Anyone who has ever been involved in any domestic case knows first-hand that it doesn’t just involve the participants. Friends, family, co-workers and most importantly children, all feel the affects in some manner. In Dotty’s case it is no different. In our numerous e-mail exchanges she expressed many emotions regarding her children as they became increasingly aware of what she went though. Here are some of Dotty’s feelings in her own words taken from different messages:

Another point I was making is how I am scared of my own children. I feel like I am being bullied, pushed back into the corner I got myself out of. They don’t comprehend or are aware of the real situation of the domestic abuse I withstood. For I as their mom, being the protector, I was so good at putting up a façade. They aren’t aware of the many times I tried to leave the abusive relationship, for him to come get me & the promises of the changes he would make. I having a high school education, no means of supporting a family, I returned feeling worse and reaffirming my life was in somebody else’s hands, not mine. The most & biggest importance was the care of my children. They were my reason to keep going & I could not let them down. I still feel that to this day, even though they are into their adult lives. A mom will always be a mom & I love them more than my own life.

Dotty revealed to me early on that she was raised in a home where domestic abuse existed. The following came through in a separate e-mail:

I had married the sheer image of my father. I had never made that connection, because my husband did not drink. I had repeated a cycle my mother had lived through. Now it was me, as the victim & the cycle must be broken. I have not gone through this journey for nothing. I am trying to get my children to just pry open the door & get a glimpse of what my life was really about. It is truly difficult. If not for my children, I will undoubtedly help another victim as I reach out to tell this empowering story, not of defeat but that of survival.

What should be known is that Dotty suffers from some serious afflictions and conditions that require constant medical care. In our many discussions Dotty reflected her opinion that her years of abuse contributed if not completely at least partially to her conditions. After returning from recently from a visit to one of her many Doctors, she shared this:

Yes, this I have to relate to you in email, as it was established this week at one, actually both appointments. Dr. comments that if my children want to continue living on some level of denial, when they refuse to see the issue of DV, that is their choice, but I can’t embark on it again because it affects the entire mind, body connection. Can’t do both, you either let go of something or, no room for or, I know better!!!

Here is a huge thing I need to learn, as much as I love them, I cannot, since I know better & recognize a lot of the red flags of DV, they as my children are not allowed to use a similar form of abuse, I was tormented & sustained & lived with for far too many years. This was & is a toughie, because maternal instincts are so deep & profound, easy for me to want to accept their abuse, for fear of losing or alienating them.

As they continue to persecute, insult, verbal abuse, near or even from a distance, for them it’s a learnt behavior, they simply do not recognize it. A default mechanism they were raised in this abusive environment. This is where, I am the perfect example of being silent & harboring, so I thought, I was truly hiding DV so well in my own environment , so not true!!! What a fake facade!! I can’t look back, but go forward!!

I completely understand the anger, my children have bottled up, is being targeted at me, no need for it. The anger they have is with their father & until they reach the crossroad I had to choose, I cannot take them there. That’s their own journey, as it was mine. I can only be there, awaiting with such love & grace. It will happen, I’m so sure about it!!! I will be here, patiently awaiting as time is on my side & Love will prevail…


In the next and final piece to this story, Dotty reflects on domestic violence and her constant struggle to survive and thrive. Steven Edmondson is the domestic violence investigator at the Sagadahoc County District Attorney’s Office.

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