WDAY: The News Leader

Published September 20, 2011, 10:16 PM

Hundreds rally to Take Back the Night

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Tonight voices of hundreds of men and women rang out on the streets of Fargo to take back the night.

Tonight voices of hundreds of men and women rang out on the streets of Fargo to take back the night. In its 21st year, the Take Back the Night rally roared through the streets and Island Park. The rally spreads awareness about abusive relationships, whether it be sexual, physical or emotional abuse. It encourages women, even men, to break free from the abuse.

Around 300 people rallied, some survivors of abuse and others who just want to support people in the community. Organizers say we must not sweep domestic abuse under the rug.

Daria Odegaard – Rape and Abuse Crisis Center: “It’s absolutely amazing. You know and that's the tremendous thing is that we acknowledge that domestic violence and sexual assault occur in our community.”

Proof tonight that violent physical abuse is right here, all around us and we may not even know it. For one local woman she is finally getting to close the book on an 11 year period of brutal abuse by her ex-husband. Her story is chilling and for her safety she has asked we not reveal her identity.

We sat down with Heidi before the rally tonight. In a short 10 minute interview she shared stories of years of abuse, but finally she says tonight it's something she will be able to put to rest.

It all started when Heidi met her ex-husband in 1993. Quickly they married after having their first child.

Heidi – Survived 11 Years of Abuse: "He'd try to control everything I did. Where I went. Who I was with. You can't be with your family."

For 11 years Heidi says she put up with not only that controlling behavior, but violent abuse.

It was in 2001 when she and her then husband bought a house. She came across him digging a hole in the basement. And what she says her then husband told her would surprise anyone.

Heidi: "You know I’m going to kill you and I can bury you down here and no one will find you, no one will miss you."

But it was not until 2006 when the physical abuse shifted to her son. That’s when she gained the courage to get up and leave.

Heidi: "I found out later that he was trying to prove that I was crazy and an unfit mother."

Her story is like so many women, even men who have put their family and their abuser before themselves, leaving emotional and physical wounds, healed only after they break free from their abuser. At tonight’s take back the night rally Heidi told her story to the dozens compelled to listen hoping it will help change others lives, something she says will finally bring her mind at ease.

Heidi: "That’s the end of the book of my life. I can let it go."

Heidi says it took years of counseling to get to this point. She also has since remarried. She's also received a college degree in criminal justice and now getting a masters so she can help other women in abusive situations.