Domestic violence survivor speaks out in hopes of helping others

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:27 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. A domestic violence survivor shared their story with Action 2 News in hopes of helping other victims safely escape their abuser.

“It was like the fastest relationship I have ever had. It was like we fell in love very quickly. We got together really quickly,” said Nick Ross.

However, the violence started just as quickly.

“The first instance, he like shoved me against the wall. That was like a couple of weeks after we started dating,” Ross said.

Like many victims, Ross took the blame for the verbal outbursts and physical attacks. Their abuser wouldn’t take any responsibility.

“I was always walking on egg shells. Like I didn’t want to flip things into the violence, so I was always trying to make sure I was doing everything right,” said Ross.

Ross struggled to reach out for help when they realized how they were treated was not right.

“I’m non-binary, but I was raised like a boy--raised to be a man. I felt this pressure to not be weak, right. And calling myself a victim would be a weakness, and so the connection didn’t make sense to me,” Ross said.

“Domestic abuse does not discriminate, and it does not have one definition,” said Cassie McDonald, the Senior Manager Community Relations for Harbor House. “Domestic violence affects 1 in 3 women, 1 in 7 men.”

McDonald said Harbor House is helping more than 2,000 domestic abuse victims this year. That’s double from last year now that people are not stuck more at home because of the pandemic and can reach out for help. However, she said dozens of Wisconsinites died last year due to domestic violence. There are also unintended targets.

“It starts with emotional and verbal abuse. It starts with isolation from friends and family and just controlling every day decisions until you’ve lost all power in your life,” said McDonald.

Ross hopes victims will safely reach out for help before the violence gets worse. Ross’s relationship ended after eight months.

“It ended really badly, with a really violent fight that I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I felt like that was too late. I should have gotten out a long time ago,” said Ross.

Ross works at Diverse and Resilient in Appleton, a non-profit aimed at helping keep the LGBTQ community safe.

On Wednesday, Mayor Jake Woodford, proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Appleton.

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