Editor’s note: Some of the images in the above video may be disturbing to some viewers.
NEWAYGO, Mich. — Nine years ago, Lola Hornof was beaten by her husband at their Newaygo County home. Years of violence culminated in her daylong torture that left her within an inch of her life.
On Feb. 6, 2011, Hornof’s husband Robert accused her of having an affair. He tied her up, beat her with a broom handle.
“He was going to cut my fingers off so they couldn’t identify me,” she said.
She was able to escape later in the day to a nearby gas station as they were driving with her hands still bound.
The brutal beating was a final act of violence after years of abuse that left her unrecognizable.
“It’s — I’m unrecognizable. Like, people don`t believe that that’s actually me. And when I look at those pictures I go back to that day and think about the what ifs,” she said. “What if this had happened what if that hadn`t happened. What would have happened if I hadn`t gotten out of the car.”
Her husband was sentenced to nearly three decades in prison for the attack.
Today, Hornof is using that day and so many others like it to help people going through the same thing.
“It was a huge turning point for me. Over the last nine years I have become more comfortable with myself, I’m no longer codependent,” Hornof said.
Since 2011, she has spoken to some high school classes about the signs of abuse and used her Facebook and YouTube channels to do the same.
“Comment if you need help, I`ll go comment back,” she said.
She has directly connected with others to help them see the signs themselves.
“I want to do more advocating for domestic violence as far as getting it out there it is a big social problem, so it does need to be dealt with and faced instead of behind closed doors,” Hornof said.
She says she will keep fighting like she did that day, and wants others to know they should do the same before it gets this far.
“Love is just an emotion. We’re not always smart with our love. And sometimes love can make us overlook the bad that someone’s doing,” she said. “The hard reality is that you can`t change somebody if they don’t want to change.”
“I was a victim but now I'm a survivor,” Hornof said. “And I know I can pretty much get through anything and hopefully make a difference in somebody’s life.”