Death Met Me at My Doorstep. My Story of Faith and Surviving Sexual and Domestic Violence
Updated: Aug 1
Childhood is a time in a person's life meant for fun, adventure, and discovery. Many adults treasure those sacred moments from years ago, when they enjoyed playing with their toys, riding their bike, and living a carefree life. For Taliyba Reinberry, that was not the case. In fact, her childhood was full of memories that she much rather forget.
Reinberry vividly remembers standing in her attic with her sister and cousin when she was 5 years old, as they tried to figure out how to tell a family member that someone was molesting them. While having the conversation, another relative overheard what was being discussed, and told them they had to tell their parents. When she got the courage to talk to her parents about what happened, she immediately felt relieved; but after the initial conversation, the incident was never discussed again. “There was no follow up. It was as if it never happened,” Reinberry remembered. Her mother just told her that time heals all wounds, and things would get better. The family also lived by the “what happens in this house, stays in this house” rule of thumb, so she just let the family secret stay in the past. She felt like no one saw her and no one cared, but she wouldn't dare bring up the incident again.
A few years past by, when the unthinkable happened. She was molested again by another cousin when she was 8 years old. She learned from her first experience that there was no use in telling anyone what happened to her. So after experiencing sexual abuse for the second time, she went on an emotional rampage. She started to make irrational decisions. Everything around her seemed dark. “It was like I was standing in a crowded room screaming, and no one could hear me,” said Reinberry. So by the time she went on to high school, she was on a search for love. At the age of 14, she met this boy who was an athlete and was very charming. He was one of the most popular boys in school, and she felt like he genuinely cared about her. They continued dating throughout high school, and everything seemed to be going great. During her junior year of high school, she went to a school dance. She was having fun dancing with friends, and someone told her boyfriend that she was really enjoying herself at the event. When he heard this, he went into a fit of rage. He looked at her, took the sandwich that he had in his hand, and smashed it in her face. She was humiliated, and at that moment she immediately reverted back to that little 5-year-old girl, who was in need of help. A rush of emotions came upon her, and she started to feel guilt from the choices she made in her past. She tried to move on from that moment by thinking things would get better after that incident, but the relationship got progressively worse. He became more possessive and narcissistic as time went on, and she felt trapped. Everyone at the school knew he was crazy, but everyone was afraid to get involved. One day the football coach at the school came up to her and said, “if you don’t get away from him, you will die.”
She developed an exit strategy to get away from him, which was going away to college. She finally went off to school and was excited to leave that relationship in her past and move on with her life. One day she was in her dorm room, hanging out with a male friend of hers. Her phone rang, and her friend picked up the phone only to discover the ex-boyfriend on the line. After he and the ex exchanged a few words, Reinberry picked up the phone and told him to leave her alone and she was moving on with her life. She quickly hung up the phone, and paused for a moment to collect her thoughts. The call from the ex-boyfriend was a little unnerving, but they tried not to overthink it. They were hungry, and decided to go out to grab some pizza, but had no idea what would be waiting for them upon their return. When they came back from eating dinner, her ex-boyfriend was hiding in the girl's bathroom waiting for them. Her ex-boyfriend brought a friend and a gun with him to play out his ultimate agenda. They both jump out of the bathroom with trench coats and attacked her and the friend from behind. The ex knocked her friend out, and knocked her to the floor. As she cried for help, she tried to pull herself up by holding her neighbor's doorknob. Her neighbor, who was a young woman, happens to be inside the dorm room. The neighbor opens up the door and saw her reaching up for help, pleading for her life. When the neighbor saw her on the floor, she just looked at her, and then slammed the door in her face. No one cares…
Her ex then snatched her up, and took her and her friend inside the dorm room. He made them both sit in a chair. Her friend began to regain consciousness, and the ex started questioning them both. He looked around the room, and notices her bed wasn't made. "You all were in here having sex weren't you!" he yells. When her friend didn’t answer, he took the coffee mug that was on the table and knocked him out again. Reinberry tried taking up for her friend, which made him more enraged. He kicked her so hard in the chest that it took her breath away. She was barely hanging on to life. At that moment, the accomplice who came with the ex saw how out of control the situation was getting and tried to talk him out of doing anything else, but it was too late. Someone called the RA on duty, and they came in the room and yelled, “Stop, what are you doing!!!” but the ex held up a gun and said “If you want to live, you better go downstairs, and don’t call the cops because I will come down the stairs and kill you.” The RA left, and she began to go in and out of consciousness. While everything was happening, Reinberry's friend woke up and escaped. Once he got away, the ex and his accomplice began to discuss how they were going to get out of the dorm without getting caught. The ex then threw her over his shoulder, caveman style, and began to slowly carry her down the stairs as she hung there lifelessly. As he walked across the campus courtyard towards his car, there was an upperclassman who saw the ex carrying her. The upperclassman yells out, “Hey man. What you doing? What’s wrong with her?” Her ex responded, “Everything is fine with her. She just had a little too much to drink.” “Oh, alright man,” the upperclassman responded and then walked off.
As she clung on to life, she was taken back to that moment when she was 5 years old. "No one sees me, and no one cares."
The ex threw her in the back seat of the car, and drove her to a destination an hour away. She realized at that moment that he wanted her life, and there was nothing that was going to stop him from taking it. Once they arrived, they brought her inside her ex’s house. Her lungs were on fire, and it took so much strength for her to inhale a single breath. She begged him for a drink, but he treated her like she was an animal. He dipped a dirty towel in water and made her suck the water from it. Every time she would try to speak, he would choke her to the point where she would almost pass out, and would release his hold just before she lost consciousness. Then the next time she would speak, he choked her again. He wanted her to know that he had the power to take her life, and he was in control. When the ex left the room, the accomplice began to apologize to her. “I didn’t mean for this to go this far. I’m so sorry,” but he didn’t do anything to help her. Moments later, two women walk into the room where she was being held. One woman was the ex’s sister, and the other was his grandmother. When they saw her bounded up, they were not disturbed in the least bit. In fact, the sister was trying to help her brother come up with a plan of how to get rid of Reinberry’s body. Meanwhile, the police are back at her dorm room, and they see the blood all over the floor. They label the incident a rape and a kidnapping. As standard protocol, they go to the ex’s house to see if she is there. When the police arrived, her ex scooped her up, walked up a flight of stairs and threw her into the attic. She laid there in blood, dirt, and dust. She felt no pain, as her body became numb. At that moment, she had a glimpse of hope because the police were there and she knew they would find her. The police rang the doorbell, and the ex’s grandmother answered the door. When the police questioned the grandmother, she began to yell at the police "She's not here," she said. "Oh no, she lying," Reinberry thinks to herself, but she had no strength to yell for help. The police leave and Reinberry's heart began to sink, as her hope for survival drives away. The ex came up to the attic and grabbed her. He laid her back on the bed, and continued to abuse her. The grandmother came in and told him that they got to get out of there. When the ex left the room, the grandmother said to her “Baby, us women go through things like this. This type of stuff happens.” The grandmother's twisted, sick attempt to comfort her was repulsive to Reinberry..
The sister and the ex eventually came up with a plan. They told her that they are going to drop her off at the hospital and she is supposed to tell everyone that she got robbed, or else he will kill her entire family. So the ex and his grandmother helped her down to the car. Then the grandmother told her that she was no longer going to take her to the hospital, but she was going to take her home to grab her stuff. They then told her that she needed to tell her parents that she was not staying or else her grandson would hurt her.
She pulled up at her parents home. Her mother saw her child walking up to the porch, and was utterly mortified. The bruises on her body clearly indicated that she was badly tortured. The ex got arrested, and the police wanted to press charges against him. Reinberry was told that he was abusing other women, but they needed her testimony for the gun charge. Out of fear, Reinberry refused to testify. She said to them “You all can’t protect me from him. He will find me.” As a result, the ex was released. Time went on, and he ended up getting arrested for another offense that put him in jail.
With some sense of relief, Reinberry went on with her life and went back to school. Everything was going well with her, and she had some peace of mind about him being locked up. One day, she came back home to visit her parents, and she noticed a car parked outside her mother's house. It was her ex. He drove to her parent's house to finish the job. He grabbed her, threw her in his car, and punched her in the mouth. Her mouth was bleeding. She couldn't even catch her breath to scream for help. Then he pulled her out of the car, and dragged Reinberry to her parent's foyer. He pushed her up against the mailbox, and said the words that most people only hear in movies “If I can’t have you. No one can.” He grabbed his gun out of his coat pocket, placed it up against her head, and pulled the trigger.
God intervened in that very moment, and the gun jammed. Her ex became enraged at the fact that the gun didn’t go off. He dragged her up the stairs, kicked her parent's door in, and while holding her began pointing the gun at everyone in the house. Her entire family was in the house with this maniac. He screamed, "I'm going to kill her in front of all of you, and if you try to stop me, I will kill you too!" Her sick uncle used all of his strength to get up and try to wrestle him to the floor, as her mother came running down the stairs. Other family members began to attack him, and when he finally realized he was outnumbered, he ran out of the house. The family took a moment to catch their breath, and as they comforted Reinberry, they realized that he was not going to stop until he took her life. After that incident, Reinberry made a call to the police. She told them she would testify. Other women who he abused eventually came forward, and the police were able to catch him. He was arrested and sent to jail. Reinberry finally thought she could move on with her life, but when she went back to school this time, the PTSD set in. "If a man put their hand on my shoulder, I would go immediately into flight mode" she recalled. She constantly had flashbacks and was always in a state in distress. While on campus, she met a guy who she had an interest in dating. On the second date, she told him everything that happened to her, because she felt he had to know what he was walking into. When she told him her story, he began to cry. They moved forward with the relationship, and eventually got married and had children.
"Those first few years of marriage were one of the worst times of my life," Reinberry recalled. "Because although I was no longer being abused, I became the abuser." She became the manifestation of the pain she had inside. She was hurt, so she hurt the people around her. Her husband had to deal with the rage and the hurtful words that came out of her mouth daily. She didn’t see her husband for the loving and caring person he was, but she saw him as her abuser. He could never do anything that she couldn’t find something wrong with or wasn't triggered by a memory that she had gone through with the abuser. Even if she had a good experience with her husband, she would say she didn’t deserve it, and she sabotaged it. She continued to battle with all of these demons (as she describes) inside of her, that was the source of so much pain and turmoil. She was in a dark place, and her appearance reflected it. She wore dark clothes all of the time. She began to drink heavily, use drugs, and attempted to take her own life on multiple occasions. "My family would be better off without me," Reinberry said. Nothing will ever cleanse me from this pain." She was willing to do everything she could think of to numb the pain. She couldn’t figure out how to rid herself of feeling so dirty. Countless times, she would be in the shower and would scrub her body so hard until her skin became raw.
She was cut off emotionally from her husband and her children. She didn’t realize that God sent her husband to be a covering over her life. He was a man of God at the time, and he refused to leave her despite her many requests for him to do so. She remembers begging him “Please divorce me. Leave me. I will never get out of this dark place, and you and the kids will be better off without me.” He responded by saying, “You are just in your wilderness babe, and you are going to come out. The reason I am here is because God showed me the woman you are going to be. I have to love you through it, even if it means hurting me.” Reinberry cried, as she vividly remembers that conversation with her husband. "He had the love of God that I needed, to sustain me until I discovered the love of God for myself."
Some time went by, and a friend invited her to go to church. During the service, they played a song “I Surrender it All to You”. She became overwhelmed with emotion, and lifted her hands in praise to God as if it was only her and the Lord in the room. Time stood still for Reinberry in that moment, and everyone had left the sanctuary but her. Her friend tapped her on the shoulder to tell her that she was leaving, but Reinberry wasn’t done emptying all of her pain and sorrow out at the feet of the Lord. She kept her hands raised and her feet would not move, because God wanted her to leave her bondage right there at His feet. From that moment on, she started her journey of healing. She's had good days and bad days. She continued to struggle with thoughts of her not being a good enough wife and constantly battled with the shame of her not being able to be there emotionally for her children. "How can you raise children to be emotionally stable, and you are damaged? Absent of God, you can’t,” said Reinberry.
Over time, she began to understand who she is in God, and who she is in Christ. Although sometimes she finds herself battling the enemy who tries to tell her that she is still that old person, she reminds herself every day “that those things happened to me, but they are not happening to me now, and no one can ever tell me that God cannot restore.” All of the things that she thought the enemy had stolen from her, God has restored in her life. God restored her marriage, God restored her relationship with her children who now serve in the church and have a relationship with God, and God restored her heart.
Her journey still continues, but now that she knows that God is with her, the enemy no longer has a hold on her life. Now Reinberry is standing in a position of strength, and she is reclaiming everything in her life that the devil tried to steal from her. Today, she will no longer be silent about her story. The world sees her now, and God cares. She found her voice, and she has a testimony to tell. She is a survivor, she is a walking miracle, and she is a powerful woman of God.
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