Watching Carleigh Hager tell her story one feels first shock, then sympathy, then rage and ultimately admiration. The 25-year-old Indianapolis woman is recounting the night her boyfriend of two years beat her unconscious, bit off part of her ear and tried to rip her tongue out of her mouth with his bare hands. Despite the physical, psychological and emotional trauma she experienced, she is bravely speaking out to help raise awareness about domestic violence and warn others to know the danger signs.
The brutal assault happened last Saturday, after the couple had returned home from a wedding. Her now ex-boyfriend, Ryan Cameron, 25, wanted to keep the party going and invited some friends over while Carleigh tried to sleep in their bedroom. At some point in the night, after getting intoxicated and smoking marijuana, Ryan went into their bedroom and began to strangle Carleigh. Hearing her screams, the friends tried to stop him and got him outside, but Cameron ran back in the house where he continued beating Carleigh within an inch of her life. Fortunately, the friends called 911 and police arrived on the scene, arresting Cameron and charging him with two counts of aggravated battery and one count of strangulation.
Bloodied and bruised, but not defeated, Carleigh is now telling her story in the hopes that others will recognize the warning signs before they too fall victim to domestic violence. She and Ryan had dated for two years before his verbal attacks turned physical. “You just can’t believe that. You have to tell somebody,” she told CBS 4 Indianapolis. “You can’t be embarrassed. You can’t be ashamed. You have to tell somebody because I almost died and it can happen.”