A West Palm Beach woman is sharing her ordeal only with NewsChannel 5 after she was held hostage in her own home for 11 days.
Brenda Smith says if she hadn’t found the courage to run from an abusive relationship, she probably wouldn’t be alive.
With every tear, Brenda counted her blessings and tried to forget the 11-day nightmare she endured.
It all began when she claims her husband, Terrill Howard, accused her of cheating on him. “He would pull out all my clothes and go through each piece at a time,” said Brenda.
Then on Jan. 13, an argument turned physical. Investigators say Howard hit Brenda in the face with a hammer.
“I don't remember nothing but just one hit,” said Brenda. “I don't know how many blows I took.” She says he choked her until she blacked out. “Once he couldn't kill me with a hammer, he tried to do strangulation,” remembered Brenda.
She says for 11 days, Howard held her hostage in their West Palm Beach apartment and told her that he would kill her if she tried to leave or told anyone what he did.
“He would always say you going to tell on me ain'tcha? You going to leave me right?” said Brenda.
Last Tuesday, she says felt strong enough to make a break for it. She ran a half-mile to Good Samaritan Medical Center.
“I was giving myself time to heal so when that opportunity came, I could make a break,” said Smith.
The next day, West Palm Beach police arrested her husband and put him in jail.
“When you have that much evil on the inside, it's a privilege to be out here,” said Smith.
“I think she is an incredible survivor,” said Randee Kogan, a therapy coordinator with Palm Beach County Victim Services. “I think she's got incredible strength to be able to escape and flee.”
Kogan says in every abusive relationship, there are warning signs that should never be ignored. “Whether it be jealousy, whether it be isolation, whether it be the way they're being spoken to, don't ignore those red flags.”
Brenda has this message for other victims of domestic abuse, “Any signs of abuse that's verbal, physical, it only escalates,” said Brenda. “If those are signs in the beginning, run because one day they will take your life.”
Brenda is so grateful to the people at Good Samaritan Medical Center for helping her.
Her husband faces aggravated battery and kidnapping charges. He remains in jail on a $75,000 bond.
If you’re in an abusive relationship and need guidance, Palm Beach County Victim Services offers free treatment to help you identify those red flags and decide whether to press charges.