Actress, model breaks through domestic violence cycle

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - When L'Oreal wanted to tell women "I'm worth it", they selected Erin Gray to deliver the message. Gray, a model and actress, became a household name, but behind closed doors, another story loomed.

"I ended up at a batters women's shelter, and not that I needed shelter, but I did need guidance and understanding as to why I had gotten into an unhealthy relationship, and become what I call the classic 'enabler' and 'co-dependent,'" Gray said.

Catching up with her at Deborah Koepper Beauty in Palm Beach before she spoke at the PNC Women's in Power Luncheon, Gray explained she married her high school sweetheart in 1968. But when he returned from the Vietnam War, suffering with PTSD, he wasn't the same.

Gray, though, stayed in her abusive marriage for 22 years suffering from what she calls "muted senses". "This is part of the reason why women have trouble getting out of domestic violent situations. There's a form of amnesia that comes in because the pain is so horrendous. If you allow that pain to go through your body, you don't know what you'll do….. So you become muted, and you blank out. And a couple hours later, you come out of it. And everything's just fine."

Finally, Gray broke the cycle and ended her abusive marriage adhering to her motto of "Freedom is the will to be responsible for yourself". "There is help; all you have to do is stand up, reach out. There's a whole series of organizations, shelters, advocacy groups, laws that will protect you."

Gray is celebrating 21 years of a healthy, happy marriage with her second husband and is now a spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

October is domestic violence awareness month. Here's a list of shelters which help domestic violence victims "because you're worth it".