A New Film Tells the Story of Women Who Were Imprisoned for Killing Their Abusers

The Perfect Victim, a powerful documentary that is streaming for free online this summer, aims to fill a hole in our society’s discourse around domestic violence and incarceration.

The film focuses on four Missouri women—including Shirley Lute, Tanya Mitchell, Carlene Borden, and Ruby Jamerson—who were given lengthy prison sentences after killing their abusive husbands. For many of us, the 2012 case of Marissa Alexander brought this topic to the forefront of our minds—in a high-profile trial, Alexander served over 1,000 days behind bars for firing a warning shot over her abusive husband’s head. As the story gained national attention, the country was faced with a big question: Are victims of domestic violence justified in defending themselves against their abusers? As seen in The Perfect Victim, the U.S. justice system often considers women who fight back against abuse to be criminals themselves.

Director Elizabeth Rohrbaugh opens with the typical jackassery that I have come to expect from our society: a radio talk show host, delivering the headlines to his listeners, explains in shock and horror what these terrible women have done to their poor husbands. Why didn’t they just leave? How can people think these women should be able to get away—literally—with murder? Why didn’t they call the police? Listeners call in and give their narrow-minded opinions.

Then comes the mic drop that gets the movie rolling: A woman calls in and, in a quiet and hesitant voice, says, “Hi, I’ve been beaten by my husband, and it’s not easy to just leave.” The host probes her, asking her what’s stopping her from “getting the heck out of there.” The caller sighs heavily, saying, simply: “I love him.”

Tanya Mitchell's husband Jimmy often beat her and threatened to kill her. After she shot him, she was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison. She was granted release in 2013. 

During the 1970s and ‘80s, when the documentary’s main subjects were convicted of murder, testimonies of previous abuse were inadmissible in Missouri courts in cases like these. In 1995, however, courts finally started acknowledging Battered Spouse Syndrome as part of these cases (why we have to pathologize trauma in order to validate women’s experiences is a discussion for another day). Still, defense attorneys encouraged their clients to keep prior abuse a secret, because the jury could see it as motive. In 1998, a group of lawyers created the Battered Women’s Clemency Coalition and selected 11 women who were incarcerated for killing their husbands before prior abuse was admissible in court. The coalition fought for them to be granted clemency, arguing that these women would never have been given such long sentences had the courts taken their trauma and abuse into account.

In 2004, the governor of Missouri, Bob Holden, granted clemency to two of these 11 women. One of these women was Shirley, a woman who endured horrific abuse since the age of four, first from her father and then from her husband, Melvin. Beaten, raped, and held captive, Shirley eventually asked her son to kill her husband. When the murder was discovered, she was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Shirley is the first “success story” of the documentary: We see show old footage of Shirley when she first appealed for clemency back in the late '90s, then present-day footage of her at home marveling at her singing-and-dancing teddy bears—unheard of before she was locked away in prison—and in a healthy relationship with another man.

The documentary switches from one storyline to the next as it details the lives of the four women, including Carlene, who married her abusive police officer husband when she was 14, and Ruby—the film’s sole Black victim—who, by the end of the film, is still incarcerated but is set to be released in the coming year. The storylines blended together so much that, truthfully, it was hard to keep everyone’s name and situation straight. But, the power of their stories came through even as the details got a bit confusing.

For me, the most insight I gained came from listening between the lines. Ruby, for example, starts talking about how if only she were thinking clearly enough, she should have just taken her son and left her abusive husband. “But sometimes,” she says, “you just get tired of running.” This internalized victim-blaming is so prevalent in our society, and is only a short jump away from the question of morality that plagues the documentary: Were these women right to kill their abusers? Should they have been sent to prison for decades for doing so? 

The end of the documentary is hopeful. Though the women have trouble adjusting to life after prison, Shirley has married her boyfriend and is living happily, Carlene lives in her own apartment and works for a hotel housekeeping service, and Tanya is savoring the small joys of life with her family. “In prison, when you get a visit, it's a brief hug,” she says. “Now, I can hold my mom as long as I want to. I can give her a hug forever and not just until the count of five.” Meanwhile, Ruby is set to be released very soon.  These four women were able—with a lot of aid from lawyers and volunteers—to get out of prison. But what about the other women left behind? The complex dimensions of the systemic problems don't get much explicit discussion in The Perfect Victim. Instead, we're left to consider on our own the thousands of women whose stories will aren't made into films. What about the 93 percent of women in California who were abused by the person they killed? The 75 percent of incarcerated women who are domestic violence survivors? The one in 10 women who will be sexually assaulted while in prison? It's also important to note that the documentary told the story of only one woman of color, when in reality, Black women are incarcerated three times more often than white women. But The Perfect Victim carries a heavy burden for addressing the issues that exist therein, since humane discussions of domestic violence and incarceration are so rarely seen on screen. While the documentary only scratches the surface on these huge problems, it could be fodder for a dozen more films.

Watch the trailer for The Perfect Victim: 

Related Reading: How Many Women Are in Prison For Defending Themselves Against Domestic Violence?

by Grace Manger
View profile »

Grace Manger is Bitch’s New Media intern and a recent graduate of Kalamazoo College. She likes writing letters, trampolines, the Internet, and fractals. Follow her on Twitter @gracemanger.

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26 Comments Have Been Posted

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White only?

I realize there were probably financial and other constraints, but this film should have included the stories of all the black, yellow, and brown women who have suffered this same fate. This violent male crap happens to all women of all colors! I am disappointed that this was an all-white film.

White only?

I realize there were probably financial and other constraints, but this film should have included the stories of all the black, yellow, and brown women who have suffered this same fate. This violent male crap happens to all women of all colors! I am disappointed that this was an all-white film.

lets get real

I work in family law specializing in children/teen advocacy and getting them out of abusive homes. Mom, mommy, mother is responsible for her children. If she keeps going back to her abuser ( husband, boyfriend) these kids are stuck in hell. My mom was a battered wife and she put her kids through hell. She should have left my Dad for her kids sake. Also rationalizing murder is disgusting and that is true jackassery! There is nothing wrong with people asking "why didn't she leave?" It is a logical question and it is a logical step. Stop making this a feminist issue, it is a criminal/domestic issue. Just because Mother plays the victim, it doesn't mean we need to defend her. What about the kids? No one wants to talk about that, because that is not a hit button "feminist" issue! This documentary is "victimology" at its worst! Women are adults and have brains and should be responsible for their domestic troubles. I fight for the kids, not these murdering women!

lets get real

I work in family law specializing in children/teen advocacy and getting them out of abusive homes. Mom, mommy, mother is responsible for her children. If she keeps going back to her abuser ( husband, boyfriend) these kids are stuck in hell. My mom was a battered wife and she put her kids through hell. She should have left my Dad for her kids sake. Also rationalizing murder is disgusting and that is true jackassery! There is nothing wrong with people asking "why didn't she leave?" It is a logical question and it is a logical step. Stop making this a feminist issue, it is a criminal/domestic issue. Just because Mother plays the victim, it doesn't mean we need to defend her. What about the kids? No one wants to talk about that, because that is not a hit button "feminist" issue! This documentary is "victimology" at its worst! Women are adults and have brains and should be responsible for their domestic troubles. I fight for the kids, not these murdering women!

I don't think there is

I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with wondering why a woman/ any adult in an abusive relationship doesn't leave. If you have never been an adult in an abusive relationship I can imagine that it is difficult to understand. The problem I have is when people use "well why didn't she leave" to blame people in abusive situations for the abuse they suffer. They absolve the abuser of responsibility by failing to understand, or even attempt to understand why someone might not leave.

Your mother was not the only person who could have saved you from an abusive father, who could have spared you their abusive dynamic and whatever you suffered at his hands. But she is the only person you blame for it in your comment. Your concern is for the children, but you place all the onus on the abused mother to save them, and completely absolve abusive fathers of their direct responsibility. Mothers who are abused by their partners aren't playing victims, they are victims. They are not the only victims, but they are still victims.

If you have so much animosity towards battered women, maybe you should look into a different line of work. After all, many battered children grow up to be battered women who you think play the victim.

Further, feminists certainly talk about battered children. One of the ways feminists discuss this issue is by advocating for a society that values women and children, doesn't not view them as property, and does not discuss domestic violence as a private, criminal problem, but a systemic problem that can be changed by holding abusers responsible and teaching them to relate to their families in a non-violent way. Crazy.

Finally, if you can't understand the difference between murder and self defense then you certainly shouldn't be working in a legal capacity.

Denying that domestic violence is a feminist issue, and treating abused women like criminals does not in fact protect their children from abuse. It further isolates those women from the help they need to leave their abusers and protect themselves and their families.

I don't think there is

I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with wondering why a woman/ any adult in an abusive relationship doesn't leave. If you have never been an adult in an abusive relationship I can imagine that it is difficult to understand. The problem I have is when people use "well why didn't she leave" to blame people in abusive situations for the abuse they suffer. They absolve the abuser of responsibility by failing to understand, or even attempt to understand why someone might not leave.

Your mother was not the only person who could have saved you from an abusive father, who could have spared you their abusive dynamic and whatever you suffered at his hands. But she is the only person you blame for it in your comment. Your concern is for the children, but you place all the onus on the abused mother to save them, and completely absolve abusive fathers of their direct responsibility. Mothers who are abused by their partners aren't playing victims, they are victims. They are not the only victims, but they are still victims.

If you have so much animosity towards battered women, maybe you should look into a different line of work. After all, many battered children grow up to be battered women who you think play the victim.

Further, feminists certainly talk about battered children. One of the ways feminists discuss this issue is by advocating for a society that values women and children, doesn't not view them as property, and does not discuss domestic violence as a private, criminal problem, but a systemic problem that can be changed by holding abusers responsible and teaching them to relate to their families in a non-violent way. Crazy.

Finally, if you can't understand the difference between murder and self defense then you certainly shouldn't be working in a legal capacity.

Denying that domestic violence is a feminist issue, and treating abused women like criminals does not in fact protect their children from abuse. It further isolates those women from the help they need to leave their abusers and protect themselves and their families.

I agree with you!

Thank you for replying to the angry individual who commented on that article.
Your reply makes so much sense where their comments did not.
Obvioiusly that person still has issues to work through when it comes to their parents dynamic and
It is terrible that children are involved in these situations at all, bad choices all around!

I agree with you!

Thank you for replying to the angry individual who commented on that article.
Your reply makes so much sense where their comments did not.
Obvioiusly that person still has issues to work through when it comes to their parents dynamic and
It is terrible that children are involved in these situations at all, bad choices all around!

thanks but no thanks

First off, I understand that the men are to blame. They should be in jail, but Women have to survive and do what they need to. Also, like most of the kids/teens I work with, I blame daddy dearest as much as mom. Do you work in law? Do you have a damn psychology degree? Most children in toxic households blame mother ( the passive abuser) sometimes more than Dad ( the aggressive abuser) If you need a reference read Toxic Parents which is an excellent book. Next, obviously I know the difference between actual self defense ( where someone kills someone in the moment to save their own life) vs murder (premeditated at any time before the killing actually happens) If it is actual self defense the judge/jury will let the person go vs if it is MURDER! Duh. Do not tell me about my own family. My mother is a idiot who should have left my mentally ill father! Yes, I blame both equally and don't speak to either. Stop using victim feminism as your ideology for everything!

thanks but no thanks

First off, I understand that the men are to blame. They should be in jail, but Women have to survive and do what they need to. Also, like most of the kids/teens I work with, I blame daddy dearest as much as mom. Do you work in law? Do you have a damn psychology degree? Most children in toxic households blame mother ( the passive abuser) sometimes more than Dad ( the aggressive abuser) If you need a reference read Toxic Parents which is an excellent book. Next, obviously I know the difference between actual self defense ( where someone kills someone in the moment to save their own life) vs murder (premeditated at any time before the killing actually happens) If it is actual self defense the judge/jury will let the person go vs if it is MURDER! Duh. Do not tell me about my own family. My mother is a idiot who should have left my mentally ill father! Yes, I blame both equally and don't speak to either. Stop using victim feminism as your ideology for everything!

Imperfect System

"If it is actual self defense the judge/jury will let the person go vs if it is MURDER! Duh"? With your career in law you should have an understand of the judicial system, inactive police, and a system that is greatly lacking in the protection of domestic violence victims and their families.

Some facts:
*When leaving a domestic violence situation, the victim is 70 times more likely to be murdered
*Only 25% of domestic violence is reported
*Three women are murdered every day in the US by male partners (present or past)
*40% of police officers are involved in domestic violence
*Studies have shown that there is a "clear and pervasive pattern" of departures from departmental policy and law in regards to domestic violence. (Meaning, they either do nothing, or they arrest the abused party for defending themselves.)
*Most victims who leave domestic violence situations are stalked by their former partner
*Divorce after domestic violence is the second leading cause of domestic violence related deaths, second only to the initial time of separation
*Studies have shown that police will often arrest the victim of the abuse rather than the offended, often citing that the violence was "justified" somehow.(Journal of Interpersonal Violence"
*Battered Person (Woman) Syndrome is real
*Who kill abusers in self defense are likely to be convicted of manslaughter 34% of the time (I have a friend serving 15 years for stabbing her uncle while he was raping her. Self defence, according to the law, ended after she stabbed him the first time, as there was "good cause" to expect he would stop. It did not matter that she took the knife from him, as he held it to her throat.)

I should let you know that while I do not have a "damn" psychology degree, nor do I work in law, I have studied both because I find them very interesting and useful. I have multiple degrees and an IQ of 147, so no one can disqualify my ability to understand such things. Because I enjoy learning and have a wide breadth of interest, I tend to study lots of things. Domestic violence, however, is especially important to me because I am a survivor.

As a mother, I felt guilty about the time we spent trapped by my (ex)husband; however, my children would defend my actions any day, as they know I had no other choice, given our situation. I have, in fact, read "Toxic Parents" by Susan Forward, along with others that deal with the same general subject. I think, however, you missed a lot in the reading of that text, as you seem to be assuming and claiming that all abused partners are 'toxic,' especially since the book covers different types of toxicity, not just the dynamics in an abusive family. I think "The Batterer as Parent" and "When Dad Hurts Mom" would be more apropos to this situation. Both are great books. And , of course, there is "The Domestic Violence Sourcebook."

There is an assumption in your words that suggests all abused parents become toxic to their children, which, I assure you, is simply not the case. This is supported by psychological research and by my own personal experiences. I always acted to protect my children. Never have they felt anything but love from me. In fact, other than the sad and awful fact that they witnessed their father abuse me on a few occasion and overheard him make threats concerning them, they were never hit until after I left their father. He began abusing our youngest after her took her from me (not legally but physically). I have never hit my children. It is rare that I raise my voice to them, because we have a pretty strong, healthy relationship. My son is an adult now, and my daughter will be soon. I think they are wonderful. We all live together rather happily, except for the constant fear that my ex-husband will try to harm us. He is more than an hour away, and we are thrilled to know that the last DUI got his license revoked for a couple years. That makes us feel a little safer.

You are right that we cannot speak of knowing your family, yet you are speaking rather harshly and untruthfully about my family and me with these sorts of broad statements about abused parents. I fear that you are being toxic yourself and bringing it to those you are meant to help. I hope that your tone, attitude, and word choice are not pregnant with your own resentments when working with these children and teens. I like to believe that is the case. I assume that if you are working with these children and have the degree in psychology that you have studied the dynamics of abusive relationships. "A Typology of Domestic Violence" and "Domestic Violence Advocacy: Complex Lives/Difficult Choices" might be helpful in understanding the complicated family dynamics in these sorts of situations.

What you are talking about with "passive abuser" has more to do with child abuse in which the mother or father do nothing. Blame does not go to the one being abused, nor are just "daddy dearest" abusers. My mother was abusive and unpredictable. My father did not help me or my sisters. I do not blame my father for the scars on my back. I blame my mother. My father was afraid of her, and we all knew it. I do not speak with either of them. My mom because she means nothing to me, and my dad because she will not let him. I understand that children often place blame when they are not protected, but you cannot think that it is a healthy stance for a child who is is witness to domestic violence to blame the victim, as it would teach them that if they are victims they hold some sort of blame.

I met their father in high school, married him five years into our relationship, and spent just over a decade living pretty normally. He then became a monster. We lived 9 months in that hell. Not because I said I loved him, or that he loved me. I tried leaving before it was safe. It got me permanently disabled.

Imperfect System

"If it is actual self defense the judge/jury will let the person go vs if it is MURDER! Duh"? With your career in law you should have an understand of the judicial system, inactive police, and a system that is greatly lacking in the protection of domestic violence victims and their families.

Some facts:
*When leaving a domestic violence situation, the victim is 70 times more likely to be murdered
*Only 25% of domestic violence is reported
*Three women are murdered every day in the US by male partners (present or past)
*40% of police officers are involved in domestic violence
*Studies have shown that there is a "clear and pervasive pattern" of departures from departmental policy and law in regards to domestic violence. (Meaning, they either do nothing, or they arrest the abused party for defending themselves.)
*Most victims who leave domestic violence situations are stalked by their former partner
*Divorce after domestic violence is the second leading cause of domestic violence related deaths, second only to the initial time of separation
*Studies have shown that police will often arrest the victim of the abuse rather than the offended, often citing that the violence was "justified" somehow.(Journal of Interpersonal Violence"
*Battered Person (Woman) Syndrome is real
*Who kill abusers in self defense are likely to be convicted of manslaughter 34% of the time (I have a friend serving 15 years for stabbing her uncle while he was raping her. Self defence, according to the law, ended after she stabbed him the first time, as there was "good cause" to expect he would stop. It did not matter that she took the knife from him, as he held it to her throat.)

I should let you know that while I do not have a "damn" psychology degree, nor do I work in law, I have studied both because I find them very interesting and useful. I have multiple degrees and an IQ of 147, so no one can disqualify my ability to understand such things. Because I enjoy learning and have a wide breadth of interest, I tend to study lots of things. Domestic violence, however, is especially important to me because I am a survivor.

As a mother, I felt guilty about the time we spent trapped by my (ex)husband; however, my children would defend my actions any day, as they know I had no other choice, given our situation. I have, in fact, read "Toxic Parents" by Susan Forward, along with others that deal with the same general subject. I think, however, you missed a lot in the reading of that text, as you seem to be assuming and claiming that all abused partners are 'toxic,' especially since the book covers different types of toxicity, not just the dynamics in an abusive family. I think "The Batterer as Parent" and "When Dad Hurts Mom" would be more apropos to this situation. Both are great books. And , of course, there is "The Domestic Violence Sourcebook."

There is an assumption in your words that suggests all abused parents become toxic to their children, which, I assure you, is simply not the case. This is supported by psychological research and by my own personal experiences. I always acted to protect my children. Never have they felt anything but love from me. In fact, other than the sad and awful fact that they witnessed their father abuse me on a few occasion and overheard him make threats concerning them, they were never hit until after I left their father. He began abusing our youngest after her took her from me (not legally but physically). I have never hit my children. It is rare that I raise my voice to them, because we have a pretty strong, healthy relationship. My son is an adult now, and my daughter will be soon. I think they are wonderful. We all live together rather happily, except for the constant fear that my ex-husband will try to harm us. He is more than an hour away, and we are thrilled to know that the last DUI got his license revoked for a couple years. That makes us feel a little safer.

You are right that we cannot speak of knowing your family, yet you are speaking rather harshly and untruthfully about my family and me with these sorts of broad statements about abused parents. I fear that you are being toxic yourself and bringing it to those you are meant to help. I hope that your tone, attitude, and word choice are not pregnant with your own resentments when working with these children and teens. I like to believe that is the case. I assume that if you are working with these children and have the degree in psychology that you have studied the dynamics of abusive relationships. "A Typology of Domestic Violence" and "Domestic Violence Advocacy: Complex Lives/Difficult Choices" might be helpful in understanding the complicated family dynamics in these sorts of situations.

What you are talking about with "passive abuser" has more to do with child abuse in which the mother or father do nothing. Blame does not go to the one being abused, nor are just "daddy dearest" abusers. My mother was abusive and unpredictable. My father did not help me or my sisters. I do not blame my father for the scars on my back. I blame my mother. My father was afraid of her, and we all knew it. I do not speak with either of them. My mom because she means nothing to me, and my dad because she will not let him. I understand that children often place blame when they are not protected, but you cannot think that it is a healthy stance for a child who is is witness to domestic violence to blame the victim, as it would teach them that if they are victims they hold some sort of blame.

I met their father in high school, married him five years into our relationship, and spent just over a decade living pretty normally. He then became a monster. We lived 9 months in that hell. Not because I said I loved him, or that he loved me. I tried leaving before it was safe. It got me permanently disabled.

thanks for your reply

I was just really mad when I read this article and flipped out. Abuse and violence causes different reactions with different people. After reading more and having a eye opening session with my therapist who works with battered women, I see things differently. Sorry if my comment upset you in any manner.

thanks for your reply

I was just really mad when I read this article and flipped out. Abuse and violence causes different reactions with different people. After reading more and having a eye opening session with my therapist who works with battered women, I see things differently. Sorry if my comment upset you in any manner.

ending the cycle

Using my life and my clients lives as a perfect example, we have ended the cycle of abuse in our lives! I have a wonderful husband who supports me 100%! I never have and never will take any crap from a Man, friend , neighbor or a commenting left winger like YOU! So what you said about battered kids becoming battered wives is BS! I'm sick of bleeding heart liberals like you, that is why I don't call myself a feminist anymore.

ending the cycle

Using my life and my clients lives as a perfect example, we have ended the cycle of abuse in our lives! I have a wonderful husband who supports me 100%! I never have and never will take any crap from a Man, friend , neighbor or a commenting left winger like YOU! So what you said about battered kids becoming battered wives is BS! I'm sick of bleeding heart liberals like you, that is why I don't call myself a feminist anymore.

"Victim Playing" Mother of Two

Dear Lets Get Real: I just had a very important conversation with my children concerning your post. I asked my children (one of whom is now an adult, and the other who is in her teens) if they understood why I did not leave their father before I did. They said that they know that if I had attempted any sooner than I did, we we would all would have been murdered by their father. They said that they understood that I was trapped out of absolute fear for all of us, including their great-grandfather who lived with us at the time. I asked them if they would have hated me if I had killed their father. They said that there were times they thought about doing it, so they cannot and would not have had any ill feelings towards me. They also stated that they do not think that I play the victim but rather I was a victim pretending not to be in order to save them and safely get us away. They also know that when I asked for help or protection from the police, I was ignored or threatened by them.

Why did your mother not leave? Maybe it protected you more. Maybe she knew leaving would have put you in greater danger. The most dangerous time is when the partner leaves. That is when most murders occur.
Why did I not leave. Fear for my children, that he would hold good to his statements and kill them. (He actually stated that if I did try to leave he would "find them, chopped them up, and force me to sort their pieces. No one can tell me that he would not have done it.) Fear for my ex-husband's grandfather , whom my (ex)husband threatened to to set fire to in his bed. Fear for my pets, who he had started harming, including shooting our dog and killing one of my cats. Fear that there was no where to go, because no one would let me stay with them because they were afraid he would come after them. Fear that no one would help, because when I sought it I was refused. Fear of my (ex)husband, because he had taken control of all of my money (he stopped working), had broken the phones in our home, sliced my tires, attacked me at my place of employment--almost getting me fired--had raped me, choked me, beaten me, bashed my head, and, most importantly, kept me "under control" by threatening our children. ("Get home in 10 minutes or I will set fire to the house after locking the kids in their rooms." "Do not tell anyone I broke your leg because I will break [our daughter's].")

I was married to their father for more than a decade before he became abusive, but when he did it was so severe that he almost killed me on two separate occasions, including the very first attack. I have suffered memory loss--I am well educated and have a rather high IQ, so this is particularly upsetting--PTSD, and physical disability because of the abuse. For almost a year he did this to us, making us live in fear. I called the police the night he fractured my leg, He was guilty of breaking my femur, tibia, and patella, along with snapping tendons and muscle, causing constant debilitating pain, vascular damage, and the inability to stand or walk for more than a short time. he told the officer that he was suicidal and that he want me to take him to the hospital. They told me to drive him and then left me with him. The next time they came was after my sister had called after he broke the phone while I was speaking with him. the police examined me in a barely lit room. i was bleeding from my neck, clearly disheveled, and crying hysterically because he threatened to kill our children if they arrested him. Oh, and I was on crutches. They offered to arrest me because he had a scratch on his arm that he admitted was from when he "removed" one of my necklaces. He declined their offer and said that he would "handle" me.

An unfortunate event led me to escape him. It was .terrifying and I could not believe the luck that came out of an event so upsetting, but he left one night to stay at girlfriend's. Children services came by after my son reported their father. They made it clear that as long as he was out of the house they would not take my children. (Again, nothing was done about his actual violence.) He moved in with his girlfriend. They plotted to take my daughter. In fact, there was an 8 month time frame that he did take her and kept her from me. I had to audio record his threats made by phone to me about our daughter to prove his abuse of her. (He had started hitting her and depriving her of food. He then threatened to have me arrested so he could "sign" her over to foster care so that I would never see her again.) Finally, a judge granted a protection order.

In all it took me 5 1/2 years and moving two counties away to not have daily threats and actual acts of violence. My children and I have not lived with him since the unfortunate event that helped us get away. It took more than a year for my divorce to be granted. He did his best to make it difficult and would have contested more if the judge had not been made aware of the domestic violence.

5 1/2 years, two counties apart, a CPO, a police station in walking distance from my home, and a divorce have not given me or my children any sense of safety. My son (now 22) regrets not killing his father. I am happy he did not, but I understand what he feels. It is a sad fact, but my children stated that they hope he kills himself. I have thought that very thing, but have not said it to them. It would be the only way we can feel safe. He certainly has threatened it enough.

My children and I think that you have a pretty twisted view of partners that stay. Reliving the blame you put on your mother does not help the children you are supposed to be representing,and it is certainly a disservice to their families.

On another note concerning imprisonment of women that kill abusers. My best friend is serving 15 years for killing her uncle while he was raping her. He had offered her a place to stay so that she could get everything settled in our state before moving her three children across the country from hers. One night soon after, he attacked her. He held her down, poured alcohol down her throat, and raped her at knifepoint. She stabbed him multiple times. She was so traumatized that she only remembered stabbing him twice. They said it could not have been self defence because one stab should have stopped the attack. She was charged with involuntary manslaughter and burglary, a charged tacked on because she had attempted to take some of her own clothes for his appartment. Her children were sent to foster care after their father--her now ex-husband-- turned to drugs.They have been living sad lives since then. Two have had drug issues, one has ran away multiple times, and treated like a criminal for it.

Every day someone tries to make her feel bad about killing him. No one knows what they would do in a similar situation, but I know that I am happy that the wonderful, amazing, funny, and kind human that is my best friend is still alive. She should not be rotting away in prison. Her children should not have been force to live 2,400 miles from her, unable to see her.

I am sorry your mother was abused. I am sorry you and your siblings lived in hell. That does not mean that these mothers (or yours, for all I know) were doing what they had to.

"Victim Playing" Mother of Two

Dear Lets Get Real: I just had a very important conversation with my children concerning your post. I asked my children (one of whom is now an adult, and the other who is in her teens) if they understood why I did not leave their father before I did. They said that they know that if I had attempted any sooner than I did, we we would all would have been murdered by their father. They said that they understood that I was trapped out of absolute fear for all of us, including their great-grandfather who lived with us at the time. I asked them if they would have hated me if I had killed their father. They said that there were times they thought about doing it, so they cannot and would not have had any ill feelings towards me. They also stated that they do not think that I play the victim but rather I was a victim pretending not to be in order to save them and safely get us away. They also know that when I asked for help or protection from the police, I was ignored or threatened by them.

Why did your mother not leave? Maybe it protected you more. Maybe she knew leaving would have put you in greater danger. The most dangerous time is when the partner leaves. That is when most murders occur.
Why did I not leave. Fear for my children, that he would hold good to his statements and kill them. (He actually stated that if I did try to leave he would "find them, chopped them up, and force me to sort their pieces. No one can tell me that he would not have done it.) Fear for my ex-husband's grandfather , whom my (ex)husband threatened to to set fire to in his bed. Fear for my pets, who he had started harming, including shooting our dog and killing one of my cats. Fear that there was no where to go, because no one would let me stay with them because they were afraid he would come after them. Fear that no one would help, because when I sought it I was refused. Fear of my (ex)husband, because he had taken control of all of my money (he stopped working), had broken the phones in our home, sliced my tires, attacked me at my place of employment--almost getting me fired--had raped me, choked me, beaten me, bashed my head, and, most importantly, kept me "under control" by threatening our children. ("Get home in 10 minutes or I will set fire to the house after locking the kids in their rooms." "Do not tell anyone I broke your leg because I will break [our daughter's].")

I was married to their father for more than a decade before he became abusive, but when he did it was so severe that he almost killed me on two separate occasions, including the very first attack. I have suffered memory loss--I am well educated and have a rather high IQ, so this is particularly upsetting--PTSD, and physical disability because of the abuse. For almost a year he did this to us, making us live in fear. I called the police the night he fractured my leg, He was guilty of breaking my femur, tibia, and patella, along with snapping tendons and muscle, causing constant debilitating pain, vascular damage, and the inability to stand or walk for more than a short time. he told the officer that he was suicidal and that he want me to take him to the hospital. They told me to drive him and then left me with him. The next time they came was after my sister had called after he broke the phone while I was speaking with him. the police examined me in a barely lit room. i was bleeding from my neck, clearly disheveled, and crying hysterically because he threatened to kill our children if they arrested him. Oh, and I was on crutches. They offered to arrest me because he had a scratch on his arm that he admitted was from when he "removed" one of my necklaces. He declined their offer and said that he would "handle" me.

An unfortunate event led me to escape him. It was .terrifying and I could not believe the luck that came out of an event so upsetting, but he left one night to stay at girlfriend's. Children services came by after my son reported their father. They made it clear that as long as he was out of the house they would not take my children. (Again, nothing was done about his actual violence.) He moved in with his girlfriend. They plotted to take my daughter. In fact, there was an 8 month time frame that he did take her and kept her from me. I had to audio record his threats made by phone to me about our daughter to prove his abuse of her. (He had started hitting her and depriving her of food. He then threatened to have me arrested so he could "sign" her over to foster care so that I would never see her again.) Finally, a judge granted a protection order.

In all it took me 5 1/2 years and moving two counties away to not have daily threats and actual acts of violence. My children and I have not lived with him since the unfortunate event that helped us get away. It took more than a year for my divorce to be granted. He did his best to make it difficult and would have contested more if the judge had not been made aware of the domestic violence.

5 1/2 years, two counties apart, a CPO, a police station in walking distance from my home, and a divorce have not given me or my children any sense of safety. My son (now 22) regrets not killing his father. I am happy he did not, but I understand what he feels. It is a sad fact, but my children stated that they hope he kills himself. I have thought that very thing, but have not said it to them. It would be the only way we can feel safe. He certainly has threatened it enough.

My children and I think that you have a pretty twisted view of partners that stay. Reliving the blame you put on your mother does not help the children you are supposed to be representing,and it is certainly a disservice to their families.

On another note concerning imprisonment of women that kill abusers. My best friend is serving 15 years for killing her uncle while he was raping her. He had offered her a place to stay so that she could get everything settled in our state before moving her three children across the country from hers. One night soon after, he attacked her. He held her down, poured alcohol down her throat, and raped her at knifepoint. She stabbed him multiple times. She was so traumatized that she only remembered stabbing him twice. They said it could not have been self defence because one stab should have stopped the attack. She was charged with involuntary manslaughter and burglary, a charged tacked on because she had attempted to take some of her own clothes for his appartment. Her children were sent to foster care after their father--her now ex-husband-- turned to drugs.They have been living sad lives since then. Two have had drug issues, one has ran away multiple times, and treated like a criminal for it.

Every day someone tries to make her feel bad about killing him. No one knows what they would do in a similar situation, but I know that I am happy that the wonderful, amazing, funny, and kind human that is my best friend is still alive. She should not be rotting away in prison. Her children should not have been force to live 2,400 miles from her, unable to see her.

I am sorry your mother was abused. I am sorry you and your siblings lived in hell. That does not mean that these mothers (or yours, for all I know) were doing what they had to.

thanks for sharing

Sorry you all had to go through all of that. Life really sucks sometimes. I just really dislike my parents and wish they weren't my parents. This article just brought up a lot of emotions. Anyway, thanks for sharing your story. After seeing my therapist this week who happens to work with battered women I see things differently.

thanks for sharing

Sorry you all had to go through all of that. Life really sucks sometimes. I just really dislike my parents and wish they weren't my parents. This article just brought up a lot of emotions. Anyway, thanks for sharing your story. After seeing my therapist this week who happens to work with battered women I see things differently.

Unlike some of y'all who have

Unlike some of y'all who have responded here I'm a survivor of domestic violence. This film really touched my heart. To know that these women are in prison for killing their abuser is a reality of our society to this day. I recently found out that I was turned down for victim compensation because of a error made by the State Attorney's Office. They are content to let the abuser kill me and let me become a check mark in the win column. And you people wonder why these ladies killed their abuser, this is why. No matter what they did the abuser would hunt them down and drag them back. If they'd not killed the abuser they themselves would be dead. Think about that before you judge.

Unlike some of y'all who have

Unlike some of y'all who have responded here I'm a survivor of domestic violence. This film really touched my heart. To know that these women are in prison for killing their abuser is a reality of our society to this day. I recently found out that I was turned down for victim compensation because of a error made by the State Attorney's Office. They are content to let the abuser kill me and let me become a check mark in the win column. And you people wonder why these ladies killed their abuser, this is why. No matter what they did the abuser would hunt them down and drag them back. If they'd not killed the abuser they themselves would be dead. Think about that before you judge.

Battered Women Syndrome

There is a defence here in the UK, battered women syndrome. Although hard to prove, as many women cover up the abuse they endure. You need Dr and hospital proof, police reports and any other information.
I know this was first identified by an American and can also be used in the US but it seems less successful there.

http://sixthformlaw.info/01_modules/mod3a/3_31_voluntary/03_vol_mans_dim...

Battered Women Syndrome

There is a defence here in the UK, battered women syndrome. Although hard to prove, as many women cover up the abuse they endure. You need Dr and hospital proof, police reports and any other information.
I know this was first identified by an American and can also be used in the US but it seems less successful there.

http://sixthformlaw.info/01_modules/mod3a/3_31_voluntary/03_vol_mans_dim...

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