For couples across the country this Valentine's Day weekend means romance and spending time together, but the Family Justice Center in Knoxville took to spread the word about domestic violence and that some forms of love can be harmful.
“I married my high school sweetheart when I was 19 and the first two years were absolutely wonderful, he was a great husband,” said Judi, a domestic violence survivor .
She said after her first two children were born, her relationship with her husband changed drastically.
“That's when my relationship became a very violent abusive relationship,” she said.
At the Family Justice Center, Judi spoke with men and women about what it took to overcome 11 years of abuse.
She says the gift giving and high expectations that come with Valentine's Day can be toxic for abusive relationships.
“It's like I’m going to do this for you - then it was his turn to go out, get drunk and come back and be abusive to me. So anytime there was a gift you knew something was coming,” explained Judi.
Amy Dilworth Executive Director of the Family Justice Center agrees. Over 10 years, the group has help 15,000 people seek help from domestic abuse.
“The gift is to keep the person in the relationship and not giving up and moving on,” explained Family Justice Center Executive Director Amy Dilworth.
Recently the Family Justice Center has seen an uptick in the number of people showing up needing help.
That’s why Friday's talk was so important - they hope to show people in abusive relationships that there is a way out.
“That there is another side of the tunnel, you can get through this and things can get better,” said Dilworth.
“I want them to know they can get help - there is hope and you can do so much better,” said Judi.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can reach the Family Justice Center at (865) 521-6336.