AUSTIN -- Lisa Pous sat on a couch at the SafePlace campus. She was poised and confident, smiling as she talked about volunteering with the organization that helps victims of sexual and domestic violence. This Lisa Pous is a completely different woman compared to six years ago.
"I didn't know how to make friends. I didn't even know how to laugh," Pous said.
The product of an abusive home, Pous found herself in an abusive relationship at the age of 25. She stayed for 13 years, living in fear.
"He always promised, if I got out with the kids, I'd be dead," she said of her ex-partner.
In 2006, Pous got a wake-up call.
"My son got in front of me to keep my ex from choking me, and I think that's when reality really hit that I wasn't, I wasn't hiding it, and I wasn't protecting the kids," recalled Pous.
She called the police. They led to SafePlace.
"I went to three groups a week and one-on-one counseling and life skills classes to learn about boundaries and self esteem," said Pous. "I learned about budgeting, you know, I wasn't allowed to have money for 13 years."
Pous' story is one of thousands.
Journalist Dan Rather ran a segment about SafePlace on the show "60 Minutes" back in 1981. Then it was called the Center for Battered Women.
"It was a time where the issue of domestic violence was just being explored for the first time," said SafePlace Executive Director Julian Spann. "And it was shining a light that domestic violence existed and that people were doing something about it."
SafePlace is bringing Rather back to Austin next Friday October 19 for the organization's annual fundraiser, The SafePlace Celebration. The event will support unfunded programs.
"A lot of what's not funded is community education and some of the awareness programs," explained Spann. "The other thing that it helps fund is part of our hotline, part of our shelter, part of our long term housing programs."
Programs that provide immediate safety and healing to victims that are battered and torn, giving them a safe place to rebuild their lives.
"If it wasn't for SafePlace where would you be right now?" KVUE News Reporter Ashley Goudeau asked Pous.
"Dead," she replied. "SafePlace helped me save my life. He would have either killed me by now, or I would have committed suicide."