“My dog saved my life:” Abuse survivor shares story of hope following domestic attack


CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) For one local woman, sharing her story of surviving domestic abuse is her new mission in life.

She hopes to inspire anyone trapped in an abusive relationship to speak up so what happened to her does not happen to them: people she says may not be as lucky to come out on the other side.

Bobbi Trivette remembers every detail of that night in March of 2018 to this day.

“I know he would have killed me because he had every intention of killing me that night,” she says.

Trapped in an abusive relationship, Trivette did not know where to turn or how to get out. She recounts her fiancé’s controlling behavior, cheating allegations, anger and his constantly taking her phone and car keys away.

After some physical violence that Trivette did not report to police, she says it came to the boiling point last March that her fiancé snapped.

“He just proceeded to beat me and sling me across the house,” she remembers. “He actually picked me up and threw me on the floor, broke my foot, threw me through a table.”​​

With fear that this was the end, what Trivette did next is why she says she is still here today.

“He started choking me and all I could get out of my mouth was, “Taz.”‘

Taz is Bobbi’s PTSD service dog; who upon the call, answered.

“When he came to try to help me he actually bit him in the face to try to get him off of me. It was long enough for me to get up and he pulled a gun from somewhere and proceeded to shoot Taz three times.”

That was just enough time for Trivette to escape and make it to the hospital with injuries that would take months to heal.

Taz’s injuries, however, would take his life just a few months later.

​”I used to tell everybody he was my other son. We were that close. He rode in the car with me, slept in the bed with me, did everything I did. He was never an aggressive dog. He was just trying to save my life,” Trivette says.

After a year of healing and growth, her fear now is that the next woman stuck in an abusive relationship will continue to ignore the red flags.

​”After one time they apologize and they are good for a while and then it’s a cycle that they just don’t stop,” Trivette warns.

The Family Justice Center in Johnson City helps lift people out of these toxic relationships and says the warning signs are clear.

“A big starting out warning sign is controlling or possessive behavior because a lot of times somebody doesn’t show their abusive side until a little bit on in the relationship. It can be a slow process. Maybe it starts out with pushing or shoving, or embarrassing comments, putting somebody down, insulting them. But it can certainly lead to choking and strangulation which is a huge warning sign for domestic violence,” says Danielle Ostrander, director of the center.

Trivette believes her story is proof that you can escape an abusive relationship, but you have to be your own advocate.

​​​”It’s not worth it. No matter how much you think you can fix somebody else, the work is on them. I realize that now,” she says.

For Ostrander, it’s all about knowing when things are out of your control.

“You never know when somebody is going to explode. You take those little things and no incident is really isolated. You just never know what somebody is going to do and people deserve to feel safe in their relationships and if they don’t, you need to reach out and try and get help,” Ostrander says.

Trivette hopes this is a message of empowerment, a wake up call for the next woman that their “Taz” might not be right around the corner; and that the time to take action against an abuser is now.

The Family Justice Center in Johnson City says they have seen more than 1500 clients this year, about 150 a month dealing with domestic violence and assault. They urge anyone trapped in an abusive relationship to contact them at (423) 722-3720 and they will provide protection and resources to help.

To find a Family Justice Center near you, click here.

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