HOUSTON - Carmen Maria Montiel is sharing her story as a survivor of domestic violence in her book, ‘Stolen Identity: A Story of Love, Violence, and Liberation.’
The former Miss Venezuela and TV news anchor shared how, for 25 years, her ex-husband abused her emotionally and physically.
"A former beauty queen, a strong woman that was diminished by an abuser," Montiel said. "And, took me to that level of complete lack of confidence and he almost got away with his plan."
She says the violence escalated when she decided to divorce him.
"The last two years of my marriage were the worst. I just was fighting for my life to stay safe and to protect my children," Montiel recalled.
Fearing no one would believe her, she says she began taking pictures of the bruises and bite marks and recording the verbal attacks.
Montiel calls domestic violence a public health epidemic.
"People need to know that it can happen to anybody, at all levels of society," she stated.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and since the
COVID-19 pandemic, cases of domestic violence have increased.
On Friday, Houston Police report a woman with her 3-year-old son was trying to get away from her boyfriend.
"When the current boyfriend came, broke in, with an assault-type rifle and multiple magazines were located on him and started shooting," said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo at a news conference on Friday night.
The woman was shot in the leg and hand and is reportedly in stable condition. Her son, however, did not survive the gunfire. Police also shot and killed the gunman.
"The most dangerous time in this type of relationship is when the woman wants out," Montiel stated.
But leaving an abusive relationship safely is possible.
Organizations including Houston Area Women's Center and Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse help survivors create safety plans.
"It is never our fault. Nobody wants to be in this situation," she concluded.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.