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The Woman Who Was Shot in the Face By Her Boyfriend | The Oprah Winfrey Show | Oprah Winfrey Network

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She has been called
the woman without a face. Today, Carolyn Thomas has
a message for every woman in a stormy romance. It is a lesson that has come
at a heartbreaking unthinkable price. [MARIMBA MUSIC] Growing up as an only child,
Carolyn and her mother were inseparable. Throughout high school,
Carolyn was a star athlete and basketball and track. She was popular
with her classmates and loved going
to school dances. In college, Carolyn
studied to become a drug and alcohol counselor. She also dreamed of getting
married and starting a family of her own. But on December 5,
2003, Carolyn’s life would be forever changed. [DRAMATIC MUSIC] This is Carolyn. [GASPS] That is true. Half of her face is gone. It was literally blown
off in a horrific crime. The man who pulled the
trigger was her own boyfriend of many years. [MARIMBA MUSIC] When Carolyn met Terrence
Kelly, she thought she found the man of her dreams. Soon, they moved in together. In the beginning,
the relationship was a normal relationship. We got along real good, went out
to eat, things of that nature. OPRAH WINFREY: But
after just a few months, Terrence began to show a
much darker side of himself. He got very jealous
and he was very controlling with what I wear. I wasn’t allowed to wear things
that showed off my figure. I was only able to associate
with my immediate family. I wasn’t allowed to talk to my
male cousins because, you know, he really didn’t believe
that they were my cousins. He was verbally abusive. OPRAH WINFREY: Then the
emotional abuse turned violent. I remember getting beat
up for dying my hair. He didn’t think that
that was ladylike. He beat me up for stopping
and talking to another guy. OPRAH WINFREY: Despite
constant abuse, Carolyn stayed in the
relationship for eight years. I was in love, and I thought
that he was going to change, and that I could change him. OPRAH WINFREY:
Carolyn was relieved when her mom, needing a place
to stay, moved in with them. I confided in my mother. She told me to leave him
because he was abusive, and that he might
kill me some day. Well, that day did come. On December 5,
2003, Terrence Kelly came home to the
apartment that he shared with Carolyn and her mother. Believing another
man was in the house, he flew into a jealous rage. Terrence was saying,
someone was in the apartment. Me and my mother were trying to
tell him that there was no one in the apartment but us three. And he just kept on ranting
and raving, grabbed a gun. My mother was trying
to calm him down. We ended up wrestling for
the gun back and forth, hustling for it. And he ended up
getting it away from me and shooting my
mother in the stomach. And after that, he grabbed
me around the throat, put the gun to my temple. OPRAH WINFREY:
Terrence Kelly shot Carolyn at point blank range. Her face was shattered. Carolyn’s mom made it to
a neighbor’s apartment. He called 911. OPRAH WINFREY: Entering
the grisly crime scene, police officers
discovered blood and bits of bone sprayed everywhere. They assumed Carolyn was dead. When the officer
came in the apartment and I grabbed him
on the ankle to let him know that I was alive. OPRAH WINFREY: Emergency
medical technician Dale Yates says she
was one of the most horrifically injured shooting
victims he has ever seen. Her face was
totally, totally gone. The eyebrows down to the top
of her job was concaved in. You could actually hear
some gurgling sounds coming from Carolyn she was
attempting to try to breathe, and that’s when it
dawned on me we had a person who was still alive. I took my hand and inserted
down in a concave part to dig and fish everything
and open up her airway. OPRAH WINFREY: EMT
Yates literally fished bits of bone and teeth
out of Carolyn’s mouth so that she could breathe. I believe Carolyn was this
close probably to death, just within fractions of seconds. [POLICE SIRENS] And she is here today. [APPLAUSE] So how are you doing? How are you? I’m doing great. – You’re doing great?
– Yes. Yeah. I heard that in order to speak
again after losing your– the top of your mouth, because
he literally shot your face off and the top of your mouth,
that you had to speech therapy to learn how to speak again? Yes, I did. I had to learn the
alphabet all over again, learn how to
speak in sentences, and just how to breathe
through– through the trach. How to breathe
through the trach. – Yes.
– Yeah. How long were you
in the hospital before you saw your face? I was in the
hospital, I would say, a good three months
before I saw my face. I took it upon myself
to go in the bathroom and remove the bandages. I just wanted to know what
the extent of the damage was. And what did you think
or feel when you saw your face for the first time? I felt horrible. I felt that I looked horrible. I didn’t even want
to look at myself. I felt that no one else would
want to look at me either. And this is,
audience, you should know the first time that Carolyn
has shown her face publicly. So when you came out, you
came out in a big way. Yes, I did. Yeah. I heard one of the most
difficult things for you is– is– is going out in public. Yes, it is. It’s very difficult.
When I go out in public, people stare, you
know, turn around. The hardest thing is
a lot of times, I– you know, go out, and
it would scare kids. I love kids. And I remember going
out shopping one day, and a little kid just screaming
on the top of his lungs. I thought maybe it was the
fact he wanted something in the store for his mother. But he told his mother
that I scared him, and that just broke my heart. So Carolyn says in her
dreams that she still is the old Carolyn, right? You still have your face? You dream of yourself
with your face? Yes, I do. I still dream of myself
with my face a lot of times. So how did you find out that
your mother had been killed? I found out maybe about
three days after being in the hospital, and I woke up. And the first thing I asked
was, where was my mother? Because do you remember
being shot at all? Do you remember that? I remember having an
out-of-body experience. And it was kind of like
the devil was on one side, God was on one side, and I
was falling down this tunnel real, real, real fast. And after not getting
to the bottom, I just remember this calm
feeling, and not feeling any pain, and asking God to
forgive me for all my sins, and if he sees fit for me to be
here, then, you know, to be so.

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