INDIANAPOLIS -- Carleigh Hager is telling her story of survival after she said her now ex-boyfriend brutally attacked her inside their Indianapolis home.
Hager is recovering at a hospital after one of the darkest nights of her life.
“And he tried to rip my tongue out with my bare fingers from here all the way up to here and he succeeded, half way. He got the right side halfway. He got it halfway ripped out,” Carleigh said.
Talking through the pain of having her tongue reconstructed and bruises and bite marks all over her body, Hager recalled the traumatizing episode with her mother by her side.
She said she and her now ex-boyfriend, 26-year-old Ryan Cameron, returned home from a wedding Saturday night with some friends. After launching a verbal assault, things got physical.
“He locked our friends outside of our house and ran to the bathroom and locked us in the bathroom,” Hager said.
That's where she said he beat her until she passed out. The friends called police, a move that might have saved Hager's life.
"Those people intervened. They did what they could to stop the situation and they called the police to make sure something happened to protect this victim and that’s exactly what should happen,” The Julian Center CEO Catherine O'Connor said.
Hager's mother said she didn't see any warning signs, but these visible signs won't define her daughter.
"But because she’s such a beautiful person inside and out. Her strength and beauty is inside and the scars will heal and in time so will her heart and I’m incredibly proud of you,” Amy Ballard said.
Hager said after a loving two-year relationship, the mental, verbal and physical abuse just started a month ago. The 25-year-old nursing assistant said she wants her story to warn others not to ignore the signs and know this is not what love looks like.
“You just can’t believe that. You have to tell somebody. You can’t be embarrassed. You can’t be ashamed. You have to tell somebody because I almost died and it can happen," she said.
Cameron is in the Marion County Jail charged with multiple felonies including aggravated battery.
The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help cover medical expenses for Hager.