Bec Cody was 16 when she fell in love, and fell in love hard.
The man, who would later become her husband and the father of her two children, mattered more to her than anyone else.
But 15 years later, when she tried to run away, he found her and choked her, Ms Cody said.
"Today is the first time I am sharing my story so that others know they can be strong," she said.
Ms Cody, a Labor backbencher, told her story in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, a story which was unknown to even some close friends and family.
It came as the standing committee on Justice and Community Safety released its report from an inquiry into domestic violence.
Ms Cody said her ex-husband's controlling behaviour at first seemed like young love.
He had a job, a nice red Holden and made her feel so grown up.
When they first started dating, he would come to work and wait for her every single day.
"I first thought it was sweet, I now realise it was his way of keeping track," Ms Cody said.
When they got married his controlling behaviour became worse, she said.
They were married on election day and she turned up to vote in her wedding dress with her father.
A photo was taken by The Canberra Times and published in the paper the next day.
She got in so much trouble because of it, Ms Cody said.
"He told me we're married now and I should not be drawing attention to myself," she said.
"He told me I was his and nobody else's."
He started demanding she come straight home from work.
If she didn't the phone calls to friends and family would start, demanding they tell him where she was.
He would tell her how to feed her children, how to bathe them and who could visit and when.
"It ended with me running away. It ended with him finding me and choking me," Ms Cody said.
"It ended with me starting again."
But she's left with the shame of feeling like she was not strong enough to leave.
She said stereotypes about what domestic violence was and who experienced it still needed to change.
"To be honest I don't know what I was thinking," she said.
"I didn't realise I was in as bad a situation as I was in until it was time to go."
Speaking after telling her story in Parliament, Ms Cody said joining the Labor Party and becoming part of the union movement was a turning point in her life.
She said her dad took her along to a Labor Party meeting where she would find a supportive community.
"It was meeting other people, other men, who were normal that weren't like my husband at the time," Ms Cody said.
"Just having these people around you who made you feel like you weren't redundant. They gave me the support to leave.
"They made me feel human. They made me feel like I mattered"
Police were involved but charges were never laid. She never wanted him to not have access to his children.
Ms Cody remarried and later split up with her second husband who she describes as a lovely man.
"I've probably gone too far in the other extreme these days," she said.
"I'm too independent, too self controlling."
Ms Cody worked on the committee which conducted the domestic violence inquiry - work that was at times triggering and emotionally exhausting.
"I didn't realise how much it still affected me even though it was so long ago," she said.
The inquiry into domestic and family violence tabled on Thursday made 60 recommendations.
Among the recommendations were measures to improve education and educational programs to prevent domestic violence.
It also recommended improving how ACT Housing works with victims of violence.
The committee recommended that cross examination of domestic violence witnesses in court be allowed to occur via video link evidence.
Information sharing between the Federal Circuit Court and ACT Child and Youth Protection Services should also be improved, the report said.