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Special Report: A Survivor's Story - KOAM TV 7

Special Report: A Survivor's Story

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States. Domestic violence exists in all communities. It reached an extreme in Joplin last summer.

On February 8, Kristina Thompson expected to finally face her estranged husband for the first time since he shot her this past June. But he and his lawyer asked for a continuance, pushing that moment further into the future. And until then, Kristina continues to relive what happened on June 10, 2015.

She had just left what she calls an abusive husband, filed an ex parte against him, and she was living on her own with her 17 year old son and her friend, Carissa Gerard. She says she felt like she could finally breathe again, a new found feeling of freedom. She got a haircut and took a few selfies to send to her friends.

“My son was just kind of hanging out and playing video games in the front room. I think Carissa was doing some laundry and I went back and I just sat on my bed and decided to send the selfies to my friends and Carissa came and sat down on the bed and was looking at the pictures with me and that's when we heard Stephen’s voice," she says.

He had entered through an open garage door.

“He butted open the bedroom door and he took aim and fired. The utter fear is, it was like being chased like an animal being hunted down is how I felt. But then I couldn't believe it was really happening.”

The women were able to escape out of the bedroom window and make it across the yard to the fence. Carissa, who had already been shot inside the house went over the fence first. While Kristina was climbing over she was shot in close range. Once she fell down she was able to crawl to the neighbor’s back door for help.

Police say they found Carissa Gerard dead upon their arrival. Kristina had a 12 inch hole in her abdomen and with only 1 pint of blood left in her system she says she remembers begging paramedics to save her life. A life that she says had been marred by abuse, abuse that got worse over time. And police say they had been called to their home several times for domestic disturbances.

“In domestic violence cases there can be a pattern of progressive issues and so we commonly encounter those and such was the case here as well,” says Captain Bob Higginbotham with the Joplin Police Department.

In the United States, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner.

“It can be anything from name calling, putting someone down to where you see the physical violence but there’s lots of different pieces that are going on during that relationship. There can be sexual abuse, using the children, economic abuse, isolation and then of course intimidation and threats,” says Linnea Hanshaw with the Lafayette House.

Kristina’s story is extreme but not uncommon. She was in a coma for 2 months after the shooting, machines kept her alive. She lost half of her stomach, parts of her intestines, and 3 toes. She now has difficulty walking and reoccurring abscesses from the more than 200 pellets of shrapnel left in her body.

Stephen Thompson awaits trial, facing 1st degree murder, armed criminal action, and domestic assault in the first degree. When asked for a comment on this story, his law Tom Jacquinot responded, “the case presents a tragic and sad situation....at this time our thoughts and prayers are with all parties affected by this matter."

“My life is forever changed from him. My family is ripped apart, they live under separate roofs, I don't have my own home, I don't have a job, and I can’t be the person I was,” says Kristina Thompson.

Kristina is now picking up the pieces of her life. The only items she has from the last day she spent in her house are blood stained rings and a bracelet that reads "faith." Her doctors say that the faith and fight she had is the reason Kristina is still alive. She says she now suffers from PTSD, a condition that is not uncommon for domestic violence victims.

“I survived and he didn't totally win,” she says.

The state has filed a notice that it will seek the death penalty as a possible punishment upon conviction for first degree murder. The case does not yet have a trial date.

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