In 2002, John Muhammad and teenager Lee Malvo terrorized the DC area eventually shooting and killing 10 people.
Muhammad’s ex-wife Mildred Muhammad recently visited Rochester to talk before a crowd linked to RESOLVE of Greater Rochester, a domestic violence prevention and transition service.
She told crowd the whole episode was linked to his abuse of her – abuse that involved threats and eventually the kidnapping of their children.
Muhammad talked with Adam about her experience and message.
Adam: What made you jump into this role?
Muhammad: As I was going through my trauma I just felt women calling me in my sleep, please help me, please help me and I talked to my children and I said, Look, I need to help other people but I can’t do that unless I talk about your dad and I need your permission to do that. They said, Mom, as long as you tell the truth you go ahead and do what you need to do and so I have their permission to share my story about their dad and to let others know that you don’t have to have physical scars to prove that you are a victim because I didn’t have scars.
Adam: I think that some people would be surprised to know that this episode is linked to domestic violence…
Muhammad: Law enforcement stated that he was killing was killing innocent people to cover up my murder so he could come in as the grieving father and get custody of the children, that’s what it was about.
Adam: And there was a point when Lee Malvo came to your door…
Muhammad: He did, I didn’t find that out until I testified at his trial. His attorney said Ms. Muhammad, they found you, what John did is he sent Lee to your door pretending to be a salesperson and his instructions where when you opened the door to shoot you in the face, but Ms. Muhammad, you opened the door and he walked away and we don’t know the repercussion he suffered because he did not kill you that day.
Adam: Before the episodes with you locking him out, did you know this was inside of him?
Muhammad: I had no idea this was inside of him. He changed after he came back from Desert Storm and I’m sure you can have a lot of stories from parents and spouses that say they’re not the same when they come back from a war zone.
Adam: You mentioned in your talk that it’s important to recognize for the victims that it’s not their fault…
Muhammand: Because most times abusers try to make the victim feel that what is being done to them is their fault. You didn’t have the food cooked, the house was messy, you’ve got me angry and because of your actions I have to beat you, I have to take control of you because you don’t make good decisions.
Adam: I love the advice that you have for a friend or family member who suspects abuse. You sit down at lunch, the first thing you should say or ask is..
Muhammad: How can I help you? Because when you try to tell a victim, do you understand that you sound just like an abuser because that’s all he or she hears is what I need to do, you should this, if I were you, well, if you were me, you’d be ducking too.