Author hopes to help those in abusive relationships

Published 5:00am Monday, October 6, 2008

A Hazlehurst woman is airing out the darker parts of her lifestory in a recently published autobiography in the hopes of helpingothers avert similar disasters.

Norma Chapman is using October – Domestic Violence AwarenessMonth – to promote “What Faith Can Do,” her first book about herexperiences that mainly center on an abusive relationship that cameliterally within inches of taking her life.

“I’m trying to reach out to women in abusive situations and tellthem to get out now – they may not be blessed enough to be where Iam today,” said Chapman, 54.

In March of 1990, Chapman’s abusive relationship with aboyfriend she identified as “Ronnie” came to a critical halt. Afterlearning that Chapman was attempting to reconcile with her husband,”Ronnie” decided that neither should live. He shot Chapman twice inthe lower right abdomen with a .45 pistol – all but destroying herliver – and plunged a steak knife into her chest, barely missingher heart.

“Ronnie” then turned the pistol on himself.

“He walked in and said, ‘I love you,’ and when I turned to say,’I love you, too’ he started shooting,” Chapman said.

Chapman’s daughter Lionetta, who was 6 at the time, kept hercompany while then 9-year-old daughter Tawanisha made several tripsto a neighbor’s house to call 911.

Chapman said her refusal to come to terms with the abusiverelationship resulted in a four-month stay in Methodist Hospital inNew Orleans, where she was in a coma for 40 days and requiredalmost 70 blood transfusions to keep her alive. Her heavilymalfunctioning liver allowed all kinds of infections to spreadthroughout her body.

Chapman coded three times and was legally dead for around fiveminutes each time.

“I was hooked up to every machine that you can use to save alife,” she said.

The 40-day coma ended after a strange dream stirred her awake,she said. Even though doctors had informed Chapman’s family thatshe would likely suffer from severe brain damage, she wasresponsive upon awakening.

“The doctor asked me if I knew where I was, and I did,” shesaid. “He asked me if I knew how I got there, and I said, ‘Yes, Iwas shot yesterday.’ Of course it had been 40 days.”

Chapman spent the next several weeks in ICU and had to learn towalk again. She also had to go back to the roots of her faith andlearn to trust God again, she said.

“I was never afraid of dying, but I was afraid I was going to goto hell,” Chapman said. “The doctors said I confessed every sin Ihad ever done before I fell into the coma.”

Eighteen years later, Chapman’s abdomen and torso bear deep,winding surgical scars and depressions from the work done to saveher life – a set of physical reminders that keep her firm in herfaith.

“It was something I had to go through,” she said. “God put methrough all that for a reason – so I could reach out and touchsomeone else’s life.”

But it took Chapman almost two more decades before should couldtell her story.

She kept the painful memories to herself until May of last year.After being forced out of New Orleans in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina,Chapman arrived back to her birthplace in Crystal Springs beforesettling in Hazlehurst.

She finally got motivated to tell her story while attending athree-night revival at the Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church inMay 2007.

“On the second night, the Rev. Willie Mitchell started talkingabout what faith can do,” Chapman said. “I knew I was ready to tellthe world about my tragedy – I’m praying that I’ll be able to savesomeone else’s life.”

Chapman said she often speaks with others who confide in herabout abusive relationships. She shows them her scars, tells themto put God first and “get out of there.”

“A lot of people are going through abuse – they just needsomeone to share their story to make them see,” she said. “Abuserelationships are deadly – they kill. If my book can help oneperson, then it’s worth it.”

“What Faith Can Do,” published by AuthorHouse, can be purchasedonline at for $20.

Chapman will take time out of her recent touring of radiointerviews and speaking engagements across the country to host abook signing at Books & More in Hazlehurst on Saturday, Oct.11, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about Chapman’s book, interested people maycontact Chapman at