RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - A local woman says she has suffered years of pain from an abusive relationship...after a sexual assault when she was a teen she felt like there was no way out.
News Leader 9's Sara Lim met with the brave survivor to highlight this issue during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
"It was like walking on eggshells, it was like not wanting to set anything off and constantly afraid that he'll get angry over nothing," said Denise Taylor.
When Denise was only 16 years old, she met a charming man who she fell in love with…but soon, her fairy tale turned into a nightmare when her ex-boyfriend started showing warning signs anyone should be aware of.
"Overly jealous, overly controlling, stalking… like my ex-husband, he would show up at my school in the halls waiting for me to get out of class everyday when he didn't even go to that school," Denise said.
She thought nothing of it until things got out of hand.
Denise says her then boyfriend raped her when she was 17. She became pregnant with her daughter, and without having anywhere to go, her ex boyfriend threatened to kill himself if she didn't marry him.
"…being 17, I felt responsible…so we got married the abuse continued," Denise said.
Her ex-husband began hitting Denise once they got married. He even came to her work place with a loaded gun to threaten her. Because of this incident, Denise lost her job.
"Every time I tried to leave he would physically pick me up and shove me back into the house…he threatened to kill us," Denise said. "I know a lot of people say well why don't you just walk away all you had to do was walk away, it's not that easy."
But it all changed when Denise witnessed her ex-husband hit her baby daughter. She knew she had to seek help.
"When my daughter was about a year old, I was 19 at the time… she was just learning to walk, and she came walking up to her father with her arms out stretched, and he took his foot and pushed her away," Denise recalled. "It left some bruises on her face. So after that, it was one thing doing it to me but I couldn't allow it to happen to my child."
Denise managed to escape with her daughter to a women's shelter. She went with no money, no baggage and no job, but the center helped her with her needs. Denise was able to get her college degree in accounting
She is now a proud CPA, free from her troubling past. Denise also volunteers at the Russell County Crisis Center. There, she assists other women who have lived the nightmare of domestic violence.
"Don't believe the brainwashing, you are valuable and you are worth something," Denise said. "You can get away…you can be safe and you can turn your life around and have a very successful happy life."
One in four women will face domestic violence in their lifetime and more than $5 billion are spent every year to help with the medical expenses and damages caused by domestic violence.
In addition to the Russell County Crisis Center we mentioned earlier, there are many other crisis centers like Hope Harbour available.