Domestic violence groups talk impact following Ohio State investigation

(WSYX/WTTE)

With teary eyes at times, Courtney Smith, the ex-wife of former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith, detailed her claims of domestic abuse.

"It was out of control to the point that, I mean, he picked me up by the neck and threw me down on the ground in our bathroom and screamed at me, 'look what you turned me into'," Smith said in an exclusive interview with Stadium. "When it gets to that point, you realize your life is at stake."

She even claimed those closest to her, asked her to keep quiet.

"I remember specifically texting pictures to my mom, my dad, his dad like begging for help, like, 'this has to stop, this isn't normal, I can't do this anymore,' and I was told 'don't call the police'," she said.

The first claims of abuse came in 2009 and Courtney Smith got a restraining order on July 20.

Zach Smith's lawyer said he will tell his side of events when he and his ex-wife are called in to testify.

"I would encourage people to see it as a whole and look at it in its complexity," said Kathleen Alexander, a trauma specialist at the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.

Alexander said many of the claims made don't necessarily surprise her.

"This is an issue that occurs in the context of an intimate relationship, there is a sense of privacy," she said.

While she never worked on this case, Alexander said survivors and victims can feel the impact.

"This can also trigger some memories, some need to reach out and seek support," said Alexander, "and then for people who are currently being victimized, it can motivate people to reach out."

She said at the network, it has been a busy few days.

"Our phones were ringing a lot today, obviously with people wanting information," she said.

They serve as a resource to the dozens of domestic violence centers and more across Ohio, and Alexander said typically when there is a case being widely talked about, centers see an uptick.

She said there are many resources available, hotlines, and more.

"I think we can't fail to mention calling the police," she said.

But, Alexander told ABC6/FOX28 that in most cases that just doesn't happen.

"There is a lot of stigma and shame attached to this issue in terms of whom the victim tells, making a disclosure like this is not easy," she said.

She hopes people will continue talking and recommends learning more about domestic violence in the wake of this story.

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