Quasona met him when she was 17. Tall and athletic, Keith was also kind and treated her well. Over time, however, he began to display jealousy toward the relationships Quasona shared with friends and began demanding more of her time. Then, one night a few years later, she was physically assaulted by her then boyfriend for the first time when she tried to go out to meet her friends. Fueled by anger and jealousy over the time she wanted to spend with her friends, he repeatedly kicked her as she lay on the floor. After he finished beating her for the first time, Keith did apologize, but not without assigning blame to Quasona. Like the rest of us, she was led to believe that not only was she always the cause of what was happening to her, she become convinced that fixing what was “lacking” within her was the only remedy.
Finally reaching a breaking point, Quasona ended the relationship and moved into her own apartment in December 2010. It wasn’t long, however, before he came back around and told her that he had nowhere to go. Quasona allowed him one week to get himself together, but just a few days in, Keith dragged her to the floor, dumped diffuser oil on her hair and face, and threatened to set her on fire if she followed through with ending their relationship. She was able to get away by convincing him that she was not leaving and then locked herself in the bathroom, where she sent a text to her best friend asking for her help the next morning after Keith left for work.
The next day, Quasona revealed the abuse she had been enduring to her family who immediately moved to help her. She and her best friend packed some things and she went to her grandparents house. Her mother, Arlene, met Keith at Quasona’s apartment so he could remove his belongings. Quasona attempted several times to contact her mother, and when a call to Keith’s phone went directly to voicemail, she knew that something had gone wrong. She called the police to report her mother missing. Later, she and the family received a phone call saying that a woman had been found in her apartment and was told to check the burn unit. Arlene had been savagely beaten, set on fire, and left to die by Keith. The family endured the emotional pain of watching her lay in a coma for some six months. She had to have amputations, lost sight in one eye, and has no memory of the terror she was subjected to.
I chose Quasona for this profile because of the powerful example she and her family set for the rest of us, whether we are survivors of domestic violence or not. This family could have imploded under the weight of the trials they endured. Quasona could have forever lost herself in the tragedy that befell her mother. That they did not is a testament to the power of love, faith, and strength that can inspire us all. Quasona has moved on to become a powerful voice against relationship violence. Arlene, while unable to work and struggling to re-learn how to live, participates in bringing awareness to domestic violence with her daughter.
Further, this family’s story serves as a reminder to all those who insist that all risk ends when you leave; this is not the case, and what Quasona’s family endured at the hands of this man is example enough. You never know how desperate they will become when backed into a corner. Keith Bailey did not get away with his crime. This man who sought to end Quasona’s life and almost succeeded in taking Arlene’s was convicted of attempted murder, arson, and coercion and sentenced to 18 years in prison. While it can never make up for the suffering he forced upon her family, it sends an ever important message about consequences for those who choose to harm those who love them.
A few of the things Quasona has done to bring awareness to domestic violence? The Launch Sunday table – Domestic Violence Awareness Project (Sept. 8, 2013), Purple Thursday 2013 and W.A.R.M’s (We All Really Matter) 4th Annual Domestic Violence Panel Discussion, and domestic violence walks. Currently she is planning a fund-raising event scheduled for February 2014.
In addition to her Facebook page and website, there are two additional ways to get connected with Quasona!
For a more in-depth view at Quasona’s experience with relationship violence, you can read the following articles which include, in whole or in part, Quasona’s story. (Click the article name to open.)
Relationship Violence: The Secret That Kills 4 Women a Day — Liz Brody (Glamour Editor) via Huffington Post