Domestic Violence Survivors Write Letters to Seaman In Prison
During the 14 years of my incarceration, letters from survivors of domestic abuse have arrived almost daily and now fill the footlocker in my prison cell. People from all walks of life from as far away as Singapore write to share the most private details of the domestic abuse they have endured.
It’s a secret shame many have not even shared with their family or friends, but they feel safe to share with me. There is no judgment here; we have walked the same path in life. The letters are heartfelt and deeply emotional. “I’m living as you did, what should I do?”
It’s a question these women ask after realizing from the outcome in my case that the most dangerous time for a battered woman is when she tries to leave an abusive relationship. Women remaining in long-term marriages with abusers write to say they understand all too well the reasons that kept me tethered to my abusive husband for 31 years. Those women who successfuly fled abusive relationships write, “But for by the grace of God, I could have been dead or in prison like you.”
Career women who are lawyers, doctors, and journalists have written expressing they live in fear as I did that co-workers might discover they are battered women, judge them as “weak”, and then question their professional competency. Men write to share painful memories of the helplessness they felt watching their abusive fathers batter the mothers they love.
These survivors are strong in all the broken places. They write to comfort me, express compassion for my situation, outrage for the prosecutor’s insensitive treatment of the domestic violence issue at my trial, disbelief for a justice system that imprisoned me for defending myself against my husband’s attack on my life, and sadness that the State has fought to keep me incarcerated even after my conviction was twice overturned.
These letters are not from strangers, but from women you likely know. They are your neighbors, family members, co-workers, and friends who live with the shame of abuse as their closely guarded secret.
They now write to support my efforts to obtain a commutation from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and I am hopeful you will do the same. Please visit the Justice Thru Storytelling website and join the effort to spare my life. Let Governor Snyder know that commutation is the right thing to do to remedy the injustice in my case and that the lives of battered women matter.
The goal of this campaign is to convince our legislators in the state of Michigan to change People v Christel to model the California law in order to bring #Justice4Women.