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Brutal attack on girlfriend gives local writer much to consider and a lot to be thankful for

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Paris Burris with boyfriend Kevin Tudor. Both have been or are contributors to Red Dirt Report.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- I’ve never had a near-death experience. No one in my immediate family has died in the past two decades. I’ve never even gotten into a car accident.

Death and general bodily injuries terrify me. I don’t think of myself as a tough person in the slightest — hence why I think the pen is mightier. I never thought my first brush with death would come from someone that I’ve only known for less than a year — but nonetheless someone I’ve grown to care about and love more than anyone I’ve ever met. I can’t help thinking about how powerless I feel about this situation or how I could have prevented it in any way. The aftermath of an assault affects the victim and all of those who closely associate with them.

My girlfriend and former Red Dirt Report journalist Paris Burris was brutally assaulted outside of Nic’s Place off NW 10th St and N Robinson Ave in Oklahoma City on Saturday, July 14, 2018.

Journalist Paris Burris covered the trial in Tulsa, Okla. of Officer Betty Shelby. (Sarah Hussain / Red Dirt Report)

After getting into her car following brunch with friends at Packard’s nearby, she noticed in her rear-view mirror that her trunk was open and a woman was messing with the trunk’s door. Paris opened her driver’s side door to ask the woman what she was doing, and after the woman said that the trunk was broken, she approached Paris and pulled out a broken glass bottle from her purse. She grabbed Paris by her hair, forced her out of the car and hit her repeatedly in the head and face with the bottle until she was bleeding from head to toe.

Paris’ long-time friend Michaelene Stephenson was luckily nearby after having brunch with Paris and was the only one who intervened. She had noticed the woman acting suspicious and had called police moments before the attack. While on the phone with police, she noticed Paris being attacked by the same woman. She told police what was happening and screamed at the woman to get off of her. Michaelene’s screaming caused the woman to get spooked and run off with Paris’ car — leaving her badly injured. I truly believe Michaelene’s presence saved Paris’ life.

Since the assault, Paris has gone into full-blown journalist mode. Her story has been on every major news station in the OKC area, in local newspapers, and she’ll be appearing on an online radio show to spread the word. She’d rather her story be a cautionary tale than remain a silent victim. She fought for her life during the assault and continues to fight every day to catch this unknown criminal.

Photo of Paris Burris after the brutal attack in Midtown OKC. (Photo provided)

There are so many factors of this incident that never leave my mind: What if Michaelene wasn’t there? What if the assailant would have turned the broken bottle another inch and stabbed Paris with it? The most selfish question of all is: What if I had been there?

The utter powerlessness I have felt after the assault has left me with rampant feelings of uselessness, rage, inferiority and depression. I wish I would have been there because as much as I hate confrontation, I know I would have rather gotten myself injured in that situation over her getting a scratch on her. But I wasn’t. I wish I hadn’t talked her into going to brunch that day and hadn’t given her money to go. But I did.

As much as these are all hypothetical situations that shouldn’t pollute my mind, it’s all I think about. It’s no one’s fault besides the woman who randomly attacked Paris and no amount of beating myself up over it will change that. Ignorant people who have never been in this situation will claim that Paris should have had a gun, should have taken self-defense classes, or should have been more careful. The obvious post-assault victim blaming is sickening and defers from the conversations that should be had. Having a gun doesn’t automatically turn you into John McClane, even with proper training. Even with a weapon, or self-defense training, you’re fairly defenseless when an unstable woman repeatedly strikes you in the head with a large, broken liqueur bottle.

Paris, along with everyone else, should be able to have brunch at 1 p.m. on a sunny day and not worry about being nearly killed. Her strength overpowers her fears of something like this happening again and won’t let this incident ruin her life.

As bad as this assault was, a lot of good has come as a result. Thousands of strangers have shared her story and offered their love with monetary and emotional support. News stations have repeatedly aired her story. Every day brings us closer to justice.

This woman who assaulted Paris got nothing from this incident. She got only two dollars from Paris’ debit card before it was canceled. She only had her car for two days before ditching it in a field. The amount of charges that will be bestowed upon her will be countless. Presumably dozens of years behind bars for an incident that didn’t break the person she set out to. Her act of violence will do nothing but bring eventual justice to her, and spread love and awareness.

Paris is about to start her two-year road to a master’s degree. She will be teaching English Composition to freshmen students at the University of Oklahoma beginning in the fall up until she receives her degree. She recently overcame her long battle with anxiety and panic attacks.

Her fantastic family have been here helping her throughout this traumatic experience.

This incident has also shown me how important of a person Paris is in my life. I saw her for only two seconds outside of an emergency room before my legs buckled and I broke down. I envisioned a future in which she died and I had to attempt to carry on living — an absolute impossibility. She hasn’t necessarily just simply changed me as a person, she found the long-dormant person I was, and brought out the loving person I could be.

I wish it never happened, but it couldn’t have happened to a more fantastic or stronger person.

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About the Author

Kevin Tudor

Born and raised in the mean streets of Yukon, Oklahoma, Kevin is currently majoring in...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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