The three guys in the car kept asking if she was cooperating with police. As they drove, she paid attention to every street sign and field they passed. At some point the men pulled over, shot her and ran.
They didn’t count on Powe living. She identified two of the three men, both of whom were found fatally shot before their court date. The third man was later incarcerated for two other murders. The drug charges against Powe were dropped and her ex-boyfriend was charged with giving the order to have her killed. She doesn’t like to mention his name in public because she said, “that’s my way of not giving him any more power.”
The most difficult injury over the years has been to her self esteem. She hated her glass eye—and the memories that the eye reminded her of.
“I couldn’t make eye contact with anybody,” said Powe. “When I looked at myself in the mirror I’d ask , ‘Oh my God, why?’ I remember going to the ocularist for cleaning appointments, and I sat there and cried until he put the eye back in. My eye affected my self esteem. My confidence was completely shook.”
A friend occasionally asked her when she was going to write a book about her experience.
“I didn’t want to put myself up to be judged, to openly talk about what happened—and to talk about a prosthetic eye,” said Powe.
Then at the end of 2010 she prayed for a month and asked God, “Tell me what am I supposed to do.” After one prayer session, she went to the gym for the first time—and ran into the friend who always asked her about writing. This time when he asked Powe if she was ready to write her book, she surprised herself and said, “Yes.” She recalls, “An overwhelming relief came over me.”
She finished the book earlier this year. On February 19, the anniversary of her shooting, she had what she called “a completion party, to create a new memory for me on that day, instead of constantly going back to that dark place of pain,” Powe said.
She also began speaking publicly about her life. She had never thought about herself as a victim of domestic violence, but she realized that indeed she was. She became an ardent advocate against domestic violence.
“I want to eradicate domestic violence,” said Powe. “I want to counsel, educate and build self esteems. That is my mission and my purpose.”
Shortly after the publication of her book someone introduced her to Rev. Torrey L. Barrett of Life Center Church in Chicago and he eventually hired her as Director of the Violence Prevention Initiative for his organization Keep Loving Each Other (KLEO).
“I took to Stephanie’s story so much because I lost a sister to domestic violence and her name was Kleo,” said Rev. Torrey. “We do a lot of violence prevention but we never had anyone with the passion for domestic violence and she is able to focus on that. She’s extremely dedicated.”
This year, for the first time in many years, Powe looked at herself in the mirror.
“I hold up my head and say I am still a beautiful person and have something to offer,” she said.
She still has a bullet in her spine and deals with daily pain from arthritis and an arm that she said is like carrying dead weight around.
Nevertheless, Powe explained why her life is so good. “Everyone knows my story. I don’t have to carry this burden. You can say whatever you want about me, I’m good; God has my back.”
Faces of Hope: Survivors of Abuse