Home » survivor defense » survivor stories & petitions

stories of survival and self-defense

[content warning: graphic descriptions of violence and abuse]



send letters to:

Latoya Dickens, #0001091274

P.O. Box 709
2023 Gainesville Highway
Alto, GA 30510

latoya’s story

Latoya Dickens (she/her) suffered 14 years of documented abuse at the hands of her husband. She has now spent more than 20 years in prison for taking his life in response to one of his outbursts. Latoya met her husband when she was only 13 years old and he was 17. Over the course of their relationship, he raped her when she did not want to have sex during her pregnancies and frequently hit her with enough force to leave her with bruised lips and black eyes. Once, he threw her off a porch when she was eight months pregnant and then continued to hit her in the face with his fists. He frequently demeaned and insulted Latoya, and he controlled her by preventing her from talking to other people or going places by herself. In 1999, after years of abuse that were so harmful to Latoya she even considered suicide, Latoya responded to one of her husband’s outbursts and stabbed him with a knife as they struggled. She was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and sentenced to life in prison for felony murder. Though Latoya is currently eligible for parole, she has yet to be reunited with her family in the free world, including her three daughters and eleven grandchildren.

On the night of the incident, Latoya’s husband was upset with her because she drove a friend to work who he did not want her to associate with. He began to verbally abuse her (name calling, swearing). Fearing another violent outburst and attempting to avoid conflict, Latoya left the house for an hour and a half. Her husband continued to verbally abuse her when she returned, calling her a “stupid bitch,” and a physical struggle took place that ended with Latoya stabbing him with a kitchen knife. He died multiple days later in the hospital. Latoya’s statements to the police—that she was “tired of it” and desperately wanted a “normal life”—were mischaracterized by the press but are understandable in light of the years of abuse she endured. 

Latoya’s legal battle was then marked by a series of injustices and errors. During the three years she was held at Gwinnett County Jail, she only met with her attorneys twice. She was only able to meet with an expert on Battered Woman’s Syndrome after she insisted on it, and she met with the expert just once. The expert did not even testify at her trial. At the trial, Latoya’s attorney was unable to secure witness testimony from a woman who could attest to Latoya’s husband’s abuse against herself and other women she knew in Louisiana (where Latoya’s husband had previously lived). The trial judge also acted improperly, behaving as a prosecutor—he prevented one witness from giving testimony by declaring it was hearsay before anyone had even objected. 


Zine-Candy-Tint-by-TGTS 10

send letters to:

Monique Jordan, #1000127257

P.O. Box 839.
373 Upper River Road
Hawkinsville, GA 31036

monique’s story

Monique Jordan (she/her) is a criminalized survivor of intimate partner violence who has been incarcerated for 12 years for taking the life of her abusive girlfriend. Over the course of their relationship, Monique’s girlfriend threatened on three separate occasions to kill Monique if she ever cheated or left the relationship. Monique’s girlfriend hit her hard enough to leave marks, called her vulgar names, spit on her, and was otherwise emotionally abusive. Even before their relationship, Monique was a life-long survivor of physical abuse and sexual violence. She grew up with a violent father who beat her and molested her sister, she was molested by a highschool teacher and a security guard, and she escaped a traumatic and abusive first marriage all before turning 20. Later, Monique served in the military and experienced sexual harassment twice before being honorably discharged.

On the night of the incident, Monique’s girlfriend started an argument with her when Monique asked for extra seasoning for her dinner. She threw out all of Monique’s food and started swearing at her and then left their apartment. When she returned in the middle of the night, Monique told her she wanted to leave and move closer to her family. Her girlfriend instantly hardened. She retrieved her gun from the bedroom and told Monique that she was going to kill herself. Then she turned the gun to Monique and threatened to kill her first. After a tense standoff during which Monique’s girlfriend kept her gun trained on Monique at all times, Monique made a move for the gun and was able to grab it. She pointed it back at her girlfriend and began to speak but before she could even finish her sentence, the gun went off. Monique’s girlfriend died from her injuries a few days later. 

On October 21, 2009, Monique accepted a plea deal for felony murder with aggravated assault as the underlying felony. Now at Pulaski State Prison, she works for Prison Industries for no pay, making clothing for Georgia men’s prisons; bulletproof vests, uniforms, and insignia for officers in Georgia; as well as hospital gowns and face masks for frontline workers. She has also learned the art of beekeeping and is studying to get her Associate’s degree in Sociology and Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Ashland University, working diligently to turn her life around.


Zine-Candy-Tint-by-TGTS 9

send letters to:

Natasha Demery, #001025427

P.O. Box 839.
373 Upper River Road
Hawkinsville, GA 31036

natyasha’s story

Natyasha Demery (she/her) is a criminalized survivor of domestic violence who has been incarcerated for more than 14 years for defending herself against her abusive girlfriend. Over the course of their relationship, Natyasha’s abuser punched her in the face, threw her through a glass table, and even burned her with a lit cigarette. She choked Natyasha, blackened her eye, bruised her arms and legs, and once stomped on her with enough force to leave a Timberland boot imprint on her thigh. After months of abuse, Natyasha defended herself from one of her girlfriend’s violent attacks and shot her. Instead of being cared for, Natyasha was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and sentenced to life in prison for felony murder, with the possibility of parole only after thirty years. She has not seen the free world since 2006.

On the night of the incident, Natyasha’s girlfriend picked her up from the club she was working at and saw Natyasha flirting with another woman. They started arguing on the drive back to the apartment they shared in Georgia’s Cobb County, as Natyasha’s girlfriend often got jealous when she saw Natyasha talking to other people. After her girlfriend stopped at a Waffle House to get food, she refused to let Natyasha back in the car. Natyasha eventually took a cab home, and once there she tried to retreat to the spare bedroom and go to sleep. But her girlfriend unlocked the door and continued the argument, yelling at Natyasha that she had to leave their apartment, pushing her against the wall, and punching her in the mouth. Natyasha did not hit her girlfriend back — she ran past her, crawled over the bed in the main bedroom, and grabbed her girlfriend’s loaded gun from the floor. Natyasha held the gun to her girlfriend, wishing simply to be left alone. But agitated from the violence of their relationship and the violence of the night, and reasonably fearing that her girlfriend would assault her again, she accidentally pulled the trigger and killed her girlfriend.

Natyasha’s trial was then marked by a series of injustices. The prosecutor lied repeatedly throughout Natyasha’s trial, weaponized racial stereotypes, ignored undisputed expert medical testimony, and buried evidence that detailed the abuse Natyasha had endured during her relationship. The jury that sentenced her was composed of mostly white men in a then-conservative county. They ignored the judge’s instructions and chose to convict Natyasha of the crime they thought carried the strictest punishment. Natyasha will not be eligible for parole until she has served 30 years behind bars.