Lilly's Story

“It’s not going to be an overnight thing. It could take months or years.”

Lilly D’archangelo was still in high school when she met her ex-husband at a local music venue where his band was performing. As a side job, she filmed performances for local bands and sold the recordings. “Before then, no guys wanted to take me to the movies or dinner. When I met my ex, I latched onto him because he was the first guy who showed me any form of affection.” They were married six months later. That’s when the abuse began.

Lilly is a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault“He took me in, gave me friends and made me feel loved. Then he started to verbally assault me,” said Lilly. Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence (IPV), includes a wide range of violent, abusive, and manipulative behaviors meant to control another person. These behaviors are not always apparent at first, and can evolve over time.

“The first time he raped me, he said it would never happen again. He waited two months before he started to rape me again.”


Eventually Lilly decided to enroll in college classes, with hopes of starting her own music business. “When I first went back to school, I was surprised how free I felt on campus,” she said. “It felt like I was cheating, feeling so free from him. I shouldn’t have felt that way.” 

Soon, his constant phone calls and text messages made it difficult to continue her studies, and Lilly decided to drop out. “I needed to find a way out from him before I went to back to school. I was doing something I enjoyed, that was the most heart-breaking point.” 

The day she left her ex-husband, she called her friend to tell her the news. Lilly hadn’t told anyone what was happening in her relationship until this point—her ex-husband kept her from seeing family or friends. Controlling communication and other relationships is often a warning sign of an abusive partnership. 

“My friend said to me, ‘do you realize that was an abusive relationship? You were beaten and raped—and he controlled you long before that.’ That’s when it finally started to click that it was not OK.” 

Today, Lilly is happily married in a supportive relationship and back in school. “I’m finishing my associate degree in journalism. I’m really excited. I’m almost there!” She shares her story to let other survivors know they are not alone, and to encourage loved ones to speak up if they notice that something isn’t right. “I didn’t know what an abusive relationship was before I was in one. And I wish someone had said something.” 

For family and friends, Lilly suggests helping the person in an abusive relationship brainstorm different safety plans to leave in the safest way possible—but she wants loved ones to know that it isn’t a quick and easy process. “It’s not going to be an overnight thing. It could take months or years. The biggest priority is making sure that the person who is being abused understands that this isn’t safe, and that you support them.”

If you are feeling unsafe, know that you are not alone. Help is available. Visit the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE or or the National Domestic Violence Hotline for free, confidential support and information.

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