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Abington State Rep. says She Was ‘Almost Killed’ by Abuser as a Teen

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By Cody Shepard
The Enterprise

EAST BRIDGEWATER — A state representative from Abington disclosed in a cable access interview that she was abused as a teenager – to the point she almost died.

Rep. Alyson Sullivan, elected last November to the 7th Plymouth District, representing Abington, Whitman and parts of East Bridgewater, publicly disclosed her personal domestic violence story for the first time in an interview on East Bridgewater Community Access Media released this week.

“This is going to be the first time that I’m publicly speaking on it,” she said. ”… I didn’t speak on it during the campaign, because that’s not what I wanted to run on. But I do want to bring awareness to domestic violence, domestic violence survivors, sexual assault survivors that it can happen to anybody.”

Sullivan was interviewed by East Bridgewater Police Chief and OneVoiceEB advocate Scott Allen, sharing her story of physical and emotional abuse that began as a teenager at the hands of her older, former boyfriend. She was joined by her sister, Kelly Dwyer, who serves as the executive director of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. Their father, Michael J. Sullivan, was a former U.S. attorney, Plymouth County district attorney and director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Sullivan described how she grew up in a “great” and supportive household, where her mother and father had a very loving relationship. But she said she began dating an older man in high school.

“Unfortunately, at the end of my sophomore year, I met the man who would eventually become my abuser,” she said. “I was about 15 years old when I met him and it wasn’t until right before my 21st birthday that I was able to detach myself from him. I say detach, it’s because for so many years I thought I was in love with this man, that this man loved me and that he cared about me. It was just a cycle of abuse that started to escalate even more than what you would just think as cute and protecting.”

The newly elected state representative said it began as emotional and mental abuse, but escalated to physical abuse.

“I’m lucky to be here today sitting in front of you, that’s how severe it got,” she said.

Sullivan said the man, whose name was not disclosed during the interview, was “very protective” of her, telling her he didn’t like when she wrote certain clothing or hung out with certain friends. But he then became abusive over the years, she said.

“The first time he struck me, it was a slap and he immediately cried right after. And he said he was so sorry and he wouldn’t do it again,” she said. “By this time, I’m living with him. I’m about 19 years old, I’m living with him. I’m controlled by him.”

The abuse began to escalate, she said. Around Christmas in 2008, Sullivan said the man “almost killed me.” She was planning to attend a work Christmas party with her friends, which he had said she could go to, but Sullivan canceled the credit card her boyfriend had access to. He became angry when he found out, she said. She tried to give him $10 of the $20 her mother gave her for the party, but it “wasn’t good enough.”

“He tried to shove me in the car. In fear of not being able to get out of that car … I had both hands, both legs trying to stop from going in the car,” she said. “My girlfriend at the time, my coworker, she called 911. The police showed up.”

Sullivan said an Abington police detective told her that he could either arrest her boyfriend, arrest her friend for filing a false police report or he would give her friend his phone number so Sullivan could call him when she felt it was safe to do so.

Days later, Sullivan said she went through a “hell-like night,” which eventually led to her boyfriend’s arrest.

“I really thought I was dying. The worst beating I think I have ever received,” she said. “I was strangled to the point where I was passed out. I came to. And I knew that if I continued in this relationship, I’m not going to come out alive.”

That day, she went to the mall with her best friend – with marks on her face, two black eyes, she said – and disclosed everything. She then called the detective who left his number days earlier and her boyfriend was arrested on Jan. 2, 2009.

Through many more months of restraining orders and court appearances, Sullivan said she was able to get the help she needed and break free from her abuser.

Dwyer, who is 18 months older than her sister, said she knew Sullivan’s boyfriend had a bad reputation but didn’t see most of the signs because she was a kid herself at the time.

“The support can really come from anybody,” Dwyer said. “Like a best friend, a police officer, a sibling. It really does take a village to support somebody that’s going through some really traumatic things to get them the help that they need.”

Allen said he hopes Sullivan’s story will lead others in her situation to seek help.

“My hope with this show today is that if there’s someone out there that’s a victim, in a situation like yours, that you reach out, reach out to the governor’s council, reach out to the East Bridgewater Police Department, we have a domestic violence outreach unit,” he said. “Let us know. There are so many resources.”