BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- In Georgia, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. That's according to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.
Valerie Williams of Brunswick has been a victim of domestic violence and is now speaking out for women who are too afraid to speak.
"It brings back a lot of memories. It takes me back. I can see everything happening all over again," said Williams.
For the first time since February of 1996, Williams is returning to the place where she thought her life was going to end.
"That morning, my husband called me from work and asked me to bring him the van. He didn't go to work that day. He worked at the housing authority. So, he couldn't drive the company car. I came home about 12:20 and in 20 minutes, he pulled a gun out of his pocket and said he was going to kill himself and then he said we are going to die," Williams recalled.
She said her husband instructed her to sit on the sofa. She did. Then he fired his .38 Smith and Wesson.
The first bullet went through the wall.
"I went to crying begging and pleading for my life," she said.
But it was in vain. He shot her multiple times.
"The bullet entered over on the left side, right below my ear," she said. "Went all the way through my head and came out on the right side. Then he shot me twice in the right arm. One bullet went in came up and broke my collar bone, and i have a bullet hole in the back of my spine that came out of my neck."
Williams would spend three days in the hospital. She walked away only having lost use of her arm for a year and half.
"He had never been abusive before," she said.
But she said one time was too many. She got a divorce and after years of being ashamed about what happened to her, Valerie decided to share her story.
She speaks all over the state at churches and schools and she has written three books.
In 2012, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Williams to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.
"Now I'm an overcomer because I lived beyond what happened to me. And that's what i want to get women to understand. That they can live beyond domestic violence. I know that it's hard for a lot of them to leave because some of them are so afraid. but there's help out there and resources," she said.
Valerie Williams is our Hero Next Door.
"I don't call myself a hero. I call myself a vessel. That god used me. I'm favored but I just know that I'm here for a purpose."
Williams said her ex-husband spent 10 years in prison and he was released in 2007. Williams said she has forgiven him. If you're a victim of domestic violence and want help, you can call the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
First Coast News