Biker Dad: A friendship between 4 ladies became a bond that turn - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Biker Dad: A friendship between 4 ladies became a bond that turned them into 'freedom riders'

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Mary Morrison knows what it's like to be trapped in the prison of domestic violence, but she also knows how to Shawshank her way out and escape. 

She tunneled her way out of her personal prison years ago.  

“My mom was in the same kind of situation and I always defended her. I swore I would never get into a domestic violence situation, but that's exactly what happened,” Morrison said. “It started slowly with cussing and swearing. When he got mad he just held on to me so I couldn't move.”  

But it escalated to the point where Morrison finally felt like her life was in danger. 

“The last time I was held in my home for a couple hours by him. I had black eyes, ears were black because he jerked me out of my chair by my ears and threw me across the room. He punched me in the face and the chest, tore up the home. He threw things off the mantle and threw the furniture around.” 

He went to jail, but was released the next day. The judge let him come back to the house and get his belongings.  

“I did press charges against this man, but I didn't have a telephone. He came back to my home after this happened, wanted to get other things. I was trying to get him to leave. In order to get him to leave I had to agree to drop the charges. He took me to the courthouse. They had me sign a piece of paper asking if anyone is forcing you to do this. I had to answer ‘no' because he was standing right beside me. I was thinking there should be a different way to do this. I was worried about what was going to happen to me after if I didn't. That person at that moment doesn't understand there is no way out.”

Morrison would have one more chilling encounter with that man. More on that in a moment. After her escape she found a new man. 

“We've been married now for 8 years. He's the reason I ride motorcycles. He grew up riding them. He's a very hard-working man, loves me unconditionally, pampers me, supports me. He's 100 percent behind me.” 

Her new love also fostered a love of motorcycles, and that exciting new hobby led her to find other women who ride. She and three other women started riding together and quickly realized they all had something more in common than the love of feeling the wind in their face. All had been in a violent relationship, one of them still to this day is living under the shadow of constant threats.

Morrison, along with Sonjay Persbacker, Rebecca Smith, and Gail Austin meet at least weekly to ride or eat or both. Their sisterhood has now become a powerful organization aimed at helping other women. It's called Throttle and Lace. 

“We thought using the motorcycles, we could bring awareness and education and money to hopefully end domestic violence,” Morrison said. “We're not a riding club or motorcycle club, just four ladies who wanted to do something about domestic violence and coming up with the name is just away to brand ourselves and have people recognize us.”

Now the four ladies consider themselves “freedom riders” on a mission to help other women break free from that personal prison of abuse.

They are planning several events over the next few months to raise money and awareness. On July 25th they are planning a ladies only ride. 

“I know men are victims of domestic abuse too, and we support this. But one lady labeled this as a freedom ride to let women know they can be free of domestic abuse,” Morrison said.  

The police escorted ride will be about 60 to 75 miles starting out at the Mall at Barnes crossing in Tupelo, Mississippi and  ending at  Mug Shots in downtown Tupelo.  

A $15 donation to ride will help them fund a really big event in October. 

“Our big event is Oct. 3rd. We started out planning it as a ride, but it became a monster and now instead of just a ride it's a one day rally,” Morrison says. 

The rally will benefit Project S.A.F.E, inc., which does exactly what those letters stand for Shelter and Assistance for Families in Emergencies. It's a fundraiser, but it's more. There will be LIVE music, a poker benefit ride. But there will also be self-defense experts on hand to teach hands-on skills, even on-sight mammograms. 

Back to Mary Morrison's story. There would be one more frightening incident before she was finally free. She pressed charges against her abuser, hoping the law would keep him at bay.  

“I was staying with my mother along with my daughter. He came with flowers at the apartment complex. He wanted me to leave with him. I told him ‘This is done it's over, it's been over.'  My daughter and niece came outside, I tried to tell them to go back in. He was telling them ‘No I have something to tell you.' He would never hurt my daughter, but what if he did? My daughter did go inside, then he pulled a knife on me, I still have a scar on my chin where he held the knife on me, where he was pressing the knife to me.” 

She says he made her write a note clearing him, made her sign it, and her sister witness it. That was finally the end of the terror, she learned he was arrested in another state.

Another member of “Throttle and Lace” is still fighting her battle. She's remarried too, but still fears for her life every day. She's afraid her ex will find her and attack her. 

Morrison says her friend is still being stalked after five years.  But the group is helping her get through it, because they know how tough it can be. 

“I think I'm a tough person. I was in the army. I ride a motorcycle. I raised my child on my own. But when you're in that situation, you lose it. You are so much in fear for your life there is no strength anymore,Morrison said. 

But she also wants to make it clear that there is a way out. That's the big message from their mission. All four of the “Throttle and Lace” women are in healthy relationships now. 

“It shows that all men are not like those we've encountered in the past,” Morrison said. “That's another message we hope to get out there to the other women trying to survive. There are people out there who will love them, support them, and not put their lives in danger. When you are in that situation you don't always realize that.”

Click here for more on “Throttle and Lace” and their upcoming events: or
More info on S.A.F.E.:

Be careful out there, and please follow me on social media.
Twitter: @WMChrisBest
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Chris Best is the Assistant News Director for WMC Action News 5. He's a husband and father of four, He's also a motorcycle enthusiast.

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