CLEVELAND — Domestic violence has reached an alarming rate across the United States.
Data shows 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some sort of physical violence by a partner.
Many suffer in silence and are afraid to get help.
A Cleveland woman has transferred her trauma into the pages of a new book. She hopes by sharing her story of survival that others will find the necessary support and motivation to start fresh.
Leslie M. Terry lived in fear for eight years.
Each day, she says she was brutally beaten, attacked and humiliated by her ex-partner.
She found her voice —and turned her years of pain into a new passion: advocating for others.
"This smile…. Means everything to me," Leslie M. Terry, "My Story My Life" author, said.
East Cleveland native and domestic violence survivor, Terry admits her smile was stolen from her for years.
She re-discovered joy and her true self after she walked away from the man who she says made her life a living nightmare for nearly a decade.
"I almost died. He almost killed me. He choked me so bad that I lost consciousness," Terry said.
She channeled her journey to escape—key stroke by key stroke, and page by page in her memoir titled "My Story My Life".
She fell into a bad relationship with whom she describes as the "wrong guy" back in her late 20s.
The abuse was constant and impacted every part of her life as a mother and patient care worker.
"It was to the point where I almost lost my job because I kept going to work with black eyes," Terry said.
She wanted so desperately to get help but was always scared of her abuser. She refused assistance from family and friends.
The scars and marks remained.
"I had a big bubble on my arm, but I covered it up with a tattoo. Purple ribbon. I covered it up," Terry said.
Over time the relationship soured and finally, she split from him.
Reading the book she says she can smile today knowing she's a survivor. A warrior. The strength she found within has helped her rediscover her worth.
She has a simple and strong message for anyone in an abusive relationship:
"Love shouldn't hurt. You're supposed to enjoy your relationship. Your relationship shouldn't be abusive," Terry said.
Terry is releasing a new book in the near future.
It is titled "Free at Last".
It's about finding independence and love again.
She's now starting a non-profit and acting as a youth mentor, as well.
She also wants people to know there are resources.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help—call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
It's 1-800-799-7233. You can also text START to 88788.
She says the hardest part is walking away and no one can make you do it, but it's worth it.
To buy Leslie's book, click here: https://www.amazon.com/MY-STORY-LIFE-DOMESTIC-VIOLENCE/dp/B095NSQXCY