By Stephanie Ibarra
Killeen Daily Herald
Nearly one year since Audrey Mabrey, 27, was beaten and set ablaze, Mabrey recalls her story in hopes that she may bring awareness to domestic violence.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, on Nov. 19, 2009, Mabrey's estranged husband doused her in gasoline, struck her over the head with a hammer and lit her on fire.
She had just returned home from a jog when she was greeted by her husband holding a butcher knife.
"As soon as I entered the house, he just bum-rushed me, scooped me up and took me into the garage," Mabrey details.
The altercation continued to escalate when he accused her of having multiple affairs, claiming their first child wasn't his, says Mabrey.
"He laid me down on the floor and began trying to rape me with the knife to my throat. When he pulled out the hammer, I began praying (and) as soon as he lit the candle, I knew what time it was," said Mabrey, who remained conscious as he proceeded to douse her in gasoline and then ignite the flammable liquid.
Engulfed in flames and with 2nd and 3rd degree burns already coating over 80% of her body, Mabrey mustered the strength to manually raise the garage door and run out into her front yard.
"My neighbor who was walking her son back from school sees (me). She was in so much shock, and I'm saying to her, "Veronica, 911. 911!" ...The last thing I remember was being in the helicopter. From that point on I don't remember anything until almost Christmas."
Clinging to life, Mabrey was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition. With burns so severe, she would be induced into a coma, where she would remain for six weeks. The next time she would see her two young sons, ages one and four, would be three months later.
"I did not want them to see me. It was hard with the baby…he became attached to her," admits Mabrey, referring to the woman who had custody of her children while she was hospitalized.
The couple had been separated months prior to the November incident. After a violent outburst by her husband mid-October, Mabrey moved out.
"Before that there was no physical abuse. Was there emotional (abuse)? Was there mental (abuse)? Yes, but it wasn't violent," maintains Mabrey, adding, "It's the realization that it can go from zero to 60 in no time, and you never know when it's going to happen."
Her parents, Richard and Lisa Brown, longtime Killeen residents, are currently working towards moving Mabrey and her two sons back to Texas.
Meanwhile, Mabrey's husband, a former New York police detective, remains in the Hillsborough County jail awaiting trial for attempted first-degree murder and first-degree arson, facing life without parole.
Through it all, Mabrey remains resilient, stating, "People don't realize how much help is out there. When people silence themselves, they let the abuse grow. Just because something tragic or horrific happens to you in life doesn't mean A. your life is over or B. that you should buy into that."
"The day that everything happened to me he took away my outer beauty and he scarred my skin, but that's all he took away from me. I would never let him take away anything else from me."
For more information and articles on domestic violence, visit our October awareness page at kdhnews.com/awareness.