Woman Is Overcoming Disfigurement By Her Boyfriend
Christy Sims didn't see it coming.
Four years ago, the Atlanta woman had it all. She was a mother, a successful mental health counselor, the first in her family to obtain a master's degree, beautiful, deeply spiritual and in a relationship with a man that seemingly adored her. "I met this guy who was romantic, a smooth talker who wined and dined me and took me on trips,'' Sims said.
The signs were there, however, that the relationship wasn't as healthy as she initially thought. Constant texts. Isolation from her family and friends. All in the name in love.
"I didn't know calling me 25 times wasn't normal,'' Sims said.
But she gradually began to pull away with plans to end the relationship. On April 28, 2013, Andrew Fordham made it clear he wouldn't let her go without a fight.
While she was on the phone with her mother, Fordham called Sims into the bathroom. It was an ambush.
He doused her with sulfuric acid - industrial-strength drain opener called Clean Shot - causing third and fourth degree burns to over 20 percent of her body, including her entire face, neck, chest and arms. In that moment, she became the first reported case of an acid attack in the state of Georgia.
"I realized I was in a relationship with a sociopath,'' Sims said in Birmingham Friday. "This man tried to destroy me."
Sims recounted the horrific incident, and her journey since then has led her to become a voice against domestic violence on an international platform, at the Birmingham Police Department's Annual Domestic Violence Prayer Breakfast. The annual prayer event is designed to increase awareness and education on a problem that has long plagued Birmingham and surrounding areas.
"This annual Domestic Violence Prayer Breakfast is inspiring but bittersweet,'' said Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper. "The partnership is encouraging, but it's so disappointing that this relationship cancer continues to exist in our society. It crosses socioeconomic, racial and religious boundaries and has had devastating effects on our families and communities here in Birmingham."
Alabama traditionally ranks high in the number of women killed in domestic-related slayings, and Birmingham sees more than its fair share of the violence as well.
Birmingham police investigated 16 homicides in 2016 that stemmed from domestic violence. So far this year, there have been six known domestic violence killings in the city.
Last year, the department responded to 6,083 reports of domestic violence. Of those, 699 were felony crimes, and 5,384 were misdemeanors.
To date in 2017, 4,413 domestic violence incidents have been reported: 483 felonies, and 3,930 misdemeanors.
"We definitely need a culture change in our community, a culture change where there are no more excuses for domestic violence. We need a culture change where domestic violence is no longer acceptable or tolerated,'' Roper said. "Our voices must be louder, our focus must be sharper and hearts must be more sensitive in preventing and responding to domestic violence."
Sims still gets emotional telling her story. Once a successful real estate agent, she had changed careers to become a counselor, and was helping HIV patients, drug addicts and recently-released prison inmates.
She had been married for 14 years to a man with whom she shared three children, but the death of one of their kids had torn apart the marriage. She said she and her ex-husband remain best friends today.
She started dating Fordham, and all was great at first. Or so she thought. But the more successful she became, the more he began to fight for control over her and their relationship.
He wasn't hitting her, so she didn't see herself as a domestic violence victim. That changed on Valentine's Day 2013 when she walked into her locked office to find roses, balloons and more.
What should have been a tender moment turned into fright. "I felt terrified
because my office stayed locked,'' she said. "The spirit inside of me said, 'You've got to get out of this.''
On the day of the attack, Sims was speaking with her mom about plans to celebrate her master's degree diploma. Instead of that party, she spent two months in a coma, was temporarily blind and would eventually undergo at least 13 surgeries.
Instead of giving in, Sims said she decided to fight. While she was battling to survive, she said the man who had professed to love her so much had joined a church, gotten baptized and was already in a new relationship. "But he loved me right?" she said.
She wasn't going to let him go free. She launched a media blitz that ultimately ended up with Fordham being charged. "I couldn't see, but I was talking on the radio,'' she said. "He said it was an accident and they believed him. It took two years to get justice."
In July 2015, Fordham was convicted of aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated against Sims. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by 20 years of probation.
Sims has since founded The Christy Sims Foundation and said she is voice for the voiceless. "There's so many that don't make it out, y'all,'' she said.
Included in the message she delivers is this: "Be careful who you give your heart to."
"None of us deserve this. I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't hurt anybody. I didn't guard my heart the way I was supposed to and I own that,'' she said. "I am not a victim of domestic violence, I am a survivor of domestic violence. I'm a fighter for everyone who can't fight for themselves."
Date Posted: Monday, October 16th, 2017 , Total Page Views: 1131