When Amy Jones married her high school sweetheart, Chris Rezos, in 1995, she never suspected that he would turn into an abuser who would eventually try to take her life. For almost a decade, Chris controlled nearly every facet of Amy's life, mentally and verbally abusing her. But, in 2004, Amy decided enough was enough; she packed up her children and belongings and left him. However, Chris had other plans.
During the legal proceedings, Chris met Amy in a hotel to discuss the terms of their divorce, when --out of nowhere-- he attacked her. Chris beat, choked, and tried to drown her in the bathtub. Another hotel guest heard her screams and called 911-- a call that would save her life.
Still, Chris wasn't willing to give up. After posting bond three weeks later, Chris hid in her car and shot her twice in the head. What he didn't realize was that Amy wouldn't give up either. Amy survived the injuries, while Chris was finally put away.
Today, Amy is a new woman. As a speaker for Citizens Against Domestic Violence, an Ohio based organization that educates youth about domestic violence, Amy's mission is to prevent tragedies like hers, and inform the public that mental and verbal abuse can be just as painful as any physical abuse.
Her incredible story of strength and survival will be featured on We TV's hit show, Secret Lives of Women.
Jen Kim spoke to Amy about her experiences:
JK: When did the first signs of abuse show up?
AJ: Actually my mom was the one who noticed the signs first. She had noticed early on that he got angry a lot, and so she asked me if I really wanted to do this. And I said yes. At the time, I didn't notice. I always defended him. It's one of those things that you look back on and only realize later.
JK: What were some examples of his abusive behavior?
AJ: He always had a bad temper. But later, he became really controlling and I had to go to him for every decision, big or small. Even the little things-- I couldn't get the hair cut I wanted. I couldn't paint the walls of the house the color I wanted.
At the time, though, it's hard to explain. Because I wasn't being physically abused, I never thought that it was really abuse. I always made excuses.
JK: What was the breaking point?
AJ: My husband had always wanted a pinball machine, and so one day, I bought one, paid in cash. I wanted to surprise him, do something nice for him... When it was delivered, he took one look at the thing, and demanded they take it back. He said that he bought his own luxury items.
I asked him about all the jewelry that he had bought me before, that I had no say in purchasing, and he just said that was different. He never touched the thing. I ended up selling it. But that was the point that I got fed up.
JK: What makes you want to share your story with others?
AJ: I can do something better with my life, especially with my kids.
I am an extreme advocate of domestic safety. I speak at shelters, talk to victims. I work with an organization that talks to high school students about domestic violence called Citizens Against Domestic Violence, and we discuss all types of abuse: sexual, physical, and mental.
JK: How is your healing process?
AJ: It's a daily process that will never go away. I've gone to therapy and everything, but every day, you just have to move on with life and move on with your children's lives. And time eventually changes things. I recently got remarried in July.
You just need to work at it everyday.
The Citizens Against Domestic Violence Web site reports that 40 percent of teenage girls ages 14-17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten. Abuse icludes yelling, threatening, name calling, threatening suicide, obsessive phone calling, and extreme possessiveness.
Are You Going Out With Someone Who . . .
* Is Jealous and possessive, won't let you have friends, checks up on you and won't accept breaking up?
* Tries to control you by being bossy, giving orders, making all the decisions, not taking your opinions seriously?
* Puts you down in front of others, tells you that you would be nothing without him or her?
* Scares you? Makes you worry about reactions to things you say or do? Uses or owns weapons?
* Is Violent? Has a history of fighting, loses his temper quickly and brags about mistreating others? Grabs, pushes, shoves or hits you?
* Pressures you for sex or is forceful or scary about sex? Gets too serious about the relationship too fast?
* Abuses alcohol or other drugs and pressures you to take them?
* Has a history of failed relationships?
If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, you could be the victim of dating abuse.
National Domestic Violence Hotline -- 1800 799 SAFE
Watch Amy's story on WE TV's Secret Lives of Women