Story by: Marja Martinez

WASHINGTON COUNTY, OR (KPTV) – Paige Oldemeyer said she narrowly escaped death in 2015.

She told FOX 12, she was punched repeatedly and strangled in her own home.

“He was just calm and telling me, I was going to die,” she said.

“At one point he let go of my neck and I just fell into a pool of my own blood,” she added.

But, Oldemeyer’s attacker was no stranger. In fact, she had known him since she was five years old.

The boy she met in grade school, became her husband. And later, her abuser.

“Terry ended up going to prison for three years,” she said.

But, according to the survivor, her story could have ended differently, were it not for a chance encounter with Washington County Senior Deputy District Attorney, Gina Skinner.

“She [Paige] was waiting to get the paperwork for a restraining order,” Skinner recounts. “She was shaking, visibly shaking [and] injured still.”

Skinner sat down with Oldemeyer, learning more about her case, which, according to Skinner, had been wrongfully deemed a misdemeanor because the couple had been married.

“He could strangle the guy at 7-Eleven and that would have been a felony crime. But, he came and strangled me. That was considered a misdemeanor,” Oldemeyer told FOX 12.

Skinner said her training in domestic abuse case law helped her fight to have the charges upped to a felony.

That experience is also why Washington County’s newly-elected District Attorney, Kevin Barton, appointed Skinner to head a brand new domestic violence unit.

The specialized unit is comprised of four misdemeanor and felony attorneys, dedicated to working domestic violence cases. Their goal, according to Skinner, is to build prosecutable cases and ensure that in each domestic violence case, the penalty fits the crime.

The moves comes about a year after Washington county opened its Family Justice Center to help survivors.

“It’s a one-stop-shop,” FJC Executive Director Toni Loch said. “What would take days to do by going from one agency to agency, they [survivors] can now do in a matter of hours.

Loch said the center offers counseling, legal advice and financial assistance.

“We also offer childcare, so the child doesn’t have to be in the room while the parent is discussing the abuse,” she said.

Survivors can also file a police report with detectives at the FJC and attend remote court via video in a private room, so they don’t have to face their abuser in person.

Hillsboro Police Chief Lee Dobrowolski and FJC board member Judy Willey, recently won prestigious awards for their work in launching the FJC, according to a District Attorney’s Office spokesperson.

Oldemeyer wishes the center had been around when she needed it—but is glad it is there for those who need it now. Her advice to them, use it.

She also recommends they make a plan before they leave their situation.

“It’s very necessary,” Oldemeyer told FOX 12.

Washington County partially funds the Family Justice Center, but it also depends on public donations. Sign up to volunteer or donate to the FJC.

Read the original story here.