Before D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad terrorized the region more than 15 years ago with a shooting spree resulted in the deaths of 10 people, he verbally and mentally abused his ex-wife, Mildred.
Mildred Muhammad, now 58, who has since helped domestic violence survivors in Prince George’s County, the Washington metropolitan area and nationwide, will next take her cause to China as one of 14 American women and six authors chosen to participate in the “Give Voice to Women through the Arts” program for the World Academy for the Future of Women at Sias International University.
During her time in China from March 20 to April 24, Muhammad will also speak with soldiers at a military base about domestic situations.
“Domestic violence doesn’t have a gender, doesn’t have a race, doesn’t have wealth,” said Muhammad, mother of three adult children whose ex-husband served in the Army. “I don’t put labels on it because it affects everybody.”
John Allen Muhammad was convicted of murder and died of lethal injection in 2009.
Although Muhammad shared her story in five memoirs and books, she pursues to aid others on how she survived after her ex-husband and his accomplice, then-17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo, was captured. Malvo was sentenced to life in prison.
Muhammad, an award-winning public speaker and consultant with Office on Victims of Crimes, said during an interview Friday that she lost “so-called” friends who didn’t believe she was being abused because she bore no physical scars and her husband being physically attractive.
“I was told, ‘John is good-looking. What makes you so special?’ I don’t want to be that special to know he was going to eventually kill me,” she said.
In her memoir published last year, “I’m Still Standing: Crawling out of the Darkness Into the Light,” 10 daily affirmations on cards are placed in the book. One of the quotes: “Release your faith, knowing with assurance, that ALL circumstances will work in your favor today.”
She advices readers to say them daily, especially with domestic situations becoming deadlier.
“Children are now getting killed,” she said. “We need to get a handle on this. It is getting worse.”
According to the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, Prince George’s led the state with 55 deaths between July 2012 to July 2017.
Muhammad said county officials can do more by frequently promoting 211 to assist those in domestic situations.
The county’s proposed $4 billion fiscal 2019 budget allocates two new positions in the Sheriff’s Office to assist in domestic violence intervention. According to the budget, the sheriff’s department is projected to respond to 5,722 domestic violence calls via 911, an increase from nearly 5,500.
At a March 8 domestic violence town hall discussion at Southern Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Temple Hills, Muhammad said the county and nonprofit organizations should work on partnerships to use domestic violence survivors to speak through public service announcements (PSAs).
The conversation focused on a group of Black women who formed a coalition to combat domestic violence, but also how nonprofit groups can unite and apply for grants to the county.
“We are seeing all this money spent, but nothing on marketing and outreach,” said Sandy Pruitt, executive director of People for Change Coalition, who also led the domestic violence event. “[Muhammad] would be a good face to talk about [domestic violence]. She really cares.”