"I just don't even want to look at him," says Kerry about her husband, Matt. She is headed to court and will see him for the first time since she left. "I want to take care of the court proceeding. I'm concerned because they need actual concrete proof to get an order of protection, and all it is is my word against his."
Dr. Phil has two basic rules which he spells out for Kerry. "Never ask children to deal with adult issues; number two, you never put them in a position of being accountable for things they don't control, because that is a helpless feeling."
"It is horrible that they have been exposed to that," says Dr. Phil, "and you need to say, 'Stop. Wait a minute. Big boys don't talk that way.'" He advises her to challenge her son to be a big boy. He tells her, "I know there's intimidation. There are hurdles to clear. You've got a lot of people at the Heartly House. The people at the House of Ruth, they're helping you and supporting you, and they will continue to. So you're not alone. No more secret life. No more shame, no more guilt."
Dr. Phil and Kerry review the mantra he gave her last time they spoke.
"It's not my fault," Kerry says with a smile.
"You needed to get that right," says Dr. Phil. "It is not your fault. But what happens now is your choice. I want you to walk up those courthouse steps with your head in the air and dignity and self respect in your heart."
"I think I have it at this point," says Kerry.
"I think you do as well."
Kerry must go before a judge to request an order of protection, which would last for six months to a year. As part of the proceedings, she'll have to describe, in front of her husband, all the incidents of abuse.
Later, with the day in court behind her, her mood is more relaxed.
Carole Alexander, Executive Director of House of Ruth, details a variety of services of which Kerry is able to take advantage, including critical legal representation and a job readiness program.
"Dr. Phil has performed a very, very important service," says Carole, "in highlighting what safe houses can provide."
Sue Hecht, CEO of Heartly House, says, "Kerry's story is one, but it's one of hundreds of thousands. We want anybody out there that needs help to know, you have help available."
Dr. Phil takes a final moment to reveal that Kerry has relocated and is moving on with her new life. Matt is in rehabilitation. He says, "If you or someone you know are the victim of domestic violence, there are over 5,000 shelters across the country to help support your needs emotionally, physically, and legally. I hope this [show] will give someone out there the courage and direction to make a change."
If you or someone you know needs help, call 911 or the Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE.