A woman in New York was sentenced last week to eight and half years in jail after stabbing her boyfriend in the chest during a domestic dispute. In May 2012, 23 year old Yekaterina Pusepa and her boyfriend Alex Katsnelson got into an argument that got out of hand. Katsnelson allegedly punched Pusepa in the head and called her an offensive name before she can stabbed him in the chest with a kitchen knife. The injuries were severe, the knife pierced one of his lungs and hit his heart but he survived.
Pusepa's attorney argued that she was acting in self-defense as Katsnelson demonstrated a pattern of abuse in the past. Her lawyer cited a February 2012 argument where he pushed Pusepa down a flight of stairs as well as another instance of violence two months later he caused her to suffer a broken finger. The judge and jury in this case believed that she was a victim of domestic violence but also that self-defense was not her primary motive. She was found guilty and was sentenced to 8 and a half years. This is noted as a lenient sentence however, the minimum sentence would have been 7 years, but the maximum sentence could have been 15 years.
Many feel that this is an unfair outcome as Pusepa testified that she did not intend to kill her boyfriend but was simply afraid of him. These results may seem sad, but they are not that uncommon. Sometimes the victim of long-term abuse will face more serious charges when they finally act out in an attempt to defend themselves. Even in cases with an established a history of abuse, the victim can still face jail time and criminal conviction for injuring or killing their alleged abuser. Sadly, self-defense is often hard to prove.
In Seattle, domestic violence support groups and lawmakers are constantly working to make the legal process easier for victims. The different most difficult part in cases like this is figuring it out exactly when the victim becomes the abuser and vice a versa.