“I was a victim before I was a defendant.” At age 20, Kate began to date Dave. Looking back, Kate realizes that Dave’s initial attentiveness was the first sign of his need to isolate and control her. “He instilled fear in me, and once the fear is instilled, it’s always there.” In the years that followed, Dave beat, choked, and raped Kate. She had him arrested five times, but it never stopped the violence. On three occasions, Kate’s injuries were so severe that she went to the hospital. Twice, she admitted to hospital staff that Dave had beaten her.
One day, while they were in the car, Dave pulled over and started choking Kate. As they struggled, Kate reached for a gun Dave kept under the seat. She swung up to a sitting position and the gun went off. Kate got out of the car and ran. Dave drove away. Two days later, the police arrested Kate and told her that Dave had died.
The prosecutor refused to lower his plea offer of eight years in prison. “They said I didn’t fit the profile of a battered woman because I had a job.” Kate did not want to plead guilty and instead went to trial. At trial, no DV expert was called to testify on her behalf, and documents attesting to the abuse were never entered into the record. Kate was convicted of Manslaughter in the First Degree and sentenced to 81/3 to 25 years in prison. “I can tell you that prison is not a place for a woman to rebuild herself after being dehumanized by her abuser.” She was denied parole five times and she served 17 years before her release from prison.