“Trapped in the dark”: Marissa Alexander and how our twisted legal system re-victimizes domestic violence survivors

He assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave. After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing. I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out. For protection against further assault I retrieved my weapon; which is registered and I have a concealed weapon permit. Trapped, no phone, I entered back into my home to either leave through another exit or obtain my cell phone.

– Marissa Alexander

“Why does she stay? Why doesn’t she leave?” These are the questions one hears when talking about people, particularly women, in abusive relationships. These same questions become key points when survivors of abuse defend themselves after years of violence and trauma. These may also be some of the key questions Marissa Alexander will face on Friday as she argues her right to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

Alexander, a Florida mother of three, made headlines in 2012 when she was convicted of aggravated assault after firing a warning shot to stop her husband from attacking her. Alexander fired the shot into the ceiling, harming no one. She attempted to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law, but a pre-trial judge ruled that she could have escaped through the front or back doors of her own home. The prosecutor, Angela Corey, added Florida’s 10-20-Life sentencing enhancement, mandating a 20-year minimum sentence when a firearm is discharged. In September 2013, an appeals court reversed her conviction. Alexander’s trial is scheduled for July 28, 2014. Angela Corey is seeking consecutive sentences, meaning that Alexander faces 60 years in prison if convicted. Read the rest of this Salon article here.

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