Maricopa resident Teresa Hamilton still remembers how hopeless she felt watching her purse sink to the bottom of her family’s swimming pool.
The summer sun was bearing down, and her alcoholic and drug-addicted husband had just returned home intoxicated and looking for a fight.
Hoping to keep her four young daughters and a visiting niece safe, Hamilton tried to flee – but her husband wouldn’t have it.
He ripped her purse from her grip, threw it into the swimming pool and locked the family out of their home.
“Here I am outside with half-naked children who had been playing in the pool, and I didn’t know what to do,” Hamilton said. “I was forced to walk with a baby on my hip, a child on my back and three children a mile down the street with bare feet burning on the pavement until I found a payphone.”
This is just one incident in the 14-year abusive marriage Hamilton endured before she made the decision to leave for good.
In 2005, the now 49-year-old grandmother published her story in a book called The Power of Addicted Love. And just three weeks ago, the entrepreneur decided to once again share her story with the 10,000 customers who follow her on her business Facebook page. Hamilton’s decision resulted in 17 women stepping forward to share their own experiences of abusive relationships.
In recognition of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness month, Hamilton now hopes to reach the community of Maricopa with her story.
“I live in Maricopa, so why not let the people of Maricopa know?” Hamilton said.
She added, “I know there are more Teresa’s out there who need help.”
To reach the other “Teresa’s,” Hamilton has donated countless boxes of books to local and national domestic violence shelters and organizations. She said she has no idea how many books she has actually sold, but said it doesn’t matter.
“I don’t care if 10,000 people share one book,” she said.
Teresa’s book chronicles her deeply personal journey from her first failed marriage and time as a single mother with thyroid cancer through the end of her 14-year marriage to a man who at first appeared nice, but ultimately turned out to be abusive, addicted and unfaithful. She shares about the time he shattered a plate of spaghetti over her head, leaving pieces of porcelain in her skull and the day he kicked her pregnant belly.
And finally, she shares about the moment when she decided to leave for good and how she safely made her escape.
“I was more addicted to making my relationship work as a co-dependent and disregarding my own life and feelings,” Hamilton said. “I had four little kids to take care of and I knew if I didn’t get out of this relationship, that it would kill me.”
Carol Gardner, 72, of Maricopa, and her husband Roger, 77, have known Hamilton for years, but are just now reading her book for the first time.
“She was all alone here and I keep thinking “Oh my goodness, how did she ever make it throughout without losing it?’” Carol Gardner said.
Gardner calls Hamilton “a treasure” and said she has been like a daughter to her, since her own children live in other states. Gardner sheds tears when she talks about Hamilton’s past.
“I hope this book helps the thousands of women who are in bondage situations, because it’s something that can save a lot of women’s lives,” Gardner said.
Marcia Roeder, 50, of Glendale, who is quoted in Hamilton’s book and also has survived an abusive marriage, said she and Hamilton helped one another with the “internal battles” they faced after leaving their abusers.
“There’s always the physical, but the mental is sometimes worse, because they convince you that you asked for it and that you deserve it,” Roeder said.
Despite painful pasts, Roeder is all smiles when she talks about her friend. Roeder described Hamilton as “a magnet that draws you in” and someone who “shares a piece of herself with everything she touches.”
“I admire her strength, her courage – and God – the amount of love she has,” Roeder said. “I hold her in the highest esteem.”
Hamilton is now happily married to a husband who treats her with respect and love. She is retired from a 20-year career as a paralegal and runs her own business called Teresa’s Creative Gifts, which sells quality boutique accessories and gifts. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her four grown daughters and grandchildren and taking cruises around the world.