by: Erica Bryant Updated:CHARLOTTE —
Last Monday, Carolina Panthers’ wide receiver Steve Smith opened up to Channel 9 about growing up in a home with domestic violence.
Erica Bryant spoke exclusively with Smith’s mother who survived the abuse. Through the Steve Smith Family Foundation, Florence Young and her son launched a major effort to help families in crisis.
She had him when she was young, just 18 years old. Sunday they hosted a bowling charity event to help women and children impacted by domestic violence, a cycle that plagued her family for years.
“In the sixties and seventies, when I grew up, mom and dad would fight; it wasn’t considered domestic violence at the time,” Young said.
They never talked about the abuse, then it happened again in Young’s own marriage.
“I married a guy that didn’t have my best interest at heart,” said Young. She said most times she would hit first.
Then one day, she reached a breaking point.
“I thought I had to kill this person. It was a choice that had to be made, it was going to be him. It wasn’t going to be me,” said Young.
She says thoughts of homicide and being behind bars away from her children made her leave the relationship for good and reveal to her loved ones the real shame that made her stay.
“My alcohol and drug abuse was a secret for a long time, and they were devastated to find out about it,” Young said.
Now sober for 25 years, Sunday’s event was in part a tribute to her.
“She is the main reason for the foundation,” said Smith.
Young urges other women who are suffering to reach out.
“Tell somebody and people will listen – that’s the fear, no one will believe you and help you.”
Click here to see Steve Smith’s original interview.