Male victim of domestic violence shares story
It was Dale Wells birthday and when the woman who verbally
abused him, destroyed his furniture and threatened his life called
wanting to see him, he thought nothing of it.
After all, he hadn't seen his ex-girlfriend since he called the
police on her and had her leave his Columbia apartment months
earlier for destroying his furniture and family pictures.
And Wells saw no evidence of animosity when Denise Moss
leaned into the driver's side door of his car and gently kissed
him on the cheek.
"You are the luckiest man in the whole world," she said.
Puzzled, Wells asked why.
"I came here to kill you and to kill myself," she said.
"Are you serious?"
"Dead serious," she said, handing him a piece of paper to prove she tried to buy a .357 magnum from a pawn shop. The purchase was put on hold because she had been red flagged for being discharged from the military, Wells said.
Three months later, she came back to finish the job. Moss shot Wells five times at close range with a .357 magnum before killing herself. Wells, the father of four, survivived.
He was the first male victim to ever speak at the annual Silent Witness memorial to South Carolina's victims of domestic violence. Now in it's 12th year, the ceremony held Tuesday on the south lawn of the State House complex, is intended to bring attention to the crime.
"Although there are few men who are victims of domestic violence, they do exist," said Vicki Bourus, executive director of S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence And Sexual Assault. "If it's embarassing and traumatic for women, it would be more so for a man."
Last year, there were 32 people killed as a result of domestic violence. Some were shot, stabbed or choked to death by those who claimed to love them. Of the victims, 26 were women and six were men, officials said.
Attorney General Henry McMaster said domestic violence is the number one crime problem in South Carolina.
More than 36,000 victims annually report a domestic violence incident to law enforcement agencies around the state, he said.
On June 19, 2007, Wells became part of the statistics, the victim of a crime so often associated with shame and silence.
That day, Wells found himself looking down the barrel of a gun. He had went outside the front door to throw away the trash when he heard his name and turned around to see Moss.
For more than three years they had shared a home until finally her temper and possessiveness became too much for Wells to handle. Six months ago, he put her out. And after that day on his birthday, three months earlier, he had not seen her again. Then the phone rang.
Wells thought Moss was still in New York when she called twice, first to chit chat and then a second time to find out what he was doing.
When he told her he was about to take out the trash, the phone went dead.
As he stared down the barrel of the gun, he understood why. She had been waiting for him.
"Do you remember what I said I was going to do?" she asked.
The first bullet bored into the center of his chest , Wells said. The second went into the side of his chest, shattering his left arm in two places, he said. Wells, who is 6 feet and 368 pounds, flopped to the ground on his stomach.
Moss then walked up and stood over him, shooting him twice in the back. She then laid the gun barrel to the bridge of his neck and fired the fifth bullet, which came out beneath his right ear, Wells said.
He braced himself for the next bullet. But that one, Moss saved for herself.
After spending 40 days in the hospital, much of it fighting for his life, Wells said he went home with a better understanding of what is important.
"It's smelling the raindrop. It's seeing the sunshine, seeing a rainbow," Wells said. "I thank God for sparing my life and keeping me here to share my story."