A Canton man and domestic violence survivor is sharing his story with the hopes that it can help others, inspire change - and save his life.
Seth Poorman, 30, spent less than a year in a relationship with a man who gave him scars that will last a lifetime.
On September 7, 2016, Poorman’s ex-boyfriend, Paul Joseph Seymour, was arrested and eventually convicted of assault after Poorman said he was beaten and stomped on at the home they shared.
“I literally thought I was going to die that day at the bottom of the stairs,” Poorman said. “I had to fight my way out just to get help. That’s when I decided I was done. If I stayed, I was going to die. I knew it. So I left, while he was in jail.”
That was Poorman’s first step in finding peace. But as he would quickly find out, that peace was fleeting.
Poorman said the harassment from Seymour started the day he was released from jail — October 31, 2016 — and has continued over the past year. He said he has received dozens of threatening phone calls and messages directed at him, his family, and his friends.
“I just feel like a sitting duck sometimes. That my mom is going to have to bury me before someone does something,” Poorman said through tears. “I’m scared and I don’t know what to do. I just want some help so that I can move on with my life.”
Poorman said it took him nearly seven months to obtain a protection order, one that court records show Seymour has violated.
Seymour also has convictions for assault, telephone harassment and aggravated menacing in cases unrelated to Poorman. Seymour currently has warrants out for his arrest and for violating the protection order, but Poorman has been told he can’t be picked up on those, because he is currently living out of state - in Georgia.
Law enforcement agencies will typically pick up people on warrants nationwide for crimes such as murder and rape, but for misdemeanors, the "pickup radius" is much smaller. In this case, Seymour would likely be picked up only in the state of Ohio.
“It almost seems like something awful really needs to happen before anybody will put any resources in picking him up. It just isn’t right and I know others go through this,” Poorman said.
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One place Poorman has found peace is at the Domestic Violence Project in Canton, which serves hundreds of survivors in Stark County.
Nicole Curet, generosity impact director at the Domestic Violence Project, said they see survivors deal with the limits of the law all too often.
“A lot of our laws are old and they don’t work the way we need them to, but they’re coming,” Curet said. “So we have to have hope that that will happen. But we’re not there yet.”
For Poorman, it is a plea for help before it is too late - and the hope that change can come soon.
“I don’t want to die. But I feel like something like that has to happen before anyone will take me serious,” Poorman said.
Poorman added that he believes the fact that he was in a same-sex relationship made it more difficult to get help from the courts and from law enforcement agencies, and to be taken seriously.
Stark County, with a population fewer than 400,000, has the third highest number of domestic violence homicides in the state of Ohio.