TODAY'S TMJ4 Exclusive

Local woman trying to help others free themselves from abusive relationships

CREATED Oct 24, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct 24, 2012

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JANESVILLE- Some people manage to escape the chains of domestic violence.

The story of one local woman has attracted international attention.

Teri Jendusa Nicolai is one of the most famous faces of domestic violence in Wisconsin.  Nicolai's speech at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville moved people to tears.

"Domestic violence...is about control," says Nicolai.

TODAY'S TMJ4 caught up with Nicolai before her speech.  She admits she cried when she learned of the Brookfield spa shooting spree.

"My heart sank."

After all, that could have been her.  Nicolai was a pregnant mother of two young girls when she came back from the brink of death.  She'd been beaten with a baseball bat, tied up and bound, dumped in a garbage can and left for dead in a storage locker in the middle of the winter.

The year was 2004, her ex-husband David Larsen is now serving life in prison.

"At that time it wasn't big enough for me to really think 'oh I should get out,'" recalls Nicolai.

That night she managed to get to her cell phone and call 9-1-1.  Her recovery was miraculous and her positive spirit has captured hearts.

"When I get up to do a job, I actually pray...Give me the words to save at least one person today"

And today, as Teri celebrates life, she gives important lessons all over the country.

This 47-year-old is a living testament of the strength of the human spirit as she works hard to help victims.  Nicolai is married to a wonderful father and husband, her kids are doing great and thanks to her dedication, more and more lives are being saved.

"When I have people get back to me or e-mail me and call me and say their life has changed or maybe a friend's life has changed, that makes it all worth it for me."

Teri's ex-husband David Larson is now serving a life sentence at Boscobel-Supermax prison.  He was in Waupaun, but last year he tried to escape, so he was moved to a maximum security facility.