Imagine being beaten 10 times with a baseball bat by your spouse, having your wrists, ankles and face duct-taped, and then being stuffed into a trashcan and driven in the back of a pick-up truck to a freezing-cold storage unit where you are left to die. This is what Teri Jendusa-Nicolai endured. Thursday, Oct. 11 in Riverview Lounge, Jendusa-Nicolai spoke out to the Lawrence and Appleton community about her near-death experience and how others can avoid dangerous relationships. For a woman who has been through such a traumatic experience, Jendusa-Nicolai still has a sense of humor. Although one questions whether to laugh, she was able to be optimistic about the fact that she survived; she gave the audience a reason to be optimistic as well. Jendusa-Nicolai spoke about her spousal abuse because she wants to help others avoid her situation. In her talk she mentioned what to look for in an abusive relationship and what she went through in order to come to a realization. She said she went through a process during which she realized, “I am over here looking back over there thinking, ‘how did I get over here?'” She mentioned that losing her independence was how she started to lose control to her spouse. One question that she addressed is one that people often ask about abusive relationships: “Why do women stay?” Many women doubt themselves as wives and independent beings; this feeling of inferiority feeds off of women’s lack of control in the relationship. Jendusa-Nicolai said that many women believe it is a ‘duty’ to be good wives to their husbands, and as Catholics, it is necessary to work on marriages. If the man gains control, the woman ends up with absolutely nothing and is then trapped in the abusive relationship. When Jendusa-Nicolai was deep into her relationship and lacked all control, she felt that she could go nowhere because she “had absolutely nothing in the whole world.” Everything was registered in her husband’s name, he was the source of income, and according to him, Jendusa-Nicolai was “not to think, ‘just do what I tell you.'” For Jendusa-Nicolai, this was a strong indication that something was wrong and needed to change. Even after she left her spouse, she suffered because of her struggle to regain control. Jendusa-Nicolai encouraged women and potential victims of domestic violence to have confidence and ensure their independence, so that they may realize what is happening before it is too late. At the end of her presentation, Jendusa-Nicolai stated, “You are bright enough and smart enough to take care of yourself…. respect yourself, and demand others to respect you. Expect more, expect better.” Jendusa-Nicolai’s humor and optimistic personality are what allowed her to survive spousal abuse for three-plus years, and this survival has given her the strength to speak out about domestic violence today.