In 2001, I was a 39 year old mother to an 8 year old daughter, with an MBA degree from a top Ivy League Business School, and a high-paying finance management job at a Fortune 100 company. Yet, I had absolutely no idea how I could possibly leave my emotionally and mentally abusive husband, who on the surface, seemed like a very nice, well-educated, professional guy.
With every step that I took forward to leave, I was pushed back by his intimidation and the control he had systematically gained over me throughout our 20 year marriage. One morning, following a series of disturbing events, I was in a panic that my daughter and I were in imminent danger.
Luckily, I had a good job which included a company cell phone and credit card, I had access to a car, and I had enough money to be able to open a secret PO Box and checking account. I needed all of those things: to get my daughter and escape and hide from my husband, to pay for a hotel and food, to pay the retainer to the lawyer to help me stand before a judge to obtain a temporary restraining order against my husband. However, not all victims of domestic violence have access to the resources that I did. To get help, the majority of victims contact their local domestic and sexual violence program to access their free and confidential services.
I wish I could say that was the end of the story and that we were able to go our separate ways. Instead, my husband hunted me down for two days, and in a rage, unable to find me and having been served the restraining order, he flew our private airplane into our newly built home in Amherst, burning it to the ground and killing himself in the process.
Like I said, I was lucky. On average, every single day, at least three women are killed by their husband or boyfriend in the United States alone. We are taught to fear strangers, but over 30% of all homicides of women are at the hands of an intimate partner, compared to under 9% committed by a stranger. In New Hampshire, 50% of all homicides are domestic violence-related.
I urge you to generously donate to the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence or to a crisis center in your area. NH’s domestic violence programs are crucial in helping victims live a life free from abuse. They offer a safe refuge for victims and their children, empowering them to discover their options, as advocates work with victims to navigate legal, medical, and social systems. Please help us empower survivors to rebuild their lives. Please join in saying NOMORE to domestic and sexual violence. Your financial or volunteer support could quite literally mean the difference between life and death for victims of abuse.
Jo Fonda Newell is a Coalition board member and survivor. She has her own blog at www.jofonda.com where you can see more of her personal story.