Domestic Abuse Survivor Speaks About Victims' Rights

"On December 5, 2003, the old Carolyn Thomas died, and the new Carolyn would slowly emerge." Those were the words Carolyn Thomas used to introduce herself to the audience.

They hung on every word, as Carolyn told them about the day her ex-boyfriend came home in a fit of rage.

"Terrence grabbed a gun, went to waving it around, and grabbed me by the throat. He shot my mother in her abdomen. He proceeded to take me into the living room, where he shot me in the face, at point blank range," Carolyn said.

Carolyn's mother died. Since then, Carolyn has been through eight surgeries, and three years of counseling. She says she would not be here, if it weren't for people like the ones at the conference.

"They are the ones that helped us, like the counselors and the 911 operators that answer the calls. They are the people that save our lives," Thomas said.

Carolyn was in her abusive relationship for eight years. She says she stayed because her boyfriend was extremely jealous, and she mistook that jealousy for love.

La'Rita Montgomery works in Smith County.

She said, "I work with juveniles, and I hear young girls saying that. 'Oh, he really cares about me because...' That's going to help me. I'm going to take that back."

Katie Foster works with victims in the Dallas County DA's Office.

"One of the important things that she is bringing up during victim's rights week, is to let victims know that they do have rights. They can get out of these situations. They can get help. This is not okay, and that there are resources available that can help them get out of bad situations," Foster said.

In May, Carolyn is getting a prosthetic nose, that will finish the reconstruction on her face, but she'll always have emotional scars from that day. She says she'll share them with others for the rest of her life.

Lindsay Wilcox, Reporting