"Hello, Beautiful" - Tamiko's Story

Tamiko Pugh, an author, and activist against domestic violence, lives in Austell. Below, she shares her story and why she supports Marsy’s Law for Georgia.

Ten years ago I woke up alone, in a state of confusion and panic, helplessly lying in the middle of I-85.

Just hours before, I had made a decision. I was finally going to leave my abuser. As I drove down the interstate, he sat in the passenger seat and threatened to kill the both of us if I left. The next thing I knew, he grabbed the steering wheel, forced the car onto the side of the highway and proceeded to beat and strangle me to the point of unconsciousness. 

My abuser was jailed that day.

I soon gathered up the courage to file a restraining order. Walking into the courthouse, I was greeted by a familiar, chilling voice.

“Hello, beautiful.”

The words struck me like bullets fired by the hand of my abuser. I was never notified that he was out of jail. I was neglected by the system. I was kept in the dark.  

My abuser would soon violate the restraining order several times. Working as a real estate agent, I stood waiting for a new client to arrive at a property. I was horrified to see my abuser walk in. He proceeded to attack me on the spot. That was the last property I ever showed.

As a victim of domestic abuse, I was stripped of the voice I so desperately needed to defend myself, my career and, my life. The criminal justice system failed me. The lack of notifications on the custodial status of someone threatening my life left me in a dangerous world that, despite my attempts, I could not escape. 

My story is the story of a thousand other victims in Georgia and it demonstrates the need to give crime victims constitutional rights – just as strong as those that protect the accused and convicted. For people walking today in the shoes that I once walked in, these rights are a matter of life and death. Marsy’s Law for Georgia would give teeth to the victims’ rights laws that are already on the books in Georgia law.