After being in an abusive relationship for five years, a young local woman shares her wisdom and advice for other domestic violence victims who are still afraid to leave.
Kayla Schramm, 24, thought she met her soul mate.
"I loved him more than I loved myself," Schramm admits.
A year into their relationship, Schramm says her boyfriend became physically abusive.
"Literally, he picked me up and slammed me into the wall, which dented the entire wall, perfectly clear what had happened," she said. " He threw me on the bed, and he was strangling me, and he tells me he wants me to die."
Schramm says his violent behavior often frightened her. Like when he drove recklessly on the highway at 100 miles an hour, or when she says he threw a cell phone at her face.
"I was gushing blood, and I'm scared because I've never had that happen. So I was like 'I need to go to the hospital,'" she said.
Several stitches later, Schramm once again stayed with him and the abuse continued.
But when he bought a gun, her fear grew that the toxic relationship could end in a murder-suicide.
"He's taken out his gun and pointed it at me. He's taken his gun and said he's going to kill himself or he was going to kill me," she said.
But after every fight, Schramm says he'd manipulate her to where she was the one apologizing.
"Anytime it would happen, it would turn into me feeling bad for him and helping him through it. Like it was never him saying sorry to me. It was me being like, 'It's okay. I still want to be with you. We can get through this.'"
Schramm said she could spot domestic violence in other relationships but could not admit she was actually in one herself.
"So his father is abusive, which makes me understand more about domestic violence and how people just don't get it because I didn't get it," Schramm said. "I was in a relationship with an abuser, and I would call out, 'Why doesn't your mom just leave your abusive dad?' Like the most hypocritical things to say, 'Why doesn't she just leave?'"
Now she warns family and friends to support and listen to survivors instead of telling them to get out.
"If all you ever do is tell us to just leave, we're not going to open up to them," she explained.
After five long years, Schramm began to feel numb to the pain and the abuse.
"I think the biggest part was I wanted to fix him, which a lot of women relate to," she said.
Once she realized that, she bravely walked away and told her story on social media to help herself end the cycle of abuse.
"Once people know your relationship, it's easier to not go back," she admitted.
Her Facebook post has since been shared almost 100,000 times with thousands of comments.
That social media support system is now helping her build self-confidence and realize that she's not alone.
Schramm has this advice for domestic violence victims.
"You just have to start working on yourself first. Even if you're still in the relationship with them. The more you start to work on yourself, the more you build yourself to be able to leave and to stay gone," she said. "I don't think leaving is the hard part. It's the staying gone is the hard part."
Kayla has joined several Facebook groups to help her heal including:
- Break-Up Support Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/breakupsupportgroup
- Life After Abusive Relationship: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1340827515977629
- Survivors of Abusive Relationships: https://www.facebook.com/papersfordoughnuts
- Abusive Relationships and Marriages: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1574755409484066
If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Florida Domestic Violence Hot-line at 1-800-500-1119.