KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- "You've got to go and don't look back, don't look back. There's no fixing it." said Robin Givens, actress, author, and motivational speaker.
According to data from Newhouse Domestic Violence Shelter in Kansas City, Mo., one in four women is the victim of physical domestic abuse in the Kansas City metro area. According to the Kansas City Police Department, just this year alone, nine of those cases were so serious, they resulted in homicides, and that's just in KCMO.
FOX 4's Dhomonique Ricks was the only journalist in town granted a one-on-one interview with actress Robin Givens, the ex-wife of boxer Mike Tyson, who was one of the first women to become vocal about alleged domestic abuse at the hands of the former heavy weight champion in the 80s.
"I started out as a young actress and I married a young athlete, and found myself sort of in a situation where I was in over my head and couldn't really handle it," Givens told FOX 4.
Most people would call Givens the total package. She's beautiful, smart, successful, and kind. But the author/motivational speaker/actress has faced her share of adversity over the years. Givens was one of the first women to go public about what she calls a toxic marriage.
"You're like, 'I'd never be one of those women' and then all of a sudden, you wake up one morning and you realize, 'oh my God. I think I'm one of those women,'" Givens said. "My speaking out wasn't anything that I sort of planned, it was just sort of a part of my own natural instinct to try to survive."
Givens has been sharing her story of survival for decades and says it can happen to anyone.
"Women of different shades and colors, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and their educational backgrounds are different, are all experiencing a very similar thing," Givens explained.
But there is hope -- a paradigm shift, in fact, where more women are choosing to speak up.
"You're just seeing women becoming more and more empowered."
Take social media, for instance.
"There was a time where somebody just had to listen to you tell a story and it was hard to prove it, you know, and now with social media or with there being videos everywhere, there are downsides to it, but the upside is we're actually seeing something happen that most people would say, 'well that could never happen,'" Givens said.
"I find it encouraging because we need to have an open conversation about this," said Vicki Kraft, President/CEO of Newhouse Domestic Violence Shelter.
Kraft calls the problem a 'tragic epidemic' and says the problem is bigger than most people realize.
"There's six domestic violence shelters in the city, always full," Kraft explained.
They are full of survivors who are choosing hope, instead of pain.
"I hope it moves us in a really good direction where women feel empowered and safe and strong and as wonderful as we are," Givens said.
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic abuse, there is help available and you will be protected.