MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Domestic violence is a crime that many victims say left them feeling alone and afraid.
Domestic violence is “any pattern of behaviors that attempts to control and intimidate a partner or family member through fear, manipulation, isolation, financial abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and/or verbal abuse,” according to the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Greater Memphis, a non-profit that provides domestic violence services in West Tennessee.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, 98 people died in 2018 as a result of domestic violence.
WMC Action News 5 talked to a survivor who wanted to conceal her identity for safety reasons but also wanted to share her story in hopes it will help someone else.
"If I could look back at my younger self I would have told myself - follow your first instinct,” she said.
It’s been five years since this survivor escaped her abuser.
“I don’t know if I was in a vulnerable state in my life but that’s when he started luring me in.”
She said the relationship started out great. Her abuser was sweet, charming and generous, and then he suddenly became controlling.
“His favorite words were I was rebellious, I don’t listen. It was just so much that went on.”
She recounted the first time her abuser put his hands on her. A simple conversation took a turn for the worse very quickly.
“He just started yelling, and at that point I started seeing a different side of him. I said you know what I didn’t have to take this, you have the wrong woman because I am independent and I can get up and I can leave,” she said. “I stood up and he jumped on top of me.”
Unfortunately that wouldn’t be the last time. She said the abuse continued - beating, choking, even forcing her to get an abortion against her will.
She said that was her breaking point.
“When I went to the emergency room the intake nurse looked nothing like me. She came to me and I explained to her what had happened to me. She said you better not ever go back because I’ve been through that as well.”
A TBI report reveals there were more than 73,500 domestic violence incidents in Tennessee in 2018 – a 6% decrease from 2017.
The YWCA reports that in 2018 domestic violence incidents increased 4.7% in Memphis and 2.7% in Shelby County.
This survivor says she didn’t have the courage to press charges against her abuser at the time but would encourage other women in the same situation to do so and to know they’re not alone.
“We need to speak up for one another and let our abusers know that it’s not okay, we’re going to stand up to them and we can leave and we will live better lives after.”
The YWCA also provides training to help individuals and employers spot the signs of abuse and what to do if you suspect someone is in an abusive situation.
For more information and resources available click here: https://www.memphisywca.org/what-we-do/domestic-violence-shelter-and-services/
You can visit the National Violence Hotline Website here: https://www.thehotline.org/