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Breaking free from abuse

 Anna Marie Elliott and her husband Joshua Elliot of Oak Harbor will host an inspirational concert at Oak Harbor High School’s Parker Saturday, April 18, from 4 to 6 p.m.   - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Anna Marie Elliott and her husband Joshua Elliot of Oak Harbor will host an inspirational concert at Oak Harbor High School’s Parker Saturday, April 18, from 4 to 6 p.m.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

Anna Marie Elliott was in a dark place 12 years ago. A fight with her drug-addicted, alcoholic husband ended when he threw her off a second story motel balcony.

The injuries cause Anna Marie to slip into a coma, where she remained on life support for almost a year. When she awakened, Anna Marie was unable to speak and unaware of what had happened.

Anna Marie’s life today is a far cry from the fear and dread that formerly consumed her. She divorced her abusive husband and remarried Joshua Elliott, a tall, quiet man she met through her job at Adam’s Mark, a hotel in Florida.

The couple now live in Oak Harbor and Anna Marie is determined to help other women find the strength to get out of an abusive relationship. She’s even gone as far as a visit to Washington, D.C., and the White House last year to share her story.

“I’m hoping I will help somebody. Even if it’s only one person,” she said, “I don’t want anyone to go through what I had to go through.”

“I’m not telling the story for pity. I want to help somebody,” she said, stressing that women need to get themselves and their children away from abusive spouses, because their abuse will only get worse over time.

“Think about the kids,” is one piece of advice Anna Marie has for women in abusive relationships. ‘I was too late to help my kids, and I have to live with that.”

“It creates a culture, that it’s OK to hit,” she said of how her late ex-husband’s behavior later influenced her oldest son Michael, to hit his girlfriend.

Michael died at the age of 16 from an overdose in 2004. Her younger son Daniel committed suicide at the age of 15 the same year.

Often times, the abusive partner lays blame or lies to keep their abused spouse feeling trapped in the dysfunctional relationship.

Anna Marie, a native of Guyana, South Africa, truly believed her ex-husband when he told her she’d be deported and separated from her American-born children if she left him.

“He used it as leverage,” she said of his constant lies and threats.

With Joshua’s support, Anna Marie contacted a lawyer who dispelled her ex-husband’s lies.

Women and men who live in Island County may contact Citizens Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse, also known as CADA, for help, including pro bono domestic abuse counseling, legal advocacy and shelter services.

Domestic violence is often a quiet community issue. According to CADA, 740 Island County residents sought the organization’s services in 2008. According to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs annual report, 48,102 people were victims of domestic violence statewide in 2007.

Contact CADA by calling their crisis line, 1-800-215-5669, or 675-2232.

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