Divorce can be deadly and it’s a tragic reality all-too-common for victims of domestic violence who seek to separate from their abusive partners.
Former Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau has publicly spoken out about the domestic violence she endured and considers herself one of the lucky ones.
"30 minutes into the call he said, ‘do you want to hear me do it’ and I very quietly hung up the phone and that was the moment he put a bullet in his head," Pamerleau said.
She described when she finally found the courage to walk away from her abusive marriage. Pamerleau is convinced if she would have changed her mind her life would have ended tragically.
"Had I been standing in front of him he would have put a bullet in my head and one in his," Pamerleau said.
For years, Pamerleau endured verbal abuse and at times it escalated to physical abuse. She vividly recalled the time her husband punched her and fractured his hand. To keep friends and family in the dark about the abuse she lied when they asked about her husband’s injury. She told them he dropped an air conditioner on his hands, a secret she kept until after he died.
Like many women, Pamerleau endured the vicious cycle of domestic abuse.
"He would be abusive and then would apologize. And then he would say, 'I won't do it again’ and then it would start over again," Pamerleau said.
In the latest domestic violence report:
146 women were killed in Texas in 2016.
68 percent of perpetrators used a firearm to murder their female partners.
40 percent of women killed in 2016 had ended the relationship or were in the process
Studies show that the danger for victims of domestic abuse increases when women finally make the choice to leave.
"It's disrespect to that individual that you would leave, that’s the most dangerous time of all in a relationship," Pamerleau said.
She strongly believes she's a survivor because she sought advice to leave her husband and created a safety plan. She says the key to ending a relationship is cutting all ties and not confronting your partner with the breakup or divorce in person.