PEORIA, AZ - A Valley women escaped a violent marriage after 16 years of living in fear.
Keeping in time with National Domestic Violence Awareness month, she is hoping that sharing her story will help other victims of domestic abuse realize it's never too late to get out and that there is help.
Cricket, who has asked not to use her last name, was married for 16 years to a man who worked for their church, so she says he wasn't a man most would suspect was capable of such violence. She says the physical and mental abuse started just a month after they were married, she was belittled and beaten. Cricket says they lived several miles from anyone else.
Through tears, she recalls only being allowed outside alone for ten minutes a day to walk the dog.
"That dog was my lifeline because he was my 10 minutes a day out of the house."
A female pastor at their church finally recognized a problem when Cricket's husband yelled at her for sitting next to his wife and trying to engage her in conversation. She secretly reached out to Cricket and the two spent nine months putting a plan together to sneak Cricket out of the house.
Cricket says that support helped save her life.
"Because they tell you you're no good, you're rotten, they'll kill you if you leave, you're fearful. It takes somebody on the outside to recognize that and gives you the support."
Cricket has been free of her abuse for three years. Fresh Start, an outreach program in Phoenix, has helped Cricket and others like her to get back on their feet by helping with transitional housing, clothing for job interviews and interview training.
More information on Fresh Start is available on their website.
The first step for anyone who needs help escaping a domestic violence situation is to call the domestic abuse hotline.
If you or someone you know is in need of victim services, call the family advocacy center at (602) 534-2120 or the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.