Rockford domestic violence survivor says abuser was ‘Prince Charming’… until he wasn’t

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — In Rockford, domestic violence crimes account for about 40% of all violent crimes, according to police.

Ericka Reck is a survivor of domestic abuse.

“It was love at first sight. He told me everything I wanted to know and said all the right things, basically swept me off my feet,” she said. “And then, he didn’t stay as Prince Charming.”

Reck said she met her former boyfriend eight years ago. Just six months into their relationship, she said she noticed a change, but she was pregnant and stayed with him.

“It was little comments, and basically telling me I wasn’t worthy of anything, no one else would ever want me, like I was ugly, I was fat. Like, putting you down as a person to make you feel like your self worth has gone to nothing,” she said.

Reck said drugs and drinking fueled a fire and the abuse turned physical.

“The first one (fight) that I was struck, I was seven months pregnant, and [he] held me at the bottom of the stairs and was screaming at me, saying he was going to punch the baby out of me,” she recalled.

“You have to finally decide enough is enough. I’m worth way more than this, and that’s what I finally did, and it’s been hard,” she said.

Reck was able to get help from friends and family, but if a victim doesn’t have that support system, Rockford’s Family Peace Center, at 315 N Main Street, offers resources.

Jennifer Cacciapaglia, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention, says, “There seems to be more people that come to our center. Law enforcement is regularly brining survivors directly to us, from [crime] scenes, and we feel like we’re getting ourselves in order and moving forward to make progress.”

Reck says she hopes her story will inspire others.

“If I can help one person, then I know what I went through was worth it,” she said.

She will be hosting a domestic violence survivor event in downtown Rockford in November, which will include testimonials from other victims as well as self-defense classes.

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