By Britt Moreno

DENVER (CBS4) – “I am a survivor of domestic violence,” Jen Neely told CBS4’s Britt Moreno this week. Neely shared her story to help other people who may be embroiled in unhealthy relationships.

jen neely After Being Held Hostage, Domestic Abuse Survivor Wants To Help Others

Jen Neely (credit: CBS)

She described a whirlwind romance where her would-be attacker swept her off her feet. She ended up falling in love and getting married and that is when his behavior changed. The Aurora woman says his controlling behavior “started off very subtle. He was manipulative, controlling.”

She was not allowed to see friends. She said he would heavily criticize her. Then his behavior escalated and if he lost his temper, he would throw her phone across the room, push her or even smack her. That would be followed by lavish apologies and “honeymoon” stages in their relationships where everything seemed perfect.

At the very worst, Nelly says her then-husband held her hostage in their bedroom and repeatedly beat and raped her for three hours.

“The doctors told me in the ER that I shouldn’t be alive. That he almost killed me. There was consideration of attempted murder charges against him,” she said.

Neely’s attacker was sentenced to 25 years in jail. Now Neely who is a psychologist, says her healing process evolves with her helping other people. One in three women and one in four men will be victims of domestic violence, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

On Thursday CBS4 This Morning’s Britt Moreno spoke with counselor Diane Wall who is the founder of a new, local nonprofit called Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abuse about how this organization helps people understand what is inappropriate behavior. She says it can be tough to recognize domestic abuse when there is no physical violence.

“It can be confusing. There is controlling behavior, criticism, name calling and accusations,” she said.

Wall also talked about how there is a lack of empathy from your partner and isolation where that partner may not let you see friends or family, essentially cutting you off from your social network.

Moreno said she’s often heard that domestic violence does not discriminate, highlighting Neely — who has a masters degree and is a licensed psychologist. Wall concurred, saying a lot of her clients are “teachers, nurses, flight attendants, business owners, people with college degrees who are professionals.” It is a pervasive problem.

There is an event Thursday night to support Zero Tolerance for Domestic Violence at Meadows Shopping Center. It is at Unique Boutique Consignment from 4-8 p.m.

For those people seeking counseling, support or for more information call 303-507-3738 or go to OT4DA.org.

Britt Moreno anchors the CBS4 morning and noon newscasts and is the Wednesday’s Child reporter. She loves hearing from viewers. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @brittmorenotv.

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