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WSU student Tracey Thomson spoke for the Women’s Center about her experiences in a violent relationship through a presentation called “Through the Fire” held in the Shepherd Union Building Thursday. As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the purpose was to show there is help out there for women who are being abused in their relationships.
“I think if there’s a possibility of violence beginning and then escalating, it might help students, if there are red flags, to talk about them,” said Dorothy Hill, who works at the Women’s Center and helped with this event. She described Thomson as strong and really passionate about educating people on domestic violence awareness. Hill said beforehand that she thought Thomson would speak as a survivor and be uplifting.
Thomson was in Argentina at the time. Her husband at the time, Patrick, moved down without her, so his sister finally packed them all up to move down there. They seemed to be doing well for a while, but Thomson said fights started happening between them.
“He would throw chairs at me, break my things and throw clothes out my window,” Thomson said.
At the beginning, she said he never would hit her, but the physical violence started with her son.
“He used hit my son to get me to do what he wanted me to do,”she said.
She said verbal abuse would happen if she said no to him. Things started to get bad enough that she filed for a divorce. She didn’t want him around at all. At the same time, her children and she were trying to get out of the country and come back to the States. The father fought for custody of their daughter, Elaina. According to the officials in Argentina, the only way he could have custody of the daughter was if Thomson were dead or in jail.
“After that, he tried everything to get me arrested,” Thomson said. “He would have people follow me and would try to plant drugs in my house.”
A few days before things went really badly, they got in a fight about Elaina’s birthday because the father wasn’t invited. The next day, he had asked her to come help him with his Jeep, but she said no. She was ready to get out of the country, had the tickets ready and was leaving the next day. When the day came, he asked her again to come help so he could get a part ordered for his Jeep. She finally agreed to help him. When she got into the Jeep, it was filled with cans of gasoline.
“He’s reaching over me and buckles the seatbelt with ropes tied to it and ties me in,” Thomson said.
At the flick of the lighter, the whole Jeep exploded in flames. Thomson was trying to get out and was screaming.
“I could feel my skin melting,” she said.
She was able to get out of the Jeep, but Patrick grabbed her by the hair and pulled about two thirds of her hair out, pushing her back into the Jeep.
After trying to escape and being strangled, she managed to escape. Thomson suffered second-, third- and fourth-degree burns, which required skin grafts and kept her in the hospital for months. Despite her low chance of survival, Thomson lived and is currently a WSU student.