LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Domestic violence can happen to anyone, as the U.S. reports that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men will experience some kind of abuse from their partner. Today at the Capitol, survivors of abuse told their stories in an effort to educate, and to prevent this from happening to others.
“It reached the point where the violence escalated and I knew that if I didn’t leave, he was going to kill me,” said Nicole Beverly, a domestic abuse survivor.
They were at the Capitol not just to raise awareness about their experiences with domestic abuse, but also to advocate for a package of bills that would prevent those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from owning a gun for eight years after their sentence.
“Any access [to guns] heightens the stats for a homicide and suicide,” said host Tanesha Ash-Shakoor. “Keeping in mind also, when a victim or survivor is trying to leave their abuser, there is a 75% increase in a homicide or suicide [within] two weeks after their leaving.”
Beverly was one of the dozens of people who spoke at Saturday’s event at the Michigan state Capitol. Beverly was just 19 years old when she met her abuser during college. She thought it was the perfect match, but slowly, the relationship got worse.
“Very early on [he was] jealous, isolating me from my friends, telling me my friends weren’t good for me, and then name-calling, put-downs, really breaking down my self-esteem,” Beverly said.
Not knowing these are warning signs of an abusive person, she stayed with him, married, and had two children. But things eventually became physical, and she almost lost her life.
“He dragged me back in by my hair. He ordered my two sons upstairs and proceeded to hit me, kick me, strangle me and then hold a gun to my head and tell me all the reasons he was going to kill me, all the reasons why I deserved to die,” she said.
Beverly said she stayed with her ex-husband for more than 20 years, for her children. After that day she left, getting a restraining order, but she was stalked for two years. Her ex was then arrested and is currently in prison for aggravated stalking. Now Beverly travels the States to speak at events like this and to educate people on domestic abuse.
The ENOUGH Initiative is my nonprofit organization, and we focus on prevention, getting into high schools and colleges and teaching the red flags of dating violence,” she said.
In addition to survivors telling their stories, dozens of resources were on hand at the event. The host said it means the world to her to see everybody come together to make a change.
“It’s a community effort, and it’s constantly ‘I need that push and the support; here is what keeps me going,'” said Ash-Shakoor, Founder and CEO of Voices of Color.