The Abuse

graduation-photo-1977Debbie Peagler was introduced to Oliver Wilson in the late 1970’s, when she was just 15 years old. Oliver presented himself as a kind and charming young man, taking Debbie out on dates, giving her gifts, and acting like a father to her newborn daughter. Then one night Oliver revealed that he wanted Debbie to make him some money by prostituting herself. When Debbie refused, he beat her with his fists, kicked her with boots, and psychologically abused her with insults, mind games, and death threats. Fearing for her life, Debbie did Oliver’s bidding for the next six years, often suffering his abuse behind closed doors no matter how hard she tried to please him.

Debbie tried to escape, but each time she was brought back through force and death threats. In early 1982, when she learned that Oliver had sexually abused her then six-year-old daughter, Debbie took her children and fled once more. When Oliver came after her with a band of armed men, he was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, but police quickly set him free. Fearing for her assault-w-deadly-weaponlife and the lives of her family, she turned to a pair of tough young men who had previously protected her. After the two men killed Oliver, she was prosecuted alongside them and was sentenced to life in prison. The abuse that she had endured was never examined in court.

Sadly, Debbie’s case is not unique. Victims of domestic violence who have been incarcerated for crimes committed against their abusers are among the most marginalized, ignored, and ostracized people in the nation.  They are wronged first by their abusers, who take physical, emotional, and financial control over their lives, and then by the criminal justice system when their cries for help are all too often dismissed by police, their personal accounts are ignored by attorneys and judges, and their freedom is taken away by a prison system that labels them as criminals.

Condemned to prison, their stories are rarely heard. By telling the story of a suspensPrison-Brick-Wall-and-Cloudseful high-stakes quest for justice, CRIME AFTER CRIME calls attention to the plight of all victims of domestic violence, helping spark remedies to seek justice for those in prison, and encouraging others to steer clear of abusive relationships before they can become violent or deadly.