Back in May I wrote ‘It Never Goes Away’. The story of the death of John Gough at his wife Wanda Gough’s hands. Many came here and spoke in her defense. Wanda Gough of course could not speak out because she was awaiting trial. But others came and spoke of the abuse she had received at John Gough’s hands.
Very properly Wanda Gough waited until the trial to speak of what she went through. She told the court of the abuse that began soon after her marriage and then she told of the threat made against her daughters. She told of the gun fired at her daughter’s door. She talked about how she left her husband 5 times, and how she always returned. Sometimes because he promised change, sometimes out of fear because of threats he made against her family.
And she admitted to the court that John was sleeping when she fired the first shot at him. And she told of the gun he slept with under his pillow and her feelings that he was going to kill her.
And she was not the only one who testified. Her daughter testifed in her defense telling what she remembered of the abuse. A police detective testifed as to what was known about John Gough’s temper. And police testifed of the two bulletholes they found in the ceiling and floor. A professional counselor spoke of the signs seen in Wanda Gough of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
On Feb. 1, the jury went into deliberations. They were back in three hours. The verdict was not guilty.
Wanda Gough is now free. Free, but with $40,000 in legal bills incurred in her fight to prove she acted in self defense. She has told media that for many years she blocked out the memories of her marriage and her abuse. But the trial brought them all back again. And she says they are causing stress.
‘I’ve had to relive a life I never wanted to live.’
“Battered Woman’s Defense” is accepted in court. But that acceptance is relatively new. Previously when a battered woman wanted to use that as a defense, she ended up pleading temporary insantity. But in 1977 the ‘Battered Woman’s Defense’ became accepted as an acceptable defense. However, it is very risky. Many jurors still ask the question “Why didn’t they just leave?” And many times, that defense is not accepted and the woman ends up convicted.
Studies show that women will leave up to 10 times before they will leave for good. The reasons they return can differ. It may be out of love despite the violence, it may be because they think it is best for the children, it may be because of financial reasons or it may be out of fear.
And sadly that fear is not an unreasonable one. Chronicled here are many instances where an abuser chose to destroy- often with as much pain as they could possibly inflict, rather than to allow the abused to leave. And many times they didn’t stop at just the abused spouse.
Wanda Gough faced a Grand Jury years ago and they refused to indict. As the years passed, it may have seemed like it was over. But more than 20 years later, she faced trial. Finally it is over. But now she is faced with paying the legal expenses that were incurred to maintain her freedom.
What many do not realize when they consider that if they leave an abusive relationship, when they consider they may have to move away, they may have to change their name and begin a whole new life? That always seems unfair, but whether they stay or leave- there will be difficulties no matter which choice they make.
Hopefully Wanda Gough will be able to live in peace now.