Elderly Woman's Book Details Life of Domestic Abuse

By Lex Smith | lsmith@kolr10.com

Published 10/24 2013 05:35PM

Updated 10/24 2013 07:06PM

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. -- Evelyn Stewart, 86, always wears a black cowboy hat and a kind, caring smile on her face. But behind her expression are decades of domestic abuse, brought on by a wrathful, angry husband.

For their 32-year marriage, he beat Stewart, stabbed her, kicked her, often for no reason. He is dead now, but Stewart can still remember the dark years of her marriage.

"He began to get more and more abusive as time went on," she recalled. "It was just scary as I got to the point I lived in fear."

After her husband passed, Stewart decided to begin writing. It had been a childhood dream of hers, one made impossible by her family's circumstances. She was born in a small South Carolina town, the youngest of 12 children. Her education ended at 7th grade and college was never an option.

Still, she said, she loved writing with a pencil and paper from the time she was little. In her retirement, Stewart wanted to share the story of her life in a meaningful way. Her autobiography, Behind Closed Doors, encourages readers not to put up with domestic violence.

"I thought somebody should step in and do something about it," she said.

But Stewart is more than a writer. She has become and advocate against domestic violence and a counselor for her friends and caregivers. She spent the summer at a geriatric center following a hip injury. There she met nurses, workers, even fellow residents who had also experienced violence and abuse in the past.

"I pretty much can see some of the same things I went through," she said.

One person Stewart could see was Sharon Johnson, a CNA at the hospital.

"When [Stewart] told me what the book was about I knew I had to read it," Johnson said.

Johnson had been in abusive relationships before, and had often felt helpless. She knew from the beginning of Stewart's book that something had to change.

"i think our biggest problem for people who are abused--you hide it," Johnson said. "That's the worst thing you can do."

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