From The Staten Island Advance:
"The cycle of domestic abuse against Natalie Johnson started, as it does for many victims, not with a punch or a kick, but hurtful words.
Her then-fiance ridiculed her appearance and demanded she keep her eyes down as she walked, she said.
When Ms. Johnson would tell her fiance, whom she eventually married, how much his words hurt, the insults would morph into sugar-sweet promises of turning a new leaf.
"He always told me he was going to change, and I'd believe it," said the Mid-Island resident.
But the insults continued, and the abuse escalated until it became physical, she said.
Even after she left Johnson and got a protection order forbidding him from contacting her, he persisted. Johnson called her countless times on her phone, alternately begging and ordering her to drop the charges, said Ms. Johnson.
She refused and Johnson, 28, recently pleaded guilty to criminal contempt and was sentenced to nine months in jail.
With her 1-year-old daughter fathered by Johnson at her side, Ms. Johnson, who soon turns 23, is trying to forge a new life.
Yet, the scars from her toxic relationship remain -- wounds not visible to the naked eye.
"From the physical [abuse], I can heal quickly," Ms. Johnson said during an interview last week at the St. George offices of the nonprofit Staten Island Legal Services. "But [from] the emotional and mental, I still hurt inside."
Read the full article at SILIVE.COM.