For Linda Miller, the support of family and friends was crucial in escaping her abusive first marriage. “I was lucky. My parents had a wheelchair-accessible home.”
One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Linda Miller never expected she would be one of them.
In 1974, when Miller got married before graduating from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, she thought her marriage would be a happy one. “I grew up in a good environment,” she says. “My mother and father had always been loving with each other, I never heard a cross word.” She had no idea that her life would soon become a living hell.
“He was the only one working. I had my degree — my major was criminal justice with a minor in psychology in college — but he forced me to go on public assistance,” says Miller, who had polio when she was 3 years old. Miller’s husband was nondisabled. She had to plead with him for money to buy food for their baby. “If I’d ask for money to buy the baby ice cream, he wouldn’t give it to me. He’d buy a case of ice cream,” says Miller. He controlled all aspects of her life. “He’d take my welfare checks. If I said something he didn’t like, he’d take me out of my wheelchair and put me in the middle of the bathroo