Updated 10/24/12 – 5:37 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — For seven years, Shemaraya Mannie was a victim of domestic violence.
“I was a victim that struggled to escape, but in the beginning I didn’t know how,” she told the crowd at a vigil at the Domestic Violence Courthouse in the South Loop. “I felt trapped in the circle of violence, and once thought that the end would be my death.”
CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports Mannie suffered a broken arm and brain contusions, among other injuries, at the hands of her abuser.
“At one point, I thought I was going to die,” she said.
Today, this mother of two is the author of her own book of poetry, “I Must Speak Through Poetry: A Face Without Shame.”
She read one of the poems, “Hurt,” during Cook County’s and the Chicago Police Department’s domestic violence vigil, New Beginnings.
“It hurts when I think about how I loved him more than me. It hurts even though now I am free,” she read.
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During the service, a group of survivors joined survivor advocates from the State’s Attorney’s office, Family Rescue, and Metropolitan Family services to take a moment of silence to remember those who — unlike Mannie — did not survive their abusers.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said the vigil was also a reminder of the victims of domestic violence recently killed in Wisconsin and Calumet City, closer to home.
“This crime affects all of us, and it happens no matter where you live or how much money you have or what your socioeconomic background: it doesn’t matter,” Alvarez said.
In Calumet City, 42-year-old Donal Clark has been charged with killing his girlfriend, Gena Chiodo, earlier this month, and concealing her body. Although Chiodo’s body has not yet been found, prosecutors have said Clark talked about telling police where to find the body in exchange for a deal.
In Wisconsin, 45-year-old Radcliffe Haughton walked into the suburban Milwaukee spa over the weekend, and fatally shooting his wife, Zina Haughton, and two other women, before killing himself. A few days before the shooting, Zina Haughton had obtained a restraining order against her husband, after telling a judge how he angrily accused her of having an affair, and waved a gun at her and her daughter. She said the gun went off about two inches from her and her daughter’s heads.
Because of what happened to Haughton, some might think court orders of protection can do little to stop an abuser. Dawn Dalton, who heads the Chiacgo Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, disagrees.
“There are a lot of people that we’re talking about here, that are impacted by domestic violence, that don’t end up being killed,” Dalton said. “There are steps that they are taking to try and find safety, and to go to the courts, and those orders keep those abusers at bay.”
In Cook County, courts are aided by GPS systems; judges can order abusers to wear tracking devices.
Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans said “593 victims have had the right to have these GPS systems. And not one of them, in three years, has ever been hurt.”
Police and prosecutors in Brookfield, Wisc., where Haughton died said they do not have GPS systems to enforce orders of protection.
The tracking devices let authorities know when abusers are getting close to victims, so the victims can take action.
Mannie went to court repeatedly, and said today she and her children are safe.
“It means that they have a future now. They have a mother. They have happiness,” she said. “I’m so blessed today.”
At Wednesday’s vigil, Mannie thanked the advocates at Family Rescue for helping her find a way out of seven years of abuse.
“I realized not only for me, but for my children also, that I had to live,” Mannie said.