Hennepin County Lawyer Shares Personal Domestic Abuse Story
Domestic violence impacts us all. It doesn’t matter what color or ethnicity you are or how much money you have. Statistics show nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. One woman shared her story with CCX News about a relationship 20 years ago that almost ended her life.
“There was impatience, there was jealousy, those sorts of things. I can’t really necessarily remember the first time he hit me,” said Heidi DeFord, a domestic abuse survivor.
DeFord says the relationship started normal. She and her former boyfriend did typical couple things. But eventually DeFord says his behavior started to change.
“There were lots of threats if I didn’t come back, how I would be destroyed or how I’d be hurt,” she remembered.
Domestic Abuse Continued While Prosecuting Abuse Cases
DeFord was in law school at the time and hid her relationship from family and friends. After she graduated, DeFord moved to Stearns County and started practicing law. She hid her situation from coworkers and wore clothing to cover bruises.
“I was prosecuting domestic violence cases at the time and now all of the sudden I was a victim of domestic abuse,” said DeFord.
As time went on, she gained the trust of one coworker. DeFord made a plan and told the coworker “if one day I don’t show up for work, call for help.”
Then in March 2007 that day came. The boyfriend beat DeFord non-stop.
“I was unrecognizable, even to myself.”
The coworker called at about 8 a.m. DeFord answered and tried to sound okay. The coworker said, ‘are you okay?’ She said, ‘no,’ and hung up the phone.
The coworker had the Stearn County Sheriff’s Department sent to the apartment. The boyfriend answered the door with a belt in his hand. He went to jail and DeFord went to the hospital.
DeFord said she eventually healed from her wounds. The boyfriend spent six months in jail.
Now a lawyer with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, DeFord says she has moved on with her life. She shares her story in hopes of helping others to heal.