Break the Cycle, Part 1

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Knoxville (WVLT) - On New Year's Day, Knoxville Police officers were on guard while six women, victims of domestic violence, packed their belongings and escaped their abusers. Domestic violence is a vicious cycle of abuse that most victims find hard to break.

And when she does decide to leave, a victim and her family members can be in extreme danger.

Volunteer TV's Liz Tedone shares one woman's story.

In Knox County, every thirty minutes, a family in crisis calls 911. That's an average of 46 calls every day. Domestic violence is a vicious cycle. Behind these numbers are people. Sherri Morgan is a survivor.

"I've been in court 17 times," says Sherri.

Sherri's ex-husband Brian Ladue is serving six years in prison for aggravated assault for doing this to her. On the night of July 24th 2004, Sherri was left for dead on the street in front of her house.

"And I had already unlocked my front door. I turned around to open the screen and he threw the first punch," Sherri recalls.

That punch knocked Sherri through her front door.

"And I couldn't get up. He was on me and beating me in the back of the head. I put my face in the carpet, cause I was trying to protect my face," she says.

When she finally broke free, Sherri says she ran outside thinking she could escape his wrath, but that's when Brian beat her in the street. When it was over, "I crawled into my front yard," she says.

And a neighbor called for help. By the time officers arrived on scene, Sherri's eyes were so badly swollen, she couldn't see.

In the days that followed Sherri couldn't talk either. Her vocal cords had been bruised. In fact, she had to communicate with her victim's advocate by email. That was how Sherri would begin the fight of her life, to build a case against her ex-husband.

In the months leading up to that night, Sherri had already planned to leave the abusive relationship. She had filed for divorce and received an order of protection against Brian. The honorable Bill Swann heard the case in the Fourth Circuit Court.

"I hope Sherri would say that our civil side moved promptly. With all that she's been through, she's my hero. It was truly horrific," says Judge Swann.

In 2006, Sherri wrote a letter to Judge Swann just before her ex-husband was sentenced in criminal court. In it she writes: "The road traveled was a long and hard journey, but without the help of you, I could not have arrived at this destination". Sherri was able to take advantage of local resources offered to families in crisis. In parts, two and three, we will walk you through the system. Knoxville is home to the Family Justice Center, one of only 15 in the nation.

Sherri Morgan is scheduled to have more surgery on her face in the coming year.

In parts two and three of our series, Break The Cycle, you'll learn about the resources available in East Tennessee to victims of domestic violence.