By Derek Gean (Leonard Wood)October 12, 2017
A nationally-known victim's advocate was the keynote speaker at the Domestic Violence Awareness Month Observance sponsored by Army Community Service Tuesday.
Susan Still, a domestic violence survivor, told her story of survival to a captivated audience at the Main Post Chapel.
Featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2007 and interviewed by Diane Sawyer for "20/20" in 2006, Still's presentation began with a taped version of the "20/20" feature telling her story.
A wife and mother of three, Still suffered years of physical and verbal beatings at the hands of her husband, blues guitarist Ulner Lee Still. Ulner abused his wife and often had their children record the abuse. On "The Oprah Winfrey Show," a home video recorded by their 13-year-old son, depicted a 51-minute-long beating.
Some of that video was also featured on the "20/20" piece the audience viewed.
Following the video, the audience set in silence and rose to a standing ovation as Still walked up to the front of the room.
Still thanked the audience and the military for their service before beginning to elaborate on her story.
She said her "love" story began the way many others do.
"The person I met was prince charming, he was wonderful," she said.
She said over time, the relationship changed. Ulner slowly became more controlling and isolated her. She said the littlest things would cause him to become abusive, talking about how he once beat her because a butter knife was not placed on his food tray in a manner that he liked.
"It's something that shouldn't of mattered," Still said.
She said most domestic abuse situations don't evolve into abuse overnight. Usually the situations evolve over time and leaving "is difficult" because of all the connections created over the years. Often victims are forced to choose to give up much of their life and risk their finances and children just to get out.
She said it was hard for her to leave.
"When I say it was a tall order to get out of the house, it was a tall order," Still said.
Watching the videos of the beatings she endured, Still said she could not believe who she had become.
"I asked myself, 'how did you get there?'"
Still was able to get out of the relationship. In 2004, Ulner was sentenced to 36 years in prison -- the longest sentence ever imposed for non-lethal violence.
ACS can help in the event of domestic or intimate partner abuse. According to Shawn Steen, Family Advocacy Program manager, ACS has counselors and programs to help with sensitive Family situations.
"We are here to help," Steen said. For more information on ACS classes and services, call 573.596.0212, or for 24-hour service, call the Family Violence Response Line at 573.596.0446.