"On a daily basis, it was rapes, beatings," Maria recalls of her time as a sex slave. "He told me that he would go and kill my family. I didn't have any choice but to stay there. At night, waking up with his hand on my face, telling me [to] never leave the house, and if I leave the house I would die. Everything that he did to me, I hated."
Maria says she lived in this hell for five years. "After those five years, he started making life impossible for the neighbors," she remembers. One day, the neighbor hit her captor with a piece of wood and killed him. "The neighbor told me to wash the piece of wood and put it under the house," Maria says. "The man got arrested. They had me as an accomplice in the killing. I went to prison, and I did 22 years."
Maria has been free for four years. "When I think about my freedom, it's a good feeling," she says with a smile.
"You actually said that that was some of your safest time, when you were in jail, because you were away from all the risk and danger," Dr. Phil says.
"I don't advocate violence, but I don't think they [should have] put you in jail. That doesn't make sense to me," Dr. Phil says. "How did you get out?"
Maria explains that an investigation was conducted, and it was determined that she was wrongfully convicted. "That's what actually helped me get out of there," she says.
"Our kids are being targeted on the Internet and in chat rooms. Your children can run away, and if somebody gets their hands on them, they take them away. They scare them and they drug them. All kinds of things can happen that are so dangerous. We can't be asleep about this," Dr. Phil tells parents.
The book, Unbreakable Heart: The Maria Suarez Story, written by journalist Tina Malave chronicles Maria's experience.