Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse.
by Defendant Rising
July 12, 2001. I woke up with one thought in my head. I am going to die.
I don’t know where this conviction came from, unless it was the cracked ribs. It hurt to move; it hurt to breathe. I was also dizzy. I had awakened dizzy for five months straight, ever since Maggie was born. I never went anywhere without a cup of crushed ice to chew on. This, too, had lasted for five months. Maggie—exclusively breast-fed—looked puny and pallid.
I knew Nate was going to kill me unless I did something to save myself. I guess I should explain that Nate didn’t crack my ribs. They had been cracked in the accident on the day before, July 11, my 33rd birthday. Nate had angrily quoted Scripture and accused me of “spiritual adultery” for half an hour in the van until I cried myself blind. He said we were leaving our church to “home-church” again. Then Nate stopped at his law office, got out of the van, and let me take the wheel.
I didn’t see the Ford Explorer coming at 60 miles per hour. I pulled out right in front of it, still sobbing. My rib cage hit the steering wheel. My six children—Maggie, the baby; Samuel, two; Rachel, four; Moriah, six; Jack, eight; and Daniel, nine—were miraculously unhurt, except for small cuts from flying glass.
The next thing I remember, I was lying in the hospital. Nate was pacing the floor in front of my gurney, a strange light in his eyes. “Baby,” he said, looking at the wallpaper, “this is financially good for our family.” Nate practiced personal injury law.
On the 12th, the next morning, I sat up in bed and put my head between my knees until the dizziness cleared. I am going to die, I thought again. I only have one chance.
I stumbled down to our garage-converted-to-a-home-office. Nate was on the internet.
“I am getting a tubal ligation,” I said.