Survivor Says Getting Out of Abusive Relationship Requires Professional Help


DES MOINES, Iowa — The National Coalition Against Violence says over 30 percent of Iowa women experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. When it was confirmed a Des Moines man was arrested for allegedly killing his wife over the weekend, a female survivor of domestic violence knew the pain all too well.

“In 2014, I was shot in the head by my abuser after trying to leave the relationship, so I understand what kind of danger it is,” said Ellie Van Dam.

On Friday Sept. 11, Des Moines police found the concealed body of Connie Simmons and charged her husband Datron Simmons with first-degree murder in her death. Investigators believe she was killed in their home days earlier on Sept. 6.

Van Dam was left for dead by her then-boyfriend Brian Case in 2014, but luckily she survived. Case is now serving a 45-year sentence in prison. Van Dam still carries bullet fragments in her head from that near-fatal day and has since become an advocate for others in domestic violence relationships. Van Dam is now a licensed social worker at Kalm Therapy in West Des Moines where she counsels other victims of abuse. She urges anyone who needs help and may be in an abusive relationship to act now before it is too late.

“The most dangerous time in a domestic violent relationship is trying to leave it. Reaching out and calling these hotlines, getting a hold of somebody with professional experience dealing with these serious matters can be a matter of life and death,” Van Dam said.

Victims can reach out to Van Dam at The Iowa Children and Families of Iowa has a 24/7 domestic abuse hotline available at 515-243-6147.

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