Victim Impact Statement: Let me be the Face of DV Reform

Louisa Richardson Rodas by BettyJean Downing

I cannot speak, I can cry out for help or tell anyone what is happening to me, to add insult to injury I can’t report my abusers or the neglect I suffer. All I can do is take it and cry until Momma comes and finds me in deplorable condition. She has filed report after report to no avail. This is my existence now and the one I will endure for the rest of my life. Given that my heart and organs are in great shape that will be a normal life span of about 40 more years in solitary confinement and at the mercy of strangers. Where is the mercy for me? I was protecting my sister from an abuser the courts would not incarcerate and I am confined for life with no one to protect me? Where is the justice for the innocent survivors of crimes?

 I am trying to help and/or protect others from crimes against women through the efforts of my mother. We have proposed a law in my name in an effort to strengthen violence against women laws and see that they are enforced.

George was never sentenced for nearly killing my dying sister with a hammer over 3 years ago – he was angry and loose when he returned. Then while I tried to call for help finding him holding a shotgun over her- he blew my brains out. The first step is in getting him sentenced appropriately then we will move to get Louisa’s law passed.

Will you help us? http://louisaslaw.wordpress.com/louisas-law/

Louisa’s Law seeks to require significant, effective sentences and strictly enforce VAW laws to reduce violence against women, using a three pronged approach of Prevention, Services and Accountability.

My mom comes to the Long Term Care Facility every night, we want you to see the impact George’s actions have made and why if he had been in jail for the first crime – I would not be in this position today. We want you to see why DV needs to be reformed. I am the face of DV reform. I want you to see what the effects of DV really look like and why you need to help NOW. This could your daughter, sister, mother, neighbor next. 

Look how she finds me?
I can’t wound myself this way, yet they say I did this to myself.  My body is banged and bruised, my faced is bashed against the bed rails and once mom saw them bash me in the head with a lift machine and two against one they denied it.

I am not given mouth care, my Mom comes each night to clean my mouth and suction my throat out so I don’t choke to death. She then scrubs my face and neck , picks my nose and clears the  stuff from my one eye and the empty socket to keep the reoccurring eye infections away – because that is not done for me by the facility.

Mom puts me to bed ever night! Friday night is shower night- Mom comes – she is the one who showers me- I like shower night because that is when the stench of urine and feces is really removed from my body best and my hair is made to smell so clean and look so shiny! Mom put baby powder on me like when I was a baby and I like being babied every night when she puts me to bed.

I have had numerous  horrible rashes, my rashes are so bad they bleed from the  blisters. Mom has had terrible fights with the heads of this place because she has taken pictures of the rashes — they say she is not allowed but she takes them anyway. She has documentation of all the neglect and abuse but can’t show the rashes here. You would cry if you had my rashes between your legs on your vagina and between the cheeks of your butt. You would not be able to sit and urinating/or moving your bowels  into a diaper then sitting in it for hours would be torture!

My finger was smashed and they refused to attend to it – I nearly lost the finger but my mother lanced it and saved it just as it was about to turn gangrene.

This is not about revenge- I will never be made whole, my mom nor my sons will ever be made whole,  but we ask that the price we all pay stands for something and that something is the future of DV no longer be a revolving door of injustice for the innocent survivor.  I am the face of one such survivor. Let’s stop this before it happens to you or someone you love! Help us help you – Please don’t sit by until it happens to you or someone you love – then it’s too late!

Louisa’s Law seeks to require significant, effective sentences and strictly enforce VAW laws to reduce violence against women, using a three pronged approach of Prevention, Services and Accountability. http://louisaslaw.wordpress.com/louisas-law/

Sentencing for George Hartwig will be handed down on 2/24/12 before:

The Honorable Liliana S. DeAvila-Silebi
Bergen County Justice Court
10 Main Street Hackensack,
New Jersey 07601

Please write the Judge and ask for consequtive sentences so that George serves for at least both attempted murders! He has thrown himself on the mercy of the court asking for the minimum and to serve as little as 10 years – we are asking for at least 40. Please help us send the message – DV is a serious crime and should be ajudicated as such!

64 Responses

  1. Louisa: I know how you and your Mother are suffering and I pray that you will find comfort and healing for both your broken hearts, I know, also, that the message of DV remains suppressed by those among us who are not yet able to process the realities of life after a person with whom you share your home, your life, has committed such a crime. It took a decade of activism by Mothers and Students against Drunk Driving to finally reach Americans to alert them to the power they have over judges and police to enforce standards worthy of our civilized society. As the daily news brings us story upon story of young mothers, little girls and babies who ‘disappear’ having last been seen alive by the men in their lives, we are learning to recognize and sort the gentle people into a culture of protective awareness. The plight of Breast Cancer victims peaked when the statistics, “One Woman in Nine will be diagnosed”, were presented. Surely, when a female citizen is assaulted every few minutes, the number must be cite-able in terms comparable to 1 in 9. Carnage on the highways and cancer statistics moved Americans to take action. The pink ribbon became a universal symbol and families who lost their loved ones led and joined marches in their honor. It is time for colleges and hospitals to host conferences on the impact of this crime on our communities. I would try something simple, like a little rag doll symbol along with pink baseball bats, athletes in pink gear and symbols that subtly convey the awareness by American Men that they could change the psychology of our Nation with a message to the perpetrators. We might begin in earnest to discuss this emerging problem in a hopeful tone. Our public relations efforts must focus on our faith in the best of men who will provide us with the means to foster a culture of determination to prevent this crime that endangers not only the women who are victimized, but the police who answer the calls and the families who must pick up the pieces afterwards. We have our work cut out for us, but we can do this.

  2. Thank you Anna, finally an answer – a voice of a friend willing to offer solace. God bless you.
    I like your idea especially because I am never without my raggedy ann
    doll. That is an especially good symbol and coming from an Anna I think it suits.
    Perhaps we will have you help us figure the symbol out in honor of your idea?

  3. I have written my letter to the judge after seeing the first pictures. Now seeing these breaks my heart for all involved. It seems to get worse for the victims. I pray that you can at least find justice for I know that this will be the only good out of it all.

    • Marilyn,

      o Thank you for your letter in the past and for following along. Isn’t it too bad that I had to resort to this to get attention for Louisa’s plight. So far less than 30 letters and I have been asking nonstop daily for 90 days!
      What does it take to get women to realize what we are standing for? What does it take to get a women to write a letter or copy one and stuff it in an envelope and attach a stamp for 45 cents and drop it in the mailbox?
      If pictures of the aftermath doesn’t of what was once a beautiful face was not enough and telling folks that she cannot sit , stand eat, speak or recognize her children – or will never see them marry or know she is a grandmother will not so – I am hoping pictures of her daily torture might stir them.
      I am not sure what else I can do – I remember the movie burning bed- it had an impact- I know there is a movie here. I know if anyone saw this in a movie her daily struggle to live and her torture – it would bring them to tears.
      What is a mother to do? I am begging not for my own daughter – she is already past the point of saving from this humiliation- she and I are trying to use this to make some good come out of it! I am begging that we stop the insanity make some changes in the Domestic violence laws and prevent this or at least slow it down!
      I need help!
      I will not stop- not ever, all I can do is keep trying and I will until my dying day!
      Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

      • Dear Bettyjean,
        I am going to write a letter tonite! This is unbearable.

        Laurel

        • Thank you Laurel- sentencing is a week from tomorrow so we will need that letter in the mail by morning. Thank you so much – please do leave a copy at Louisa’s blog. http://louisaslaw.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/help-get-justice-for-louisa/

          BettyJean Downing-Kling M.S, M. Ed Founder: The Majority United Founder: W.O.M.E.N. http://www.WomenOrganizedMobilizedEmpoweredNationwide.com http://www.TheMajorityUnited.com http://www.FreeMeNow.wordpress BTR. The Majority United Radio WOMEN Live Nationwide Mon & Wed 10 pm Eastern Call-in Number: ( 347 ) 838-8011 BTR http://www.blogtalkradio.com/FreeMeNow Free US Now- “A victim’s first scream is for help; a victim’s second scream is for justice.” – Coral Anika Theill TMU IMAGINE Empowering Women To Unite & Mobilize ! Connect with TheMajorityUnited:

          Connect with FreeUsNow:

        • I think a newer article would be helpful at this point, along with ALL the pertinent address info, including the case number.

          • Alessandro Good idea – My update will appear tomorrow! I have submitted my impact statement to the judge and I will print that!

            BettyJean Downing-Kling M.S, M. Ed Founder: The Majority United Founder: W.O.M.E.N. http://www.WomenOrganizedMobilizedEmpoweredNationwide.com http://www.TheMajorityUnited.com http://www.FreeMeNow.wordpress BTR. The Majority United Radio WOMEN Live Nationwide Mon & Wed 10 pm Eastern Call-in Number: ( 347 ) 838-8011 BTR http://www.blogtalkradio.com/FreeMeNow Free US Now- “A victim’s first scream is for help; a victim’s second scream is for justice.” – Coral Anika Theill TMU IMAGINE Empowering Women To Unite & Mobilize ! Connect with TheMajorityUnited:

            Connect with FreeUsNow:

          • Monday is a holiday, although I am not sure if it is a holiday for the post office or not. I would suggest anybody sending their letter make sure they actually go out by Saturday.

            I think if the letter is within the postal system, it may actually move on Monday even if the post office is not accepting mail that day. If anybody works for the post office and knows better than I please post a reply here.

        • I have just finished my letter on behalf of Louisa’s Law & the sentencing of this monster, & am mailing it tonite. I have paraphrased from another letter I found online. I am signing with my real name, and sending it via regular mail.

          Dear Judge DeAvila-Silebi

          I have been following the case of Louisa Rodas who was brutally attacked by George Hartwig. I am sure I do not have to remind you that Louise desperately clings to life due to the injuries that she incurred.

          It has come to my attention that George Hartwig has asked for the minimum sentence and could serve as little as ten years. I stand in strong protest of this, and ask the he serve consecutive sentences for at least both attempted murders! We are asking for at least 40 years. Domestic violence is a serious crime and should be adjudicated as such!

          This case is of great interest to all women and to women’s advocacy groups. How can it be otherwise when consideration is given to the idea that a jury trial may dispensed with when a woman’s life has been destroyed in a violent crime of this magnitude. Louisa Rodas has lost half of her brain, all of her memory, and half of her face. She no longer knows even her own children.

          George Hartwig should never go free. For the sake of all women, we implore you to give him the maximum sentence.

          Sincerely,

  4. Dear BJ,

    I have been with you several times to visit Louisa and have even brought along a friend or two. who could not return with me again because of the trauma of seeing Louisa. I am still totally amazed at your endurance. I have seen the pictures of the abuse Louisa has endured. It makes me sick to my stomach that the poor kid has been put through so much and is still at the hands of non-caring humans. You know you have me on your side forever. You must take care of yourself or the fight is over. Love Ya, Georgine

    • My friend- What would I do withoout your friendship all these years? You are like the sister I never had. Like wind beneath my wings! Thank you for all the help and strength. I know you are with me. We must endure much – but then we always do and we will keep the fight going until we win- and we shall!
      You know me- I will not stop bugging untill they give up and write the damned letters! See you on the 27th – the day we wiin this case once and for all and move on to press for Louisa’s Law with this sentncing under our belts.
      We must fill the court room! I hope thies pictures will move local residents who can come to come!
      Thanks you my friend my sister. You have seen the pictures and the real thing I can not show here!

  5. What more can I do, dear BJ?

    • Pass the word Sandy – the more women know about this outrage the more they will be inclined to move both on ERA and on Louisa’s Law. We need to be outraged about the way women are treated and discarded in this country.
      OUTRAGED!
      This child was innocently protecting her sister because the court would not and now – she is at the mercy of others and he is asking for mercy of the court. We cannot allow him to get it and we must use that to move forward with DV sentencing regform!

  6. 30 letters? That’s all you got? Sad. I sent mine! (This is Anna Belle, btw)

    This case is a case study in what should NOT happen in DV cases. I can’t imagine your pain, and I am so sorry for it.

  7. Betty Jean, in case you never saw these two posts that Louisa made, I thought they might mean something to you. Louisa posted the lyrics for this particular song…

    http://www.olivia-newtonjohn.com/music/lyrics/christmas-wish/christmas-my-radio.html

    I tried to add a message about Louisa but the comments system kept giving me an error message. So I dropped my guard and just said hello, and the comments system accepted the message. Now I can’t seem to post again.

    Louisa is in the comments section in this one…

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:fhgSAkGzcqwJ:fabulously40.com/article/id/sexual-intimacy-in-marriage-ten-ways-for-the-christian-wife-to-avoid-the-whoopees-629+Louisa+Rodas&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari

    You might want to contact fabulously forty and see if they might muster up some letters. Us men are not allowed to post on that site.

    • Alessandro,
      Thanks for finding that- I appreciate it. And I have from time to time stopped in to ask for letters but people forget. I am not having much luck getting letters – seems unless the ladies are personally touched by this horror they … well quite frankly… they don’t seems moved.
      I can’t explain it!
      I can saw this is why we still don’t have ERA or a change in misogny and sexism! We can’t have change without women getting up and working for it! Complacency is what is holding us back!
      Thank you for all you do and have done over the last 3 years.

      • The site became a women only site, and then one of the people that was a regular there had her own personal tragedy and I don’t know if she posts there anymore since males can no longer be involved.

        However, it might not hurt to drop a line to the person who runs the site and she if she might do an article.

  8. I was trying to leave the following message on the Olivia Newton John site…

    On December 15, 2008, Louisa Rodas was shot in the face by her sister’s estranged husband. Lousia was care taking for her sister who was dying from cancer.

    Louisa survives in a vegetative state while the shooter begs for a lenient sentence. You can learn more here.

    http://freemenow.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/victim-impact-statement-let-me-be-the-face-of-dv-reform/

    You can also write a letter to the judge.

    I even removed the link and it still would not accept the message. So I just wrote “awesome song” and the darned comments section suddenly worked fine.

  9. Anna Belle,

    This is a case study in both what should NOT happen in DV cases and the complacency in some women.

    For example, I have begged every day for 90 days for help and very few women have bothered to write or offer to help.

    I went to a conference where women have been battered by both their men and the courts and managed to get maybe 12 signatures out of 200 women on a letter that I pre-wrote for them.

    After 90 days of begging, twittering and facebooking all day and night and God knows how many blog pieces –a hand full of gals – maybe 5 of you posting and trying to help – I wound up with maybe 30 letters.

    To those of you who helped – I am so grateful- I am in tears and I can’t thank you all enough.

    BUT for those who did not – I am in fear! Do those ladies not understand what is at stake here?

    It’s too late for my daughters- this campaign is for living women who are still whole! This is for their daughters, wives, sisters, friends. This fight is for all women and to change DV Laws and sentencing and for equality in the courts. This is to keeps abusers off the streets – to stop slapping their wrists and turning them loose to abuse again!

    Does it have to happen to them or hit close to home before they do something? Don’t them realize it is just too late then?

    Thanks those of you who have done something, anything at all is appreciated more than you will ever know. I love you for it and I swear I will forever be obliged! You have a friend for life!

    One Woman Can Change Anything Many Women Can Change Everything.

  10. I hope everyone reads this very important page from what was to become Louisa’s business when Betty Jean retired.

    http://www.pondarama.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=About

    • Alessandro,

      I am in tears, you took my breath away. I had forgotten about that page. Unfortunately, having been unsuccessful in concentrating on business.

      Having recruited no help in my endeavor to reform DV, having to physically prevent LTC from killing my daughter, and doing all that I could for Denise while she was alive – not to mention caring for my Dying father till he just passed and taking on 3 orphaned grandson all suffering PTSD along with me our business is all but gone.

      It went from a thriving business to not even enough to pay for its existance on the web. In December we were bouncing checks.

      I have put all my time and money into caring for Louisa and into DV Reform. How fast 3 years passes and how quickly a business can go down the tubes when you turn your attention elsewhere! Now I am near out of business – I am completely out of money and my heart is broken because seemingly no one cares about this most important issue.

      Again, nothing is more important than DV reform. Lives are at stake! The economy was bad anyway!

      Alessandro – thanks for still being there. We both lost Papa recently- how are you holding up?

      • I still have mom to take care of. Almost lost her a year and a half ago when her 14 year old shitszu passed. The doctor “in charge” at the hospital asked if I wanted to put her in hospice care back then!

        I was so spitting mad but I kept my composure and just told him to get her electrolytes back up. A year and a half later and she is still the master of her ship, lol, kind of annoying at times.

        • Alessandro,
          You are a great son, I remember what you went through taking care of Pappa and now you are doing the same with Momma. Bless your heart. We cannot depend of anyone to care for our loved ones for us. I know your plight! I will light a candle for you when I go! Bless your heart and a prayers for Momma!
          Once they are gone – we seem to forget any of the bad times at all nd are just grateful for the good memories. Are you still keeping a garden for Momma in Poppa’s place?

  11. BettyJean, could you do an article on Louisa the business women / entrepreneur?

    • After the sentencing Alessandro – right now I am concentrating on this sentence!
      The most important thing on my mind is that the sentence be fair. If Geo had been appropriately sentenced for his first crime. Louisa would be whole.
      Most women would be alive had sentencing been appropriate the first time an abuser was arrested.
      We must make changes in DV Laws. the wrist slapping,- the revolving door- reduced sentencing, plea deals is getting women maimed and killed. Thsi must stop. I am hoping that we start to stop it right here!
      If not now when?

      • I thought more info on Louisa now might help people point out in their letters that a mom/business women crime victim is never treated as seriously as a father/businessman.

        Also, you may want to consider adding the following share button. I don’t know if it works as well on wordpress as it does on blogspot. Would make it easier to share are your articles on dailypuma.

        http://share.lockerz.com/

      • Two things: A person who takes the time to write and post a letter has been moved by an enormous force. Thirty letters is a lot. Although you fear your efforts have come to naught, you are not allowing the most important factor that will deliver the results you desire: Time. Just as you cannot get a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant, you cannot substitute quantity for reach that must be built by touch. The power of the emotion behind your appeals, not the sense of urgency, has impact you cannot fully realize without the passage of time, space and repetition. I know you cannot rest until the Justice your soul craves is wrought. But skating from Athens to Atlanta taught me that to overtake this torment, I had to relax and exchange with the opposition on a friendly level. Each of us travels this road alone until we can accept the oneness of our spirit. The righteousness that drives your cause far out-performs the resistance. Appeal gently and weave the swirling desire to help into a whisper, a flutter, a twinkle. Envision the beach ball that captures the imagination at a concert and draws all eyes to its progress. Float like a feather above the crowd, carrying our wishes aloft where our spirits join and soar. You’ve come farther than you realize. Turn briefly away from this and help the universe build a pond, a water garden, a peaceful place to re-center. You can put together all the ingredients for a cake and get it into the oven, but then you must allow the oven to do its part. Peek and the cake falls. Come back when the chemical process of baking is complete and turn out a satisfying result.

        • Anna,

          This is not directed to you but to any who do not understand where I am coming from or why I seem to be complaining about the complacency of woman on the whole.

          Perhaps you are right that I should relax a bit. As to 30 letters being a lot ell… there may be more letters out there than I know of and then it might have taken only one letter to reach her or none. She may have an understanding within her that required no letters.

          I, however, am not what I am not. What I am is ONE voice crying in the wilderness – one who will never – if asked – have to admit I relented even for one minute having given up the fight for DV reform.

          Some of us are patient – some of us are not. I have personally been fighting for DV reform for 50 years- and I should continue to be patient? I got my ass kicked and was nearly killed, I was raped, I was stalked and no one ever paid– and now I watched my daughters be nearly slaughtered and I should continue to be patient? I should leave the laws as it so my grandaughters and yours can continue to live in danger?

          Had Alice Paul floated quietly – we would still be sitting home knitting- she got in women’s faces – she risked life and limb and so will I for what I believe in!

          When watching the movie “Iron Jawed Angels” I was struck by the scene where she pushed and pushed her friend Inez ( the one who rode the hosrse) and who needed to quit or risk death from Anemia to push forward regardless of all obstacles and being tired.

          Alice pushed her and Inez did colapse and die as a result of pushing on. But we got our vote. Would we have gotten it anyway, eventually- we will never know will we? What we do know is Alice wrote the ERA and we never got that did we? To this day we are lucky we got the damned vote and we know what they had to endure to get it. It wasn’t easy – it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t lady-like.

          This is just that damned important as getting the vote. Women are dying women are maimed… its too late for Louisa- this is for your daughters out their and your grand dauthers!

          The time is now and your are damned lucky to have those of us who are willing to go to our death for this cause! I am one such woman!

          If women had not given up on the ERA we wouldn’t still be considered second class citizens right now! Damned it! Electing a women would have been The Historic thing to do!

  12. Thank you for taking the lead. Our government spends so much money, time and effort helping those outside of the US that they are blind to what is happening right here at home. Justice and protection for the rights of our people need to come first!

  13. Thanks Alessandro for sharing the page from Pond-a-Rama!!
    Our dear … dear BJ, needs our love and support!!
    If I remember correctly, you are not an eat-coaster.
    I am and I will be on the court steps with her…
    Who will join me!!

  14. Betty Jean,
    Looking at the pictures and reading all the articles about Louisa and our court system makes me sick to think that this animal would get anything less than the maximum penalty imposed by the state. I faxed my letter weeks ago and Im hopefully that he will get what he deserves.

    • Petrina,

      How nice to see you here- Unbelievable isn’t it what happens to a survivor and no one takes into account this part of the aftermath.
      I see this part every night. This is the heartbreak that no one wants to see and hear about but My Louisa lives it. Why should serves less?

      I saw him at the trial- he gained weight and muscle!
      Sure he has 4 walls, a roof, 3 meals a day , snacks, a weight room, tennis , color tv and wants to get out in 10 years.

      My Louisa is in solitary confinement for life and at the mercy of perdiem floaters who think she is a veggie!

  15. Out of the Shadows – into the Light

    A mere 45 years ago…

    Domestic Violence finally began making the “news” – because of three pioneering women’s page editors: Vivian Castleberry, Dorothy Jurney and Marjorie Paxson.

    For a study in real feminism, I highly recommend looking them up, with both an open mind and a willingness to set aside everything one thinks they know about “advocacy for women,” then and now.

    These three women, in my opinion and others’, initiated the first public awareness campaigns about violence against women. They did it by bringing the ugly truth about the existence of domestic violence and its consequences to the lives of women and children into the light. By brilliantly using their careers as women page editors to educate and inform women – without alienating or dividing women into groups of those choosing more traditional roles from those striving for careers or stories about “society” women, fashions and weddings from those fighting to escape oppression, lack and violence, the result was the first women’s shelter along with the framework for securing resources for victims of domestic violence.

    These three women were determined to enlarge our perspective of “women’s issues” – by bringing to the forefront those suffering in silence – silenced by an unequal, oppressive and inevitably unjust system for not just “abused” women but for all women.

    I cannot look at Louisa’s face without thinking that we, “The Women’s Movement,” (Activists for greater opportunities for women, the recognition and protection of our basic human and civil rights as well as our invaluable contributions to society) are the one’s who have failed her. There are too many reasons to list why I perceive it to be that way, so I will list three:

    – George Hartwig was released from jail after assaulting a terminally ill woman while committing theft of her pain medications
    – George Hartwig committed a second attack on the same, terminally ill woman in addition to committing a near fatal attack against a second woman
    – In 2012, there will be millions of women either beaten, sexually assaulted, stalked, suffering abuse in silence under the threat of retaliation – in the United States alone
    -There has only been thirty (30) letters in support of Louisa Rodas to the Judge presiding over the sentencing of George Hartwig

    Louisa’s face tells the story of women all over the world who bear the scars of a global system of injustice – a global system steeped in bias against the rights of victims of cultural, political, religious – “domesticated” forms of violence against women.

    Her story also tells the story of how hard women have to fight for basic fairness, value, equality and justice.

    There is no greater or more important story to women – daughters, mothers, families and communities – than Louisa’s Story. As those pioneering women’s page editors a mere 45 years ago demonstrated with the brilliance, passion and determination found in the purist form of feminism:

    Our differences should hardly be noticeable when our perspective on the basic human rights of women have been enlarged to the point that it brings us out of the shadow of complacency and propels us into the light of action.

    To become a voice for one victim – one woman – is to become a voice for all women.

    • Brava, and so you shall be a voice for all woman!

      When you are ready, willing and able to come out of the sahdows, I can find no one with clearer words to help lead the march. You said it clearly and in more concise words than I could. I am not a writer- I am not articulate – I write from anger and the passion to go to my grave fighting for women’s tights but you – you write with passion and wisdom and the ability to make the point- you are a writer. If only I had your talent of expression – obviously you have my passion!

      Thank you!

  16. Please know that “I Am Not Louisa. I Can Speak For Myself” is a reminder to me – not a commentary on how you have presented her story.

    Do not be apologetic about being her voice. It is the story of Louisa’s victimization – told as close as first person as possible to the best of anyone’s ability to communicate in her stead.

    You are her mother. You are the one who sees her scars, her victimization, helplessness and living testament to a life worth fighting for, daily. She breathes, she feels, she needs a greater love, care and advocacy for her rights to human dignity, respect and medical care.

    Your courage and commitment to see justice for her should serve as a reminder to the “mother” in all of us that we are “Lady Justice” for the children of the world – the innocent – young or old, who are unable to defend or speak adequately for themselves.

    Your love and commitment to her life – just as she is – needs no excuse nor should be pitied – but the heart that would turn away in prejudice (prejudgments) is a battle for humanity that even I must do daily.

    I do not “hate” George Hartwig – but the gender-bias system that emboldened him, and makes certain that more victims of domestic violence will be “just an everyday fact of life,” rather than a rare and inexcusable occurrence that will not be tolerated by society.

    • We need you – every woman needs you – you are the voice that can remind us all what we need to remember. Please continue to speak- I need you here – anon if you need to – your voice is powerful. It gives me strength and comforts me – I have a friend who understands and is willing to be out sister and give voice to what needs said in a way most of us are not able to say it.
      Please do not stay silent- keep coming!

  17. Would like to see the address on where to write for the sentencing within the blog article.

    • I have added the address where to write but times is now very late. Of course we hope those who can attend the sentence hearing will fill the courtroom!

      I believe it will be Room 409 @ 9: 30 am

      • I mailed mine today, it went out today (from the west coast). When is the court date again? Letters probably have to get there at least 3-4 working days before the actual court date I would presume.

        I did put the case number on the outside of my envelope.
        Case# 09-06-1226-I, New Jersey vs George Hartwig.

  18. (((((BETTY JEAN))))) so very sorry for all you that is happening I feel so helpless since I am so involved in the taking care of my dad.I continue to pray for you and Louisa and I know the judge will serve strong and swift justice to the monster George. God Bless you my friend. I am sending you love and hugs and healing light.

    • Dearest Barbara,
      You have done all that you can. Concentrate on Poppa now, that is your current duty.
      Thanks for all you have contributed and for your love!

  19. Your Honor,
    I am a doctor of Internal Medicine practicing in Honolulu, Hawaii and became aware of the heartbreaking case of Louisa Richardson Rodas through my wife who works in the area of domestic violence.
    While I am happy that justice is about to be served for the “man” who inflicted such egregious injuries on Ms. Rodas, it was particularly disturbing for me to learn that had justice been appropriately and adequately applied before (and the time before that and the time before that) Ms. Rodas wouldn’t be in the agonizing condition she is today because this guy would’ve been locked up and prevented from doing so.
    In my practice throughout my career, I have come across substance abusers of all types but one of the scariest is the type you will be sentencing on the 27th. Although he had ample opportunity to turn himself around, his propensity towards violence fueled by his substance abuse has brought him before you at Ms. Rodas’ expense. While Mr. Hartwig did not successfully kill Ms. Rodas, make no mistake that he did indeed take her life.
    Please do not afford him the leniency he has already taken for granted or the mercy he failed to show for Ms. Rodas. Send the message that domestic violence is a crime that will not be tolerated in any form and may-be then people will all start taking it seriously.
    Thank you for your time and consideration.
    Guy Yatsushiro, M.D.

    • Awesome letter. To make my letter fit on one page, I had to take out the sentence that I am in California. I’m glad you stated where you are from and hope the judge notices that the letters are coming from out of state as well as in state.

      • Alessandro – would you care to share your letter with us?

        • Dear Judge Liliana S. DeAvila-Silebi,

          Regarding New Jersey vs George Hartwig. I just can’t fathom a person receiving disability funds from the state of New Jersey and then inflicting irreparable violence on anyone else.

          Few things might be more hurtful in life than providing state disability funds to a person who then purchases a shotgun to shoot a family that was simply keeping Mr. Hartwig away from cancer drugs prescribed by a doctor for his estranged wife.

          Mr. Hartwig’s public testimony that he was trying to shoot the mother and not the sister of his estranged wife is an admission of attempted murder. Prior to this tragedy, Mr. Hartwig received an ultra lenient 3 month sentence for attempting to use a hammer on his estranged wife so that he could get to her cancer drugs.

          Louisa Rodas was care taking for her cancer stricken sister Denise Richardson and this end of life bond between these two sisters was prematurely shattered by Mr. Hartwig’s actions. Apparently Mr. Hartwig would have gone on a shooting rampage inside that home if his shotgun had not jammed. Shooting a defenseless woman who was on the phone doing the right thing by calling for help is abhorrent in my opinion.

          Louisa Rodas, after being shot in the face by Mr. Hartwig now lies in a vegetative state. Her Mother, Betty Jean Kling, shows up nightly to clean out the dried saliva, mucus and food debris from her mouth so her daughter doesn’t asphyxiate and die.

          Louisa’s sister, Denise Richardson, who probably passed sooner over the trauma of what happened to Louisa Rodas, had to spend the last few months of her cancer stricken life crushed by the guilt that it was her estranged husband who shot her sister in the face at close range. The two sisters also did not get to have those final months of bonding that invariably can happen when one family member has a terminal illness. I caretaked for my terminally ill father and I would not hesitate to do it again.

          Mom and Louisa had a business together, the Pondarama. It’s sad to think that a pond supplies business that provided the means to create peace and tranquility in anyone’s backyard has been disabled by George Hartwig. Mr. Hartwig is the earth’s equivalent of a black hole, suffocating the light and love from those around him.

          George Hartwig has taken so much away from one family, no sister – sister goodbye when it would have meant so much to both, no mother daughter working together on a business that provided peace and tranquility to hundreds of others, a son witnessing and attempting to stop Mr. Hartwig then sees his own mother with a third of her face blown off, bleeding, yet still alive. Louisa’s brother also had to witness this tragedy. People who witness a tragedy are forever tormented by thoughts of what they could have done differently to have prevented such a bad outcome for the victim.

          Any consideration of a lesser sentence should still be multiplied by five for all of the various family and social relationships that have been forever snuffed out and most likely violated beyond repair. A lenient sentence by the court will simply create new guilt amongst Louisa’s relatives who will begin anew blaming themselves for not stopping Mr. Hartwig.

          I also wish the state could recompense Betty Jean Kling for the loss of revenue from her Pondarama business so she can continue to caretake for her daughter. Sincerely,

          Alessandro Machi

          • Alessandro,

            Your letter reminds me how often I am amazed by each letter, how each one touches a different aspect of this case and all the lives that are touched!

            Everyone who wrote has managed to reach into our lives and our hearts and really really feel our trauma and share our sorrow so deeply. I thank you for personalizing your letters to our case and I hope Louisa and I stand for all the women whose faces and lives are not front and center on January 27th, it is for them that we are fighting too.

            Each letter brings me to tears because I realize that there are so many wonderful, people out there that care about this isssue and truely recognize the importance of what happened here.

            So deeply concerned they are urging the courts to look at the ramifications and impact of their past actions in terms of DV sentencing on the victims and survivors and come to the conclusion that indeed it is time to clarify that domestic violence is a crime not be tolerated but to be taken and dealt with seriously.

  20. Honorable Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi

    I am a domestic abuse survivor and am advocating for an abuse victim whose perpetrator has been in court every month for the past year for multiple acts of abuse on his partner and previous landlords. He has failed to comply with orders for anger management assessment and been granted continuance upon continuance by the family court judge. This man knows that the system is painfully slow to hold him accountable for his actions, so he is indifferent to restraining orders and violations thereof. Eventually, his priors will “catch up” with him, but that may not be until he has been responsible for a homicide. To date, he has escalated to assault that sent 3 family members to the hospital.

    I believe that the consequences of battering of family members is taken too lightly in this country. When you consider the sentence for the egregious act of the defendant in the case of Louisa, please compare identical crimes by two different perpetrators. An abusive spouse or partner forcibly grabs a child from his mother while she is trying to leave him and flee to safety. A stranger in a parking lot grabs a child from a mother while she is trying to get into her car. Given that there’s a witness to attest that both perps had malicious intentions during the act of snatching a child, I would suggest that the incident would be taken much less seriously in the “family” context. In this case, the crime is the same.

    I implore you to weigh whether or not the defendant in this case is worthy of any less harsh sentence than if the crime had been committed by a stranger. Even if your judgment is not biased by either scenario, I would beg you to impose the maximum allowable sentence.

    Marilyn Yamamoto
    Hilo, Hawaii

  21. I’d recommend a follow up article with a call to show up this Friday, soon as possible.

  22. (((((BJ and Louisa)))))

    The sentencing was postponed to 2/24/12. I’m sure BJ will post as soon as she can. Please join me in sending her prayers and strength.

  23. Sorry – I sent out the newsletter – tweeted it and Face Booked it-

    I guess I missed some locations-

    The sentencing was postponed at the last minute- Rescheduled till

    2/24/12 1:30 PM
    Room 412
    Bergen County Court House
    Hackensack, NJ

    • In this day and age there is no one true default that I know of, well perhaps your newsletter. I use this site for information since I have it listed on http://www.dailypuma.com.

      I have your blog feed listed above the main column. I’ll leave it up there until after that date.

      Thanks for the update.

      • Even a newsletter isn’t perfect. For instance, if a subscriber’s email is down, and your newsletter gets kicked back from that address, it is possible that there is a built in email function that removes that email from your list.

        So over the course of time there could dozens or hundreds who have automatically been removed from your email newsletter list just because their email was down one time when your newsletter went out.

        That’s why I think a blog should always be part the ways people stay informed.

  24. Postponed? How long does a mother have to endure this ongoing pain before she can receive SOME justice; albeit even a life sentence would not really be justice in my opinion.

    I pray it is not postponed again and he is sentenced on 2/24!

  25. Still time to write letters- I understand they are accepted tight to the day before!

  26. I posted this on my FB page and am prayerful my friends in Illinois and Alabama will write and write and write!!! \

    • Thank you Christy- its time that high paid ambulance chaser hears from the women of America. Let’s show him what we think of his leniency idea. I would love the Judge to get about 1000 letters saysing its Louisa that deserves the leniency – and that it was leniency that got her shot if he was behind bars for blugeoning her sister- her dying sisters head in – Louisa would not have been there protecting Denise from George and would not be shot. Leniency is what gets women killed every day!

  27. [...] comments on our blog, tweet  it and by all means spread the word on Facebook..  Please come  http://freemenow.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/victim-impact-statement-let-me-be-the-face-of-dv-reform/#c… and leave your comments – leave a record of your concern for [...]

  28. I think it was a horrendes act of evil on Louisa, I got to know her son Josh over the holidays and was happy to have him here in Pa to have christmas with our family. My heart ached for this young man cause his mom was on his mind all the time, i Pray that George gets all that the maximum can be, He not only abused his dying wife but also ruined her sisters life, my heart goes out to the family i would like to be able to know when his case will be tried and the outcome of it, God Bless Louisa and Betty Jean It is one of the hardest things for a Mother to lose a child no matter what age, but to lose two daughters is unimaginable. I lost a daughter almost 2 years ago to cancer she was 52 and i still can’t get over it so please let everyone know the outcome of this trial, Good Luck and God Bless your family

    • Edie, I am so sorry for your loss. Indeed nothing is harder than losing a daughter, my heart goes out to you. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your grief with us- your kindness is very much appreciated and I thank you for sharing the past holiday with Joshua. I wish you many blessings as you deal with your loss and I am very grateful that you found the grace to share your grief to let me know we are and share a kindred spirit – mothers who have the same pain and who know and feel a thing no one else can never know quite the way we can. Again thank you for reaching out.

      The date of the sentencing – if it happens this time — will be 3/23/12 at 1:30 pm.

      BettyJean Downing-Kling M.S, M. Ed Founder: The Majority United Founder: W.O.M.E.N. http://www.WomenOrganizedMobilizedEmpoweredNationwide.com http://www.TheMajorityUnited.com http://www.FreeMeNow.wordpress BTR. The Majority United Radio WOMEN Live Nationwide Mon & Wed 10 pm Eastern Call-in Number: ( 347 ) 838-8011 BTR http://www.blogtalkradio.com/FreeMeNow Free US Now- “A victim’s first scream is for help; a victim’s second scream is for justice.” – Coral Anika Theill TMU IMAGINE Empowering Women To Unite & Mobilize ! Connect with TheMajorityUnited:

      Connect with FreeUsNow:

  29. I found your story, and at a lose for words..I am a victim of domestic violence, and after 12 yrs, I finally was able to leave with my daughtor..My abuser has been locked up now, for 9 monthes, he is on a 2-10 yr sentence..Everyone says that leaving was the hardest part, but I disagree, its staying gone, that is the hardest part..I guess, after the scars heal-its easy to forget the bad, somehow? I have been questioning so much lately n am very confused..I found your story n am at a loss, for words.. People always think this can’t be them, yet it can be them. I pray that you are ok, and that you find peace. My prayers are with u, thank you for sharing this story, truly, it really made me re-evaluate my own thoughts all togeather..Blessings always

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