Jourdon Bryant met Richard Sherrets late summer of 2015. After the first meeting, the Ocala couple’s relationship developed quickly. Soon after, the relationship escalated to violence toward Jourdon.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported that 24.3 percent of women and 13.8 percent of men ages 18 and older in the United States have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Like other domestic violence victims, Jourdon suffered horrific physical abuse throughout her relationship with Richard. Mindy, Jourdon’s mother, said she witnessed evidence of Richard’s violence toward her daughter.
“Where do I begin? There was always an excuse for the bruises, an excuse for the busted lip,” Mindy said. “There were always excuses for the bruises on her thighs and arms.”
Jourdon would lie about her injuries to protect Richard. He attempted to drown her at the beach, broke her nose, and bit her from head to toe. Mindy said Richard admitted that he carried out these acts.
“Most of the violence happened in front of Richard’s son who’s ten,” Mindy said. “My daughter has no children with Richard.”
Jourdon also told her mother she stopped counting how many times she lost consciousness because he had knocked her out many times.
“One time he held Jourdon in a hotel for two to three weeks,” Mindy said. “He beat her so many times that he didn’t want anyone to see her.”
Another act of physical abuse included a dining chair. When Jourdon came back into her family’s life a year ago, Mindy would feel safe only if she lived across the street from her.
“There was an empty house across from me, so I called the owners to ask about renting,” she said. When Jourdon and Richard moved in, there were four dining chairs. When Mindy visited them, a chair was missing.
“I asked him where was the missing chair,” she said. “He told me he broke the chair over Jourdon’s back.”
Later, Richard had grabbed a knife to stab Jourdon’s head. She thought he would kill her, so she tried to defend herself with her arm. Jourdon’s arm carries a scar from the attack.
“He controls her,” Mindy said. “He controls everything.”
Once Jourdon’s relationship started with Richard, she became isolated from her family. State records show Richard had been arrested before for violence toward women dating back to 2005. In 2016, law enforcement arrested Richard for domestic violence, but they dropped the charges because Jourdon refused to cooperate with the investigation.
“She had gone off the grid — no social media, no cellphone,” Mindy said. “That was all Richard’s doing.”
Kyle Kay, Jourdon’s stepfather, said she didn’t come back into their lives until December 2017. Mindy said the only reason it happened was because Richard contacted her, thinking he killed Jourdon. Jourdon always wanted to reconnect with her family, but Richard prevented it.
“If Mindy wanted to talk to Jourdon, she had to extend the olive branch to Richard, as well,” Kyle said. “We had to go through Richard to talk to her.”
Kyle said it was unimaginable for parents to tolerate, be warm, and inviting to someone who was injuring their child.
“I’m still a struggling parent trying to save my kid’s life,” Mindy said.
As of now, Jourdon is living with her parents.
Assistant State Attorney Toby Hunt is working with law enforcement to investigate the domestic violence claims by interviewing others who know the couple well and by finding documented evidence of the abuse.
Kyle stressed the importance of parents helping their children.
“It has to be consistently communicated that parents cannot abandon their child,” he said.
If parents say they don’t want anything to do with their child if they date this person, then they’re playing straight into the abuser’s game of isolation, he said.
“The abuser can then say ‘see, no one wants you — even your parents don’t love you,” he said. “Parents really can make things worse by giving those ultimatums to their children.”
As Jourdon tries to recover from her physical and emotional trauma, her parents are employing all the resources at their fingertips to separate her from the abuser.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.
Editor’s Note: Since the original publication, a protective order has been put in place between Jourdon and Richard; however, he still has control over her. Jourdon has not communicated with her mother since getting back from therapy treatment.