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/ Source: Today
By Donna Freydkin and John Hiscock

Their relationship was idyllic at first.

Sally was 24 when she met Chris Davies, in Cornwall, England, in the summer of 2004, on a diving course. They got married and moved to St. Martin, where they bought and ran a diving business.

Then things changed. Chris became abusive shortly after they got married and the abuse escalated over the next decade, according to court documents, with him verbally berating her constantly and yelling at her. He was controlling and isolated Sally from her friends and family.

“It's something that happened so slowly,” Sally Davies told Megyn Kelly TODAY.

A son, and dark times

She said she told herself that all couples argue. “Then at some point maybe I realized that we're not actually fighting. I'm just getting yelled at and over really small things,” she said in an interview before she joined Megyn Kelly to share her story.

The abuse got worse after the birth of their son, Sally said, and in her fear she said she began to “dissociate” from her environment. Over time, she said she developed three distinct personalities to help her deal with the abuse. Because Chris didn't hit her, she didn't get help from the police.

Related video: How this mom found herself again after domestic abuse

“I just know I started to become someone that wasn't myself at one point, so I remember times where he would be raging at me for something that didn't really seem that important and I would start to dissociate and get really fuzzy and not really know what was going on,” she told TODAY. “There were some really dark times, I think that’s probably when it was the worst, when I would think that there was no way out and that there was no escape and that the only escape would be the final escape.”

'He would scream at this little tiny kid'

Her lowest point, said Davies, was “when I saw that my ex was starting to treat my son the same way that he was treating me, and that my son was reacting the same way that I did. So he would scream at this little tiny kid and then my son would do anything to try to get that nice person back again.”

In July 2016, she and her son fled the island of St. Martin where they lived, with only the clothes on their backs. She still loved her husband, said Davies. “I still had that hope that dream that one day he was going to wake up and be the man that I first met, that man that I fell in love with,” she said. “And not this monster that he could become.”

Chris Davies filed a petition demanding the return of their child to St. Martin under the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. His petition to have the child returned to St. Martin resulted in a nine-day trial in New York, with Sally testifying for almost three full days. The judge found that Sally and her son were victims of psychological abuse. The judge's decision was subsequently affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. This was the first court decision that declined to return a child to his home country based solely on psychological abuse.

A survivor, not a victim

Sally Davies is now divorced and has full custody of her son. She has an order of protection against Chris. And she's moving on with her life.

“I don't like to be called a victim of domestic violence. I prefer to be called a survivor of domestic violence because I don't associate with that word victim,” she said.

Her son is almost six. And she’s already opened up to him about his father. “We talk about it regularly — I don’t say anything bad about him to my son. I think he misses his dad, but he doesn’t want to see him. He says that he doesn’t want to talk to him,” she said.