Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit: A tool for domestic violence victims to document the abuse

By Norma Peterson

When I was asked to write for a true crime blog, I was nervous.  Not that I haven’t been sharing my story with people, but to expose myself to the internet seems to really be putting my reality out there.  When you are talking to people face to face, you can see expressions and get a feel for how people are reacting to you. When you relate on the internet you have to depend on your words to do a good enough job to get the point across.  I hope that my words will be successful. 

My name is Norma Peterson and I am the sister-in-law of missing Bolingbrook, Illinois mother, Stacy Peterson.  

Stacy is currently listed as a missing person. October 28 will mark 12 years that we have had to live without her loving presence.  We miss her each and every day and continue to search for her.  

What makes my story unique is I am married to Paul Peterson.  Paul is the brother of the main suspect in Stacy’s disappearance and in prison for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio

If you are a true crime aficionado, then Drew Peterson’s name and story should be familiar to you.  For far too long he made national news with his antics, behavior, and ultimate trial and his continued bad acts have kept his name in the public.  

Paul and I have lived in the background through all of this and our lives have changed in ways I cannot even explain. Please don’t get me wrong, nothing we are going through in any way compares to what her family is enduring. 

I have found a way to honor Stacy and Kathy and also help other victims of domestic violence with a tool that was created because of what happened to them. It’s called an Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit (EAA). 

During the first months of Stacy’s disappearance I met with the woman who created this invaluable resource, Susan Murphy Milano.  Susan saw what was going on in Kathleen’s case as it was playing out in the media and knew she had the tool that would have eliminated the need for the hearsay law that was later passed in Illinois just prior to Drew’s trial.  

The EAA is a way for victims, in both a written and video format, to document their histories, experiences, include hospital reports, photos, etc. Trained first responders, law enforcement, the judicial system, and lawyers will be able to help victims complete or access the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit.  

I can’t help to think that if Kathleen would have had all her information in an EAA format, law enforcement may have looked twice at her unexpected death, and Stacy might still be here. Investigators would have had Kathy’s letters to the local state attorney’s office, access to the fact the police had been called to the marital home 18 times, her statements to loved ones, friends, neighbors, co-workers that he was going to kill her and make it look like an accident, hospital reports, pictures of the abuse, the list goes on. It would have allowed her family to go to the police with all these statements and ask them to take another look at her death.  

It took Stacy’s disappearance for authorities to finally listen to what Kathy had been telling so many people and had documented.  Now, Stacy is not here to tell us her experiences, so again we have to imagine that if Stacy had filled out an Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit, we might be looking at a different outcome and Drew would be charged.

Domestic violence brought all three of these women together, Susan, Kathy, and Stacy. Each, in their own way, will help other victims to regain their power and control.  They are forever intertwined by what has happened in my life over the last 12 years. Now, I have a new path in life, one that was very unexpected.  

I have taken up Susan’s mission as a way to honor all three women and those they could have helped. When you are going over things in your mind you beat yourself up thinking, “Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda.”  I should have known, I would have gotten Stacy out of there, I could have done something more. I’m trying to change that narrative to “I can, I will and I am.”  

I can do more to help others, I will do my best to get this resource out there, and I am by sharing my story with you because if it helps one person, it can help so many more.

Hopefully, my words were successful.

Copyright 2019 by Norma Peterson. All Rights Reserved.

Norma Peterson is an advocate and speaker on the topics of domestic violence and safety. She is the sister-in-law of Stacy Peterson, who is a missing person and victim of domestic violence.

2 thoughts on “Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit: A tool for domestic violence victims to document the abuse

  1. I have had those ideas in my thoughts. Sometimes in some cases a lot of years go by and your not sure what is emotionally happening to you. It took me 16 years to realize I was being abused and he was getting a posse so to speak against me. I had written things down. But would and could you do the affidavit after your realization.

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