The Face of Domestic Violence
Hitting Rock Bottom
I know it sounds crazy now, but I really didn't think I was a battered woman -- at least not yet. Then one May night in 2002 Dietrich beat me so badly with a child's chair that he broke my nose, shattered my knuckles, and fractured several bones in my face. My mom called the police. My hair was full of blood and my body was covered in gashes and bruises. I needed 65 stitches; Dietrich was arrested and charged with domestic battery in the first degree. The court added child endangerment charges since he had attacked me with the kids around. While he spent some time in jail, he was released on bond.
You'd think the severity of that beating would have been the last straw. This time, though, I thought jail had really scared him. During Thanksgiving at his parents' house that year he acted as if he had really missed me and the boys. I was moved by his sincerity and, during a weak moment, yes, we had sex. As luck would have it, since Dietrich would never let me use birth control, I got pregnant for the fourth time.
As the Arkansas trial drew closer, Dietrich started to unravel under the pressure and, afraid of jail time, fled to Ohio. He threatened that if I didn't join him, he would kill my family. Now that I knew what he was capable of, I was terrified he would do it. So I told my parents I was taking the kids to see friends but instead left for Ohio. They frantically called Dietrich's relatives and hired a private investigator but couldn't find me for more than a year. I wasn't surprised that the beatings continued in Ohio, but I was shocked when one night in 2004 someone called the police, and they arrested Dietrich and me. We had a fourth son by then, and I was charged with child endangerment for allowing the kids to witness the violence.