Faces of Domestic Violence
These videos are part of a comprehensive print and multimedia series that exposes South Carolina as a state where more than 300 women died from domestic abuse over the past decade while political leaders did little to stem the violence.” Originally published in the Post & Courier August, 2014.
While courting, Tina Abbasi’s Iranian mother chose between two men: one Canadian, one American.
She chose the American Dream.
Farah Abbasi arrived speaking no English, isolated from her family and dependent on her husband, Asghar Eliaderani, a slight, outwardly friendly man who runs a minimart in Socastee.
They slept in separate bedrooms. Tina witnessed endless nights of her father beating her mother’s door, screaming until it broke open. He’d pull Farah’s hair, choke her, threaten her and brought a gun into their volatile home, Tina recalls.
“As much as it was physical abuse, it also was mental abuse,” Tina says. “He made her feel like a little person.”
Finally, Farah sought divorce in 2008. Weeks later, 15-year-old Tina held a phone in each hand, her father on a landline, a 911 dispatcher on a cellphone.
“Where’s Mom? Give Mom the phone,” she told her father.
“She can’t come to the phone,” he replied. Tina heard a croaky breathing sound. Then the phone went “dead quiet."
Two years later, Tina and her brother, Justin, spoke against their dad at his trial and sentencing. A jury found Eliaderani, then 55, guilty of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. He served 2 1/2 years in prison.
“He could control it. He’s not sick. He’s smart,” Tina says. “He got away with murder.”
The man told Dolly Ritchie everything she wanted to hear. Her marriage had broken up and she had no job and no money. She felt alone and vulnerable as a single mother with a 4-year-old son.
Ritchie soaked up the attention. “I clung to him,” she says, especially when he told her not to worry about a job or money or anything because he would take care of everything.
They moved in together, planned a wedding. “We were very happy,” she said. Then they moved out of South Carolina for a job he wanted, but it fell through.
He started drinking and forcing her to have sex. He did it roughly, very roughly and intensely, sometimes several times in one day. “He would rip me, I couldn’t walk.” He threatened her, cursed her, and took money she had saved, she said.
She wanted to leave but was afraid and didn’t know where to go or how. Then a church helped her get into a shelter.
Now, she lives in the Charleston area studying to get a paralegal certificate.
She wants other women to know “that with love and support they can fight overwhelming odds to survive domestic violence. They can get help and they can get away and start a new life.”
Two years ago, Danielle Richardson poured out her heart in a book titled “God Heard My Cries: The Deliverance.”
She was 37 and had spent much of her adult life drugged, drunk or both to escape what she witnessed at 16.
In the early morning hours of June 18, 1991, her mother’s longtime boyfriend, Greatly Montgomery, stormed into their East Side Charleston home drunk and argumentative, the way he did many nights. He railed at Richardson’s mother and the blows began. Richardson heard her mother’s screams as she tumbled from furniture to wall. Her mother then crashed into Richardson’s bedroom, blood spewing from 38 stab wounds. Richardson pressed a sheet into one gaping wound, but blood still flowed.
Neighbors called 911 and held Montgomery until they arrived and hauled him to jail where he committed suicide a couple weeks later.
The trauma of that night stole the next 16 years of Richardson’s life. Then on July 15, 2007, she woke in pain and vomit and promised God she’d sober up and straighten out her life.
She stumbled a couple of times but eventually found the strength she needed at Ebenezer AME Church on Nassau Street not far from where her mother died.
Today, Richardson says she’s found happiness in motherhood and in God and church.
“I’m determined not to be in an unhealthy relationship ... ever,” she said. “I never want to see anybody carry that burden.”
All of the life events Christan Rainey expected to celebrate with his mother and siblings — the graduations, the weddings, the kids, the grandkids — are gone now, wiped out by one man’s rampage.
Rainey was especially close to his mother, Detra, a tough single parent with five young children. But after Rainey left for college, Detra married Michael Anthony Simmons.
From afar, Rainey didn’t know much about their relationship.
When Detra was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent chemotherapy, it left her weak and vulnerable. Rainey wrestled with whether to come home to care for her.
“She needed me, and I wasn’t there,” Rainey said.
He was away at college in 2006 when it happened. Simmons, then 41, was charged with shooting and killing Detra inside their North Charleston home. Police say he then turned the gun on William Lee Rainey, 16; Hakiem Rainey, 13; Malachi Robinson, 8; and Samenia Robinson, 6 — all of Rainey’s brothers and sisters.
“For the first time, I really knew what hate felt like,” recalls Rainey, now a firefighter.
More than 2,000 people attended their funerals.
A judge later found Simmons mentally unfit to stand trial, and he was confined to a secure state mental hospital.
Shortly after the killings, Rainey got a dog, a female pit bull named Isis, who became his beloved friend. She’s almost 8 years old now, and Rainey dreads the day Isis will die, leaving him alone again.