LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (WUSA9) -- A Loudoun County woman who was almost killed by her husband is telling her amazing story of survival. When her husband stabbed her in the chest, it was the first time he physically abused her. But, the successful career woman has come to realize that she endured years of abuse before that fateful day almost two years ago.
Joyce Sowa who woke up on December 2nd 2011, to see her husband standing over her with a 6-inch kitchen knife. She recalls the terrifying morning. "He was standing here and he had climbed over me and shoved the knife into me."
Joyce said, "He just plunged it right into the middle of my chest. He took the knife out and the blood squirted up about 4 inches.. the blood was just spurting out of me. I have no idea how I had the where with all to reach to the phone and dial 911. That call saved my life."
In a 911 call, Joyce says, "help me! Operator: ok, listen to me, is there any serious bleeding? Joyce: yeah, it's all over. Operator: is there more than one wound? Joyce: yes. help."
"He stabbed me in the back and it felt like my lung had just exploded," she said.
As she tried to get away, her husband kept slashing, she was badly cut above her eye and on her wrist. At some point during the struggle, she either fell or was pushed down the stairs.
"With all the blood coming up, I was having difficulty breathing, I was choking on my blood. I eventually passed out," she said.
When she passed out, her husband grabbed the knife.
"hello? this is 911.
Bryant parker: I killed my wife.
Operator: ok, sir, stay on the phone with me."
The then 65-year-old Bryant Parker, confessed right then. Luckily, he missed her heart, but did puncture both lungs. Joyce was flown to the trauma unit at Inova Fairfax. Joyce, now 63, remembers waking up in the hospital. "I had the fear that he was still after me....I have nightmares almost every night," she said.
Amazingly, with help from friends who stayed with her, she was able to move back into her home where the horrific incident happened.
"All the floors here in the hallway had to be ripped up and the stairs ripped up because it was contaminated with tons of blood."
She believes she survived, so that she can tell her story to other victims of domestic abuse and violence. Joyce had a very successful career working in high level jobs with the secret service, the treasury department and then for Booze Allen. Ten years ago, when she was 53, she married Bryant Parker. It was her first marriage, and his third.
"It seemed like everything was ideal and I didn't see the bad, except when he was talking to his ex-wife and then there were screaming matches." Joyce says parker did not become verbally abusive until they were married.
"For seven years, I told nobody about the verbal abuse or any of the physical abuse he had with his son. I told nobody. I was too ashamed."
Joyce says her husband never punched, hit or kicked her but for years his words inflicted pain. She remembers when she finally stood up to him.
"His mother had moved in with us, and he had called me an f-ing idiot in front of her and I told him, if you ever say that again to me, you're out of the house for good and he did."
She kicked him out and gave him a year to get his act together. One year later, he hadn't changed, so she decided to go through with divorce but, she would make a huge mistake. She invited him over.
"We actually had a nice evening. We went to bed, started talking...he asked if he could sleep with me and I said yes."
She told him their marriage was over but that they could still be friends. The next morning, he tried to kill her.
"Women should not let that happen. Learn from my mistakes," she said.
Bryant Parker, 67, pleaded guilty to malicious wounding on September 4, 2013. At his sentencing October 1, 2013, 28 voice recordings were played for Judge Thomas D. Horne. They were messages Parker left for Joyce in the weeks before the stabbing. Parker curses at her in a few of the recordings, sounds drunk in others, and in several he sobs and begs Joyce to take him back.
"He was very angry with me for leaving him, because I had supported him for years, he had no meal ticket anymore. When men realize it is over for good, and it was over the night when my husband stabbed me, that's when they can turn and become violent. Women give and give and give, they need to recognize the signs of abuse and take care of themselves. That's the big thing. I didn't take care of myself."
During the sentencing hearing, Senior Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Gigi Lawless submitted evidence including numerous photos of both the crime scene and the victim's injuries.
Joyce Sowa testified in detail about her physical and emotional wounds, describing how she "lives in fear every single day."
Prior to imposing a sentence Horne addressed Parker directly, telling him that when he pleaded guilty he "admitted that this was a purposeful act on [his] part." Horne further explained that the evidence supported that the incident was a purposeful act and that the sentencing guidelines were "woefully inadequate."
Horne sentenced Parker to 16 years behind bars plus an additional four years of suspended time. Upon his release from prison, Parker will be placed on supervised probation for a period of four years.
Joyce Sowa is hoping to set up a thrift store to raise money to help abused women. She's also hoping to write a book to help other victims understand what abuse can look like and help them get out of dangerous relationship before it's too late.
For help with a domestic violence situation, this website may be helpful.
Written by Peggy Fox