Domestic violence survivor: "He stood over me and released the bullets in me"

Published: Oct. 23, 2017 at 5:23 PM EDT
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Amanda's Center, a domestic violence resource for men and women in Fayette County, has a new employee who knows firsthand the horror of domestic violence.

"Do you see yourself in a lot of these people?" WKYT's Miranda Combs asked April Ballentine during a conversation at Amanda's Center.

"I do," Ballentine replied. "I've seen myself many times when the victims come in. I've seen myself many times."

In August of 2013, Ballentine was talking with friends at the Swahili Elks Lodge during Friday night happy hour. Two months prior, she had broken up with Wendell Dixon. "I was talking to someone at the end of the bar and next thing I know, he was behind me and he grabs my arm," Ballentine remembered. "And I turn around and he pulls up his shirt and inside of his pants was a gun."

There were at least fifty other people at the lodge that night.

Ballentine went on, "I fell, and he stood over me and released the bullets in me. I recall coming to and I couldn't really see. My ears were ringing and I don't recall feeling anything or hearing anything."

She was shot three times in the torso, once in the leg and once in the arm. Ballentine had known Dixon for five years. "He was hoping I was dead. That was his intention," Ballentine believed. "I always knew my faith was strong, but I didn't know how strong until that night."

The bullets left her paralyzed. "My life has changed tremendously in different ways," she told Combs. "It's tough to be around a group of people and not look eye to eye when you've done it for so long."

After the shooting, Ballentine started volunteering at Amanda's Center, named for Amanda Ross who was killed by her ex-fiance, former lawmaker Stephen Nunn. Recently, Ballentine decided to work for the center full time. "This situation has driven me to want to be a voice for others, to help and provide resources so they can continue to protect themselves and get back to their normal lives."

October is domestic violence awareness month. Thursday at 5:30, October 26, Ballentine will speak at a domestic violence vigil outside the district courthouse.