Only on NBC15: Victim Survives Attack, Determined To Help Others

By: Chris Woodard Email
By: Chris Woodard Email

POSTED: Monday, May 2, 2011 --- 10:00 p.m.

Her husband beat her within inches of her life in front of their children and left her for dead.

Tonight the woman who survived the brutal attack is telling anyone who will listen.

She says the goal is making sure it never has to happen to anyone again.

There are some things in our lives we can never escape.

Horrible and haunting as they may be, they're there, stuck in our heads forever.

But the most horrific memories are the ones Julie Schebig is running towards.

In August, 2009 Schebig says her husband beat her in the head with a hammer, smoked a cigarette and left her for dead.

All of it while their two young children watched from their high chairs, details chronicled in his chilling 911 call.

In the call Gerald Orton says, "You better get there as soon as you can because I just killed my wife and the two babies are there alone."

Against all odds Schebig is still here today.

She says, "I remember telling them if I didn't make it to tell my kids they were my last thoughts and that I loved them."

But three months after her attack the nightmare gets worse when she finds out a former classmate, Tracy Judd, and her child are two of four people murdered by the child's father.

Schebig says, "I guess you could say to some degree I had survivors guilt. Why am I here and not her? Why did I make it? Why didn't she make it?"

They are tough questions Schebig now believes she's answered.

She says she believes she is still here so she can help make changes.

So as hard as that day is to relive she's telling anyone who will listen.

She says, "In our relationship the abuse was emotional and verbal and the first time it gets physical could be the last time for you."

She says the attack was the first time Orton was ever physical with her.

Every year on the day of her attack she plans to release purple balloons with a card attached telling her story and providing contact information for those who help women in abusive situations.

Schebig is also scheduled to speak with Madison Police's newest officers about handling domestic calls and even more immediately says she's already spoken to a few people who've come forward to tell her they're in abusive situations.

She says, "That's empowering to me. That's healing to me. If I feel like I can make a difference in at least just someone so that they aren't laying on their kitchen floor then I feel like I've done something good."

She says the healing process finally began a month ago when she was able to address her attacker and former husband Gerald Orton at his sentencing.

In court Schebig said, "My babies were instantly screaming and crying with the sound of terror. This was not a crime of passion or a heat of the moment act. This was someone who calmly walked into my home knowing he was going to kill me."

During a tear filled apology Orton tried to explain.

He said, "No one knows the other side of the story, the threats I went through of keeping my children from me. There are a lot of things that came into play that effected my mental instability. "

Of that explanation Schebig says, "To me I find it comical because I know what the truth is. He's a classic abuser."

Orton was sentenced to 22 years behind bars and 8 years of extended supervision but Schebig knows, one day, he'll be back on the street.

She says, "I can go into hiding if I need to."

She says she worries about that day.

Despite the fears and at least for now she says the healing and helping can begin, gut wrenching memories she's determined to keep alive to help others.

She says, "Part of me died that night on the kitchen floor without a doubt and now it's trying to figure out who the new Julie is."

Julie Schebig, a woman determined to help no matter how much it hurts.

Schebig says she sees two big problems and things she'd like to change.

With police reports available to the public attackers can always find out what domestic violence victims tell police.

She also says visitation laws make many victims stay in bad situations because they're worried the abuser may take the children on a scheduled visit and never bring them back.

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