It wasn't until her husband said, "I'm not going to let you live until
morning," while he was beating her that something defiant awoke within
Aris grabbed a gun from the kitchen and shot her husband dead.
Still believing she deserved the abuse, Aris ran and hid, afraid her
husband would still come after her.
After so many years, she was finally free of her husband's abuse. But
she escaped her domestic prison only to land in a jail cell when she was
convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 17 years.
Ten years later, Aris was released, her dignity finally restored from
her involvement in a prison support group for battered women.
Aris and two other victims of domestic violence shared their
experiences with students in a family violence class at Vanguard
University on Wednesday. The forum was part of the college's day to
remember the victims of domestic violence.
Sociology professor Elizabeth Leonard invited the women to speak to
her class to put a human face on domestic violence.
"I like using the more extreme stories because you can't predict which
ones will end up at the lethal level," Leonard said. "Until we deal with
it there, it won't be taken seriously at lower levels."
Before the women spoke, Leonard addressed the most common question
surrounding domestic violence: Why don't the women leave? Asking this
question is making a false assumption, Leonard said, because it puts the
burden of blame on women. In fact, Leonard said there is an increased
risk of fatal abuse after a woman leaves.
All three women said they felt as if they had no recourse to escape
the abuse through family, friends or law enforcement. While some did
leave for a period of time, they eventually returned because they feared
for their own lives and the lives of their children.
"One time, we lived near a minister, and he and his wife heard my
screaming and did nothing because they didn't want to get involved," Aris
Aris and Rose Parker, who also served time for killing her husband,
said they didn't realize they were victims of battered women syndrome
until they met other victims in jail.
"That's when I really understood -- where I got my hope and strength,"