October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. U.S. statistics show that a woman is battered every fifteen seconds. Last year, the YWCA Mohawk Valley took over a thousand domestic violence-related calls.
Bettie Marie Fulton married the man of her dreams in 2002, or so she thought. After years of physical and emotional abuse, Bettie says she may be healed on the outside, but says she's still healing on the inside one day at a time.
"I had prayed for this man... six-foot-two. Black... handsome," described Bettie.
But the man of her dreams became controlling, domineering and scary. In 2005, he attacked Bettie and gave her a black eye.
"I didn't see it coming. He promised to never do it again," said Fulton.
He hit Bettie so hard in 2009, it left her with a prosthetic right eye and fractured left leg. After restraining orders and charges, he ended up behind bars.
In 2010, right before her husband was to face a judge, he committed suicide in jail.
"I felt cheated. I said he got me again. I was angry. I was very angry at first," explained Fulton.
She says she felt as though her then-husband took the easy way out. Through all the turmoil and hurt, Bettie sought shelter and support through the YWCA. She encourages victims of domestic violence to get help.
"Get out the first time he hits you and threatens you. Years went by and he hadn't hit me, but it was still emotional and mental abuse going on," said Fulton.
Natalie Brown the Executive Director of the YWCA says Domestic Violence Awareness month does not only pertain to women.
"Men are affected the same way women are. They are in a relationship that is based on control and power. Just like domestic violence is underreported with women, It's more underreported for men because of the stigma that is behind it. It's really brave for anyone to come forward," said Brown.
If you are a victim of domestic violence and you wish to seek help, call the YWCA's hotline.
For Oneida County Dial 315-797-7740 or for Herkimer County dial 315-866-0458.
This year, YWCA Mohawk Valley is raising awareness throughout Central New York. For more information head over to www.ywcamv.org.