The names of the domestic violence victim and her son in this story have been changed to protect their identities.
GREENCASTLE -- Suzanne married her ex-husband in August 2008 after they had dated for four years.
She had misgivings about the marriage from the beginning. Her husband, she said, was physically, sexually, verbally and mentally abusive to her throughout their relationship.
The couple moved from their home in Illinois to Clay County, where Suzanne's parents lived.
"I thought it would get better, but it didn't," Suzanne said. "It got worse."
The couple's son, Caleb, was born in September 2008.
Suzanne said Caleb was the product of a rape.
Three weeks after Caleb was born, Suzanne was pregnant again. She claimed the second pregnancy was also the result of non-consensual sex.
Her husband's abuse, Suzanne said, caused her to go into labor and give birth to a second son on March 4, 2009 -- when she was five and a half months along.
The child was stillborn, giving Suzanne one more emotional horror to deal with.
In the spring of 2009, Suzanne got a place of her own.
But that didn't stop her husband from barging into her home and terrorizing her.
Suzanne finally mustered the courage to file for divorce, and with the help of Legal Aid her marriage was dissolved in May.
That same month, domestic battery charges were filed in Clay County against Suzanne's husband.
Suzanne's husband was originally charged with Class D felony domestic battery and Class A misdemeanor battery resulting in bodily injury. Under the terms of a plea agreement, the felony charge was dropped.
In July 2009, Suzanne's husband received a one-year suspended sentence and was placed on probation in Clay County.
The abuse continued, and Suzanne took a government-subsidized apartment in Greencastle.
"Then it got to the point where he would take the van for days at a time and leave us with nothing," she said.
An incident took place this past Thanksgiving, Suzanne said, that led to her ex-husband not only abusing her, but also throwing their infant son across a room.
That incident led to a criminal charge -- Class A misdemeanor domestic battery -- being filed against Suzanne's ex-husband. He was in jail for three days before posting 10 percent of a $5,000 bond.
Suzanne went to her landlord and asked that the locks on her apartment be changed, but was told she would be charged $50.
"I don't have the money," she said simply. "So he still has a key and can come in and out any time he wants to."
Suzanne's husband pled not guilty. A jury trial was originally slated for June, but has been continued to October.
Court records said Suzanne told police her ex-husband slapped her in the face and "took a handgun from the closet and threatened to kill (her) sister."
A petition to revoke Suzanne's ex-husband's Clay County probation was filed on Dec. 8. He pled not guilty and was released from jail on Dec. 15.
A fact-finding hearing in that case is set for Nov. 3.
Cari Cox, executive director for Putnam County Family Support Services, said money for things like changing locks is available through PCFSS.
"We provide anything we can in situations like that," she said. "We do everything we can do to help women in those situations to be safe."
Suzanne has already testified in court against her ex-husband, and said she has felt little support from court officials.
"The judge said I was making things up to make it more dramatic," she said. "I don't have any reason to make anything more dramatic."
Looking back, Suzanne said, she can't say for sure why she continued to put up with her husband's abuse.
"I'm the typical story," she said with a sigh. "I took him back. He said he was sorry and that he would never hurt me again. I fell for it hook, line and sinker."
Suzanne said injuries from her ex-husband's abuse have caused her to have numerous gynecological health issues, some of which have required surgery. The most recent surgery, she said, took place on April 29.
Several days after the surgery, Suzanne said, her ex-husband came into her home and attacked her.
Suzanne said she has given up reporting her husband's attacks, because she doesn't feel like anyone cares.
Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter said he takes any report of domestic abuse seriously, but admitted they are hard cases to get to trial.
"The biggest problem I have is the victims do not want to prosecute in about 65 percent of the cases," he said. "There are self-esteem issues and financial concerns. Cooperation by the victim is the key element in deciding who to take to trial. When I get a case the investigation is completed by the police, and I look to see if we can prove the case -- which always brings me back to the willingness of the victim to cooperate."
Cox said she understands how the prosecutor's hands can be tied in domestic abuse cases.
"It is such a he said, she said thing," she said.
Bookwalter said he is, with the help of local law enforcement, exploring different ways to make sure more domestic violence offenders are prosecuted.
One such idea, he said, is to record on video the initial statements of domestic violence victims.
"The victim will have a harder time recanting the facts with it in living color, bumps and bruises and all," Bookwalter said.
Cox said in many cases, abused women were raised in homes where abuse was present.
"A lot of times in these situations, they have always lived in chaos," she said. "There has always been turmoil. They become adults, and they get into situations where they can create their own chaos."
Suzanne used to be a firefighter and paramedic, but has been unable to work because of injuries and emotional stress caused by her ex-husband's abuse, she said. She receives Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits, as well as food stamps and assistance with her rent and utilities.
She owns a car, but it needs repairs she cannot afford at the moment. She said she has prescriptions she needs to have filled, but cannot afford right now.
"I just budget, budget, budget, pinch, pinch, pinch," she said.
Suzanne's ex-husband is allowed visitation with the couple's son. She is not satisfied with the terms of the visitation -- it has to be supervised by Suzanne's father, and court records specifically state that her ex-husband's 20-year-old girlfriend is allowed to attend.
"I don't want to send him, but I know I'll end up in jail if I don't," Suzanne said.
Suzanne said the abuse of her ex-husband and the stress it has caused her has put a strain on her relationship with her parents.
"They just don't understand what I'm going through," she said, finally letting tears flow. "I'm tired of being told I'm an embarrassment. I'm tired of being told to get a job. I don't like how my life is right now. I didn't ask for this."
Cox said women who live through abuse come out of it damaged in many ways.
"They need the advocacy to get through the court proceedings, and then they need education to figure out how they're going to go on after it's over," Cox said. "But many of these women also need intensive mental health treatment."
Abuse, more often than not, leads to mental illness.
"That's absolutely the case," Cox said. "It can result in post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, borderline personality disorders or bipolar disorder. After you take so much abuse, your brain starts to compensate in different ways."
Another common outcome of physical abuse is drug or alcohol addiction.
"Victims often self medicate," Cox said.
In either case, Cox said, the hardest thing for many victims is asking for help.
"They have a difficult time accepting advocacy," she said. "No one wants to admit they need that help."
But as the circumstances of each case of abuse are very different, so are the victims.
"A lot of victims are just resigned," Cox said. "This is old hat for them, and they've learned to cope."
The staff at PCFSS has heard a lot of stories from a lot of different women.
"When they come through our door, many times they've been waiting so long to tell someone what's been going on," she said.
When the subject of actually leaving the relationship comes up, Cox said, victims consider many things.
"They want their children to finish the school year, or they know when a paycheck is going to go into an account," she said. "They know when it would be the safest time to leave."
The sad fact remains, Cox said, that women who are abused rarely get out of the relationship after they've left once.
"The average woman leaves an abusive relationship seven to nine times before they leave for good or they die," she said.
Threats become a weapon for abusers, Cox said. The abuser threatens to take away all the victim's money and possessions, or they threaten the victim will never see her children again if she reports the abuse.
"They have no reason to believe the abuser won't follow through," Cox said. "Everything else he's threatened, he's done."
Last year, Cox said, PCFSS assisted 15 sexual assault victims -- all assaulted by people they knew.
"It's usually a boyfriend or someone they just met, a friend of a friend," she said. "Everyone wants to believe that a rapist is usually a stranger jumping out of the bushes, but that's not usually the case."
Often, a high-profile abuse case will drive abused women to seek help, Cox said.
Such was the case this past January when Kathryne Bledsoe was shot in her Reelsville home, allegedly by her husband.
"We had so many people come in after that," Cox said. "People were coming in saying, 'I don't want my mom to die' or 'I don't want to die.'"
Putnam County Family Support Services is located at 24 W. Washington St. in Greencastle. Then can be reached at 653-4820.