A story of survival: woman lives through 10 years of domestic violence

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine - We want to tell you a story a woman caught in the throws of domestic violence, who turned to the Hope and Justice Project for help. NewsSource 8's Katie Zarrilli tells us Jamie Leigh's story. Her name and voice have been changed for her protection.

"Anytime I tried to stand up for myself or say something, things got worse. They just accelerated."

When Jamie Leigh married her husband years ago, she thought they were in love. She had no idea what the relationship would turn into.

The couple got married at a courthouse and then her husband moved her out to a farm miles from civilization where she knew no one. She didn't question it because she was excited for farm life. But soon the name calling started.

"It shocked me. It shocked me, and it made me feel very small. And at first I thought how dare he? And I tried to talk to him and tell him don't do that.."

Her husband's response to that was to break her things and then make her clean them up. And then he turned the violence towards her.

"I've had broken ribs, my hand has been broken several times, I now know that I have old healed fractures in my back, he punched me so hard for three days I was blind in one eye, I've been superglued by him because he cut me so badly ... no going to doctor because the doctor will ask questions."

In fact, she couldn't go anywhere. She was fenced in at the farm and one of her neighbors watched over her to make sure she never left. A man delivering propane to the farm noticed the bruises. He and his wife prayed and begged her to leave, but she didn't.

Her mind was too warped by her husbands manipulative words.

"I had nowhere to go he said. That people wouldn't believe me."

She believed those lies for ten years. But one night after a brutal beating, her husband passed out. She knew that if she stayed with him any longer, she'd lose her life.

"My husband had bought a backhoe and we had a very large trash pit. I would have been in that trash pit dead and burned."

She called the propane deliverer and his wife and they helped her get out. She first went to a shelter in the state she had been living in - but he found her there. She and her advocate then found the Hope and Justice Project up here. She moved into one of their shelters and got the support she so desperately needed.

"My life has changed so much because of the women that volunteer and diligently work for Hope and Justice Project. The support I recieve is incredible. I call them my superheroes."

Leslie Gervais works as a Prevention Educator for the Hope and Justice Project.

"So proud of her and what she's accomplished in a short amount of time really," said Gervais.

Jamie Leigh stayed in the shelter for a while and now lives in an apartment owned by the Hope and Justice Project. She's happy, and no longer living in fear.

"I'm safe. I'm safe. I still look over my shoulder just in case and I've always been cautious but I'm very safe here and I'm so at peace."

And she hopes that others hearing this story who might be in a similar situation will get help like she did.

"They know that there's help out there. And they know that they're not going to be judged. It's not their fault, something's wrong with someone who does that that claims to love you."

The Hope and Justice Hotline is 1-800-439-2323. Safety like Jamie Leigh found waits on the other end. Katie Zarrilli NS 8 >