COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Domestic violence is the number one cause of arrests in Franklin County. NBC4’s Hattie Hawks talked to a domestic violence survivor this week who makes it clear that the abuse isn’t always physical.
“It’s not what I was taught. It’s not what I have grown up knowing abuse was,” said domestic violence survivor Merica Phipps. Phipps was in a relationship for eight years. At first, she said it seemed just dysfunctional, but looking back, she can see that it was so much worse.
“I thought abuse was black eyes and swollen lips,” she said. “I had no idea it was damaging a person’s character and that it was demeaning you and that it was making you feel worthless. I had no idea what abuse was.”
Phipps said the physical abuse began two years into the relationship.
“After the first physical assault, I endured hemorrhaging and was unconscious, and it was a long journey back,” she said. “But I took him back right after that, believe it or not.”
They stayed together for five and a half more years. Eventually, Phipps finally made a run for it.
“He had torn all of my clothes off and everything so I left with nothing on my back in the snow to their house. By the grace of God, the door opened and they were there,” she said.
Phipps is one of the lucky ones. According to the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, 101 people died because of domestic violence between the summer of 2015 and the summer of 2016.
Susan Villilo — the executive director of CHOICES, an organization that provides help to victims of domestic violence — said police call their hotline more than 150 times a month because they believe a victim is in danger of being seriously hurt or killed by their partner.
Phipps may be free of her abuser now, but the healing process remains, and she has hope for others to find help.
“It’s going to click for our women to respect themselves and know their worth. It’s going to click for the boys to learn to respect women and respect themselves,” she said. “I hope and I pray that at some point, some generation is going to get it. It’s up to us right now to break that cycle.”