Special Report: Fighting for Survival

Fighting for survival

VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) -- It's happening more often than you think. You're running on a trail and someone grabs you from behind, or if your significant other is in a violent rage and threatens you.

10 On Your Side is asking the question, do you have the tools you need to protect yourself? Would your child know how to protect his or herself?

10 On Your Side spoke to a woman who did not know how to protect herself when she needed it the most. She says she'd dealt with a year of abuse at the hands of her boyfriend.

"He choked me and it was a violent, violent choke," said the woman who we will call Anne.

She doesn't want her face shown or her real name told. The man who she says abused her, doesn't know where she lives.

"I felt like he was going to kill me that morning, it was the worst of them all," said Anne.

In her boyfriend's violent rage, Anne was able to call 911. When police arrived to the residence, the officer did something that sticks with Anne.

"I was crying and he handed me his cell phone and said -- just talk to her and I had no idea who 'she' was."

That 'she' was a volunteer with the Samaritan House who provided shelter for Anne, and eventually led her to the YWCA to speak with support counselors like Nicole Nordan, the program director of counseling at the YWCA.

The research shows it takes a person about seven times to leave and stay gone from an abusive relationship, so we can come in within any time within those seven times," said Nordan.

According to the YWCA, their mission is to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen communities.

The YWCA offers crisis services, and support, training.

The other aspect is physical training, which is why 10 On Your Side visited Linxx Academy, a jiu-jitsu gym located at 1925 Landstown Centre Way #220, Virginia Beach. The top trainer is Frank Cucci who is also a former Navy SEAL.

Cucci teaches self-defense classes for women, along with normal classes for other interested in jiu-jitsu.

"If the only thing you know to do is to eye gauge or punch the person in the throat, if that's all you know, chances are you aren't going to do anything," said Cucci.

So, Frank believes in this craft. First he says, don't panic. It is important to establish a boundary and early, if you can.

"I just start heading over your way, see now think about it. I totally own the clock. You should be like, 'hey stop, what can I help you with,'" said Cucci. "That is where jiu-jitsu specializes is on the ground, is how to survive, how to defend and how to escape that situation."

Anne escaped, and she's putting the pieces of her life back together. Now she says her future is day-by-day.

"Sometimes it's hour-by-hour. It's a habit you have to break and it's not easy -- at all."

Anne continues to get help from the YWCA and she's getting back on her feet.

There are several resources in Hampton Roads for those affected by sexual assault or violence. The YWCA hotline is a 24-hour crisis counseling hotline available to anyone affected by sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and human trafficking. This is a collaborative project between the HER Shelter, Samaritan House and YWCA.

These are trained crisis counselors who provide emotional support and assist callers with coping skills, safety planning and community resources. That number is 757-251-0144.

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