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Her dad said, “Okay, baby,” as though she’d been through something terrible. A page long in her careful handwriting, explaining that she and her mother always played elaborate pranks on each other on April Fool’s Day. He wasn’t totally wrong—after all, she was the only reason I hadn’t done this sooner. Afterward, we walked down South Congress for an ice cream cone, our faces puffy in the streetlight glow.When I took her home, we sat in my car for a few minutes, both of us gazing ahead at this home we’d forged together.n the night of December 17, 1991, Kim Dadou’s boyfriend, Darnell Sanders, drove up to her mother’s house.“So anything to make sure this bill gets passed, I’m happy to volunteer with.” She’s been telling her story to legislators, legal experts, and advocacy groups for five years.In 1989, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence found that while the average prison sentence for men who kill their female partners was two to six years, the average sentence for women who killed their male partners was fifteen years.In the principal’s office, she kept trying to catch my eye. On top of everything, my graduate thesis was due that week. She was suspended, and we picked up Chick-fil-A in silence. “You’re going to sit downstairs and do your homework and whatever other schoolwork you’re missing today. ” I wasn’t sure he’d agree with me, but then her dad said, “Get your backpack.”Surprised and subdued, she nodded, and I stalked from the house with my laptop. The waning months of our marriage had been an electrical storm of tension and silence, vicious fights badly concealed. A dinner that should have been just the two of us, but that he perhaps saw as his last chance. He left, and we leaned toward each other in our iron chairs, holding tight, weeping.After lunch back at home, she said she was going to take a nap. When I returned later that night, I found a note taped to the garage door. As if maybe seeing her would keep me from making the inevitable choice. I stroked her hair, apologizing over and over again.Her dark wavy hair bounced as she quickly ran back into the house to get air freshener to spray in the car. He used his left hand to choke her and his right to push her head down. ” She recalls his entire upper body leaning over on her and pressing her down and forward.

It was around midnight and there was snow everywhere from a storm that had hit Rochester, New York, hard.Even now, the edges of my vision blur when I remember it.The panic, the terror, the maternal protectiveness that unfurled like wings, so suddenly and completely that I couldn’t breathe. I texted her back, called, scrambled into clothing (it was morning and I worked from home), called her father, called the school.Life had made her whip-smart and fearless, with flashing eyes the color of the Guadalupe in sunlight. She was starting a new life here, with nothing but us as her anchors. Suddenly I wondered: was this what being a mother was like?

It was easy to forget, sometimes, that she was a child. I couldn’t understand why she would want me to feel so afraid, so helpless, and so very much like a fool. and now she was the one who was scared—scared that she’d ruined everything between us. I thought of the many times in high school that I’d hurt my mother, and how I’d still never doubted her love for me.e’d been separated for a month by the night of the dinner. It was this desperate desire, I think, that made him do what he did: ambush me with his daughter at dinner. I could not teach this child, this girl so quickly becoming a woman, that to stay was always right.

Dadou wants to change the system that failed to protect her.

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