My Story: Deborah Petersen

domestic violence quotes

My Story: Deborah Petersen

hotlinehope-2My name is Deborah Petersen, and I was in an abusive relationship for three years. Things were going along fine for about a year and a half, but then the abuse started. It was mental and verbal at first before progressing to controlling behavior and physical abuse. Over time the abuse grew in both frequency and severity.

In the beginning, I didn’t know exactly what was wrong. I blamed myself. I turned to online resources for help and found The Hotline’s website. I made numerous visits to the site, at first reading the section defining abuse, and soon I realized and accepted that I was being abused.

I learned how abuse often increases over time. I recognized the signs of escalating danger in my own relationship and used the website’s information on safety planning, including keeping a packed bag hidden in my car in case I needed to make a quick escape. When the violence finally did escalate, I called the police and had my partner arrested.

I found myself in the car, leaving town to stay with family, and I picked up the phone and called The Hotline. I knew they would be there when I needed to talk, and they were. What I got from talking to them on the phone that day was a level of understanding I had never had before, a level that my friends and family couldn’t provide. They understood exactly where I was and what I was going through — as opposed to being on the outside looking in.

This is what The Hotline’s advocates do for thousands of victims and survivors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Just one phone call can change someone’s life. It certainly changed mine.

I am proud to be a regular donor to The Hotline because I want to help make sure someone is always available to answer the phone when a victim needs help. I know firsthand what a world of difference that call can make.

Your gift to The Hotline helps ensure that when a survivor is ready to speak, someone is there to listen.

Click here to give today.

Comment section

7 replies
  1. I’m so proud of you for getting out. I really appreciate the information in your story about making a safety plan and having a bag packed for a escape. It’s so important to find out about how best to be safe before you try to leave an abuser. I share your story and am now living free too.

  2. Hi Jade,

    Thank you for your kind words and appreciation, as well as sharing your experience. It is awesome that you could identify with this in a positive way and that you are now safe from abuse!

    I hope that you can continue to stay strong and safe in the future, but if you or anyone you know would like to talk to us directly at any point, or if you would like to find local DV resources(such as counseling) in your area, we are always here to help 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or 7am-2amCT on our homepage chat.

    Stay safe!
    Advocate KB

  3. Thank you so much for speaking out. I am also living free now too. Having a safety plan in place is so essential! Just making a safety plan made me feel stronger inside.

  4. Hi jigokukintsugi,

    Thank you for being a part of our online community! It is absolutely wonderful to hear that you are in a safer place now! Leaving abuse can take incredible resilience and bravery, and you deserve safety, happiness, and kindness, from others and yourself.

    If you would ever like to talk about what you experienced, or if you are interested in exploring tools or resources for support in healing from abuse, please know that you are always welcome to reach out to us. Our advocates are here 24/7 by phone at 1-800-799-7233 or from 7am-2am CST through our chat in the top right corner at

    Take care!
    Advocate GR

  5. I’m not sure why I go back to these websites on how to escape emotional abuse because as glad as I am to see someone get out I never will. I’ve been married for 43years and have tried several times yet here I am still married. The posts I see always include help from family or friends. I have neither. I have no money because I have always paid the bills while he stashed money away. All I have is a lot of anger and hate. I’m sure this isn’t something you want to hear but there isn’t always an answer. I’m proof of that.

  6. Helo Vicki,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like you have been through a lot, and you do not deserve to be treated that way by your husband. I hear that you are angry and feel that there’s no way out, but we are here to help in any way we can. Please know you can contact us any time at 1-800-799-7233 or chat via our website from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central.

  7. Dear Vicki,
    I know it has been a long time since you wrote this, but I had to reply because I also have the same two things you wrote about in my life—no support from family or friends & I always paid the bills while he stashed money.
    In addition to this hotline, try to find an organization where you can get face to face help from people who truly understand the effects of domestic violence. I found that my family & most of my friends, actually made me feel much worse because they did not understand at all! My abuser & husband of 34 years, and I finally separated last December. My doctors had referred me to a local organization that helped victims of domestic violence & finally, I felt like someone heard me & could help me. They even helped me get a federal protection order & assistance with food & utilities. There is hope for you too & you deserve it just as much as anyone. It isn’t easy, but it is much, much better being on my own than living like I was.

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