"A gun held to your head" domestic violence survivors speak out against abusers

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Thousands of men, and women, are assaulted every year.

On average 24 people are victims of domestic violence every minute in the United States, often with deadly consequences. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), "

1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime." While 1 in 3 female and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners, according to the NCADV. Many of them leave or try to the situation, only to find that their abusers won't let them go so easily.

October 22, 2017-- 911 call from Charlotte, MI :
Dispatcher: "Eaton County 911"
Female: "Hi I need a unit"

Hundreds of 9-1-1 calls are made to domestic dispute situations every day,

Continued 911 call:
Female: "He has something in his hand, and it looks like a weapon,
Dispatcher: Are you there? Hello? Hello?

That victim 46-year-old Carlene Miller, was killed by her ex-boyfriend, Matthew Paul Smith. Miller is one of the thousands of victims who didn't make it out alive.

Tanesha Ash Shakoor and Carmen Ramsey of Lansing are survivors of domestic abuse. They told News 10's Alani Letang that death was something very real to them.

10 years ago Ash Shakoor said after her and her ex-boyfriend made their relationship official, that's when Tenesha says her then boyfriend changed. She said the abuse started with comments about her weight. "'You're the biggest girl I've ever been with', and it took an emotional toll because now I began to look at the women around, and think is this what he likes," said Ash Shakoor. The emotional abuse turned physical, "He would come in when while I'm getting ready and he would push my head into the mirror, pinning me down to the floor. And it's like it was comical for him sometimes."

Tanesha said often times not fighting back or staying silent was best. Holly Rosen has worked with relationship violence and stalking for over 30 years. She said those are sometimes survival tactics. "So a lot of victims will not challenge or disagree the abuser, and they often will placate or appease them and just go along with whatever the abuser wants just to get through that moment," said Holly Rosen, MSU Safe Place Director.

Tanesha said when her abuser would drink it got worse, especially one night. "Him grabbing a knife and him constantly telling he was going to kill, tonight he was going to kill me. Then he began to choke me."

And Tanesha is not alone, survivor Carmen Ramsey, says she knows the abuse all too well. "A gun held to your head, he kept trying to put it in my mouth. And his finger was on the trigger," said survivor Carmen Ramsey. She says her ex-husband tortured her, "picking me up and punching me in the head" one time for nearly three hours. What she said she believed were her final hours. Her ex-husband had come home drunk one night, and as a marriage agreement, she was allowed to leave with the kids for a night. But that one night he wouldn't let her leave. "I knew I was going to die that night. You continually think of all the things that you didn't get to do. I was thinking about my boys primarily," said Ramsey.

When Carmen was able to escape, in her bloodied clothes, she ran across the street to a neighborhood house to call 911. And he spent less than 24 hours in jail for the abuse. "It was a nightmare, I didn't feel safe I wasn't comfortable, just the very sight of the truck sent me into panic attacks. I really don't like the idea of my husband coming anywhere near me" said Ramsey.

But even after relationships had ended. Both women said they were stalked.

"The other thing that's a big barrier is that the abuse does not end, a lot of times the abuser does not take no for an answer that the relationship is over and they stalk, or threatened or charm victims back," said Rosen. For domestic violence survivors sometimes moving isn't enough to get rid of their abuser. Senate bill no.655 that Senator Margaret O'Brien is working with hopefully help hid them from their abuser.

"The state becomes a shield and what happens is there is a state address they register, so they can use that address on their driver's records, on an occupation. And then the state will forward the mail to where they want to receive it locally" said Sen. Margaret O'Brien- (R) Kalamazoo

The program will partner with police, domestic assault shelters, and victim- advocates to ensure its only about victims and survivors. "We don't want to make it that anyone can sign up, it really needs to be people who need this program. We really want a professional to walk a person through. And we've been grateful for the Attorney General for partnering with us," said Sen. O'Brien.

Ash Shakoor said to those who might be going through domestic violence, "you're going to be okay, but it's a process afterward."
Ramsey added, "this doesn't have to be something you carry with you in shame, your life is just going to be nothing but a tragedy. My life is happy now" said Ramsey.

The bill is expected to be completed by this summer. We will let you know as soon as its passed

LINK: End Violent Encounters

If you or anyone you might know who is experiencing domestic violence, you can call the national hotline: 1-800-799-7233