By Gina Martinez
September 5, 2018

The Texas woman who was spotted ringing doorbells in shackles says she forgives the man who caused her to flee her home and look for help last month. Surveillance video of the incident sparked a national search to find the woman.

The 32-year-old, who police are not identifying because she is a domestic violence victim, spoke out for the first time this week, telling KTRK-TV in Houston that she appreciates the support her story received.

The woman, who spoke to the TV station on the grounds that she could remain anonymous, said she was unaware that the footage of her went viral. Police released the chilling video of the woman looking confused, wearing only a t-shirt and shackles on her wrist ringing the doorbell of a Lake Conroe, Texas home before disappearing. After the footage was released local police received hundreds of calls from families who believed she was their missing relative.

“I am aware that several families had some hope that I was their missing loved one,” she told KTRK reporter Deborah Wrigley in a statement. “That hurt my heart. I wish that I could hug each of them and somehow help them to heal.”

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the woman was fleeing the nearby home of her 49-year-old boyfriend, who police later found dead from apparent suicide. The woman defended the character of her boyfriend and said she forgave him.

The woman said she was scared at the time and that night he “wasn’t the man I knew.”

However, she declined to describe details of what happened the night that she fled their home.

“I don’t want to get into any of the specifics of that evening, other than to say that I was in a lot of fear for my safety,” she said. “People would like to paint [him] or myself as entirely good or entirely evil, light or dark, every human has both of these inside.”

She said when no one answered their doorbells she tried to stop people driving by but no one stopped so she returned to their home. She said she spoke to her boyfriend again before he took his own life.

“I forgave [him] long before he was gone, and love him,” she continued. “I know he too forgave and loved me. I know I will fall short daily, but I hope to continue to choose to be loved. And I hope that for us all.”

Write to Gina Martinez at gina.martinez@time.com.

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