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But in all but a handful of states, laws allow for one of the victims — the battered mother — to be treated as a perpetrator, guilty not of committing abuse herself but of failing to protect her children from her violent partner.
Said Stephanie Avalon, resource specialist for the federally funded Battered Women’s Justice Project, “It’s the ultimate blaming of the victim.” No one knows how many women have suffered a fate like Lindley’s, but looking back over the past decade, Buzz Feed News identified 28 mothers in 11 states sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for failing to prevent their partners from harming their children.
Titches hit his head so hard that he spat out some of his breakfast.
Turner took Titches by his neck and wiped his face in the half-eaten cereal.
Turner turned to Lindley, warning her that if she tried to take Titches out of the house he would kill her. Yet Lindley spotted an opening, grabbed hold of her son, and made for the front door. Turner snatched the boy from her arms and, still holding the boy, slammed the door shut on Lindley and Chance, locking them outside. By the end of the day, Titches would be dead, and Turner would be arrested for his murder.
Prosecutors would charge Turner with assaulting Lindley too, noting that she was “very afraid” of him. Even though Lindley had tried to rescue her son, they would prosecute her for failing to protect him from Turner. Lindley’s case exposes what many battered women’s advocates say is a grotesque injustice.
“My husband took full possession of me and my life,” a mother in Tennessee told the court right before her 15-year sentence was handed down.Then there are cases of women sentenced to a decade or more but where it’s difficult to determine whether they were victims of partner violence.Buzz Feed News found 45 such cases over the last decade.The first thing Latricia Chance saw when she walked up to the apartment that October morning was a toddler, alone and shoeless, eating cereal on the doorstep. Inside, she greeted Lindley and her boyfriend, Alonzo Turner.It was her friend Arlena Lindley’s 3-year-old son, Titches. Chance knew the couple had gone through trouble in the past, and something seemed off between them now — it just wasn’t clear what.