HEIDELBERG, Germany -- On Oct. 29, a group of about 30 community members gathered on Patrick Henry Village Pavilion in Heidelberg to listen to the soulful vocalizations of Sgt. 1st Class Tina Davis.

She told those assembled it was important to her to have this event during Domestic Violence Awareness Month celebrated during October.

"You can't tell, but I was once a victim of domestic violence. Now I am a survivor," she revealed.

When you look at her you see a petite but powerful woman who exudes confidence, a love of life and a wicked sense of humor. It's hard to believe that someone like her, an assertive woman, a model Soldier, could be a victim of abuse.

She shared her story with the military police Oct. 20 at the Army Community Service Domestic Violence Intervention Techniques training, helping them to understand domestic abuse. For 12 years her husband, also a Soldier, abused her. At first it was only hurtful words and broken things. Then he punched holes in the walls and made threats. Later he started hitting her.

She told of his manipulations with the police and her chain of command making it look as if she were the problem. For a long time she believed it was her fault and tried to be a better wife and keep the peace in the home. She was humiliated by the abuse and did everything she could to hide it from her friends, family and co-workers.

After 12 long years and a hospitalization due to internal injuries suffered during an incident of abuse, she realized it would never stop. Like many victims, she began laying the foundation for her escape. With the help of a victim advocate she was able to leave the violence and end the relationship.

While in the relationship and afterward on the path of healing, one of the ways she coped with the pain of the abuse was through journaling. Those words are now powerfully emotive lyrics.
"Love Shouldn't Hurt So Bad" is her best known song. She shared it with participants at the Annual Women's Conference hosted by ACS and Americans Working Around the Globe, or AWAG, Oct. 25.

Both the song and spoken word versions of "Love Shouldn't Hurt So Bad" were written while she locked herself in a room of her house, in fear for her life, waiting for the police to arrive after a violent incident of abuse.

After recounting the lessons learned she recited, "I know that love shouldn't hurt so bad ... and you see I'm movin' on -- just like you said I don't mind sleeping in my empty bed ... I've erased you from my head ... take this ring oooh this marriage is dead."

When she received her divorce papers, synonyms for "liberated" filled her journal. "I don't know how I put up with this so long ... your lying and doing me wrong ... No more disrespecting me ... You won't hurt me no more, no more, no more ... To a new reality, I'm rediscovering what you suppressed in me ... and I know who I am."

In the song "This Has Been My Dream" a song about her love of music and her childhood dream of being a singer, the lyrics tell of her journey through abuse to this point in her life.

"I've had my heartaches and been through hell ... but my best revenge is to live well ... singing my songs has been my dream ... this has been my dream and I know I'm gonna do it ... it feels so good to me."

Davis' message is that domestic violence is real and there is hope for victims of abuse.

Her first album released in January 2009, titled "Falling in Love Again," was not about a man; it was about her triumph over abuse and learning to love herself again in the aftermath of domestic violence.

Davis' next album promises to be more about her emotional journey and messages of hope, faith and courage. Look for it in the spring of 2012.