No one knew that I was going through anything. This went on for 13 years. During that time no one talked about it. I kept thinking there’s no way out of this. And as time went on the violence kept getting worse and worse. One day we were fighting and he had been hitting me and hitting me and he put the pillow over my head and wasn’t letting up, there was no letting up and I thought this is it.

So I called the shelter, and they were full. And I went back. Because I thought there’s no escaping this, this is just my life. And then I thought, “I’m not going to do this. My girls are not going to live like this. They’re not going to see that we have to be here with someone that doesn’t care about us.”

And I thought about other people and I thought, “My God, how do people do this? There’s got to be more than just me out there.” And I always told myself, when the dust settles, somehow you’re going to get involved.

That’s how I got here, because the dust settled and I became me again and I thought, I was lucky. I was lucky to survive, I’m a survivor. There’s a survivor in every one of us, it’s just you have to have that support. Because I think, there are so many people that need to know that we matter, that our lives matter. We are worth it. We’re worth every bit of our push to live. To live. And that’s what I do now. I’m not sad. Yes, my story makes me sad, but I always think, gosh, I am so lucky. I am so thankful to find that there are people who are willing to listen to my story, and to say you’re worth it. You’re worth it and we’re going to help you.

Andrea Lewy, 62, of Nottingham, is a domestic violence survivor.

CourageSpeaks is a collaborative movement that uses photography and storytelling to empower survivors and their communities to raise their voices against violence. It is a partnership of Haven, the YWCA of greater Manchester, and Seacoast Media Group’s award-winning photographer Deb Cram. Write to or find it on Facebook at

If you need help, Haven has trained confidential advocates available. Advocates are available 24-hours a day through Haven’s hotline: (603) 994-SAFE (7233). Walk-in services are offered Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 20 International Drive, Suite 300, Portsmouth and  9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 150 Wakefied St., Rochester. Haven is the violence prevention and support services crisis center for domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, serving Southeastern New Hampshire.