No one falls in love with an abuser, said Mary Travers Murphy. People who become victims of domestic violence “are swept off their feet by a funny, loving angel.”
Domestic abusers are manipulative people who brainwash their victims into believing that they are those romantic folks who conducted a whirlwind courtship. Once it is obvious that they are violent abusers, they brainwash their victims into believing that they are responsible for their own abuse. Oftentimes, Mary said, “they can’t pinpoint the moment of the first kick or hit. They are traumatized and their brains have been rewired.”
Because victims of domestic abuse blame themselves for the abusive behavior of their partners, they also may not recognize that they are crime victims. They might think that they are well educated and, therefore, are less likely to be the victims of domestic abuse. They might think that, because they live in a wealthy neighborhood, they couldn’t possibly be the victim of domestic abuse.
“Abusive relationships occur in every zip code. They occur in areas with swanky country clubs. They occur in poor communities. They occur, regardless of age, race, economic circumstance. They occur in rural areas and in urban areas,” Mary said. She knows. She lost two close friends to domestic violence. In 2009, Assiya Hassan was murdered by her husband weeks after filing for divorce. “She was my dear friend. She owned a 7-11 in Orchard Park. She brought her babies to work with her two days after giving birth.” Her husband, Muzzammil Hassan, is serving a 25 year to life sentence in the New York State prison system.
Another friend was a nurse, named Angie Moss, who was found dead in Orchard Park in August 2009, the victim of an execution-style shooting.
“She hid in shadows,” Mary said. She said that Angie’s fiance forced her to sign over her life insurance policy to him.
“People knew for a year that there was a problem. She had bruising or a busted lip. She was late to work. Her stories never lined up with reality. We lacked the courage to tell her that she was a domestic violence victim. I was the town supervisor of Orchard Park, and I had been a reporter for 25 years. These murders haunted me daily.”
It took six years for the killer to be arrested. Ronald Epps was convicted of a variety of charges, including drug charges, being a felon in possession of a weapon, and fraud. He tried to collect proceeds from Angela Moss’s life insurance policy in 2009. He never collected anything. He is now serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison, after being sentenced in December 2016 by U.S. District Judge Ronald Arcara.
Victims fear retribution from their abusers. They fear being murdered. The perpetrators instill the fear with such threats as:
- You call the authorities and you’re dead.
- If you call, I will kill myself.
- One of three girls in their early teens to about age 24 is likely to be the victim of domestic violence.
- One in four adult women is likely to be the victim of domestic violence.
- One in four males, both youth and adults, is likely to become the victim of domestic violence.