Powerful reflection by Arlene Adams and a beautiful photo essay by Clara Vannucci @ The New York Times. Arlene Adams draws the connections between the trauma caused by domestic violence and incarceration, the pattern of prosecuting survivors of domestic violence when they defend their lives, the impact criminalization and domestic violence has on children and families, and the systemic barriers against formerly incarcerated people trying to rebuild their lives after they are released.  Excerpt below.

In the early hours of Sept. 15, 2010, my children and I were sound asleep when my partner arrived at our home in Brooklyn drunk after a night out, and flew into a violent rage.


For years I had endured verbal abuse, beatings, sexual assault. That night as he punched me in the head over and over, something inside me snapped. I stabbed him with a knife I had grabbed for protection in the scuffle. He died on the way to the hospital.


In a matter of seconds, our lives changed forever. I was separated from my two daughters, Armani and Jameeyah, who were only 4 and 2 years old. I was 22 and facing a potential life sentence for murder. I thought my life was over. I felt devastated and was suicidal.


During the 18 months I spent awaiting trial on Rikers Island, Armani and Jameeyah lived with my mother. Social service workers would bring my daughters to visit me in jail. Every visit was sad; we’d cry at the end and my daughters would ask me when I was coming home. I also worried about how the violence they had witnessed would affect them.

Article posted here. Above photo by Clara Vannucci.

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