Domestic violence survivor tells her story, encourages others to get help

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 6:47 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Domestic violence is a growing problem in this country. Just this week a Panama City woman fought for her life after being stabbed by her ex-husband. Police tell us Steven Evans, 63, stabbed his ex-wife multiple times at her home before leaving and taking his own life. In a NewsChannel 7 exclusive interview, the victim, Darlene Evans, speaks with us after being released from the hospital and returning home for the first time since the attack.

Home. It’s supposed to be a place of safety and happiness. But for Darlene Evans, she’s coming home to the place where she almost died.

Taking the first steps toward recovery is not easy.

A homecoming part joyous and part painful.

“Very intimidating, very unexpected that I had this much emotion,” Darlene said.

She recalls the fears of facing a man she once trusted.

“I opened the door and asked him to leave. He said, ‘Let’s not end it this way.’ He said, ‘Let’s get one last hug from you.’ When he gave me one last hug, he pulled a knife out, and body-slammed me on the floor,” Darlene said.

She fought back even as she was stabbed multiple times. She ran to a neighbor’s home, bleeding from the neck.

“Both of the muscles were cut... a couple of arteries, barely missed the jugular, barely missed the carotids,” she said.

It’s hard to know what goes on inside the four walls of someone’s home. What we do know is that there are millions of victims just like Darlene. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner.

When talking about the marks on her neck, Darlene told us, “I will proudly accept the scars because that means I made it and there are so many that don’t.”

“I just told her the other day, she’s just like a little angel,” Randi Swearingen, Darlene’s daughter, said. “She’s so loving, and giving. She always has a sparkle in her eye.”

That sparkle a little dimmer for now, but not for long. While sharing her story is painful, she knows it is important.

When we asked her what she credits to her still being here, she told us it was her will to live.

“I was not going to let him take me out, I have too much to live for,” Darlene said.

Now, instead of looking back, she will look forward, inspired to encourage others to take charge of their lives.

“The message that women need, even men because there are domestic violence cases both ways, is to not ever let it get to where you don’t have a voice because you always have a voice. You just have to find it,” she said.

Through the trauma, Darlene has found herself.

“I now have a new nickname. They’ve named me The Warrior.”

The Warrior because she’s determined to make her home the safe place it is supposed to be as she learns to accept the pain and move on.

If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic violence, help is available. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

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