By Angela Musallam

SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) – There’s a shocking trend in Sacramento County’s domestic violence incidents.

Officials say for the past ten years, the county has averaged ten or more homicides each year related to domestic violence.

One Sacramento woman, who herself is a domestic violence survivor, is working to turn the tables on the trend.

“Some might say I’m faster than a speeding bullet.”


35 years later, Joyce Bilyeu says she can joke about her near-death experience at the hands of her abusive ex-husband.


“It’s an experience that I’ve gone through, but it certainly doesn’t define me.”


Joyce says since then, she’s healed and made peace with her past.


October is domestic violence awareness month, and for Joyce it brings her back to when her ex-husband tried to kill her 35 years ago.


“He broke into my house one night in October with an M-16 and had 30 rounds in it; he shot at me three times, and the third round jammed, it went through my hair,” Joyce recalled.


Joyce was married to her ex-husband for nearly ten years, and says he was abusive to her from day one — but she held out — hoping things would get better.


“The whole nine-and-a-half years, it was abusive, it was verbal, mental, a lot of strangulation,” Joyce added.


Joyce says she finally had the courage to divorce her husband at the time, but what Joyce didn’t know is how dangerous it is for a woman ater she leaves an abusive relationship.


“During the six months after our divorce, he began stalking me.”


The stalking led up to the day Joyce was almost killed.

Joyce says her ex-husband didn’t get any jail time; instead, he was admitted to a mental institution, and that’s when Joyce said she realized helping survivors escape from their abusers was her calling.


“They’re not crazy and it’s not their fault and they are not to blame, there are resources out there.”


Joyce created the first domestic violence response team between the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department and the county.

Now, Joyce oversees the client services division at the Family Justice Center.


“We just opened our doors on July 11-th, and have already seen 500 clients,” Joyce said.


A survivor of domestic violence, Joyce says she is close to making her biggest accomplishment; helping women create a safety plan when they’re ready to walk away from an abusive relationship.


Joyce is working on a new program to bring survivors all the resources they need, and make the Family Justice Center a one-stop shop.



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