COLUMBUS — Angela Cuffe experienced what she called the worst act of violence during her marriage at her home in the summer of 2000.
She was getting ready to go to the store to buy diapers for their children when her husband became upset and belligerent because he wanted to use the couple’s only vehicle. Cuffe said she will never forget his words and the evil look in his eyes when he grabbed a butcher knife from the kitchen and told her he’d slash the vehicle's tires or better yet, just kill her.
Cuffe spoke about the cruelty she experienced in her marriage during a domestic violence awareness vigil held Wednesday in Frankfort Square. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and events like the vigil organized by Center for Survivors shine light on the subject.
Lia Grant, executive director of Center for Survivors, said one in three women and one in seven men have experienced some form of domestic violence, rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner.
“It is important to remember this is happening in our community and our surrounding communities. It’s not easy to face or admit that it is, but it is happening. So bringing awareness to this can help others get the support that they need,” Grant said.
Cuffe received help from Center for Survivors.
After the incident with the butcher knife, the Elgin woman called 911 and her husband was arrested. She left her home with her children and the local organization provided the family with food and shelter.
However, Cuffe said, like many domestic violence victims, she went back to her husband. She prayed many nights for things to get better, but the abuse continued.
“Then one day, I had enough. I thought to myself that my children are not going to be treating their wives and husbands the way I’m being treated. This ends now,” she said.
Cuffe filed for divorce in 2003. With help from friends, family and the Center, she was able to restart her life. In 2012, Cuffe graduated from Central Community College-Columbus with a nursing degree. She is now an administrator at an assisted living facility.
Cuffe is among the lucky ones. During the vigil, the names were read of 86 Nebraskans who were victims of domestic violence-related homicides over the past decade. The names included people in a relationship with an abuser and those killed while trying to help the victim.
Grant said anyone who is in a violent relationship and needs assistance can contact the Center for Survivors for help. The office provides free support to Platte, Boone, Butler, Colfax, Nance and Polk counties and can be reached by calling 402-564-2155 or 800-658-4482.
As a survivor, Cuffe urged those in attendance to take a stand against domestic violence and encouraged victims to reach out for support.
“If you are in a situation, get help. There is so much out there and your lives are valuable. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything. I’m living proof that when you fall, get back up and dust yourself off. Prove them wrong. Prove to them that you are worthy and you are somebody,” she said.