MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - The Texas Council on Family Violence found there were 146 women in the state of Texas who were killed by a male partner last year. With this month being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, one Midland woman is speaking out after losing a family member and surviving through a dangerous relationship herself.
"I knew he was going to kill me one day. I knew it," said domestic violence survivor Laura Dimery. "He put a knife to my chest, he squirted me with lighter fluid, told me he was going to light me on fire in front of my kids. The last time, he put his hands on me and tried to choke me."
Dimery was in a 13-year relationship of verbal, physical, even sexual abuse. The toxic marriage made it difficult for to leave.
"The biggest challenge was I felt like a failure," she said. "If I ended my marriage or relationship, then I failed as a person. I didn't tell a whole lot of people. My family knew. Only close friends knew what was going on. They told me I needed to get out."
Now, she never has to deal with her ex-husband, who got 40 years on unrelated charges. But it has taken her more than being a survivor to speak out against the reality of domestic violence. Her sister, Jennifer, was a victim and lost her life along with her daughter, Kelsie, 14.
"I didn't believe it at first, I didn't want to believe it," she said. "It's still a struggle every day. It's been four years. This is why I do what I do so I can get the message out to other people and know this is real. This happens all the time."
Jennifer and her Kelsie lost their lives in 2013 by Jennifer's boyfriend at the time. Although they're gone, Laura hopes no woman will have to go down the same road. She's joined a non-profit called Break the Silence, a group that connects victims and survivors to find a better future. She said the group has helped her overcome her experience tremendously.
"There's several different programs through Break the Silence to help individuals in the process of getting out or have already got help to help them financially or get them back on their feet," said Dimery. "I'm more of a stronger person. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I feel I am a stronger person that I can talk about it now. I can reach out to people going through the similar type of situation."
Laura's stride to stand up for those who've wanted to run won't bring Jennifer and Kelsie back. But she does it because there's hope. Hope that could break the silence and save the next person who falls victim.
"Don't confront the person. Don't tell them that you're leaving," said Dimery. "Just do it."
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, Break the Silence is taking applications for their next retreat. The retreat takes place in Colorado Springs where survivors and victims take part in workshops and activities to educate, empower and connect survivors. To take part in it as well as other upcoming programs, visit their website here.