Domestic violence survivor tells story

Susan Still, a women's rights activist and keynote speaker on domestic violence, gave her first-hand account of being a survivor of physical and emotional abuse during a Domestic Violence Awareness Month Storyteller event.

Susan Still, a women's rights activist and keynote speaker on domestic violence, gave her first-hand account of being a survivor of physical and emotional abuse during a Domestic Violence Awareness Month Storyteller event. The Oct. 25 event was sponsored by Family Advocacy and Integrated Delivery Systems programs. (Air Force photo by Kelly White)

72nd Air Base Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Melissa Erb, Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Kaylee Anderson, Susan Still and 72nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Kenyon Bell gather after a story-telling event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month featured Ms. Still and her account of her own harrowing experiences.

72nd Air Base Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Melissa Erb, Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Kaylee Anderson, Susan Still and 72nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Kenyon Bell gather after a story-telling event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month featured Ms. Still and her account of her own harrowing experiences. (Air Force photo by Kelly White)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

Susan Still was an 18-year-old college student when she met and fell in love with a rising blues guitarist named Ulner Lee Still. They married several years later and had three children. During their first 12 years of marriage, her husband became increasingly controlling, and verbally and emotionally abusive.

Still said she was physically stunned one day during the last two years of their 24-year marriage when her husband beat her for forgetting to buy two cans of Lysol spray.

“I didn’t want to tell him because I knew that when I told him, he was probably going to chew me out,” Susan Still said. “He had a studio in our basement and an office, and I went downstairs and told him (about forgetting the spray). And I did get the verbal bashing that I assumed I was going to get.

“I turned around, going upstairs, and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor. I didn’t even know how I got there. I was so stunned … I went to get up and he punched me down to the floor again. Then I realized what was happening to me.”

Still was the keynote speaker during a Domestic Violence Awareness Month Storyteller event Oct. 25 at the Tinker Club. Sponsored by the base’s Family Advocacy and Integrated Delivery System programs, the women’s rights advocate shared her account of what she experienced, the diverse types of domestic abuse that exists and how she and her children are continuing to recover.

In 2002, Still’s husband had their then-13-year-old son videotape one of his mother’s beatings. The video captures Ulner Still repeatedly berating, cussing at and beating his terrified wife into submission. The tape was later used by a New York assistant district attorney as evidence against her husband.

Still’s employer also provided evidence about her employee’s emotional and physical state during the times of the beatings and was key in helping her to escape with her two sons in 2003.

A New York State Supreme Court justice later handed down a 36-year sentence for Ulner Still’s various assault and child endangerment convictions – the longest amount of time given in recent New York history for domestic violence crimes not resulting in the death of the victim.

Today, Susan Still is a recognized speaker about surviving domestic abuse. She has appeared on the TV show, “20/20,” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She is also close to her children today and believes that counseling is essential as a method of coping with the trauma of domestic violence.

Tinker’s Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate, Kaylee Osborne, said she first heard Still speak at an Oklahoma Attorney Generals Partnership Conference for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in 2016.

Osborne said the most frequent questions people ask are about how they can help, and why women don’t leave.

“I was impressed that Susan Still’s boss was tracking the abuse because she provided information that was very important,” Osborne said.

“I’m also happy with the amount of support that we received for this event. It is a subject I’m really passionate about.”

For more information about domestic violence awareness, contact Tinker Family Advocacy at 582-6604, or to reach Tinker’s Domestic Violence Hotline call 256-2825.