In this episode, Jess and Jess sit down for a very honest and difficult conversation with Rebecca McWilliams and Wendy Freedman, both avid supporters and advocates as well as members of the Nicole Addimando Community Defense Committee. Together, they introduce Nikki Addimando, a mother of two, teacher, respected community member, and domestic violence survivor. In 2017, Nikki was forced to protect herself and her children's lives, by killing her abuser, Chris Grover. In February 2020, Nikki was sentenced to 19 years to life for the killing of her abuser, and the Community Defense Committee believes Nikki is a victim of the criminal justice system, and will not accept this result of Nikki protecting her own life, as well as that of her children's.
It's not shocking that 67% of women sent to prison in 2005 for killing someone close to them were abused by the victim of their crime (NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision). Rebecca and Wendy share their expertise and advocacy work around not just Nikki's case, but also for every woman who is being held hostage by their abuser, and sees the only way out is to defend themselves in whatever manner possible. By raising awareness about Nikki and the horrific abuse she survived, the Committee aims to keep other victims of domestic violence from being criminalized by the courts, but more than that, they work tirelessly to continue advocating on behalf of Nikki, so that she may be justly returned home to live in safety with her two children.
On April 22, 2021, Nicole Addimando will stand before a judge for her appeal hearing and the hope and prayer is that Nikki's sentence will be overturned. We Stand With Nikki and other criminalized survivors, that justice indeed will be served, and Nikki will no longer be criminalized for her right to survive, and that she will be rightfully returned to the arms of her two children, so that she may take her place as a pillar of strength and resilience in her community, once again.
For more information about We Stand With Nikki and the Nicole Addimando Community Defense Committee, as well as a complete resource list for organizations and articles about Nikki and the issue around criminalizing survivors, go to: https://westandwithnikki.com/
*** For more in depth information on Nikkis case and the overall issue of criminalized survival keep an eye out for Justine Vanderluen's upcoming podcast "Believe Her" presented by Lemonada in association with Speigel and Grau, set to be released Fall of 2021.
Wendy Freedman is a clinical psychologist and the director of the Vassar College Counseling Service. Deep affection and love for her family, friends and community has led to a passion for social justice, and a commitment to partner with fellow allies to try to contribute to positive change. Wendy has been honored to be a member of the Nicole Addimando Community Defense Committee for over 3 years and is privileged to work with an incredible group of advocates to fight for Nikki and all criminalized survivors.
Rebecca McWilliams is the Executive Director of Girls on the Run Birmingham in Birmingham Alabama. She is a native of Baltimore, MD and received her BA in Public Communications from American University. She is passionate about empowering women and girls, and through her work advocating for Nikki Addimando, has become increasingly aware of our troubled criminal justice and prison systems and the deep inequities that exist within those systems. She is a proud member of the Nicole Addimando Community Defense Committee.