This is my story…

Almost 34 years ago, in 1985, after more than eight years of marriage and countless beatings, I took the life of the man I had loved since my early 20's. I had been physically, sexually, and emotionally abused; tortured, raped, beaten, humiliated, and sodomized with objects, repeatedly. The night that I took David's life was no different.

I had been forced, at gunpoint, to watch a video of women having sex with animals, while being told that I would be performing with his dog next, and that if I didn't, I would end up in the ‘hole’ (which was a hole that he kept – a dugout for him – to bury me in, when the time came that he just couldn’t stand me anymore. He spit on me, beat me with the gun, and sodomized with the loaded handgun while calling me horrible names.

I don't remember picking up the gun and shooting David, but I know that I did; with the same gun that he had used on me. I don't try to remember shooting David — I don't wish to recall the exact frame of mind that I must have been in to cause me to be so terrified for my life. I committed a crime that I so totally abhor; in order, I believe, to save my life. I regret David's loss, every day, but I can't change the past.

My name is Rosemary Dyer, I am almost 67 years old, had no criminal history, no history of violence, no history of drug or alcohol use, and no idea that the man I had chosen to marry would turn out to be a monster. I have been incarcerated since 1986, almost 33 years.

I attended church regularly, I worked (sometimes two jobs at a time). I put my husband through school so that he could further his aviation career. I was a dedicated homemaker and I had truly loved my husband.

I can't explain why the man I married turned into such a monster. I only know that I went from loving and trusting David with my life — to fearing for my life. I feared his very existence in my life, never knowing what he would do to me each day — whether that day would be the day I died at his hands. It didn't matter to him whether someone else had upset him, or if I had somehow done something he didn’t like. “I WAS 'PUNISHED!” His words.

David became the ultimate controller. I was timed each time I left the house to go shopping or on an errand. The odometer was checked, also. I was not allowed to talk to anyone. I had no friends. I had cats — the only source of love and affection in my life. Twice, I accidentally became pregnant (I was on the pill) — he beat me until I miscarried.

If I didn't prepare meals to his exact specifications — he would throw it all over the dining room/kitchen, before beating me. At one point he even tried to convince me that I was losing my mind — that I was crazy.

After an extremely bad beating, he tied me to a chair when he went to work, so that no one could see my physical condition. He had total control. I still regret taking David's life, I regret that David couldn't love me and treat me as a valued wife. I regret the waste of both of our lives.

Since being in prison, I’ve taken many classes and psychological counseling groups, to help me deal with the trauma in my past life. To heal as an individual. To learn that I am a worthwhile person, worthy of being respected and loved and being treated as such. My life has value. I am NOT the stupid, ignorant, worthless, unlovable woman that David tried to convince me that I was.

I deserve a chance at life — a chance to prove myself as a worthy individual — to be a productive member of society. I have much to share. Even with my health issues, I feel I can contribute my
small part.

For the past 10+ years, I have been active in domestic violence advocacy — by mail. I participated in the documentary “Sin By Silence” — an educational documentary to bring awareness of domestic violence. I receive mail from all over the globe. I have received letters from victims of domestic violence and even their children — also from men and women who support the cause of education of domestic violence and thank me for sharing my story with them. I know that I have helped women find the courage to leave their domestic violence situations and to seek professional help. I DO have a calling to help other victims of domestic violence and would love the opportunity to continue that calling in the free world.

I have requested a commutation of sentence from the Governor, which would enable me to go to the parole board for consideration of parole. But until then, I will continue my ‘mail’ mission, and do whatever I can to help other battered women survive.

Project HomeFree, I believe, is a necessary survival tool for victims of domestic violence prisoners paroling — to help them transition into society. Domestic violence survivors have different needs than other parolees — we need domestic violence counseling. We are not your ordinary parolees. We are not thieves, drug addicts, or abusers. We have no active participation in violence. We need different tools to enter society. Project HomeFree would be a great advantage to domestic violence survivors who are paroling to be successful on parole. We just want to live constructive and productive lives. We want to return home to our children, parents, and jobs. We want to raise our children and love our families.