SUSAN STILL

“Susan was absolutely wonderful yesterday, and those that attended definitely benefited as we had meaningful conversations in both sessions." 

Nicole Helmer, Project Coordinator

Domestic Violence Response Team at ACCORD

Susan Still is one of the nation’s leading domestic violence speakers.  Susan speaks on behalf of those whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence.  She also provides keynotes and training to various agencies such as law enforcement, military and social services on how they can better assist victims of domestic violence, including the victims who are often overlooked—children living in domestic violence households. 


Susan is a survivor of 24 years of abuse by her former husband.  On December 2004 Justice John F. O’Donnell sentences Ulner Still a 36 year sentence, a landmark for New York State, as the longest sentence given for the crime of domestic violence where the victim survived. Instrumental in the conviction was a videotape of the abuse.  One of Susan’s sons, who was 12 years old at the time, recorded the abuse at the direction of his father.  He would later play the video tapes to the family during dinner, occasionally pausing, pointing out Susan's flaws, mocking her while justifying his brutal behavior. 


Susan Still was born in 1964 in a New York middle-class family. She attended college in Buffalo, New York where she met blues guitarist Ulner Lee Still and fell in love. They married a few years later while Susan supported the family financially by working at a health insurance company. At first, Ulner was controlling but not particularly violent or abusive. According to Susan, he had a will to dominate and the power to brainwash.  Her husband eventually isolated Susan from talking to her parents or friends. However, due to her husband's proficiency at manipulation and control, and its gradual increase, Susan was slow to realize the high level of danger in which her husband's domineering behaviors placed her. After giving birth to their oldest children, a boy and a girl, Susan had to quit work and stay home to take care of them. As the family's financial situations deteriorated, Ulner became more physically abusive. It came to a head in 1992 when Ulner struck his wife after she forgot an item when grocery shopping.


Susan and her two sons sought protection from the police in May 2003 and reported her husband for domestic abuse. Lisa Bloch Rodwin, assistant district attorney for Erie County, N.Y. gathered evidence and prosecuted the case. Susan took custody of her two sons, then 13 and 8. 


In December 2004, New York State Supreme Court Justice John F. O'Donnell handed Ulner Still a 36-year prison sentence. The grounds were assault, in the second degree (six counts), assault in the third degree (six counts), and endangering the welfare of a child (two counts), making it the longest sentence given to the crime of domestic violence that didn't result in the death of the victim. On May 7, 2007 Susan Still appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to bring awareness to domestic violence against women. The show aired home videos recorded by the Stills' 13-year-old son of a 51-minute-long beating of Susan by her husband.  Still has gained recognition among groups that campaign against violence against women, served as keynote speaker in Houston for the National College of District Attorneys and shared her story with Diane Sawyer on “20/20” in October.  


 Susan has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah’s LifeClass, Oprah Where Are They Now, and 20/20 with Diane Sawyer, to bring awareness to domestic violence and its effects on families.  She speaks at conferences nationwide, to law enforcement, attorneys, and judges on the criminal justice response and travels to businesses speaking on the effects domestic violence has on the workplace and what employers can do to help. Susan participates in trainings for law enforcement, crime victim advocates, and other community responders, and has spoken on military bases, at youth conferences, high schools and colleges about the warning signs, and the importance of breaking free of abusive relationships.    

 

“Susan far exceeded my expectations. Very powerful and impactful. 
She captured and moved the crowd with her story.”

Christa McAuley, Bakersfield American Indian Health Project

SUSAN STILL - 20/20 Interview

Warning:  This video contains disturbing footage of domestic abuse.

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