Why victims of domestic violence don't speak out

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- As soon as you meet Tangela Sanford, you know she's one tough woman. She's a mother, a wife, and a Gulf War veteran. Still, she was abused by her husband for years.

"I cried. I was embarrassed," she said. "I'm an educated black woman. I have been to war and I couldn't believe that I allowed this. This was worse than being in the Persian Gulf."

The Harris County District Attorney's Office, Family Criminal Law Division provides services to more than 7,500 people each year.

One of those clients was Valerie Jackson.

"Even if you know you did everything you could've done, you always look back and feel guilty," said Family Services Director Jennifer Varela.

Two years ago, Jackson's on-again/off-again boyfriend, David Conley, was accused of attacking her with a weapon.

"At that time, she recanted what she originally said and asked for us to drop the charges," said Varela. "The less evidence that we have, including with the victim saying it didn't happen, the more difficult it becomes to prosecute."

Jackson refused to testify.

Conley was given a plea deal on a lesser charge and sentenced to nine months behind bars.

On Sunday morning, police say Conley murdered Jackson, her husband, and six kids.

"I get it," Sanford said. "You're thinking that if you don't testify against him, maybe we can work it out."

Sanford finally did testify against her husband and he's now in prison. She and her two kids are safe now, but she knows there are others in our area who remain silent.

"My friends, my family thought I was strong," Sanford said. "I wasn't good. I know that there are other women that will have to walk this out and I want to be there to help them."

Sanford received legal help from AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse). If you need help, contact the non-profit organization at 713-715-6925 or www.avda-tx.org. null
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