We've spent a lot of time this month discussing Domestic Violence, and sadly our community has faced too many cases of abuse in the past year.
Recently, Eyewitness News sat down with a survivor of domestic violence, who's alive to tell her story and serves as an inspiration for those going through a similar hell.
"How do you rape your wife? You know that's what I was thinking but it's possible."
Kendel Lopez is an advocate for the YWCA, but she's also a survivor of domestic violence. Married to her ex-husband for twelve years, they had six children together. Physical violence was not the only kind she endured. She says she was in jail - controlled emotionally, physically, mentally.
"[People would ask] why'd you you stay? Why not? Where was I going with 6 children," she says.
And Kendel says her whole world was twisted in his favor to control her, which is typical of abusers.
"He's abusing you then he's making up with you... your logic of how things are to be is twisted and dismembered and put back together to benefit the abuser and his control of you...go from a woman who's wearing makeup to just proving to him you're not, literally downing yourself to be as bare as possible so this person is saying ok, she's all mine."
Kendel left and went to domestic violence shelters many times, but it wasn't so easy. He would stalk her, play the court system, and play with her mentally.
"[He would say] what kind of mother would go out and do something like this, what kind of mother would leave their home instead of working things out?"
It got to the point where she lost her children to foster care.
"He uses an extension cord to beat me because my children are in foster care, totally denying that it's his fault," Lopez says.
But when she lost her kids, Kendel says that was it - and she reached out wherever she could, including the YWCA. When she was on her own, her husband tried to have her fired, flattened her tires, manipulated their children, he tried to give her his house so he still had control over her. But the less attention she gave him, the more power Kendel says she gained.
"I don't care what you think about me," she says she'd say to him, "I care what those six people, I care what those six people I have to be able to feed and look at in the mirror to myself and them, I care what they think about me."
Kendel got her children back, is now in a healthy, loving marriage, and is helping other women. She says she's had to learn what a healthy relationship is. And that love - and healthy relationship - is what women and men who are being abused don't understand, according to social worker Bernadette McDaniel.
"He loves me, I mean he does that because he loves me, he doesn't want men to look at me because he loves me - that is not love, love should never be about control or hurt," says McDaniel
Beside the physical abuse signs of domestic violence can be quite subtle. McDaniel says the abuser will try and isolate the abused from family, friends, and social situations. The abuser may become depressed, and start abusing alcohol or drugs to escape the brutality. But in order to get out, she says the abused must realize the situation they're in.
"What matters is you understand who you fell in love with, because you didn't fall in love with the person who you thought in love with," she says.
And she says while that realization must occur, it's imperative that those who are abused have someone they can turn to to get out - whether it be the YWCA, or a friend.
"We have a moral duty to not dismiss and say 'oh it's ok i know you argue;' Do not dismiss it."
For more information on the YWCA, please visit: http://www.ywcamv.org/