Woman escapes with her life after abusive marriage

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It's been a long month since Marie got fed up with her abusive husband - a man who, in the end, was threatening her life.

The last straw came in September when, while driving on Deer Run Road, he promised he would put a bullet in her head.

"He tried to kill me," Marie remembers. "I tried to jump out of the truck with my daughter in my arms while he beat the hell out of me."

She didn't know where she would go. She didn't even know there was a place to go where she would be safe.

That night, Marie got away with some bruises, her 2 1/2-year-old girl and the clothes on her back. He was arrested later and is still in jail waiting to face charges.

In retrospect, that night marked Marie's escape from rock bottom.

In the last three years she lost a successful business while her husband was in the depths of drug and alcohol binges. At the age of 35, she is starting over with the help of free counseling and a temporary home.

"I had no place to go and I didn't even know about this place," Marie said from Carson City's battered women's shelter. Since her husband's arrest she has been putting the pieces back together, trying to make a new life for her little girl.

"I've actually made girlfriends for the first time in years," she said. "Without them I don't know where I would be."

Marie's marriage wasn't always so tempestuous. "The first seven years were wonderful, then it was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," she recalled. "You could have written a love story about the first seven years."

When her husband's downhill slide started, severing the ties became more complicated.

She became pregnant around the time that he started using methamphetamine. He became more demanding and increasingly violent as the years wore on. She described his drug of choice as "the worst thing in the world. It's a drug that ruins families and tears down the people around them."

"If I knew there was a place to go, I would have left him long ago," she said. Her first real attempt to leave came in January this year when she filed a restraining order against him. Weakness and insistent promises that he would change put her back under his control. She revoked the court order.

This month she finally filed for divorce.

Like many victims of domestic abuse, Marie's history was a factor in her cyclical behavior. She grew up with a loving mom and a father with a hard edge. He was the type who "hit first and asked questions later."

"That's how I grew up," she said. "That's what I knew."

Entering the shelter has been a life-altering experience, Marie says. She recently has had a job offer and is one step closer to being able to support her daughter independently.

"If any woman needs help, they can find it here," she said. "I'm going to give back to them as much as I can. They have really changed my life."


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