Survivors of domestic abuse deal with a long road to recovery.
Some may never get over the fear and heartbreak.
One woman in Southwest Florida did.
Christy Carpenter thinks back on her first years with her first husband.
“He was very charming, very funny. He was, in my words, would say he was awesome,” Carpenter said. People would think we were perfectly happy perfectly, you know, like, living the dream with our toddlers.”
The dream didn’t last.
Carpenter said her husband’s cruel comments escalated into mental abuse that then turned physical.
She tried to leave him many times.
“Every time I left, there was a multitude of questions. And, and then don’t forget, they come back and they’re, they’re apologetic, and they’re sorry,” Carpenter said.
But, finally, sorry wasn’t enough.
She left and divorced him and potentially saved herself and her children.
“He was married four times, after me,” Carpenter said. “In his fifth marriage, he, he ended up killing his wife, his 16-year-old stepdaughter, and then himself.”
Carpenter said, at first, she didn’t believe he died by suicide.
Instead, she believed he would be coming for her.
“I didn’t even realize that fear was still there 15 years later,” Carpenter said.
Heartbroken and terrified, Carpenter said it’s still hard for her to believe she didn’t see the kind of man he was sooner.
“You fell in love with someone; I thought my husband was a great guy,” Carpenter said.
She said she would keep looking for the person he was when she met him.
“I was like, but he’s here. I know, you’re in there,” she said. “But what I learned (at) the shelter, that he was this guy.”
He was an abuser and she credits the shelter for helping her survive.
Watch an interview with Carpenter in the video player above.