INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE & FAMILY COURT

Dear Jennifer …

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

16 January 2020

Out of the 246 intimate partner homicides in Connecticut during the years 2000-2017, 213 were women. That means 87 percent of the victims of intimate partner homicides are woman in my home state. The most recent crime making headlines is the disappearance of a woman named Jennifer Dulos. Her husband, Fotis Dulos, was charged with her murder earlier this month. Reading articles about the case compelled me to write a letter to her. I know she can’t read it, but her story is real. Husbands abusing their wives is real. Husbands getting away with these behaviors and continuing their abuse in our flawed court system is real. Thankfully most cases don’t end in murder, but many do end with financial and mental abuse.

 

Dear Jennifer,

You were a mother, a daughter, a writer, a good woman, and a member of the community. I know that you had enough of the abuse you faced at the hands of your husband – infidelity, intimidation, threats, and manipulations. So, you did one of the hardest things a woman can do … leave him. He kept you in court for years which is also known as post-separation abuse. I’m sure he dragged your name through the mud, but I know you felt relief living without him under the same roof. I hope you learned how to sleep peacefully and love yourself. And I hope your children grow up knowing you fought hard and strong. I’m sorry your life is over, but I’m glad your story is being shared loudly.

There is no truer word to describe you than victim. I know you’d probably hate that term, but here we are. Your husband likely committed many crimes throughout his lifetime, but killing his children’s mother was his most abhorrent offense. Didn’t the judge know that between 50 percent and 75 percent of domestic violence homicides happen at the point of separation or after [the victim] has already left [her abuser]?

Jennifer, I’m sorry. You were in the danger zone. I’m sure you had the best attorney money could buy. I always thought the more money you have, the safer you’d be. But your case shows me that if someone is obsessed with control and winning, all the money in the world won’t buy safety. How did your husband win? By taking your life. You’re now silenced forever. That was his goal. He took your power.

And it goes for so many women in our home state, let alone the entire United States of America.

I’m sorry you are no longer here to be a mother to your five children. And I’m sorry that he won. You are strong and brave. I admire you. I hope your story helps to change family-court laws, especially in our home state. This didn’t have to happen. You played by the rules. Fotis didn’t. I’m sorry.

Yours respectfully,

JoAnna Bennett