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Survivors of abuse behind bars

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
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A bigger problem is the multiple barriers, both physical and emotional, facing the victim when violence in a relationship has gone on for a long time. The individual has usually become isolated, both physically and emotionally. "The batterer has so much control over the person who is isolated," Matuszczak noted. Financially, they take all control, "and the batterer has threatened you'll be on the streets. Often, the victim does not know where to turn because she has been experiencing emotional abuse. Feeling helpless, they may feel they're in an emotional bind."

That was certainly the case with Karen Kantzler, who was a radiology technician at Henry Ford Hospital when she first met Paul, then a a radiology resident. Over time, he convinced her to quit her job, that her attempts at getting an MBA were too time consuming and was taking too much time from him, and she turned over her lump sum retirement check to him, as well as the title to her vehicle. "Now everything was dependent upon him. I had to sell dog food to neighbors to get enough money to pay for milk and groceries," she said.

She said she reached out to the shelter at Haven at one point, but it was full. She never had the emotional strength to reach out again.

Nancy Seaman was in the opposite position as she embarked on a career, but with ultimately the same result. After Bob lost his job, Nancy said the abuse got much worse. She had approached the police twice over the years, but felt Bob was being protected rather than her. She never reached out to a woman's shelter, like Haven, thinking it was only for "poor women without a home."

"He was angry his career had gone down in flames, and I had money to gain independence and options," Nancy said, noting and blaming herself, "If that hadn't happened, we would probably still be going on as it always had."

The tipping point appeared to be in the winter and spring of 2004, when Nancy had had enough, and decided to get a divorce. "The last six months, I would come home to find things I valued smashed and destroyed, and Post-It notes scribbled all over the house. He was out of control. He tried to burn the house down twice 'I'll burn this house to the ground before I let you have this house,' he said to me."

Nancy finally confided in her father, who was stunned to learn of the abuse, and loaned her money for a downpayment on a condo. With her older son, Jeff, and his then-wife Rebecca, she spent weekends secretly looking for a place to live, and bought one in February. The deal was that if Bob were to find out, it was to be for Greg, their younger son, who was graduating from college that May.

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