Victim of brutal attack says ex-boyfriend tried to rip her tongue out

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Carleigh Hager, 25, is telling her story of survival after she says her now ex-boyfriend brutally attacked her inside their Indianapolis home. CBS4 talked to Carleigh inside her hospital room where she's recovering from one of the darkest nights of her life.

“And he tried to rip my tongue out with his bare fingers from here all the way up to here and he succeeded, half way. He got the right side halfway. He got it halfway ripped out,” Carleigh said.

Talking through the pain of having her tongue reconstructed and bruises and bite marks all over her body, Carleigh recalled the traumatizing episode with her mother by her side. She says she and her now ex-boyfriend Ryan Cameron, 26, returned home from a wedding Saturday night with some friends. After launching a verbal assault things got physical.

“He locked our friends outside of our house and ran to the bathroom and locked us in the bathroom,” Carleigh said.

That's where she says he  beat her until she passed out. She tells us Ryan locked the group of friends out of the home during the attack. Those friends called police, a move The Julian Center CEO, Catherine O'Connor says may have saved Carleigh's life.

"Those people intervened. They did what they could to stop the situation and they called the police to make sure something happened to protect this victim and that’s exactly what should happen,” O'Connor said.

Carleigh's mother says she didn't see any warning signs, but these visible signs won't define her baby girl.

"But because she’s such a beautiful person inside and out. Her strength and beauty is inside and the scars will heal and in time so will her heart and I’m incredibly proud of you,” mom Amy Ballard said.

Carleigh says after a loving, two-year relationship the mental, verbal and physical abuse just started a month ago. The 25-year-old nursing assistant says she wants this story to warn others not to ignore the signs and know this is not what love looks like.

“You just can’t believe that. You have to tell somebody. You can’t be embarrassed. You can’t be ashamed. You have to tell somebody because I almost died and it can happen.”

Cameron is in the Marion County Jail charged with multiple felonies including aggravated battery.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help cover medical expenses for Carleigh.

If you are experiencing a case of domestic violence or know someone who is, you can contact the IMPD Victim Assistance Office at (317) 327-3331, the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence at (800)332-7385 or call 2-1-1.

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