Durham judge shares her experience as domestic violence victim
Posted February 17, 2012
Durham, N.C. — Survivors of domestic violence they often live with the guilt and shame of their experiences in secret, but a Durham County magistrate is using her position to put a face on the issue.
Judge Elaine Evans spends all day listening to other people's problems and trying to solve them. She said people on the other side of the glass often don't know just how much of her life is reflected in their issues.
"People seem to feel that we have no issues, we have no problems," Evans said Thursday.
For a time during her 25 years in office, Evans said, she had a secret. She was a victim of domestic violence, although it was more emotional than physical.
"Seeing officers that may have been called to my house the night before, that was very embarrassing," she said. "You make believe these things are not happening. You make believe that you don't have to leave work in a couple of hours and go back to a really bad situation."
Evans said she eventually got out of the situation, but it was years before she could tell people beyond the few who knew.
"Once I realized that this is not my fault and I can only empower others by talking about it, then I began to talk about it," she said.
She now has written a book, "Sleeping with the Enemy," to share her story.
"I think being able to put a face to these issues, in particular a face that's in the judicial system, (will help others,)" she said.
As a magistrate, Evans said she has to confront domestic situations frequently. She said she is able to handle each case objectively.
"I listen to the facts as the law indicates that we must do, and I proceed from there," she said, adding that there have been times she has shared her story to comfort people and let them know they're not alone.