NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The most dangerous time for victims caught in a domestic violence relationship is leaving.

Coming to that decision is emotional and involves many factors like safety, housing, finances, and children.

One survivor shares her story with News 2’s Alex Denis. She hopes her experience escaping the danger helps others.

“It’s kinda like a tug of war. You know it’s not right, but you’re not sure how to get out of it.” Nicole Hanie endured abuse for years.

She was trapped in a never-ending cycle. “That’s what makes it hard, because there are good days, and then there’s bad days,” says Hanie.

This pattern of behavior is common for abusers who are master manipulators operating on power and control.

“You may be abused in the morning, and they’re texting you that afternoon asking you what you want for dinner,” she recalls. “[Sending] flowers to work, or something like that, to make you feel loved.”

Like so many women where domestic violence takes hold, Hanie too lost herself.

“Sometimes your own thoughts are clouded by ‘hey, will this make this other person happy?'”

Lonely and afraid she says acting on the advice of others is difficult.

“No matter who can tell you this situation isn’t great for you, it has to come from you, and you have to find what drives you. What you want to live for,” she emphasizes.

Hanie recalls the moment she made her decision to finally leave.

“It took me a few days after an extreme event happened. It took me three days to process, and it would have been really bad – I think – if I would have stayed any longer,” she says.

Now on the other side, Hanie sees clearly how lucky she was to break free.

“I was thankful to have that family support. It was like breathing fresh air for the first time and not having to think about it,” she cries.

Hanie is remarried to a man she says empowers her, and she finds joy volunteering in the community.

She’s a speaker for voices on behalf of the Family Safety Center raise awareness about the impact of domestic violence.

“There are other survivors, and everyone just kind of shares their story of resilience and empowerment.” Hanie continues, “It may not be the most comfortable thing to talk about, but other people need to hear it.”

Which is why she shares her story hoping someone feeling trapped will hear her message for you.

“I have dreams now that i didn’t think I could have then,” she says. “You don’t have to stay in this situation.”

There are people standing by ready to help.

Tennessee Statewide Domestic Violence Helpline: 800-356-6767.