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LISA (PART 1)

This man had been doing drugs himself, and when men do this type of drug their “parts” don't work. Just these two days that I was there, I was raped with a plunger handle and piece of wood. And when I tried to scream, that's when he broke my jaw.

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HOW LISA LOST HER WAY

I was married. I was from Jackson, Mississippi, and meeting him was an escape from an alcoholic mother. My dad was a car dealer, we always had a really nice house. We always went to really nice schools. We were always in church, but when the doors were closed, it was just total chaos. So I grew up learning how to make it look really good.


My first husband and I--we had money, we had a nice house, and we had, you know, a boat, and a swimming pool and we’re living on the water. You know, all those different things that people say, “Oh you know she's got such a great life, and she's got all kinds of stuff.” But behind closed doors he was a horrific sexual deviant and abuser--physically, emotionally, mentally. And he was saying that if i didn't like it he would send me back to my mother.

I let him back in my life because, I guess...I don't even have an answer for it. By the time she was 4 years old, the beatings never really stopped. The sexual degrading never stopped.
Lisa's mugshot, just days after the rape (left), and Lisa years after

What he [my ex-husband] was doing wouldn't hurt as bad as some of the things that she [my mother] did. So I stayed and I stayed, then I got pregnant. We were together about a year and a half, and he said he never wanted children. The first thing he did was to bring me to a Planned Parenthood to figure out how to get rid of it. I was gonna have no part of that.


HER BELOVED FIRSTBORN

I kinda went along and didn't say anything, because I knew What would happen if I defied him. His [my ex-husband’s] parents were gold--salt of the Earth. You know, it's amazing that they made him. She [my former mother-in-law] and I thought he was gone doing something, and she and I were in the kitchen looking at--we had little onesies, and we were looking at different things. He found out, and I went back to where I was living, and he strangled me and punched me in the stomach to such an extent, to try to terminate [the pregnancy] himself. He promised me that he would kill this baby when it was born.


I must have been 3 months pregnant at the time and he left, and I was working at Children's Hospital as a nursing assistant. I just worked, and worked, and worked. I had a little shotgun double in Nero, Louisiana. I learned how to sew, and I just sewed all her stuff. I just loved this baby. This baby was just the most amazing thing. Three or four weeks before she was born, he comes back around--a changed man--but he really wasn't. I let him back in my life because, I guess...I don't even have an answer for it. By the time she was 4 years old, the beatings never really stopped. The sexual degrading never stopped.

Lisa with her eldest, Allie

GIVING UP HER DAUGHTER

One night, I was holding her and he was trying to get me to go upstairs, and I didn’t wanna go and he just began to wail on me while she was in my arms. He came really, really close to hitting her. And this child, let me tell you, she was why I woke up everyday. She was everything in the world to me. This little girl. She and I were everything.

...he strangled me and punched me in the stomach to such an extent, to try to terminate [the pregnancy] himself. He promised me that he would kill this baby when it was born.

That's when I said I had to get out. Prior to that, he tried to run me over with his truck. I got police reports to show about all that. He didn't even do time, or go to jail, or anything. They knew a lot of law enforcement. I told him I was leaving, he says he would kill us both. And I never forgot what he told me on that beating. And I believed him. I knew that he would never harm her if she was with his parents. And I made the decision to turn over custody of her to the parents because I just wanted her to be safe. Of course I missed her like crazy.


SPIRALING INTO THE ADDICTION

I started drinking, which I said I never would, but I started because my mother started drinking and meeting the people who drink. And people that drink, a lot of times they do drugs, and it spirals. The thought that I couldn't drink, smoke, do drugs or may go away was that Allie thought that I abandoned her. She loved me as much as I loved her, and as hard as I tried, no matter what I did, I couldn't shake it. Your friend levels start doing this [motions downwards]--they start going down...down.

She says, “Well, I work for an escort service, and it's a lot of money and you're doing this anyway for free.”
The motel Lisa stayed at the night before the rape

WHY NOT GET PAID FOR IT?

The worst drug in the world is crack cocaine. I haven't done all of them, but that's the one that affected my life the most. This whole period of time that I was out there, was probably about 9 months. It wasn't a big part of my life. I spiraled very, very fast. I met a lot of people who were [sic] partying in the French Quarter, and this girl, she says, “You know, everything that we're doing right now you can still do, and get money at the end of the night.” And I'm thinking, “What are you talking about?”

As soon as I got in his house, he locked the door behind me and told me I was never leaving.

She says, “Well, I work for an escort service, and it's a lot of money and you're doing this anyway for free.” I was partying real hard at the French Quarter. I took her up on her offer and started out with an escort service. And that itself makes you feel...You think that money, or whatever--it doesn't leave you with a very good feeling after. So then you go do more drugs, and more drugs.

Lisa and her two younger daughters

THAT ILL-FATED DAY

I was very green about the drug game. I thought that if I had money, no one would ever hurt me. It was about 10 o'clock in the morning--I think it was a Friday. If you go, go score in Hollygrove. If you're Caucasian and you're walking in this neighborhood, Hollygrove, you're not going to visit family.


I ran across this man, and he said he had it [drugs] at his house. And crazy enough, I’d done it, I’d done that before, everything was fine. As soon as I got in his house, he locked the door behind me and told me I was never leaving. I just knew that the people that did love me, that was telling me if I didn't stop what I was doing, that this was gonna happen--or something worse. So I began to try to talk my way out of it. I can get you more money, I can do whatever. Nothing that I could say, or beg, or cry would make him stop.

He kept telling me that he was gonna kill me on Sunday, because he had to go to work on Monday.
The now empty lot where the rape transpired

This man had been doing drugs himself, and when men do this type of drug their “parts” don't work. Just these two days that I was there, I was raped with a plunger handle and piece of wood. And when I tried to scream, that's when he broke my jaw. And this was getting into, probably early morning, early hours of Saturday morning. This has just been, like, nonstop.


He kept telling me that he was gonna kill me on Sunday, because he had to go to work on Monday. And now I have a broken jaw, I'm in so much pain. My hair, from the back, was just completely matted. You saw the pictures of my face--from being beaten in the face and everything.


ESCAPE FROM THE NIGHTMARE

It was like a little, small room, and a little bathroom kind of connected to it. And I went into the bathroom and...I've known the Lord for a long time, and just because we go off the beaten path or go off a way, or go way down like I did--I one hundred percent believe He [God] never leaves us. He doesn't mess with our free will, but He doesn't leave us. And I hear this voice inside that said, “Pick the screen away from the window.” So gently, so he couldn’t hear, I raised my hand up. It was an old, rotten screen.

I one hundred percent believe He [God] never leaves us. He doesn't mess with our free will, but He doesn't leave us.

I didn't even know why I was doing it, I just did it. And as I came out, because it was such a small room, in a small space--because he wouldn’t let me go anywhere, of course. The same voice said, “Look down.” And there was like an energy bill on the floor that had his name on it, and I had commit that name to memory. But it didn't register to me then that, “You're getting out of here.” I was just doing what was coming to me to do.

Present day--rape survivor, Lisa Ripp

He started up all this stuff again, until I finally passed out, ‘til like, the morning light. As soon as the morning light came, my jaw had locked up a little bit where he broke it, and he just pulled my whole face down to try to get me to give him oral sex at that time. It was so painful. At that time--we’re getting into the mid-afternoon, I guess--I thought, “I could either be an idiot and sit here, and let him do this to me ‘til all the way Sunday night...or I could try to get out the window and actually get out, or I could try to get out the window and he kills me. But either way, those other two ways, I’m not gonna be tortured for the next 18 hours, so I’m getting out of here.

...my jaw had locked up a little bit where he broke it, and he just pulled my whole face down to try to get me to give him oral sex at that time.

He went to sleep--it was the first time that he went to sleep--and he was snoring. So I went into the bathroom, I put my weight on the sink to get out through the window, and the whole sink collapsed, and it woke him up. And I thought, “This is it. I’m dead.” I’m [praying], “Jesus, I’m really sorry for everything I’ve been doing.” Those kinds of things you say right before you think you’re gonna die. He told me he was going to cut me out and spread me all over town, and nobody would ever find me so I knew my poor father--I’d just be this missing girl that no one ever knew. I mean, these people think that nobody cares about these women. I'm telling you, people care about these women who are out there, they're just out there lost, like I was.

Convicted felon, Richard LeBeau, a public school janitor in New Orleans

So I looked down on the floor--I don't know how it got into the bathroom--but there was the bloody plunger handle that this man had been torturing me with for the last 18 hours, or so. But it had the perfect base that would hold up that counter that had fallen. And I had grabbed a little, some kind of small shirt, it had to be a kid’s shirt or something that was in there, and put it on. It was all I had on--nothing from the waist down. And I got out the window, and I just ran.


I guess that’s what shock feels like, because it was like underwater. I didn’t even really know where I was. I didn’t even know which direction was. And I just ran. People were like passing by me, and not stopping. And I just thought, in my head, “I have to get on the next street.” So I got on the next street, and a lady stopped and put a dress around me, and I got to the police station. They called the police. The police came and got me. I told him the man’s name, but I had to point out the house of where I was, which was kinda hard because I didn’t have a good sense of direction. I did--finally--[I] was able to point out the house.

...there was the bloody plunger handle that this man had been torturing me with for the last 18 hours, or so. But it had the perfect base that would hold up that counter that had fallen.
The first time Lisa spoke for RAINN

I went to Charity Hospital, and there was a really wonderful doctor. She took really good care of me. They wired my jaw up, and that’s where we get to this felony charge that I got. Because I was with these same people who were doing these same things [drugs and prostitution], and they had what was called a “Crimes Against Nature” sting. I think the law has changed now because that law was targeted against minority women. Back then it was illegal, it was a misdemeanor to actually have sex with somebody, but it was a felony to offer oral sex. But I didn’t do either one, because it’s really difficult to do oral sex if your jaws are wired shut.

And I’m just on my hands and knees crying out to the Lord, I said “Just please, please just get me out of the situation, any way. I don't care how. I don't wanna do this anymore.”

I couldn't defend myself, I couldn't do anything. I was just brought to the back of a police car. That picture that you see? That’s the mugshot from the arrest. That’s the mugshot. That’s how close it was to the rape that this arrest happened. By the time I got to talk with a public defender that I only got to talk to for like, you know, 10 minutes. I even said, “If you would just get my records from Charity Hospital, you’ll see that there was no way I could commit this crime.” I wind up evading the police and warrants for about 2-3 months.


One day, I was watching the Powerful Living--remember those Powerful Living commercials would come on? For the first time I prayed, I said, “God, just get me out of this.” My mother had passed away the previous Sunday. My mother died Easter Sunday of 1999, and this was Friday. And I’m just on my hands and knees crying out to the Lord, I said “Just please, please just get me out of the situation, any way. I don't care how. I don't wanna do this anymore.”

I was on a death mission that night. If God wasn't gonna take me out that night, I’m going to do it myself.
Lisa's "before and after," as she became a testimony to God's grace and healing

The man I was seeing came home--it was Friday--with his money and said, “Go score.” And I was so mad at God, I was just, “Didn't I just ask you to get me out of this? And here I am, doing this.” Because in addiction, you’re out of control. I put a piece of paper in my pocket with my father's phone number on it, in case someone found me, at least someone could contact him because I was on a death mission that night. If God wasn't gonna take me out that night, I’m going to do it myself.


DIVINE INTERVENTION

Before I could get to the place I was going that I knew was like, one of the most super dangerous parts of New Orleans that you could even attempt to try to penetrate and go in. These cops stopped me and asked me, “Aren’t you the girl that had the wires in her mouth?” And at first I said “No,” and I just stopped, and I realized...that God was saving me.

These cops stopped me and asked me, “Aren’t you the girl that had the wires in her mouth?” And at first I said “No,” and I just stopped, and I realized...that God was saving me.

***READ LISA (PART 2)


Story of Survivor, Advocate, Fitness and Wellness Coach, Lisa Ripp

Instagram: @lisarippfaith.fitness

Twitter: @ripp_lisa


EDIT: A GoFundMe fundraising page for Lisa Ripp has been organized by Lisa's friend, David Spirits : "This past Saturday, everything went dark. Lisa attempted to take her own life. Her husband found her and if he had found her any later, it would have been too late. It took 10 hours before they could wake Lisa up, and a while longer before she could get the words out "am I going to die?" the doctors told her they didn't know."

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