My daughter, Aubria Nichole Cleckley, died tragically December 16, 2000, a victim of domestic violence. She was just 21 years young.
A Letter to Bri
This and other videos in “Run Jane Run,” produced by videographer, photographer and computer artist Lynn Estomin, were created at a “Silence Speaks” digital storytelling workshop for survivors of domestic violence, sponsored by the YWCA of North Central PA.
This is the true story of a beautiful, intelligent, talented, confident, dynamic, young woman, with a loving family and circle of friends who adore her. She knew that she was loved because she was everyone’s pride and joy. Even her little brother looked up to her. Other than the usual sibling rivalry, they were very close and could depend on each other for anything.
I say she was beautiful, because she was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen, and as a little girl, she was simply adorable. As a young woman her “Super Model’ looks earned her a modeling contract. She was truly a natural beauty.
I say intelligent because she was reading before she entered pre-school and began speaking Spanish at the age of 5. She loved learning and absorbed knowledge as if her brain were a sponge and learned very quickly. In school, she always achieved academically and received awards such as “Presidential Academic Fitness”, and “Academic Excellence”. As a young child, she was taught that knowledge was power, and education would be the key to her success.
I say talented because she had the voice of a songbird, and had produced her first song by age 20. The way I saw it, she was destined for stardom.
I say confident because she believed in herself and knew there wasn’t anything she couldn’t accomplish as long as she put her mind to it. She knew exactly what she wanted and pursued it with strong ambition, always reaching for the stars.
I say dynamic because when you add beautiful, intelligent, talented and confident together that’s exactly what get—dynamic.
Friends and family deeply admired this hard working young woman. You see, she knew that nothing in life came free, so she worked hard for the things she desired. She truly enjoyed her life, as well as her independence. Her life had taken a very positive turn and she had the world at her fingertips, until…
She met this man and, at first, the relationship seemed good and she was very happy. This was the one, or so she thought. They became engaged and strongly considered marriage. He promised to always love and take care of her. But things began to go awry in the relationship, slowly, but surely.
First he began verbally abusing her, berating her, chipping away at her confidence. This eventually took away her self-esteem.
She no longer felt like that beautiful, intelligent, talented, confident, dynamic young woman her friends and family knew her to be. What had taken a lifetime to build, had been torn down in a matter of a few months.
Then, he began stalking her, while she worked, while she shopped and while she visited family and friends, he was lurking nearby, watching her every move.
She began to feel very unsafe and afraid of some she loved and who was supposed to love her. This was a very unnatural feeling to her, because, she knew that this was not what love felt like. But, nonetheless, she stayed close to him, now out of fear as well as out of love. She thought she could change him and that love could conquer all.
Then he took away her family and friends. By isolating. She was forbidden to speak to her mother, unless it was in secret. You see, her mother was aware of the problems in the relationship and knew her daughter was unhappy. So she tried desperately to convince her daughter to end this relationship. Therefore, this man labeled her mother a “troublemaker”, because he did not approve of what he called “meddling in their business”. He tried to make this young woman believe that her mother didn’t love her and just didn’t want to see her happy. But even though communication between them was forbidden, they always found a way to keep in touch.
She no longer attended family get-togethers, such as holiday celebrations, cookouts, or Sunday dinners. This man knew he was no longer welcome in her mother’s home. He told her that if her family really loved her, they would accept him, too, and if he was not welcome, then neither was she.
She lost contact with the many friends she had acquired, except one or two, for this “Social Butterfly”, no longer had a social life. She loved to dance and mingle, and meet new people, but was not permitted to go out with her friends on the weekend as she had done before meeting this man. He treated her as if he owned her, like one of his prized possessions, but now it was only out of fear that she stayed close to him. Her friends also became concerned, because they knew, just as well as her family, this relationship was not a good one.
After 8 months of the abuse, she’d finally had enough. She called her mother and said. “Mom, I’m finally done.” And to her mother’s surprise, she spoke with a renewed confidence, the confidence that had abandoned her so many months before, I’M going to start a new life, in Arizona, a better life and I know I can do it without him. I’m just afraid he will find me. “, she said with a quiver in her voice.
You see, at that very moment, she had been in hiding for 4 days at her cousin’s house, and was terrified that he would find her. She explained to her mother that this man had threatened her life, more than once, and she was terrified. So while he was sleeping, she barricaded herself in the bathroom and escaped through the window. She ran as fast as she could to a phone and called a friend, who picked her up and drove her to her cousins, where she stayed, for 4 days, in fears. At this point, the mother was very concerned for her daughter’s safety and was proud as she listened to plans to start a new life. They went on for about an hour with their normal chit-chat. They said their “I love yous’ and their goodbyes and then they hung up.
This would be the last time I would hear my daughter’s voice and listen to her speak. You see, the very next day This beautiful, intelligent, talented confident, dynamic young woman went back to get her belongings, she took her best friend and her brother along, because, according to her best friend, she felt there was safety in numbers, and did not believe this man would not harm her in the presence of others.
While her brother waited in the car for her to return, an argument ensued and in the presence of her best friend, she was shot by the very one who said he would always love and take care of her. She was flown to a nearby hospital where she died 12 hours later of a gunshot wound to the head, leaving behind her mother and al the relatives and friends who loved her so very much.
The man that she had once loved and trusted had now taken everything from this beautiful, intelligent, talented, confident, dynamic young woman. First he took her confidence and self-esteem, then he took her family and friends, then he took her freedom, then he took her life, as well as his own. He wanted to control every aspect of her life. Even deciding when she would take her last breath.
On December 16, 2000, my daughter Aubria Nichole Cleckley was brutally murdered as a result of Domestic Violence. She was just 21 years young.