PODCAST: The Perfect Victim

A new documentary looks at the cases of four women — victims of domestic abuse who killed their husbands in an attempt to escape the years of torture inflicted upon them. They all received extremely severe sentences for their crimes; in three of the cases, the women weren’t even allowed to enter their abuse into evidence during trial, so the juries decided their fate without understanding the most pivotal information.

The Perfect Victim follows as the Missouri Battered Women’s Clemency Coalition works to secure the freedom of these women, who’ve already missed out on decades of their lives, locked up for trying to escape male violence.

In this episode, I speak with Elizabeth Rohrbaugh, director of the documentary, and Amy Lorenz-Moser, a lawyer with the Missouri Battered Women’s Clemency Coalition whose work is featured in the film.

Elizabeth is an Emmy Award winning director with a BFA in Film and Television from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She spent ten years as a director, writer and editor at MTV Networks and is now the creative director of Outer Borough Pictures. Her feature-length documentary, “The Perfect Victim,” was recently acquired by the PBS documentary series, America Reframed following a successful festival run. Her most recent short film “Dylan” is premiered at the St. Louis International Film Festival 2014, and screened at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, the Boston LGBT Film Festival, and the Queer Film Festival.

Amy is a litigator and represents victims of domestic violence on a pro bono basis. She started this work at the University of Missouri Law School’s Family Violence Clinic while still a student there, and has continued her service through the Missouri Battered Women’s Clemency Coalition. For the past 13 years, Amy has represented victims of domestic violence who were imprisoned in Missouri for killing their abusers, even though evidence of the abuse was inadmissible at the time of their trials. Amy’s efforts have resulted in the release of four women.

In October of 2010, through Amy’s efforts and the work of the Coalition, two of the women featured in The Perfect Victim were released from prison after serving 32 years each. In recognition of those efforts, Amy was named the Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly 2011 Lawyer of the Year. In August of 2012, Amy also received the American Bar Association’s prestigious national Pro Bono Publico Award for her work on behalf of victims of domestic violence.

The Perfect Victim is available for Americans to watch for free on WORLD Channel from April 15th to October 15th and is also available on Amazon Prime. Canadians can rent or buy the film on iTunes.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • I’m sure you’ve heard of Liz Sheehy. I’ve got her latest book ‘Battered Women On Trial’ about women in Canada who’ve eliminated their abusers and how Canadian law must be changed so that women don’t have to plead the lesser manslaughter charge.

    These women have been through utter hell. Sheehy considers this self-defense. I do too.

    I think the problem is police assume women can leave when we all know when women leave, they die. The only option is to get rid of the violent male so they can escape with their own lives!

  • ArgleBargle

    There’s an HBO documentary on YouTube called Every Fucking Day of My Life. A really grim story about the long term violence committed by a man against his wife over many years. Eventually, on a night where he was particularly violent (so much that the neighbors called the police to come out) the woman and her young son killed this man. To save her son the possibility of a long prison sentence, she took a plea deal and was sentenced to 10 years. Really chilling; if this man had not been her domestic live in partner, the woman would certainly been able to plead not guilty via self defense (or even ‘stand your ground’ depending on which state she lived in)

    • tinfoil hattie

      Chilling, horrific documentary. So fucking sad. So unfair. Like most “domestic violence” laws.

  • Savy

    Is it visible in Europe?

  • Jen

    I applaud Amy’s efforts to help women of domestic violence. I grew up in a violent home and there is nothing more frightening than a drunken father coming home at 3 a.m. and being greeted by my screaming mother wanting to hit him over the head with a cast iron frying pan.

    I wonder what the verdict would have been if the 4 women had ben torturing their husbands for years and the husbands then retaliated by killing their wives. I wonder what would happen if the husbands wouldn’t have been able to speak of the abuse they endured for years. Of course, in the real world. this just wouldn’t happen. It is still a man’s world, I believe, and they take what they want when they can.