Domestic violence victim speaks out, educates others

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – A woman who survived her abuser is speaking out to students and law enforcement officers to educate them about domestic abuse.

In 2010 Arkansas ranked seventh in the nation for the number of domestic violence murders.  Experts say early intervention is vital.

"He held me in the bathtub until I would pass out and then he would wake me up slapping me so he could do it all over again," said Amanda White.

White was married to her ex-husband for 7 years.  During those years she left and came back 9 times.

She was badly beaten and hospitalized multiple times.  Now she is sharing her story with others to try to prevent domestic violence.

"He actually beat me for over eight hours with a child's wooden chair when the chair broke into pieces he picked up the pieces and used them," said White.

Her story is shocking to hear.

"I can remember being down on my knees with my hands covering my head begging him to stop and him telling me. 'Not until I finish this song,' and he was using two pieces as drum sticks and my head as the drum," said White.

But it is the reality of many women.  There are women who stay, women who don't know what else to do.

"I's the mental, it's the control with the financial, it's isolating your friends and family," said White.

Many families want to help but breaking the cycle of an abusive relationship can be almost impossible.

"I was there, I know people who have been there you just have to learn to re-think almost.  It's kind of a prisoner of war mentality," said White.

White travels the state and parts of the country sharing her story.  She says a big question she's often asked is "why do women stay?"

"Most of the people that stay are optimistic.  They don't want to believe that they failed, that they actually fell in love with someone that they were wrong about," said White.

She said knowing that is important, but it is not something that should ever be thrown in a victim's face.

For teenagers, college students even adults White said there are many warning signs to watch for.

"If your boyfriend starts telling you not to wear makeup or don't wear that shirt because it makes you look a certain way or saying you can't be friends with guys or gets jealous anytime they see you talking to someone," said White.

White said you don't know someone until you've known them six months to a year.  An abuser won't hit you on the first date or there will never be a second one.

White said to look at their relationships with other people, especially how they treat their own mother.  If that person is seen as the "bully" by friends, he likely will be a bully inside the home.

Domestic violence does happen on campus.  Several officers with the ASU University Police Department were part of a special training before students arrived.

White said her ex-husband is serving an 18 year sentence for domestic violence and for jumping his bond and disappearing for more than a year.  He will be up for parole in May of this year.  She has recently re-married and said she is glad to be free of her abuser.  White has started an organization to help women take the extra steps of getting out.  She said through Arkansas Advanced Shelter Outreach Services they want to be a bridge for women who get out of an abuse shelter but don't know what to do next.

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