Kate Ranta’s estranged husband, Thomas Maffei, appeared at her apartment in Coral Springs, Florida, on November 2, 2012, and opened fire, hitting her and her dad. She nearly died in front of her four-old-little boy. Now they all must deal with the memories—and the reality that this keeps happening to others. Kate shares her story with Moms Demand Action.
I came to realize that I had endured emotional/psychological abuse throughout our marriage. I didn’t know anything about emotional abuse at all. I thought domestic violence was physical only. It wasn’t until I saw a checklist about emotional abuse after I’d left him that the light bulb went off. Since our case has yet to go to trial, I can’t talk in deep detail about specific red flags and events that occurred while I was with him, but a domestic violence incident in early 2011 is what sent us out the door and away from him. As a side note, he did have many guns in the house, all of which were seized by law enforcement when I was granted a restraining order.
At the time of the shooting, I was two years into the very contentious divorce. I was a single mom working full-time and doing the best I could to provide a safe and stable environment for my son.
My estranged husband was absent from my son’s life for eight to nine months at a time during those two years.
But just because the marriage was over didn’t mean the emotional and financial abuse was over, too. If anything, it escalated after I left. It was a very difficult time, to say the least.
On November 2, 2012, my worst fears were realized. My estranged husband showed up at my home, looking for a confrontation. As we pushed the door closed in a vain attempt to keep him away, he fired through it. He entered the apartment and fired additional shots. My right hand exploded in front of my eyes. I fell to the floor, screaming and sliding in my own blood. Another bullet went through my left breast. I begged for my life. My father was shot in his left arm and in his side, and severely injured.
My son witnessed the entire event from beginning to end. He cried and begged his father (who no longer has parental rights as a result of this violence), “Don’t do it! Don’t shoot Mommy!” Miraculously, we were able to exit the scene and barely survived. I had to be flown by helicopter to the hospital and receive an emergency blood transfusion. My father was in the ICU. My son was transported to the police station where he was interviewed. He didn’t know if his mommy and grandfather were alive or dead. My estranged husband was arrested at the scene and has been in jail awaiting trial ever since.
My right hand is still numb and stiff. My thumb and index finger have very little feeling; I have to be careful about using my hand, especially with temperatures. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and do have triggers that set off anxiety. I go to counseling regularly to try to make sense of the domestic violence I experienced, how I missed the red flags, and how to heal from my life nearly being taken from me—and that of my father and son, as well.
My father had a bullet removed from his side and his left hand is disabled due to nerve damage from a bullet wound higher up in his arm. He needs additional surgery to try to get his left hand moving.
My son is a true survivor. He’s five now and is also in regular counseling but is so strong. He has lingering fears and we can’t yet predict how this will affect him in the future, but he is surrounded by love from family and friends, and positive male role models. We’re doing the best we can as a family.
The healing process post-shooting has been a long and difficult one. The physical pain is bad enough. The pain of being shot through the hand—feeling it flop around lifelessly—the surgery, the swelling until I thought my fingers would explode, the pacing around the house in the middle of the night because the pain was excruciating, the three-times-a-week for almost a year of occupational therapy to get my hand moving again. It was more pain than I’ve felt in my life.
The emotional healing runs much deeper, however. I’m more vigilant than I used to be. I think he took my “innocence” away—that bad things definitely can happen to good people. My worst fear did come true. I struggle with the “why and how could he do this to us?” I know I’ll never have a true answer. I struggle with anger toward him, toward myself for not seeing him for what he is.
On the other hand, I’ve seen myself over the past almost 15 months go from shell-shocked victim to strong survivor. My friends started a love and support page on Facebook for me when I was still in the hospital. I took it over shortly after I got home and have posted regularly on it ever since. It has greatly helped in my healing process. Documenting my journey post-shooting, sharing my thoughts and feelings
about what happened, and receiving amazing support from family, friends and complete strangers, has really boosted me up.
I welcome new supporters to follow me on my journey that’s not over yet!
I’ve never been a fan of guns. I didn’t grow up with guns in the house. I’ve never understood America’s fascination with and vehement defense of guns. I don’t understand the gun lobby, and 2nd Amendment supporters who believe that by passing gun control laws that make sense and properly protect people, the government is coming to take people’s guns away. That just makes no sense at all. Nor does the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” mantra or “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” rhetoric. Those are sound bites from a gun lobby that makes a lot of money by keeping people in fear that their guns will be confiscated.
Our laws right now definitely don’t protect women and children. When I was granted a restraining order against my estranged husband, police seized handguns and shotguns from the house. A judge arrested him in court for violating that restraining order. He was booked, a mug shot was taken, so he had a record. How was he able to obtain the gun he used to shoot us? Where was the protection for us?
I am 150% behind Moms Demand Action’s mission to pass gun laws that make sense—of course particularly for keeping guns out of the hands of abusers, and closing loopholes that allow them to obtain guns. I believe this is a big part of my own mission in life as I move forward and heal and become stronger and stronger.
I almost lost my life at the end of the barrel of a gun—but I was spared. Now it’s time for me to work to save the lives of others. Enough is enough!
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of gun violence and would like to share your story with Moms Demand Action, please email [email protected].