October 26, 2014

Medina
Clear
51°F

Domestic violence vigil speaker: Appearances are deceiving

Rahna Fahringer, center, of Brunswick, stands in ELY Square on Tuesday evening, Oct. 22 during a silent vigil for victims of domestic violence. Fahringer was a victim of domestic violence, and a survivor of a traumatic gun shot wound in December of 2012. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY KRISTIN BAUER)

Evan Goodenow | The Gazette

Her abuser is dead, but domestic violence victim Rahna Fahringer’s ordeal continues.

“How do you survive if you survive?” Fahringer asked before a domestic violence vigil at Ely Square in downtown Elyria on Tuesday.

Fahringer was shot in the right leg by ex-boyfriend Terrence Abel during a Nov. 30-Dec. 1 police standoff at her Brunswick home. Abel shot himself in the head and was shot in the chest by members of the Southwest Enforcement Bureau SWAT team attempting to rescue Fahringer. Police accidentally shot Fahringer in the left palm and right forearm.

Fahringer’s right fibula was shattered, the ulnar nerve in her right arm was destroyed and her left thumb was shattered. A nerve was removed from her left leg and grafted into her right arm to get feeling back in her fingers. Fahringer, who experiences burning, numbness and tingling in her hands, is hopeful about getting most of the use of her hands back.

However, Fahringer, who had just been hired to do data entry for an attorney, can’t type and said it may take two years before she can work again. Fahringer, who receives food stamps, Medicaid and federal taxpayer money from the Crime Victims Fund, said it isn’t nearly enough.

Fahringer said she is four months behind on mortgage payments and hopeful Save the Dream Ohio, a state program that uses federal money to aid financially distressed homeowners, can help her.

Fahringer, who turned 47 on Tuesday, said she’s grateful to be alive and to friends, family and the public for their support. Yet Fahringer said it’s difficult for people to understand the emotional and physical trauma she’s enduring.

“The first thing they say is, ‘You look fine.’ Or, ‘You look great,’ ” she said. “It’s so difficult dealing with that.”

Fahringer said she was emotionally vulnerable when she began dating Abel in August 2011 and he moved in a few weeks later. Fahringer said she was aware Abel, 39, had convictions on burglary and theft charges. She said she didn’t know he was a crack cocaine addict for 14 years who was violent.

“I became the new drug when he got out of jail,” Fahringer told about 20 people who attended the vigil sponsored by the Purple Lotus Project, a domestic violence prevention group. “He became obsessed with me.”

Fahringer said Abel began hitting and shoving her about seven months into their relationship. Four days after she had police remove him and obtained a protection order against him, Abel returned with a pistol and took her hostage. Fahringer said she begged Abel to spare her during the 29-hour ordeal.

“I told him I had two kids to raise,” Fahringer said referring to her son, Brock Fahringer, 17, and daughter, Blair Fahringer, 13.

“She’s very strong,” Brock Fahringer said before his mother spoke at the vigil. “Just her personality and who she is and what she’s been through the past year has allowed her to keep going.”

Fahringer told the crowd there needs to be more money available for domestic violence victims and courts need to delay releases of arrested domestic violence suspects to allow for a longer cooling-off period.

Fahringer said she hopes the story of her survival will inspire victims to leave their abusers before it’s too late.

“We all know what the outcome could possibly be,” she said.

Contact reporter Evan Goodenow at (440) 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.