By Pat Ciarrocchi

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As I watched the unfolding of the story of Ray Rice and his wife, Janay Palmer – a picture in mind came back clear as day. I helped a drunken, former boyfriend up the steps of my condo. He had a history of being verbally abusive, especially fueled by alcohol. This time he had become incapacitated.

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I stayed. Why? I was young? I wanted a boyfriend? He was cute and clever when he was sober?

He never called me names, but he made me question all that I knew to be true about myself. He diminished me, because he tried to empower himself.

He died a few years ago. So, I can speak to some of this, now. He was a big man. He never got physically abusive. And I guess at the time, I never imagined he would. But his abusive words, his mental abusiveness, were hurtful and damaging none the less. I should have walked away so much earlier than I did. Truly, very early on in the relationship, he revealed his alcohol abuse and his personality change. I should have walked then. I thought I could change him.

You can’t. Verbal abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, are all gateways to scenes that we saw unfold in the elevator at the Revel in February.

If you don’t know what to do … if you’re walking on egg shells, thinking somehow what you do or won’t do will trigger or not trigger an outburst that puts you and your children in danger … you need to speak with someone you can trust.

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The Philadelphia Domestic Abuse Hotline can help: 1-866-723-3014.

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline:
24/7 Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Search help numbers by county.

Women Against Abuse – Philadelphia
24/7 Hotline: Citywide 1-866-723-3014

New Jersey:
New Jersey Coalition For Battered Women
24/7 Hotline: 800-572-SAFE (7233)

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Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence
24/7 Hotline: Northern DE 302-762-6110 | Southern DE 302-745-9874