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When Battered Women Are Treated As Criminals

A preview of an upcoming BuzzFeed News investigation. Update: The investigation has been published — read it here.

Posted on October 1, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. ET

Courtesy of Victoria Pedraza

Victoria Pedraza with her daughter Aubriana in 2010

Two-year-old Bri was dead, with bruises all over her stomach. Her mother, Victoria Pedraza, told a story that didn't add up. She told a police officer in a taped interrogation that Bri had fallen off a fishing dock:

Photograph by Wil Chandler for BuzzFeed

The lake where Pedraza alleged the accident occurred

Courtesy of Victoria Pedraza

Victoria with Aubriana at Christmas in 2010

The coroner confirmed this was a lie — Bri, whose full name was Aubriana, died from child abuse. Authorities arrested the only two people who could have hurt her: Victoria and her husband Daniel.

But when they booked Victoria into jail, they discovered bruises on her buttocks and legs. The next morning, when a police officer asked where her and her daughter's injuries came from, she whispered, "Daniel":
Photograph by Wil Chandler for BuzzFeed

Victoria and Daniel Pedraza's home, where the abuse took place

Then she began to open up and tell what really happened. Prosecutors eventually determined that Victoria hadn't laid a hand on her daughter. Daniel had murdered the little girl, and for months he had brutalized Victoria too. In that state, she wondered, How can I protect my kid?
Arkansas Department of Corrections

Victoria Pedraza's booking photo

Prosecutors decided she was a criminal.

A BuzzFeed News investigation: How courts have treated Victoria and battered women like her. Read it here.

Photograph by Wil Chandler for BuzzFeed

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.