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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Battle Scars: Domestic violence can lead to life of fear, resentment for victims

Friday, September 17, 2010

The names of the domestic violence victim and her son in this story have been changed to protect their identities.

GREENCASTLE -- Suzanne married her ex-husband in August 2008 after they had dated for four years.

She had misgivings about the marriage from the beginning. Her husband, she said, was physically, sexually, verbally and mentally abusive to her throughout their relationship.

"Suzanne" and her son "Caleb" look out the window of their Greencastle home. Suzanne has been a victim of domestic violence, and there are currently charges pending against her ex-husband. Banner Graphic/JAMIE BARRAND
But she went through with it anyway.

The couple moved from their home in Illinois to Clay County, where Suzanne's parents lived.

"I thought it would get better, but it didn't," Suzanne said. "It got worse."

The couple's son, Caleb, was born in September 2008.

Suzanne said Caleb was the product of a rape.

Three weeks after Caleb was born, Suzanne was pregnant again. She claimed the second pregnancy was also the result of non-consensual sex.

Her husband's abuse, Suzanne said, caused her to go into labor and give birth to a second son on March 4, 2009 -- when she was five­­ and a half months along.

The child was stillborn, giving Suzanne one more emotional horror to deal with.

In the spring of 2009, Suzanne got a place of her own.

But that didn't stop her husband from barging into her home and terrorizing her.

Suzanne finally mustered the courage to file for divorce, and with the help of Legal Aid her marriage was dissolved in May.

That same month, domestic battery charges were filed in Clay County against Suzanne's husband.

Suzanne's husband was originally charged with Class D felony domestic battery and Class A misdemeanor battery resulting in bodily injury. Under the terms of a plea agreement, the felony charge was dropped.

In July 2009, Suzanne's husband received a one-year suspended sentence and was placed on probation in Clay County.

The abuse continued, and Suzanne took a government-subsidized apartment in Greencastle.

Suzanne said her ex-husband choked her last November, causing bruising to her neck. Banner Graphic/JAMIE BARRAND
Suzanne's ex-husband followed her, she said, and has continued to come to her home and abuse her. Thinking allowing him to stay with her would quell his anger, Suzanne gave in and told him he could stay for a while.

"Then it got to the point where he would take the van for days at a time and leave us with nothing," she said.

An incident took place this past Thanksgiving, Suzanne said, that led to her ex-husband not only abusing her, but also throwing their infant son across a room.

That incident led to a criminal charge -- Class A misdemeanor domestic battery -- being filed against Suzanne's ex-husband. He was in jail for three days before posting 10 percent of a $5,000 bond.

Suzanne went to her landlord and asked that the locks on her apartment be changed, but was told she would be charged $50.

"I don't have the money," she said simply. "So he still has a key and can come in and out any time he wants to."

Suzanne's husband pled not guilty. A jury trial was originally slated for June, but has been continued to October.

Court records said Suzanne told police her ex-husband slapped her in the face and "took a handgun from the closet and threatened to kill (her) sister."

A petition to revoke Suzanne's ex-husband's Clay County probation was filed on Dec. 8. He pled not guilty and was released from jail on Dec. 15.

A fact-finding hearing in that case is set for Nov. 3.

Cari Cox, executive director for Putnam County Family Support Services, said money for things like changing locks is available through PCFSS.

"We provide anything we can in situations like that," she said. "We do everything we can do to help women in those situations to be safe."

Suzanne has already testified in court against her ex-husband, and said she has felt little support from court officials.

"The judge said I was making things up to make it more dramatic," she said. "I don't have any reason to make anything more dramatic."

Looking back, Suzanne said, she can't say for sure why she continued to put up with her husband's abuse.

"I'm the typical story," she said with a sigh. "I took him back. He said he was sorry and that he would never hurt me again. I fell for it hook, line and sinker."

Suzanne said injuries from her ex-husband's abuse have caused her to have numerous gynecological health issues, some of which have required surgery. The most recent surgery, she said, took place on April 29.

Several days after the surgery, Suzanne said, her ex-husband came into her home and attacked her.

Suzanne said she has given up reporting her husband's attacks, because she doesn't feel like anyone cares.

Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter said he takes any report of domestic abuse seriously, but admitted they are hard cases to get to trial.

"The biggest problem I have is the victims do not want to prosecute in about 65 percent of the cases," he said. "There are self-esteem issues and financial concerns. Cooperation by the victim is the key element in deciding who to take to trial. When I get a case the investigation is completed by the police, and I look to see if we can prove the case -- which always brings me back to the willingness of the victim to cooperate."

Cox said she understands how the prosecutor's hands can be tied in domestic abuse cases.

"It is such a he said, she said thing," she said.

Bookwalter said he is, with the help of local law enforcement, exploring different ways to make sure more domestic violence offenders are prosecuted.

One such idea, he said, is to record on video the initial statements of domestic violence victims.

"The victim will have a harder time recanting the facts with it in living color, bumps and bruises and all," Bookwalter said.

Cox said in many cases, abused women were raised in homes where abuse was present.

"A lot of times in these situations, they have always lived in chaos," she said. "There has always been turmoil. They become adults, and they get into situations where they can create their own chaos."

Suzanne used to be a firefighter and paramedic, but has been unable to work because of injuries and emotional stress caused by her ex-husband's abuse, she said. She receives Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits, as well as food stamps and assistance with her rent and utilities.

She owns a car, but it needs repairs she cannot afford at the moment. She said she has prescriptions she needs to have filled, but cannot afford right now.

"I just budget, budget, budget, pinch, pinch, pinch," she said.

Suzanne's ex-husband is allowed visitation with the couple's son. She is not satisfied with the terms of the visitation -- it has to be supervised by Suzanne's father, and court records specifically state that her ex-husband's 20-year-old girlfriend is allowed to attend.

"I don't want to send him, but I know I'll end up in jail if I don't," Suzanne said.

Suzanne said the abuse of her ex-husband and the stress it has caused her has put a strain on her relationship with her parents.

"They just don't understand what I'm going through," she said, finally letting tears flow. "I'm tired of being told I'm an embarrassment. I'm tired of being told to get a job. I don't like how my life is right now. I didn't ask for this."

Cox said women who live through abuse come out of it damaged in many ways.

"They need the advocacy to get through the court proceedings, and then they need education to figure out how they're going to go on after it's over," Cox said. "But many of these women also need intensive mental health treatment."

Abuse, more often than not, leads to mental illness.

"That's absolutely the case," Cox said. "It can result in post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, borderline personality disorders or bipolar disorder. After you take so much abuse, your brain starts to compensate in different ways."

Another common outcome of physical abuse is drug or alcohol addiction.

"Victims often self medicate," Cox said.

In either case, Cox said, the hardest thing for many victims is asking for help.

"They have a difficult time accepting advocacy," she said. "No one wants to admit they need that help."

But as the circumstances of each case of abuse are very different, so are the victims.

"A lot of victims are just resigned," Cox said. "This is old hat for them, and they've learned to cope."

The staff at PCFSS has heard a lot of stories from a lot of different women.

"When they come through our door, many times they've been waiting so long to tell someone what's been going on," she said.

When the subject of actually leaving the relationship comes up, Cox said, victims consider many things.

"They want their children to finish the school year, or they know when a paycheck is going to go into an account," she said. "They know when it would be the safest time to leave."

The sad fact remains, Cox said, that women who are abused rarely get out of the relationship after they've left once.

"The average woman leaves an abusive relationship seven to nine times before they leave for good or they die," she said.

Threats become a weapon for abusers, Cox said. The abuser threatens to take away all the victim's money and possessions, or they threaten the victim will never see her children again if she reports the abuse.

"They have no reason to believe the abuser won't follow through," Cox said. "Everything else he's threatened, he's done."

Last year, Cox said, PCFSS assisted 15 sexual assault victims -- all assaulted by people they knew.

"It's usually a boyfriend or someone they just met, a friend of a friend," she said. "Everyone wants to believe that a rapist is usually a stranger jumping out of the bushes, but that's not usually the case."

Often, a high-profile abuse case will drive abused women to seek help, Cox said.

Such was the case this past January when Kathryne Bledsoe was shot in her Reelsville home, allegedly by her husband.

"We had so many people come in after that," Cox said. "People were coming in saying, 'I don't want my mom to die' or 'I don't want to die.'"

Putnam County Family Support Services is located at 24 W. Washington St. in Greencastle. Then can be reached at 653-4820.

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I'm a survivor of domestic abuse. I finally got the help I needed to overcome the emotional damage from Women's Ministries in Cloverdale. The women there are very caring and there is probably someone there that has experienced some of the same abuse you have. Don't give up hope.

-- Posted by ltllamb on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 3:48 AM

I am not surprised that the court system is having a problem believing you! The reason for that is because they have seen alot of woman blame men for this same abuse but the man was not the abuser. Woman have it too easy to go into child services and accuse their better-half of abuse to her & their children and then having the man arrested for nothing. With the man receiving a felony for something that he has not done! I have seen this many times. I know of one man that was accused of abuse and it was thrown out by the judge, BUT of course child services has him pegged as a bad father and has it on their files....THAT IS WRONG! This man is a very loving father and provides very well...while the mother does nothing for her children she has all rights. What is wrong with this picture?

-- Posted by cato on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 8:26 AM

i know this woman, if you need help with your car or something like that contact me, i dont have much but i will help what little i can. i worked with you at the boys school, i recently looked at your van that was for sale. call if you kept my number.

-- Posted by undercoverbrother on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 8:30 AM

The woman in this story is very brave to put herself out there like this to the public. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope it will help to give other women the courage to step forward and get help if they are being abused.

-- Posted by adfan211 on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 9:34 AM


-- Posted by MORTY3 on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 10:35 AM

Domestic abuse is real and it's sad,but before anybody can help the abusee they have to help themselfs and make a change to get out of the situation,UNTIL they make that choice no help in the world will save them!

-- Posted by obeone on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 11:09 AM

This woman definitely has a real problem. An abusive husband can completely destroy a woman's self-esteem, and the court system all too often breaks down. Few judges will punish the abuser. My daughter was the victim of spousal abuse which began on their wedding day. After the reception he told his new bride "Now things are going to change". She went to bed that night with two black eyes and multiple bruises. We didn't find out for two weeks, and only found out then when my other daughter came to me and explained the reason we hadn't seen our daughter since the wedding. Our daughter had been too ashamed for us to know that she had been so foolish as to marry this man. We immediately began to try to rectify the situation. She filed for divorce (what a farce!). He repeatedly returned to her home, repeated the abuse many times, and even tried to kill her. He destroyed her vehicle, slashed the tires of our vehicle, and caused other property damages. He was arrested multiple times, but was always released on bail. The critical mistake he made was when he kicked out the windows of the police cruiser during one of his many arrests. That made the judge mad enough to convict him and send him to prison for 2 years.

After his release from prison, he tried to resume his abuse. But by that time my daughter's first husband had moved back to our city. He had a "little talk" with the bum and the abuse ended. The last we heard of him was when he showed up on the news after his arrest by the 'swat squad' for stabbing the teenaged son of his next girlfriend.

So I wish the best for this young woman. She needs her parents to get behind her and support her in trying to rebuild her life. Perhaps some family counselling would help them to deal with the many problems that this young woman faces.

-- Posted by ConnieJF on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 2:55 PM

I was married to an abusive man. I took him back 4 x before finally filing for a divorce. I was told how worthless I was, and everything he did was my fault. He even called our 3 yr old daughter a b____ when she ask him to quit hitting me and hitting my head into the stairway. He told me that he would kill me if I left and took the children.

The final straw for me was realizing that I was probably going to die either way. It had gotten so bad that I feared sleeping at night. I left, took the children and filed for a divorce. My children were 2 and 3 yrs old at the time. My daughter is now 27 yrs old and has many memories of these terrible times. My children's only question to me, is why did it take you so long to leave?

When I thought I was doing the right thing in trying to keep my family together, I actually was hurting them more by staying.

After many yrs I have more self esteem than ever and my children grew up to be wonderful, loving, caring and self sufficient adults.

I thank God every day that I got out before it was too late.

Good luck to you. Take 1 day at a time, sometimes it will seem hard but it will be worth it.

Please do not allow yourself or your children to become another statistic.

-- Posted by dbltrbl on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 5:39 PM

Please keep your chin up and never give in! Always keep your child the first priority on your list. I'm a survivor of a very abusive ex husband. Like you I never wanted to marry him but I also got pregnant and I thought it would shut him up. What I came to find out it only made things so much worse. He put me down in everything I did. Would sneak out saying he had to go check on his employees then meet his women in the motel or bars. In fact he married one just 3 months after our divorce. They are sick individuals and then I watched a episode showing that men are in the most control of themselves when they are beating you. My last episode my three year old daughter was watching him trying to kill me. She would run back to her bedroom. I asked her later when she was older if she remember and she remembers every detail. She said I was going to my room and asking God to please don't let him kill my mommy. My thirteen yr old son came out and my worthless ex went to kill him also but he had already called the cops. Thanks to my little children at the time they saved their mothers life. That's why I vowed to never let another man come into our lives . I have the best thing ever and that is my sanity and our freedom. Her dad is so low he called maybe three months after the divorce and told me he never wanted to see her ever. So keep your chin up you can do whatever you want, don't listen to him. You and your child can and will make it . Never listen to him it's just the way they trick us. I am successful and I have to wonderful great children. Always remember no one can tell you what you should do unless they have been in this situation. It is pure hell. Your right the judge saw me also with fingerprints around my neck, black eyes, broken nose and said its hard to put a man in jail that has such a good job. I said so I'm just suppose to let him kill me and my children. I too don't have much faith in the judicial system. This is exactly why women don't turn it in because they are not protected. A restraining order is just a waste of your money. Please I pray for you that you and your child be strong and stay away from him. You can do it. My motto in life is never go backwards always move forward.

-- Posted by alwaysabeliever on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 9:42 PM

I know this woman and her child. And I have to tell you all that although she has had some problems in her life. But her parents are supportive of her and her children in every way. Most of what she has stated is UNTURE. The loss of her son was not due to rape, and the son she has is not a product of rape. Yes her ex was a loser and an alcoholic. He has left her many times and she keeps going and bringing him back. Against advice otherwise. She loves to be the center of attention even when the attention she gets is bad. If she doesn't get what she wants from her parents she screams and calls them all sorts of filthy names ... why they keep going back and helping again is beyond me!

Her parents I know personally and they have never had an abusive relationship, and have been happily married for over 30 years! IN my opinion they are the ones being abused! BY HER!!

She needs to get a grip on reality and do some serious counseling with someone.

The best place in the world for that Baby is in his grand parents home. Because his father isn't capable of taking care of him, and evidently she isn't much better. He and Her parents do not deserve what she is handing out...

A Friend

-- Posted by DONETHAT on Wed, Sep 22, 2010, at 10:54 AM

Domestic violence is often theorized to evolve into a cyclical process. Many "outsiders" blame not the abuser but the victim for staying in the relationship. Blame and judgment do nothing but cause for stress for either case. Acceptance of pain over time = less suffering. Past abuse cannot be changed AND at he same time you can learn from it right now. This is how many individuals change: acceptance of the things they cannot control (i.e. the past/trauma). Its not easy, it takes time.

-- Posted by ttocs on Thu, Sep 23, 2010, at 11:09 AM

ttocs your right about "outsiders" blaming the victim instead of the abuser. The court system makes it hard on the victims, it seems the offender has more rights then the victim. It will never change unless the court system changes.

-- Posted by fed-up2010 on Fri, Sep 24, 2010, at 7:03 PM

I just want to let you all know. This story has made alot of people realize just what I went through. For the person that said I want to be center of attention. I am sorry for you. Because you don't know me. You are friends of my ex and you too are trying to make me look bad to defend him. As for the person who said they knew me and worked with me. Thank you, You have always been a great person. And for all of you prying please keep doing it not just for me but for all! You see we can not stay at our home right now cause of coming out. But that is ok. Maybe the judge will realize what he has done. My son is being forced to see his father, and you can ask my friends how he is scared when he comes home and clings to me. I can't even go potty without him. My ex has DV in NY IL FL and IN. He has done this for many years to other women. Our car is broke down at my parentss house we have no money to fix it right now, So to be safe we left our home. Because when this article came out we got threats. My parents are great people and are trying very hard to help. They are the supervisors for the visitation. My son is relaxed while they are there. But if they get out of his sight he runs for em. He doesn't want to be left alone with his dad. He is 2 and he is very smart and seen alot of what his dad did to us. We have court coming up against my ex for the DV in Oct. He was on probabtion in Clay county for DV. They post poned it long enough for him to get off probation so he would not be in violation and go to jail. My ex came to my home, and bragged to me he will never be stopped.

My neighbor has answered his phone calls and has been in my home when he shows up. I have a protective order and the cops never get there to catch him and save us.

Thank you all for reading my story. Hearing my plee for help. And praying he will be stopped I don't want to be killed like the lady in Reelsville. Pray that the judge puts him away or takes him out of our lives for good. Save my son!

My email is battlescars2010@yahoo.com

Save us

-- Posted by battlescars2010 on Sun, Sep 26, 2010, at 10:33 AM

Just wanted to let you know I was let down by the system. My ex went in there stating he and I are engaged to be married. They put him on probation for a year. That was and is a lie. I am not nor will I ever marry him. They didn't even contact me to ask how much truth there was to that. They beleived him!!! Wake up I asked no I begged for your help Putnam County

-- Posted by battlescars2010 on Mon, Oct 18, 2010, at 3:35 PM

THE ISSUE THAT I HAVE WITH THIS STORY IS THAT IT WAS FABRICATED. The bruises on her neck came from a fight with her sister.

I am not trying to down play domestic violence but every once in a while the man is the victim just ask her husband before that.

-- Posted by thetruth963 on Sat, Nov 6, 2010, at 2:21 PM

i know this women very personaly and it is all a lie she was not raped from her husband and the marks on her neck if from a fight with her sister she tryed all this with her ex husband and she was made a fool of its all a poor me thing that she is doing trying to make people feel sorry for her and give her money i have recieved many requests from her for money but this is a mother that just wants to use the system while she sits on her butt and she is going to loose her son just like she lost her daughter 6 years ago because of all the lies and drama i do think that domestic violence is a problem but not in this case its all a lie and she has suckered some one into believing her!!!

-- Posted by your wrong2 on Sun, Nov 7, 2010, at 12:27 PM

Round 2, 3 or who the heck knows.

I know for a fact these bruises were not the cause of her x-husband.

This is a total lie. That poor innocent child is being raised in a nightmare.

This makes me totaly sick and can't believe i'm even shocked she went to this measure. Check her history with her other x-husband and her what she accused him of. Every boyfriend she has had she accuses of beating her. This is a total discusting situation. She will get her punishment when she stands before the Lord and has to answer to him for her behavior.

-- Posted by round2 on Wed, Nov 10, 2010, at 10:50 AM

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