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"I Didn't Know My Own Strength": Domestic violence survivor shares journey in new book

renita hills
Posted at 7:56 AM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 07:56:56-04

INDIANAPOLIS — From victim to survivor to thriver.

“I suffered abusive behaviors for 15 years not realizing I was being abused. I was being emotionally, financially, sexually and even spiritually abused," Renita Hills said.

In 2002, Hills tells WRTV she was nearly stabbed to death by her then husband.

“I woke up in the hospital days later with 13 stab wounds. Two to my chest four of them punctured both my lungs and they collapsed," Hills said.

She had to have reconstructive surgery on the left side of her face.

Although the physical scars have healed, she says the emotional ones are everlasting.

“The unfortunate thing about abuse and abusive behaviors as you feel you feel all alone," Hills said.

Domestic violence hits close to home here in Indiana.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports more than 42.5% of Hoosier women and more than 27.9% of Hoosier men experience intimate partner physical abuse, sexual violence or even stalking in their lifetimes.

Rebecca Berry with Domestic Violence Network, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit, says it’s important those experience intimate partner violence feel supported.

"We recognize in 2020, when the pandemic started, rates of domestic violence shot up rates of domestic violence and firearms incidents shot up and we know that those domestic violence rates have not dropped," Berry, the Director of Strategic Initiatives for DVN said.

After years of her partner repeatedly telling her she wasn’t smart, capable, or worthy enough, Hills persevered.

Hills graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications from Radford University in 2007.

She is also the founder and CEO of Voice of the Victim, an organization which educates the community of the many facets and faces of domestic abuse and abusive behaviors.

And now, the advocate-turned-author is putting her experiences in writing.

“I don’t want anybody to ever believe there’s no life after the abuse that’s where the second book comes in. It tells you the journey to get to where I am now," Hills said.

She shares her journey in a new book called "I Didn't Know My Own Strength."

Hills says her hope is that other victims will read her story and find hope.

“I would never have gone to see the president I would never have been able to speak to general assemblymen I wouldn’t ever have been able to travel across different cities and states tell this story had not been people around me to encourage me and me to say ‘I can do this,'" Hills said.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can can the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.


  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-TALK (8255)
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-TALK (8255), press 1
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
  • Call Connect2Help 2-11 or visit them online for connections to non-emergency mental health and counseling resources.


Beacon of Hope Crisis Center

Families First (Breaking Free)

The Salvation Army/Ruth Lilly Women and Children’s Center

Coburn Place

The Julian Center