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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Area woman has much to be thankful for this year

Sunday, November 30, 2008

BLODGETT -- A Blodgett woman has a lot to be thankful for this year. The man who almost ended her life last year is behind bars and will remain there for at least the next 17 years.

"I'm very thankful -- I'm thankful to be alive," said Angie Rice, 32. "I'm thankful for my children, thankful for my family who have helped me tremendously this past year. I'm thankful for all the people at the Safe House for Women and thankful to friends. I feel like I have a new purpose in life -- I don't take life for granted as much as I used to."

Chad Michael Fodge, 39, was sentenced to 20 years earlier this month for a domestic attack on his now ex-wife.
Her ex-husband, Charles "Mike" Fodge, 39, was originally charged with first degree domestic assault with serious attempt to harm and armed criminal action for a stabbing Rice multiple times during a domestic attack.

In exchange for a guilty plea, the armed criminal action was dropped and Fodge was sentenced earlier this month to 20 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections where he will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

Rice said the knife attack was not the first violent incident she suffered while married to Fodge.

"There had been others -- that was, obviously, the worst," she said. Rice said if she were able to do things over again, "I would have left a lot sooner, probably never got involved with him."

Rice said there were a couple reasons she had not left Fodge earlier.

"I was going through a custody battle with other family members. Also he had threatened at one time to kill my whole family if I left, so there were a lot of factors at the time," she recalled.

Rice said her story is typical of those who have suffered abuse in a relationship. "The National Network to End Domestic Violence say it takes a woman seven times to leave an abusive relationship on average," she said.

The attack that changed her life happened on July 27, 2007, while she and her then-husband were living in Cuba, Mo.

Fodge was working as truck driver at the time, Rice said, and had been home for a week. The week had not gone well between them.

"I kept thinking that if I got him back on the truck that everything would be OK. He had some mental health issues but his doctor had assured me that with medication he would be alright. There is some question about whether at the time of the attack he was taking his medication or not but he knew he had to take it and it was his choice if he didn't," she said. "I had just settled a custody case with family members and we were moving back to Blodgett when it happened. I was taking him back to his truck. When he passed the truck stop I knew something was wrong. I asked him where we were going. He told me he went to Wal-Mart the day before and bought a machete and that he was going to kill me because I was an 'F'-up."

Among the things Rice has to be thankful for is that on that day they had three cell phones in the car.

"I grabbed a phone to call 911. He hit me and threw it out the window," Rice said.

Fodge then took out a 4-inch serrated-blade pocket knife.

"I got another phone and when I got that one he tried to get it out of my hand and started cutting little places in my hand," she said. "The next part was a blur. He stabbed me at least seven times, maybe more. He stabbed me in my back on the left side, he stabbed me in my neck, he stabbed me in the back of my head, then he stabbed me near my temple near my ear and that was the last place he stabbed me," Rice said. "That's when he told me, 'You're dead. You're already dead and you don't even know it.'"

Even though she has told this story many times by now, "I have to take a breath when I get to that part. It's getting a little bit easier but it's still difficult," Rice said.

"After that he came to himself and he told me he was taking me to the hospital," she continued.

Fodge used the last phone to call 911 and tell the dispatcher that he had just stabbed his wife.

"He drove me to the hospital in Sullivan, Mo., which was the closest hospital to Cuba. We were met there by police who took him away," Rice said.

One of the stab wounds was within inches of a major artery in her neck. "I was very lucky to be alive," she said.

Rice was not the only victim.

"My 3-year-old daughter was in the car when it happened and that was something she should never have witnessed," Rice said.

Members of the church Rice attended picked up her daughter and kept her until family members could pick her up.

The first thing Rice did when she got home was to go to the courthouse to file a restraining order "even though he was in jail and there was no chance he was going to get out," she said. "It was to send a message that this was the last time and I was done."

That was just the first step of many Rice took toward getting help as she recovered from the attack.

"I had to heal a little while," she said. "For about a month I didn't work."

Rice has gone beyond putting her own life together, however, and is now working to help other women who have been victims of domestic violence.

Nov. 3-5, Rice was in Washington, D.C., to share her story.

"It was an economic empowerment workshop sponsored by the Allstate Foundation and the National Network to End Domestic Violence," she said. "It was wonderful-- I spoke twice."

The first speaking engagement was for community partners who support the NNEDV monetarily.

"I told my story and about how a safe house and the Allstate organization helped me," Rice said.

Rice then spoke as a member of the media while part of a panel along with a banker, an Allstate insurance agent, and a community partner. She spoke about how service providers can work with the media on domestic violence stories and issues.

"I think it is very important to spread awareness, especially in southeast Missouri. It's not talked about enough," Rice said. "It's very important -- especially in rural areas where there aren't many services. People don't understand the dynamics of domestic violence. It affects not only the person going through it but the community as a whole."

Now that Rice is free from domestic violence, she wants to help other victims.

"I'm going back to school myself for social work because I hope to work helping domestic violence victims," Rice said. "And I volunteer now when I can at the Safe House."

She said those who have a loved one or friend who is in an abusive relationship should not give up hope.

"There are a lot of people that tried to help and tried to warn me while I was in the abusive relationship and I'm appreciative of them," Rice said. "The advice I would give to someone who has a loved one who is being abused is to just offer their support -- let them know they are there when they are ready to take a step toward safety, that they support and love them no matter what."

need help?

If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence, there is help locally:

* House of Refuge in Sikeston, 1-877-633-3843

* Safe House for Women in Cape Girardeau, 1-800-341-1830

Also visit the National Network to End Domestic Violence Web site for more information at www.nnedv.org.