A former victim of domestic violence speaks out in The Dallas Morning News

by Manju Alexander | Jan 24, 2013

Family Place's cause close to home for woman who endured 25 years of domestic violence

By Sarah Mervosh
23 January 2013
The Dallas Morning News

Connie Nash says she hadn’t been married for even a week before her husband hit her for the first time. She had burned the beans. What followed was 25 years of abuse, bruises, broken bones and jail stays for her husband, she said.

Then a day came when their 16-year-old son stood up for her. Her husband got angry and left but returned with a gun and put it to Nash’s head. If her son hadn’t jumped on her husband’s back, he would have killed her, Nash believes.

“So often women die in that situation,” she said. “So I consider myself very blessed.”

Nash’s experience is fairly typical for situations that escalate into extreme violence or death, said

criminologist Denise Paquette Boots, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Dallas.

“There’s something that’s happened that puts … [abusers] over the edge,” she said.

Often, the flash point comes when a victim stands up to an abuser or decides to leave, Boots said. In Nash’s case, it was her son who took a stand.

“Things were going to be different. He just couldn’t accept that,” Nash, 53, said of her husband. “If he didn’t think he had control over his family in all situations, he was just going to end it.”

Nash met her husband in church and got married at 16. She said she never pressed charges or left him because she’d made a commitment to God to stay married forever. Her pastor also counseled her not to leave him, she said.

“I really thought I’d be married until death do us part, until it almost happened,” Nash said.

After the incident with the gun, police arrested her husband, she said. He spent less than two years in jail, but he died several years ago, she said.

Nash had never worked outside the home until he was jailed. Now, more than a decade later, she’s a senior tax processor and serves on the board of directors for The Family Place shelter, she said.

Nash would like to see harsher laws for domestic violence to help deter abusers. She also suggested a policy under which the city or police could press charges on victims’ behalf.

“I can’t even believe I’m saying it,” Nash said, because she would have been terrified of the consequences when she was married. But from her perspective today, it seems like a good idea. “It could save a lot of lives.”

Read the full article at Dallasnews.com.