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April 24, 2022 -

Terrie Queen Autrey

Ruston Daily Leader Saturday, April 16, 2022

I moved to Ruston in May, 1983. For nearly 40 years I have savored life in the scenic, artistic, faith-filled, and family-friendly city I now call home.

For more than 30 of those years, I have worked to help those in our community who live with the pain, shame, and danger of violence and terrorism at home.

Yet despite my ongoing exposure to the truth that there are people right here in Ruston who beat, torture and even kill the family members they profess to love, I was shocked at the information revealed in the recent trial of Patrick Conley.

After reading the facts of the case, I had to agree with Assistant District Attorney Mike Smith when he said, “Conley was accused of the most horrific spousal abuse you can imagine.”

While we are grateful that a verdict of guilty was handed down in this case, DART took note of one particular statement made by defense attorney Robert Sharp during the trial. In the April 2 edition of the Ruston Daily Leader, news reporter Caleb Daniel announced the verdict and provided a recap of the main points of the trial. In a section titled “Discrediting,” Daniel described the various methods used by the defense to discredit the victim in this case, Kimberly Danforth.

“Sharp repeatedly asked Danforth and the jury why Danforth didn’t ever leave, contact her family or call the police until April 2021,” Daniel wrote.

Sharp is not the first person to ask this question. In fact, this provides a perfect opportunity for DART to address the most common question ever asked about domestic violence: “Why Does She Stay?”

There are many compelling reasons why a victim (statistically and significantly a woman) remains in an abusive relationship. Many of the reasons are reflected in the testimony of Danforth during the Conley trial. I am citing from Pathways to Safeway International, but this information is reflected on many other websites and shared by many other national organizations.


One of the first things an abuser does is isolate his victim from everyone else who has influence in her life. In this way, his control is increased. Conley utilized many of the isolation techniques described throughout domestic violence literature. ?“He kept me from everybody,” Danforth testified. “He had a tracking device on my phone and my car.”

Abuser is a respected community member

Danforth testified at trial that, “He always told me that he knew every cop, every judge. Nobody would believe me. He was a fire chief.”


When questioned by defense counsel why she would endure unwanted abuse for years without telling the police, her kids or her family, Danforth reported that if she did, Conley had threatened to hurt her, kill her, or take the children away from her.

These threats are not to be taken lightly. Research indicates that threats involving children (and pets) are often used by abusers as a means of controlling their victims. In addition, ScienceDirect is just one organization which reports that a woman has a 75% greater chance of being killed after she leaves her abuser. Danforth’s fears were well-founded. In researching this column, I read

In researching this column, I read many responses to the question, “Why Does She Stay?” Advocacy organizations are increasingly asking in return, “Why Does He Abuse?” and “How Can We Hold Abusers Accountable?”

This week, we commend those involved in the judicial process for holding an abuser accountable in a case of utter brutality.

If you or someone you know is being beaten, threatened, tortured, or otherwise subjected to fear and control, there is help.

Call 1-888-411-1333 at any time of the day or night.

Lincoln Parish Office

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100 West Texas Ave. 2nd Floor Ruston, LA 71270 Phone: (318) 513-6350 Fax: (318) 251-5103

Union Parish Office

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100 East Bayou Street Farmerville, LA 71241 Phone: (318) 368-2201 Fax: (318) 368-3717