NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A survivor of abuse wants her story heard.

Keisha Williams is a longtime social worker on the peninsula and reached out to 10 On Your Side to call on lawmakers to truly break the cycle.

“Not everyone makes it to a shelter,” Williams said.

Williams explains how her experience with domestic violence motivated her to see life differently.

“To see the need. To know that I could be on the other side asking for assistance,” Williams explained.

In 1990, at 19 years old Williams was shot twice by her ex-boyfriend at her parents’ home.

“He pulled out a gun and instantly I was shot in my face,” she said. ” [The bullet] excited my nose. In the meantime, I took my hand and to shield my face and that’s how I have my injury.”

Williams explains that she could not look at her injuries from that night for years.

“I have a lot of plates… that are a result [of the shooting]. For many years, many many years, many many years. I could not look at this. I could not look at my hand, I could not look at myself. Because I felt like to some degree ‘what did I do?’ I know that I had not done anything to deserve someone hurting me, but because of the physical injury it kind of reminded me of that and it scared me at some point.”

Her ex was convicted and sentenced to about a decade in jail for maiming and gun charges. “I was devastated by that. That someone can injure a person and that is the consequence,” Williams said.

Williams requested avoid sharing her abuser’s name, a request we honored.

“I am a survivor, but I am victorious over this situation!” Williams said.

She spoke about the trauma for the first time ever after 31 years during last year’s Newport News Police Department’s domestic violence awareness month ceremony.

She hopes her story will encourage more people to leave toxic relationships.

Now, she finally is at peace. She credits her faith and ability to forgive.

“I can smile now. My story is what was pain is now joy because I’m able to tell the story. I could have been gone,” explained Williams.

Last December, She made national news calling for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women’s Act. President Joe Biden signed the law in March 2022.

Jonathan Yglesias, the policy director for the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Action Alliance, said, “without that act in place there is no guardrail, there is nothing limiting the federal legislature or congress’s ability to pull funding.”

The Virginia Sexual & Domestic Action Alliance Center received $9 million dollars from the American Rescue Plan to help survivors.

“Our policymakers came together and made a really great decision!” said Yglesias

However, advocates and survivors need more funding and protection. This includes protective orders, expanding child tax credits, and firearms protection programs.

“Federal funding like the Victims of Crime act is increasingly volatile and unstable, explained Yglesias. “We will likely need more appropriations to support the basic work for sexual and domestic violence services statewide in the future.”

Williams continues to call on lawmakers to provide more funding, “so that people can truly escape.”

She also calls on family members, coworkers and neighbors to help those in need.

“There are people out there that are in need and it’s up to us. When you see or hear things to help. Don’t turn away. Help when you see the need.”

If you or you know someone who may be a victim of domestic violence or child abuse, click here for a list of local and national resources.