Janet Paulsen did “everything we ask of a woman in her situation” said Hall County Solicitor Stephanie Woodard. She filed police reports about her abusive husband, documented his firearms, then filed for and was granted a temporary protective order (TPO). But that didn’t stop Paulsen’s husband from shooting her six times and leaving her for dead before turning the gun on himself on a quiet suburban street in Acworth in November 2015.
Nearly four years after that attack, Paulsen sat before a crowded Brenau Downtown Center audience and shared her story as part of the 15th Annual Domestic Violence Breakfast & Briefing. The event is presented each October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, by the Hall County Domestic Violence Task Force. Hall Sheriff’s Deputy Collette Sprague also was honored as the Domestic Violence Officer of the Year.
During her presentation, Paulsen detailed an escalating cycle of emotional abuse and threatening behavior at the hands of her alcoholic husband. Finally, when she discovered he’d been drinking and driving with her then 13-year-old twin boys, she told him she was leaving and filing for divorce. He threatened to kill her. She had every reason to believe him. Paulsen detailed the evening of the attack, how he lay in wait at her home, armed with the only one of his dozens of guns the police were unable to confiscate due to gray areas in state law. Now, just weeks after he violated the TPO and was able to bail out of jail on a misdemeanor charge, she lay in her driveway clinging to life and paralyzed from the waist down.
Her story of survival and resilience captivated the audience as they saw pictures of her recovery and rehab at The Shepherd Center in Atlanta. It was there that she learned adaptive water skiing, an activity that allowed her to regain pieces of the active lifestyle she led before her attempted murder. Recently she returned from Norway, part of Team USA’s gold medal team.
She also shared her efforts to help close a loop hole in state law that allows some domestic violence perpetrators to keep their firearms in spite of a federal law (known as the Lautenberg Amendment) that prohibits it. It is a provision that could have prevented her attack, and she said, has the ability to prevent what happened to her from happening to others.
When Paulsen was at The Shepard Center, she saw a plaque in the gift shop that now hangs in her home. “Some day this will all make sense,” the plaque reads. “Days like this are when it all make sense,” Paulsen said.
About Janet Paulsen
Back in 2015, Janet Paulsen was an ordinary suburban mom. She was the executive vice president of the Acworth Baseball Association. She and her husband of 15 years owned a mortgage servicing business. Having just trained and competed a grueling Savage Race, she was in the best shape of her life. The Georgia Parks and Recreation Association Volunteer of the Year Award had just been minted with her name as its recipient.
Paulsen was also living a different life behind closed doors. She was living with an abusive, alcoholic husband – a living nightmare sleeping beside her every night. On Nov. 5, 2015 her then-husband attempted kill her by shooting her six times, leaving her right leg paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury. Following multiple surgeries and physical therapy, she now chooses to live her life to the fullest by taking care of her boys, participating in sports and by being a voice for others living in similar situations. In sharing her story, she empowers other survivors by providing valuable insight into her experience of navigating an imperfect system