Shattering the Silence: Yvette Cade

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Angela Cain/Eyewitness News 

Indianapolis - Someone with whom you work may be a victim of domestic violence. Studies show that as many as 44% of workers have experienced it.

One abuse survivor whose story made headlines across the nation came to Indianapolis to shatter the silence in the workplace.

The keynote speaker at an Indianapolis conference has had her story published in the New York Times, People Magazine, and the Washington Post.

Her name is Yvette Cade and she has been scarred by abuse, figuratively and literally. Her story even headlined on Oprah.

"I have third degree burns over 65% of my body. So, basically my entire head was engulfed in flames, my upper body and part of my right leg," said Yvette.

She was burned by her estranged husband Roger Hargrave where she worked at a T-Mobile store in a Washington D.C. suburb.

A store security camera shows him walking into the store and up to the counter near Yvette in October 2005.

"He says, 'I love you, Yvette.' I am agitated, but I continue working."

Hargrave was carrying a Sprite bottle that was filled with gasoline. The video shows him pouring it on Yvette.

"I didn't know that it was gas. He was chasing after me. I ran outside."

Yvette fell and then her estranged husband lit a match and threw it on her.

The tape captured coworkers screaming, "She's on fire! She's on fire! He set her on fire!"

There was pandemonium at her workplace and pulsating pain in her body.

"I felt the extreme heat going up my back.The flames were 1,500 degrees. I saw my flesh dripping to my feet. I was screaming, 'Someone help me. Someone help me.'"

A T-mobile customer helped extinguish the flames, but Yvette spent three months in the hospital.

"I was just delirious for three months. I've had 19 surgeries."

It's been a long road to recovery for Yvette, but it's also a road paved with good intentions - helping others.

"I feel great that I'm able to help others get out of abusive relationships."

And to this day, she urges employers to get training on how to recognize and help employees facing abuse at home.

"The victim doesn't want anybody to know. I wore L'Oreal makeup to cover black eyes."

But Yvette says her co-workers knew her estranged husband called her constantly on the job and harassed her - months after she left him.

"They just didn't know how to approach me because we are not taught to say, 'Can I help you?'"

Yvette hopes her tragedy will help save the lives of others. She said that in many ways, it has saved her.

"I don't know where I would be without the Lord."

She is strengthening her faith in God and in herself.

"I am able to love myself, enjoy myself, embrace myself."

She wears her scars as a badge of courage."

"My fingers are deformed, I'm burned, but I value life more than what I look like on the outside, so I'm happy."

Yvette Cade's ex-husband is serving life in prison for his crime.

If you want training on helping domestic violence victims in the workplace, call the Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis at 475-6110.

If you're in an abusive relationship, click here or call 926-HELP.

Shattering the Silence