"I could be dead": One woman's fight to survive domestic violence

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QUAD CITIES (KWQC) - The numbers are staggering.

One in four women and one in seven men will suffering violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

"This has been really traumatic and hard,” a Quad Cities domestic violence survivor said recounting years of abuse.

Statistics from the National Center against Domestic Violence found nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.

For a mother of two, the abuse she said she experienced lasted several years, starting shortly after her relationship with her partner began three years ago. It escalated when she made the decision to leave. She said her husband refused to let her leave.

"I was held at the home until the next morning,” she said.

That was just the beginning of what she said were extreme attempts at keeping her from leaving. Terrifying text messages to her detailed that desire by her now ex-husband.

“I’m going to snap your f***ing neck,” a message she showed TV6 reporter Chris Carter read. Another threatened death as well saying

“I bet I find you before they find me. You’re dead. Last chance.”

The young woman would not give up in her attempt to get away. Each time though “he kept finding us,” she said.

Charging documents from Bettendorf Police lay one of her final nights of abuse.

"I heard the door open,” she said. “At first, I thought it was just the door next to us. As I sit up, I see this outline and I immediately know what is happening."

The charging documents alleged she was held against her will in late October.

“The defendant used an app on his cell phone and the OnStar locations of his wife’s vehicle to track her to the Ramada Inn in Bettendorf,” the documents said, going on to describe how he got into her room while she slept with their one-year-old daughter.

“[He] approached the front desk clerk and told her he was at the hotel to meet his wife, but explained he needed a key to her room. After the front desk clerk gave the defendant a key to the victim’s room, the defendant entered the room without invitation.”

"I said what are you doing here and he flat out said, I'm here to kill you,” the victim recounted.

"I started screaming. He held my mouth shut and told me that if I didn't stop screaming, he was going to kill me. He said he had a gun.”

Court documents detail hours of torture inside the room. Police said her husband punched her. Officers detailed the wounds she received in their report.

“The victim’s left eye was swollen and black and blue, her upper lip was swollen and cut and she had a red scratch on her right cheek between her ear and eye,” the documents said.

Her only escape came after a police to take their other child to school, the victim said. Once free, she called 911. The alleged abuser would eventually face charges of domestic abuse assault, false imprisonment and burglary.

“It is surprising,” Mac Segal, Director of Hotel and Fixed Site Security with AS Solutions.

Segal has been a hotel security advisor for the last 25-years. He says the actions of the hotel clerk left him puzzled.

"No guest details, not a guest name, not a room number and certainly not a key are given out to anybody except the registered guest or with the expressed permission of the registered guest,” Segal said in a Skype interview.

Segal said there is no glad hotel standard for security.

"Which means every brand operator, franchise, and private owner can develop security protocol as they see fit,” he said.

Carter reached out to the Bettendorf’s Ramada Inn four times over the last month, including a message with management one day before publishing this story. In all four calls, Carter was told to leave a message for the owner. None of those messages have been returned.

"He was not listed. He was not supposed to be given access to that room,” the victim said regarding her accused abuser getting access to her room. “There is no reason why this should have happened."

The victim did have an order of protection against her abuser before the night at the hotel when she endured hours of torture, but police had not yet served him with the papers.

"This has been really traumatic and hard and sometimes it feels easier to think why am I doing this and just let it go but I know deep down that is not the right answer and I am worth more than that,” the victim said. "I could have died.

I could have been killed."

During our work on this story, Bettendorf Police told Carter the accused was found dead out of state. They have not said how he died. Bettendorf Police now say because of his death the charges are no longer pursued.

Family Resource Center in Davenport could not talk specifics of the case we profiled, but they did say the threats of death are concerning.

In 15 states, more than 40% of all homicides of women in each state involved intimate partner violence, the Center for American Process reports.

Many victims in violent relationships will not admit it or are afraid to say something. There are several signs to be aware of:

- Explosive temper
- Isolation from family and friends
- Telling someone what they can and cannot do
- Constant mood swings

There are a number of resources available to those suffering from domestic violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-7233.

In the Quad Cities, a new group “Breaking the Stigma” recently launched in the area. The group is “predominantly survivors helping survivors,” the group wrote in an email to TV6.

“Breaking the Stigma” will begin holding support groups and meet ups for survivors. You can learn more information about those events on their website.

Additional Resources:
Family Resources Center
Winnie’s Place
Argrow’s House