The strength it takes to do what Valerie Viana did is immeasurable. She is hopeful that her story can resonate with other women in similar situations. Viana once dated the man responsible for the deaths of eight people in Plano. She dated Spencer Hight when she was 20-years-old.
"People that really knew me could see I wasn't really being me," said Viana. She said her friends told her that she wasn't the person they remembered from school.
Viana said her time with Spencer Hight was quite possibly the toughest two years of her life. Police say Hight killed his ex-wife Meredith and seven friends during a Cowboys watch party in Plano. During our 30-minute interview, Valerie did not say his name.
"That name brings up a lot of emotion," she said. She got rid of every trace of Spencer, every picture, note, and even gift. She left the state of Texas when she ended the relationship.
"If I would have stayed, I would have died. He would have killed me," Viana said.
She details two years of abuse. It was abuse that, at the time, she did not tell anyone or show anyone. She felt embarrassed and afraid. She says she was pushed many times by Spencer and in several cases, Spencer had pulled knives on her.
Viana said she never reported any of this abuse to the authorities and did not have any police reports or documentation to support the abuse claims. WFAA did however talk with two people who were made aware of the abuse and corroborated Valerie's story of alleged abuse.
"He pulled out a taser that he purchased for me to protect me on campus, and he used it on me," she said.
Valerie admits she fought back in that specific instance and used that same taser on him. By then, their relationship was long over. Valerie was slowly getting over those two years. She knew living in North Carolina that she'd never have to worry about a chance encounter, but then the shooting in Plano happened.
"When I found out that they were there, that's when I started to break down. I felt responsible for it," she said.
Rion Morgan and James Dunlop were her friends too. They all worked at the University of Texas Dallas at the HelpDesk. Now she says she deals with survivor's guilt. When asked about the Plano incident, she said she had no doubt that Spencer Hight was every bit of capable of this.
She is now happily married and in North Carolina. It was her her husband Arthur who took Valerie in when they broke up. And he is there now through this new pain. Valerie wishes she had met Spencer's ex-wife Meredith and wishes she had done something.
"If I had reached out to her and warned her in some way, maybe she would have known that she wasn't alone," she said.
Overcoming that guilt may take time and certainly take a lot of strength. Viana hopes her story reaches other women who are currently in abusive relationships. She hopes it will inspire other women to realize that there are "greener pastures" and that there is a way out.