, your brain automatically is wired to go straight to that fight or flight response, and brain spotting is allowing you to rewire those pathways. You might still think about it. You might still feel fear about it, but you won't automatically flashback and think that you're there or automatically go into a, you know, survival mode when you read a situation.


It allowed me to get so far into the center of what was really bothering me and then in turn, understand that. My choices allowed me to survive. They didn't put me in that situation, they allowed me to survive that situation and that started helping me build trust back into myself. And it was like this moment when I was like, I don't have to let this define me, this is not me. It's something that happened to me, it's not me.


And I think that that was really like the turning point of my recovery.


From London. You're listening to this is actually happening. If you love what we do, please rate and review the show. You can subscribe on Apple podcast, Spotify, the Wonder App or wherever you're listening right now. You can also join hundred plus in the one three app to listen ad free. In the episode notes, you'll find some links and offers from our sponsors by supporting them. You help us bring you our shows for free. I'm your host witness Aldine.


Today's episode was produced by me with special thanks to the This is Actually Happening team, including Andrew Waits and Alan Westberg. The intro music features the song Alabi by Tipper.


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