TAMPA, Fla. - It was an emotional Wednesday night for one Bay Area woman, a domestic violence survivor who spoke to a crowd of young women for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Nearly eight years ago, the ex-husband of Patricia Parra-Perez shot her in the head, then killed both of their children before killing himself. She survived.
"When that happened, my whole world was over. For me, it was over," said Parra-Perez to the audience.
Parra-Perez spoke at Alpha House in Tampa, which gives safe housing to pregnant women and mothers with young children in crisis. A majority of the women were domestic violence victims at some point. Parra-Perez said she wants to make a difference by telling her story.
"I'm passionate about letting people know, don't let that happen to you. I want to give everybody the opportunity to walk away," she said.
LINK: Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
According to Parra-Perez, she stayed with her ex-husband 15 years, enduring physical abuse and living in fear. It came to an end in December 2004. She said while her husband shot her first, she saw everything that happened to her children, 13-year-old Lauren and 12-year-old Sean O'Mara. The horrible memory included seeing her ex-husband chase down and shoot her daughter.
"The loss of my kids, there doesn't go a day that I don't think about it," said Parra-Perez.
The mother was in a coma for weeks before she found out her children did not survive.
Eight years later, Parra Perez said she has recovered through therapy, support of family and friends, and her faith. She wants other domestic violence victims to know there is hope. "God has given me a do-over in life, and I so graciously appreciate that. And I see life in a whole different way."
Parra-Perez has since re-married and has two children. She serves on a number of different groups in the Bay Area that help victims of domestic violence.