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'I almost died, but now I'm free': Tampa mother stabbed 13 times now out of hospital healing, fighting for custody of kids

Crystal Bresnahan's wounds are a reminder of what she's endured, but now she's experiencing even bigger heartache trying to get her kids back.

TAMPA, Florida — A little more than two weeks after a stabbing, high-speed chase and shootout, a Tampa mother is home recovering. 

Crystal Brenahan's husband, Michael Bresnahan, stabbed her 13 times in front of their children and left her for dead. Police say Bresnahan died after turning the gun on himself during a shootout with police. 

Speaking exclusively to 10 Tampa Bay's Angelina Salcedo just one week after being released from the hospital, Crystal said surviving the horrific attack is just the beginning of a new battle. 

"I almost died, but now I'm free. Now I'm free," she said.

The 30-year-old mother of four is finally safe. She's a survivor who doctors say is a miracle. 

"I know now that I can live the rest of my life with peace. I have a bunch of stab wounds on my lower stomach, upper stomach. The ones on my back, those ones still hurt a lot," Crystal explained while showing her wounds that are healing.

Before the unthinkable, Crystal had just moved her kids to a domestic violence shelter to escape the abuse she faced at home. After eight years, she finally had the courage to take the step and escape the situation she had lived for so long.

"I felt safe while I was there, but I always had in the back of my mind, like, 'What's going to happen one day when I'm coming home from work?' I felt like if I keep telling him no, he's eventually going to get so upset," Crystal said.

On July 17, she says her husband snapped. Surveillance video from a house nearby where she was stabbed captured her screams. 

"Those screams kind of put me back there. I was screaming with every ounce of my being," Crystal said.

The 33-year-old father attacked her as he picked up the kids to take them to the park. 

"I never thought that he could do something like this to me, I was very wrong about that. I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact that he's gone and that I'm safe now," Crystal said.

Her wounds are a reminder of what she's endured, but now she's experiencing even bigger heartache.

"My hope is that I get my kids back. That is a pain I wouldn't wish on anyone because not being with them is harder than getting stabbed as many times as I did," Crystal said.

Michael's family filed an emergency injunction after the attack to have temporary custody of the kids. After a few visits to court, it's been extended.

"His mother has them which is the craziest part of all of it because that's where all of his problems come from. All of his mental health issues, they all stem from his childhood," Crystal said.

The mother faces another battle despite being a survivor of domestic violence. Her three sons witnessed the attack.

"I just want them back more than anything. I need them to heal properly. They need me to heal properly," Crystal said.

That's why Crystal won't stop fighting until she gets custody. So far, visits and every day phone calls have been granted.

"The worst part of everything is I'm being treated like a villain and like, I didn't take care of my kids or protect them, which is very much not the case. I do have hope that I'll get them back. It just sucks that it's at their expense," Crystal said.

Crystal says Michael's family is arguing she's unfit to take care of her kids. The next hearing is Aug. 14.  

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