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Saturday, Sep 22, 2018
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Experts: Every domestic violence case is different

Patty Perez of Tampa wants to spread the word of her own experience with domestic violence as a way to educate and encourage other victims to get help.

Perez stayed with her ex-husband for years — even though he beat her often and took away her car keys to keep her under control at home. In 2004, she decided she was done. She took her two children from the couple’s Northdale home, bought a townhouse with her own money and filed for divorce.

In October that year, Perez, her 13-year-old daughter Lauren and 12-year-old son Sean were on their way to the store when O’Mara ambushed them outside the townhouse.

He shot Perez in the head first, then shot their son and chased their daughter to a neighbor’s yard before he shot her, too. Then he turned the gun on himself.

Perez was the only one who survived.

After years of recovery, she remarried and had another son and daughter. Perez founded Means of Hope, a foundation that helps victims of domestic violence rebuild their lives. Her goal, she says, is to change the common refrain that domestic violence will stop if the victim just walks away.

“I want them to say, ‘Why doesn’t he leave?” Perez said. “A door opens both ways. In and out. Why doesn’t he walk away? Why doesn’t he stop beating her? Why doesn’t he change?”

The public has been too critical this week of Rice’s wife, Janay Palmer Rice, Perez said. She is a strong woman who is a victim and who deserves respect.

“I have been Janay Palmer,” Perez said. “I have been punched like her. I finally had enough.”

[email protected]


Twitter: @LizBehrmanTBO



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