I was reminded today, when I received this story in my inbox, of the tragic outcomes of so many domestic violence situations. While this was shocking, it is not isolated. Sadly, this story replays itself more often than anyone would believe.
This tragedy brought me back to when I was training as a domestic violence counselor. We watched footage of women who were placed behind bars, some for life, for doing what Nicole Addimando did. Many of the women commented on how they had attempted to get away many times just to be tracked down, threatened, or feared the abuser would gain custody of their children through the courts. This too happens more often then anyone would believe. Grassroots efforts have sprung up to raise awareness of the alarming outcomes that play out in our courts each day for women and children of abuse.
On September 25, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 72 which urges state courts to determine family violence claims and risks to children before considering other “best interest” factors. It gave guidance that evidentiary testimony should be accepted only from those with appropriate abuse and trauma training. It recognizes the significant power our courts wield.
The overshadowing issue is that restraining orders can often be ineffective, the courts can re-traumatize victims and often, in the case of stalking, financial or emotional abuse, they are little help to the women telling their story of abuse and pleading for help. Too often, women are not believed and lose custody to their abusers.
Nicole Addimando had two children. She claimed she shot her boyfriend in self-defense after years of physical and emotional abuse. To be truthful, no one knows for sure what was going through her mind or what she had endured. When she was sentenced in April 2019 she sought a more lenient sentencing under the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act; that was denied. Last year she filed an appeal seeking her conviction be overturned or that there would be resentencing under the DVSJA. Two years after being found guilty of murder, Nicole Addimando’s appeal was scheduled for hearing today, April 22, 2021.
There were many issues noted on appeal, all stemming from errors by the court. The “11th hour” disqualification of the attorney who was representing Addimando, false hearsay testimony, the court denying the defense from striking a juror before the jury was sworn in, and the court wrongfully denying additional evidence. The appeal claims Addimando met the standard for sentencing under the DVSJA. Under the Act, she could have faced a sentence of 5 to 15 years. Instead, she received a sentence of 19 years to life.
There is little oversight over judges and often in our courts. Most violent domestic violence cases don’t end with the abuser being murdered, but more often, with innocent women and children suffering years of physical and emotional abuse We must do better at speaking on behalf of all victims, not just those that are brought into our awareness through news stories. Too many suffer tremendous abuses, often with invisible scars, at the hands of our system.
Read More About Nicole’s Story HERE.
Emmy’s Place was founded on Proverbs 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” We, as the faith community, need to use our voice to effect change that affects the most vulnerable.