When Battered Women Are Treated As Criminals

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

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:

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":

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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?

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Prosecutors decided she was a criminal.

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