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Tampa Bay Area domestic violence survivor gives hope to others

While a great deal of organizations and media outlets focus on the worthy cause of Breast Cancer during the month of October, it is also Domestic Violence Awareness month. For those experiencing domestic violence, the month of October serves as a reminder that he or she is not alone, and together we can find a path to safety.

Recently, a Tampa Bay-area domestic violence survivor addressed a crowd to commemorate the month, and also to tell other victims her story. After 15 years in an abusive relationship, it all came to a devastating end in 2004. The woman's ex-husband shot her in the head, killed both of their children, and then killed himself. Miraculously, the woman survived. She awoke from a coma to a world she did not recognize and without her children.

Through the support of her family, friends and faith, as well as therapy, she has found a way to carry on, and has a story to tell. Part of her passion is speaking with victims of domestic violence and letting them know there is hope. She wants to give everyone the chance to safely walk away.

It is common for many victims who are experiencing domestic violence to not recognize he or she is experiencing abuse. Domestic abuse can come in many forms and includes physical, sexual, emotional, economical, and psychological abuse. It can also include stalking or threats. Domestic abuse is abusive behavior in a relationship used by one partner against the other to gain control over the other.

Victims of domestic violence are not just those who are married. While the legal definition does include spouses, it also includes partners dating or in a sexual relationship, family members, those living in the same residence and children.

Individuals experiencing domestic violence are encouraged to remember that they are not alone, and help is waiting. There are many legal options available, as well as steps to take, such as seeking a restraining order in order to protect yourself and family.

Source: WTSP 10 News, "Domestic violence survivor speaks during awareness month," Oct. 25, 2012

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