October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and for the next several weeks, ABC Action News will be Taking Action Against Domestic Violence, highlighting the help that's available in the bay area for any victim in need.
We begin our campaign by profiling a local non-profit group called Queens of Domestic Violence Awareness.
Their mission is to help educate and inform women that they do not have to stay in an abusive relationship because help is out there.
Rhonda Calahan is the President and Founder of the group.
"I am a survivor now of domestic violence. When I tried to break up with my boyfriend, my ex-boyfriend, he attacked me and stabbed me 30 times," Calahan explained.
Calahan started Queens of Domestic Violence Awareness to help educate women on signs of abuse to look for early on and help anyone in need.
She vividly remembers the day she was brutally attacked.
"When we got into the kitchen, that's when he got a knife and began to cut across my neck with a knife. And by me trying to hold the knife off of my neck, he cut all the tendons in my fingers, cut this finger off. Then once he got done with that knife, he threw that knife down and got another knife with a sharp edge. And that's where he began to stab me all over my face, neck, back, wherever he could stab me, my head, everywhere," she explained.
Calahan was flown to the Trauma Center at Blake Medical Center.
"I heard the doctor say that day, 'She has 30 stab wounds in her body, but no main arteries or veins cutting her body.' And I just lifted my hand and began to praise God that he kept me that day and I did not die that day," she said.
From that moment on, she was determined to help other battered women through her organization.
"We help women if they need to stay in a hotel, if they need food, if they need Pampers, whatever they need. And then we can help them. That's what we do," Calahan explained.
She knows trying to leave an abuser can be very dangerous so she has this advice for anyone trying to get out safely.
"I can tell other women, if they are planning on leaving a domestic violence situation, don't let the guy know. Don't tell them. Just get your stuff, whatever you can. If you have to leave with the clothes on your back, just leave," she said emphatically.
Calahan also believes abused women need to speak out and stop hiding what's going on at home before it's too late.
"Let somebody know. No more secrets anymore. Tell somebody and try to get out of that situation as safely as possible," she said.
Calahan's goal is to eventually have a Safe House Shelter for women so they can leave their abuser and have a safe place to stay.
The Queens of DVA is also holding a black-tie fundraiser on October 23 from 6-10 p.m. at Art Ovation at 1255 N Palm Avenue in Sarasota.
If you're interested in buying tickets or just donating to the organization click here.
To see more of her story, watch this Youtube video.