Abuse Victim Credits Center For New Life

Cyrellia Barbabino has a job she enjoys and is living a new life. But before it began, she had to suffer a lot of mental and physical pain at the hands of her ex-husband.

"He had his hands around my throat, threatening me that he would kill me if I ever left him again," says Cyrellia.

That was before Cyrellia got married, so why did she agree to walk down the aisle?

"I'd say yes to anything, he got me so scared and I never told my family because I believed he was strong enough to kill them. I thought he would kill the police if I went to the police."

She says the abuse continued off and on throughout her 17 year marriage. The final straw came she says one day when her son tried to get between her and her husband.

"He hit my son about three or four times and I stood up to him for the first time in my life and I told him I don't deserve this and my son don't deserve this, don't you ever put your hands on us again."

A few months later Cyrellia sought help at the Gulf Coast Women's Center, where she finally found peace of mind.

"I had people who had been through worse than I had and I slept for the first time. When I came here that night I couldn't believe I had a whole night's sleep."

After a year of soul searching, counseling and healing, Cyrellia's left the center after a year and went to work at two jobs: a hair stylist and a cook. She says she hopes her years of pain and fear, and the courage to escape, will encourage other women in abusive relationships to get help.