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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.

Last updated on July 3, 2018, at 12:55 p.m. ET

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

Victoria Pedraza with her daughter Aubriana in 2010
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:

The lake where Pedraza alleged the accident occurred
Photograph by Wil Chandler for BuzzFeed

The lake where Pedraza alleged the accident occurred

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Victoria with Aubriana at Christmas in 2010
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":

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Victoria and Daniel Pedraza's home, where the abuse took place
Photograph by Wil Chandler for BuzzFeed

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

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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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Victoria Pedraza's booking photo
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
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