An Adult Survivor’s Story of Domestic Violence
Robert Stephan was Attorney General for Kansas in 1979 – 1995. He has been very active and involved in reform and making laws and processes better for victims and survivors in the state of Kansas.
"I thought I was dying, and I was glad. I was probably 8 or 9 years old." - Robert Stephan
By Robert Stephan, Former Kansas Attorney General
Robert Stephan Writing Part 1
It is difficult to know how to start this story about the domestic violence in my home while I was growing up. Our family consisted of my brother and sister and me, and my Mom and dad. I am going to relate some of the violence.
My Mother, Julia Stephan, was an angel, and dad Taft, was OK when he was sober – but he was an alcoholic. When he was drunk, he was a monster. My Mom and dad had a small neighborhood grocery store in west Wichita across the street from our house.
One of my earliest memories of violence was one night after the store was closed my dad, who was drunk, started beating up on my Mother. I ran out of the store and climbed up a tree. I fell out of the tree, and it knocked the breath out of me. I thought I was dying, and I was glad. I was probably 8 or 9 years old.
On another occasion, my dad was beating up my Mom at home. I ran out of the house and hid in the bushes. Shortly my dad came out of the house, carrying my Mother, and put her in the car and drove off. I don’t remember what happened next.
Another memory of violence occurred at my Grandparents’ home. Mom was lying on the couch half-conscious, shouting he is going to kill me. The police carted him off.
When I get back to Wichita, I often drive by the house where we lived. I have been tempted to knock on the door and ask if I could see upstairs where my bedroom was. The room was enclosed with plaster board, and I carved out a section in the attic closet where I could hide from my dad. I wonder if the entrance is still there.
Mom stayed with my dad until my sister, the youngest, graduated from high school, and then she divorced him.
She was a brilliant person and started buying old houses and an outdated trailer court, where she placed small house trailers and rented them out. She was an extremely successfully business woman. I was blessed to have such a kind and loving Mother.
All of my adult life I have done what I can to prevent domestic violence and sexual abuse.
For more information about crime victims’ rights in Kansas, visit the Kansas State Government Attorney General’s Office website. For more information on crime victims’ rights, visit the National Crime Victim Law Institute website and the Marsy’s Law website.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call a domestic violence or sexual assault victim advocacy organization in Kansas near you or contact national resources that are available to you.