MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It is just as though you are an animal being stalked, said Susan Godwin. She added, "I had to look out for my safety, my family's safety, my finances were overturned. My whole world was turned upside down by one person."
That one person was Susan's husband. When they married in 2000, Susan thought she had a second chance at love. It turned out to be anything but happily ever after.
She says it started with mental abuse. Then, she discovered he had opened credit cards in her name and ran up the bill. Next, he started stalking her. Susan had to move out of the home she had lived in for 30 years and eventually change jobs.
In 2002, the abuse escalated from mental to physical. She recalled, "When I made one move into the bedroom all of a sudden I was hit from behind. He had a stun gun and jabbed it all over my body." Susan endured more than seven hours of abuse. When he fell asleep, Susan finally got away.
The Department of Justice reports 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner in the United States every year. Montgomery police respond to 9,000 of those. "The Robinson case, I'll carry that with me to my grave," Lt. Steve Searcy told WSFA 12 News.
The deaths of the Robinson children will live with Searcy forever. Police say Eric Robinson shot and killed his children before turning the gun on himself. Police were familiar with Robinson and his wife; they had a history of domestic violence.
Lt. Searcy with the Montgomery Police Department's Domestic Violence Unit tries to convince women to get out before it's too late. He says, "I like to call our unit the homicide prevention unit because if we do our jobs, we will prevent a homicide."
It takes a team effort between police, the victim and support groups like The Family Sunshine Center. It offers several services - a 24 hour crisis line - that takes in 3,000 calls a year, its shelter offers a safe, secure place, in an undisclosed location, for victims and their children.
It was through the center and Lt. Searcy found Susan the courage to leave and move on with her life. Now she wants to show others they too can be strong enough to get help and get out. She tells them, "You have to be the warrior in this battle!"
If you are in an abusive relationship, you can call the secret witness line at 262 4000, you can also help protect yourself and your children by contacting The Family Sunshine Center at 1-800-650-6522.