Pat Taylor told a crowd gathered on the East St. Louis riverfront about surviving domestic violence.
She told more than 100 people, many wearing the purple that signifies domestic violence awareness, about getting married at 18 and the escalating abuse that nearly cost her her life. The crowd on Tuesday night held candles to honor survivors and remember victims at the Gateway Arch overlook in the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park as Domestic Violence Awareness Month began.
Taylor said the abuse began in 2005 when she got married.
"He always told me that he loved me. He had a compassionate side and a dark side. One side made me feel loved. The good side of him would hold me -- make me feel loved. But, the other side would have me trembling with fear. I was terrified. He started off trying to control me. He would lock the gates so I wouldn't leave. He would walk through the house in the dark with a knife making sounds like that in Halloween, the movie. One night he got in the bed beside me and put a knife in my back. He would always tell me that he was sorry and that he loved me and I would forgive him," Taylor said.
She said the man choked her and for a while she was not able to move. She went to work wearing something that covered the marks and bruises.
"He told me he loved me. And, I still hadn't had enough, so I stayed. We got along for a while, but then he told me he was going to kill me and then kill himself," Taylor said.
That led her to get an order of protection and she went to the Violence Prevention Center for a while, but she returned to her abuser.
"On Oct. 20, 2007, he got upset with me because I wouldn't buy him a beer. I started walking down the street to go get myself something to eat. He caught up with me, told me he loved me and stabbed me in my chest and tried to gnaw my fingers off.
"I lay in the street, too weak to move, from the blood loss and watched him stab himself three times," Taylor said.
She said her abuser climbed on her and tried to cut her throat after that, but an off-duty police officer stopped the attack. Her abuser survived and was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Taylor told the audience that they could not say what they would do until they walked in her shoes, but that: "No woman deserves to be treated cruel, physically or mentally".
She said often women stay in the abusive relationships because they get used to the treatment and they do not think that they can do any better. The bottom line is that anyone in abusive relationships should get out.
Debra Mize, director of prevention for the Violence Prevention Center, said "One in three women and one in 10 men at some point in their lives will be in a violent relationship. It is estimated by the FBI that one in four households have some level of abuse currently."
St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Walter Brandon said, "All of us have somebody in our family who's been psychologically or verbally abused. I see juveniles who have a lot of violence in their families," he said.
"We don't listen because we don't believe it can happen inside of our families. This (gathering) is a start, but we have to keep it going. It's not a black white, or red, or blue problem. It is a societal problem," Brandon said.