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Survivors of abuse behind bars

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
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On Mother's Day 2004, Nancy spent the day with Jeff and Rebecca. It was a week before Greg was to graduate, and Bob had disappeared for a week. It turned out he had gone to visit his brother in Arizona, but had not told anyone. And his family didn't look for him.

He turned up Sunday, and apparently had learned of Nancy's condo when she and her son and daughter-in-law returned home Sunday evening. An argument ensued, and Jeff and Rebecca left.

According to Nancy, and court records, she and Bob were estranged at this point, sleeping separately in the same home. On Monday morning, when she got up for school, she found Bob at the kitchen counter, in the same clothes he had been in the day before. Apparently, he had not been to bed the night before.

"No coffee cup in front of him, no TV on, no newspaper, just staring, waiting for me. My heart skipped a beat," Nancy recalled. "It went from bad to worse. 'I know about the condo, you lying bitch...' I reached for my keys and purse and across the counter for my ice tea mug. My husband was playing with a knife and cut me on the arm. He had never drawn blood like that before, and I just lost it. I grabbed my keys and ran to the front door he had taken the key out of the front door, and it wouldn't open. I headed to the garage, and he was on my heels. I hit the ground and rolled around the tool kart, and I'm on the ground and tools are all over. He's kicking, twisting and kicking me. He knelt down, pinned me, and I rolled over, and was next to a small generator, and I reached to grab it for leverage, and there was a hatchet on top. I picked up the hatchet and began swinging and once I started I couldn't stop."

According to testimony by Oakland County Medical Examiner Ljubisa Dragovic, she hit him 15 times with the hatchet, and then took the knife Bob had used on her arm, and sliced his throat and stabbed him 21 times. He was likely dead from the first blow to his head.

But Nancy didn't know that, and said she continued to fear for her life, at first unaware that he was dead.

"His falling on me felt like a further attack," she said.

"When someone finally reacts, they're in a frenzy, and can't stop. All of the chemicals flooded her," said Dr. Lenore Walker EdD of Florida, a forensic psychologist who specializes in gender violence, and developed the concept of battered woman syndrome in 1979. Walker testified at Seaman's trial. "It's the autonomic reaction that happens when we believe we're in danger. It's self-defense, and it's a dissociative state. A lot of what happens in these cases is counter-intuitive. Part of the battering relationship is dependency, it's the belief that you can't do it on your own. In a healthy relationship there is an interdependency. A coercive relationship is about control, and fosters the dependency."

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