Her name is Yvette Cade, and if you watched Oprah in May, you may have seen her. If you don’t recognise her name, likely you will remember face. Her face and body are covered with painful healing scars from burns. Her movements are limited due to the injuries. She needs assistance to do most things. She is a domestic abuse survivor.
Yvette met Roger Hargrave about 6 years ago. He seemed kind. He was raising his own son, and he seemed to be a loving father. He had a history, of drug abuse, and convictions for drug charges, robbery, and gun charges. But she thought he was past that.
The couple married in October of 2001, and shortly after he allegedly began beating her. She sometimes fought back, but with the difference in their sizes, it was no contest on who won. She hid her bruises. She made excuses for him.
Yvette had a daughter. And in 2004, Hargrave reportedly made the decision that he wanted the two of them to live alone, without their respective children. She refused, and he left. She moved, changed her telephone number, and thought she was ok because he didn’t know where she lived. But he found her.
Then began the phone calls, the attempt to break into her home, showing up at her work. So she went to court and requested a restraining order, and it was granted. She thought she had done what she was supposed to do.
Then Hargrave wrote to the judge asking the order to be lifted. The judge called a hearing in September. Yvette told the judge she wanted a divorce. And the judge lifted the protective order, which he says later was due to a “clerical error”. (More about the judge later).
On the night of Oct. 9, Hargrave called Yvette. And among other things he told her would “fry me like Crisco grease.”
On October 10, Hargrave walked into her place of employment, and set her on fire. She suffered 3 rd degree burns. She was burned on 60 percent of her body. He stomped on her foot, she had 5 broken bones in her foot. Doctors gave her a 50 percent chance of survival.
Life has not been easy for Yvette since that time. Multiple surgeries, skin grafts, pain. She is now limited in her movements, she has many things she is still trying to relearn to do, to overcome the limitations on her movements due to the scar tissue. She has recurring nightmares.
She hid out for a while. But she was getting a lot of mail. Mail from people telling her they supported her. That they were sorry about what happened to her. Then she decided she had a story to tell, a story that might help others. She decided to speak out and she went on Oprah. She started a website telling her story.
Her message? She wants women to know that if they are in an abusive relationship, they must take care of themselves. She wants them to know what can happen if they do not.
“Women should never feel responsible for a man’s violence,” she said on the show. “But they do need to know the warning signs, and they need to know what they can do to get out of an abusive situation safely.”
Yvette goes out in public now. And complete strangers come to her and tell her they support her. She is making the most of what she can do, and not concentrating on her limitations. After she heals more, she hopes to get another job. She is enjoying her family.
Hargrave was tried and convicted for attempted murder. His defense that was presented at court, was that when he set her on fire- he didn’t intend to murder her.
Yvette Cade’s website: http://www.yvettecadefund.org/ She has a message for those who are living a relationship where there is domestic violence.
About the Judge: District Court Judge Richard A. Palumbo is retiring. He has stated the retirement is due to health reasons. Because he is retiring before the hearing which is scheduled for Aug. 28 and Aug. 29, he will likely not have to face the charge of judicial misconduct that have been brought against him. If he had gone for the hearing, it is not known how any unfavorable ruling would have affected his pension benefits for his judicial service.
Palumbo has denied the allegations against him, citing misunderstandings.
There have been other allegations also, allegations of disparging remarks he may have made to and about women who came before him seeking protective orders. Allegations of bias against non-english speaking persons who came before him seeking protection orders. Allegedly, Palumbo once likened women seeking protection orders to buses that come along every ten minutes. And there have been other allegations of misconduct not related to the domestic violence issue. But these issues likely won’t be heard, as the judge is planning to retire before the hearing.
Many courts, prosecutors, and law enforcement have created special units to work with the special problems that are involved in investigation and prosecution of domestic violence cases. Many who do not have special units, still work closely with the domestic violence agencies to help the victim through the process and to get them whatever support is available. A lot of effort has been made in some courts, law enforcement and prosecutors offices to make sure that domestic violence victims are able to safely get out of a domestic violence relationship.
But there are still some, who are somewhat dismissive. Who may not be so supportive. Many people do not not know that if they have called the police over a domestic violence incident, that they should call a domestic violence agency also. Even if the officer doesn’t file charges. A domestic violence agency can be an advocate for the victim, to not only make sure they get access to supportive services- but to assist them in having a voice in the legal process.
For Yvette Cade, I can only say “you go girl!”. You are a true survivor. She has a message for victims of a domestic violence relationship, and one that I recommend that everyone consider. Anyone who is in a relationship that is marred by violence has the right to make their own decision on whether to stay or leave that relationship. But consideration should be given to what can happen if you stay.
Many times the abuser will downplay the severity or importance of a domestic violence episode. They may even try to blame the victim or justify their actions. By staying, are you not reinforcing that? In the abusers mind, don’t you think they are saying to themselves- if it was that bad, wouldn’t they have left or stayed away?