In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month, a single mother of two told her story of domestic violence and her work with helping abuse victims.

Barbara Marshall, born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, is retired and recently relocated to Colorado to do volunteer work to help domestic violence victims.

Barbara Marshall, mother of Brandon Marshall, linebacker for the Denver Broncos, is a survivor of domestic violence. (Twitter Photo)

Barbara Marshall, mother of Brandon Marshall, linebacker for the Denver Broncos, is a survivor of domestic violence. (Twitter Photo)

Marshall married the father of her two children, Brandon, linebacker for the Denver Broncos, and Marcus, singer/songwriter, at 21. He also already had a daughter of his own from a previous relationship.

One year into their marriage, her husband began showing signs of abuse, both verbal and physical, she said.

“For a while everything was good and then he started changing and using drugs, therefore the violent behavior started,” Marshall told the AFRO. “It wasn’t always violent; he was very controlling, he was verbal. The physical altercations was a couple of time, two or three, which is two or three too many.”

It was hard for Marshall to notice the red flags at first, since she had never seen anything like it before.

“Looking back, there were red flags, I either just didn’t see it or didn’t want to see it. My parents were married for 43 years, I had never seen this. I wanted things to work with my husband, my children’s father so I stayed and tried to help him through it,” said Marshall.

Marshall stayed with him for ten years, in hopes that they could work it out. His abuse was drawn from him getting laid off and his drug use, which he went to rehab for three times, she said.

After leaving her home with her two boys in 1999, she stayed with her nieces until her husband found her again and physically abused her. Marshall said she had to take her sons and hide from him in domestic violence shelter.

“We were together for ten years and as the years went on, it escalated to the point where, in December 1999, my boys and I had to leave the home and hide from him. My boys and I went to live with a family member, my husband couldn’t find us,” said Marshall.

“He searched all over the place and one day he found us. He kicked in the door of the apartment we were staying in and pinned me in the bathroom and was violent towards me. So I had to take my children and we had to stay in a shelter for 26 days because he was hiding out and nobody could find him. In order for us to be safe, we had to go to a domestic violence shelter.”

Her step-daughter went to live with her grandmother.

Her husband later turned himself in, in 2001, to serve a three-year sentence. After he was sent to prison, Marshall moved back into her home with her sons.

Through it all, her two sons are the ones that gave her the strength to leave her husband.

“ were at an age where they would hear things. They had never seen him strike me until the incident on Dec. 12, 1999. When he started acting really erratic, with the drug use, I really felt that I needed to get my children out of that environment and away from him,” said Marshall.

“I didn’t want them to grow up thinking this was how you treat women that you say you love, I didn’t want them around the drugs. I just wanted better for them. They gave me the strength to leave.”

Marshall currently has no contact with her ex-husband but her two sons are working on a relationship with him.

“They’re working on it. It’s been a lot and as they’ve become adults, they’re trying to move forward,” said Marshall. “Right now, it’s a little strained.”

Marshall didn’t speak about her abuse for another two years until she said something at her church. This made her feel empowered and want to help. Marshall went through training at her church in Virginia, where she lived for four years, and became an advocate.

Marshall also lost a cousin to domestic violence a few years after her experience.

“I didn’t want to see anyone else lose their lives if I could have anything to do with it,” said Marshall.

Marshall helps victims at the Rose Andom Center, a domestic violence help center, in Denver, CO that has been open for three months.

“This center is unique because it has all the tools that a battered person, male or female, needs,” said Marshall. “They can fill out their paperwork to get a protective order, detectives are there, they can get medical help, they can get help with housing, they can get daycare for their children; it’s like a one-stop place the can feel safe. Brandon, Marcus and I partnered with them a couple years ago and we had a clothing drive and gave a donation to start the center up.”

Marshall wants victims to know that there is help out there and they shouldn’t give up hope.

“I just hope with my story and where I am today that it just gives them hope. That they don’t give up and understand that it’s a process that takes time,” said Marshall. “They don’t have to stay in the situation, there is help out there. All they have to do is reach out and they can be safe.”