DENVER (CBS4) – Mary Pott says the years of domestic violence she experienced at the hands of her ex-husband were like living through a Category 5 hurricane. She says that hurricane raged every day for years.
“There were so many nights I woke up to him on top of me, slapping me and choking me and shaking me uncontrollably. He is a monster and no amount of rehabilitation or therapy will fix the sheer terror he inflicted on me. He is a predator and the definition of what pure evil is,” said Pott.
The 28-year-old shared her story with CBS4 hoping other domestic violence victims might learn from her experience and ask for help from police, even if they feel trapped.
“Once he would get set off, there was no stopping him,” recounted Pott.
She estimated that her husband abused her 300 times in the course of their relationship, but admits she lost count.
She met Jeffrey Thomas Klenda II in high school, and eventually the pair married. She said the physical and mental abuse began immediately and continued unabated for five years.
“I lost track of the amount of times I was choked until I passed out or the amount of times I couldn’t lift my head because of the pain,” Pott told CBS4.
She said there were many times she simply wanted to die. She said whenever she attempted to leave, the beatings just got worse and she gave up on trying to flee.
Pott is a dental assistant and continued working through the beatings, making excuses at work saying she fell down stairs or fashioning other lies to deceive co-workers about her visible injuries. According to Pott, her nose was broken, ribs were cracked, her foot was broken and she was hospitalized four times during her relationship due to her husband’s abuse.
Finally at work one day, her supervisor, a dentist, noticed her bruises and called police. That would lead to criminal charges against Klenda, 28. On July 12 in a Jefferson County courtroom, in a plea bargain agreement, he pleaded guilty to two assault counts — receiving two years in jail on a misdemeanor assault charge and four years of probation for a felony assault count. Klenda’s attorney said his client was taking responsibility for two domestic violence incidents.
Judge Christopher Zenisek called Klenda’s behavior “egregious, astonishing, startling… outrageous” and said Mary Pott suffered “irreparable” harm. He said he felt compelled to sentence Klenda to jail, even though Klenda had no previous felony or domestic violence convictions because the “impact to the victim was simply too much. There is absolutely no question this victim has suffered tremendously and she has suffered because of the actions of Mr. Klenda.”
Klenda, a 240 pound bodybuilder who admitted to regular steroid use during the marriage, said during the sentencing hearing, “I would just like Mary to know how truly sorry I am. She didn’t deserve any of it … I just want her to know how truly sorry I am for everything.”
A friend of Pott’s, Kelly Russell, testified a police officer assigned to Pott’s case said it was “the worst case of abuse he had ever seen where the victim lived.”
Many do not. Nearly 40 people were killed in Colorado last year in connection with domestic violence according to the Denver Metro Domestic Fatality Review Team.
“I was ready to end my life so many times because I was not willing to go through more pain, and I’m really thankful I didn’t,” Pott said. “I’m never going to be the same … The mental abuse he inflicted on me is something I will struggle with the rest of my life.”
She said she is undergoing intensive therapy and trying to rebuild her life. Pott said she believes many battered women don’t think they have a voice. She hopes by telling her story, others realize they can and should speak up and escape from abusive relationships.