Women were told that what happens in the souse stays in the house and no one else should know about it. So for years Francine stood firm to that pact until the day she couldn’t take anymore. March 9, 1977, was that day. This research explores the story of Francine Hughes and how she killed her husband Mackey Hughes. This research will give statistical information about how the Criminal Justice System changed after the acquittal of Francine Hughes as well. Finally, this research will show the correlation of the awareness of abuse to women before and after the case was complete.
Francine Hughes, born and raised in Michigan met James Mackey Hughes when she was sixteen. Ironically, her father was abusive to her mother. “My mother stayed because of the children,” says Francine, who left school and married Mackey Hughes, an aloof 18-year-old dropout. “l thought he was so sophisticated. He had his own car and most people I knew didn’t. ” (Deliberate, 1984). The abuse began shortly after their wedding. He started out lightly by ripping off her clothes because he felt she was dressing too provocatively.
He would be mentally abusive and tell her things about how she looked and how stupid she was. Because he didn’t finish school, Mackey was always looking for a Job. Mackey drifted from Job to Job, doing construction work and other forms of manual labor, but often wasted his inadequate earnings on drinking sprees. He was living pay check to pay check throughout their marriage and it contributed to his development of alcoholism. Reports shows that ninety-two percent of the domestic abuse assailants use alcohol or other drugs on the day of the assault (alcoholism. About. Com). Francine Hughes Wilson.
October 23, 1980. / File photo, Lansing State Journal Francine and Mackey quickly added four children in the marriage which made things more complicated and more expensive to live. Mackey usually left Francine with no money for food or for rent when she was expecting her fourth child, Nicole. She then reached a point of desperation. With the assistance of a local social worker, she filed a decree of divorce and put in an application for welfare. But even after the divorce was approved in April 1971, Mackey refused to respect it. When Francine tried to keep him out of the house, he abused her.
She realized things were no different than before. Mackey came and went as he pleased. Some weeks later Mackey had a near-fatal car accident that left him with several fractures and a head injury. An abuser does not “play fair. ” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb (Smith, Seal). After waking from a coma, Mackey used his situation to draw Francine back to his control. The first person he requested for was ex-wife Francine. Afflicted by feelings of guilt, she continued to visit Mackey during his forty day hospital stay.
She ultimately took him home to nurse him back to recovery. Francine really felt imprisoned after his accident. She didn’t know why she felt so indebted to that man, but she did. Then the real turmoil began. INCERTITUDE “http://www. Misgoverned. Com/images/The_Burning_Bed_2. Jpg” * MARGARET http://www. Misgoverned. Com/Burning. HTML Negating to look for work, Mackey started drinking more severely and beating Francine every few days. It would last for hours, or sometimes for Just a few minutes and then he would leave and go to a tavern.
Then he would come back and start it again. It was so bad that Francine lived in paranoia. Some identifiable beliefs and actions of paranoid-related disorders include mistrust, taking offense easily, difficulty with forgiveness, defensive attitude in response to imagined criticism, preoccupation tit hidden motives, fear of being deceived or taken advantage of, inability to relax, argumentative, abrupt, and stubbornness (materialistically. Net) A few days would go by, serene, but she would go to bed at night thinking that she might wake up being abused by her husband.
She learned that if she fought back, it would only make matters worse. Francine began to entertain thoughts of suicide. She felt that killing herself was best thing to do to end the inferno of abuse. According to suicide. Org, Over 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death. And the most common mental illness is depression. One of the negative life experiences that may cause depression is physical abuse (Kevin Scars). Francine thought, if she killed herself, who was going to take care of her children? Nobody could love them the way she did.
She went with plan B which were schemes about how she would sneak off to the airport with her kids and go somewhere where they couldn’t be found. But she would picture her family homeless, sitting on a park bench with nowhere to go and somehow he would find her. Francine Hughes did not want to kill her husband. The traditional female role is a nurturer, not a murderer. Extreme violence is far more alien to females than to males. When a murder is committed by a female, it’s more likely to be self-defense or can reflect some sort of mental illness (Scott Michel).
Francine was a prime example of demonstrating self- defense. The day that her husband died, Mackey flew into a fury and started beating Francine. He was pulling her hair and he was hitting her with his fist. Then Mackey made her burn her books from clerical courses she was taking in college and threatened to take a sledgehammer to her vehicle so that she would not drive to school. He complained about their dinner, leaving food and tableware on the kitchen floor and smearing garbage in Franchise’s hair when she tried to clean up the mess that he made.
After dictating her to cook another meal, Mackey made her have sex with him. As he was laying down sleeping, Francine took a plunge of her life. She began to think about all the things that had happened to her, all the times he had hurt her. How he had hurt their children in the process. She stood still for a moment, hesitant, and a small voice pressed her on. Francine Hughes poured gasoline around ere sleeping ex-husband, James Hughes, and set him ablaze. Francine turned herself in soon after she murdered her husband. She was sent to Jail and had to stay there till her trial.
Francine was appointed a lawyer by the court. Her lawyer was Attorney Arisen Greensand. “Francine was probably the worst case of abuse,” the Smokes attorney recalls of the Danville, Michigan mother of four the Francine Hughes case was characterized by the presence of violence in all aspects of her life over so many Arisen was newly self-employed. He had Just left the Ingram County Prosecutor’s Office because he was always at odds with the new man n charge. Greensand was enthusiastic to get something high profile under his defense-attorney’s belt, so he agreed to take on a case that other lawyers had turned down.
He knew within minutes of consulting his client that Francine was far from your run-of-the-mill murder offender. The story of abuse and cruelty she imparted was so malicious that prosecuting her seemed, in his mind, to betray all ethics of common sense and human decorum. Clearly, he believed, she had done the only thing she could think of to save her life. Clearly, she had acted in self-defense. But Greensand was up against major legal and public hurdles. Self-defense had always been defined as an act to escape immediate danger.
Francine had waited three hours between the last pounding and when she struck the match to light him on fire. Greensand knew that those hours could prove more substantial to a Jury than the years of abuse. Those hours could mean the difference between liberty and life in prison. And if he was effective, those hours could signify a new line of defense for abused women all over the country. Feminists in the United States had argued for years that women’s legally sanctioned subordination within the family denied them quality and citizenship (Schneider, up. 4). And Francine was on the verge of proofing that wrong.
Arisen Greensand,. / ROD SANFORD I Lansing State Journal “My primary goal was to get her acquitted on a self-defense theory, but seen through the eyes of a woman, not a man,” he says. “l looked around and found two cases where a similar argument had been made. Both of those women were convicted, but it gave me some basis to start thinking that the test for when and how a woman can defend herself is different than with a male” (Arisen Greensand). And in that, Greensand knew this case was going to cause one hell of a ruckus. When Francine was cleared of murder Francine was relieved from prison.
Many activist and feminist were grateful of the sacrifice that Francine had made. But despite regaining her freedom, Francine was soon paralyzed by a renewed fear. While she was in Jail, she received mail from Mickey’s brother saying that he would kill her if she was ever released from Jail. The threat of retaliation made her nervous about going out of the house alone. While grocery shopping, she panicked when her mother temporarily disappeared from sight. Her nine months in prison had also formed a new set of family difficulties. She thought she was going to have to stay in prison so she blocked Off lot of emotions toward her children.
It was really hard for her to get close to them again. The condition was made even more difficult because all the children were distressed by the gruesome circumstances of their father’s death, even though none of them now acknowledges sadness at his passing. This case gained a lot of attention because this was the first time that the issue of abuse was finally being talked about biblically and politically. “It embroiled people,” said Susan Shutout who is a feminist (Susan Schultz, Lansing Journal). Advocates like Schultz already knew of the unsatisfying lack of support existing to domestic violence victims.
Even after Franchise’s trial, it was like activists were purely talking to one another. The before and after picture is crystal clear. From police procedure to victims’ shelters, the way that we handle domestic abuse today is a far cry from the days when Francine Hughes tried and failed to get aid. Today, we take shelters for granted. There were slim to none back then. Today, law enforcement can and usually do arrest assaulter when they’re called to the scene of a domestic assault. Back then, the law didn’t allow law enforcement to make an arrest unless they actually witnessed the attack.
Today, intervention programs work with suspect and condemned batterers to try and end the ferocity. Back then, it was unheard of. Today, victims can obtain personal protection orders to force their abusers to stay away. Back then, Francine couldn’t get Mackey to leave even after she was granted a divorce. If it wasn’t for the efforts of Francine Hughes taking stand against her abuser and the law of the land at the time, then women who are being battered today would not have had the opportunities or orgasm that is being offered to them.
Because her story was so influential, that an author named Faith McNally wrote a book about Francine and later a movie about it starring Affray Facet. It was called The Burning Bed. It depicted her story so vividly, that it put more pressure on state law makers to make corrections to laws about spousal abuse and make more programs about women recovering from domestic violence and make sure that their children are no longer victims as well. Local townsmen who watched the movie say that it did nothing but make their town look bad and the movie did not tell the whole story.
We can say now that those acquisitions are inaccurate in the sense that it made significant changes in our day in age. Francine Hughes today had remained out of the spotlight. Her and her children have lived normal lives after the murder. Francine got remarried and her husband was very hard on her children but never to the point of abuse. She grateful that she has made an impact on women around the country, but would rather stay out of the spotlight and let the law speak for itself. Conclusion In conclusion, the story of Francine Hughes made significant changes within the laws f America.
Francine made a choice for her life and her sacrifice changed a lot of thoughts people had against women in marriages and abusive relationships. Her attorney stated the case of self-defense and it was very convincing with the not-guilty verdict that was made by the Jury. Francine Hughes went through things that some people could only imagine. She was beaten, emotionally torn, battered, and was completely misused since the beginning of her marriage with Mackey Hughes. Mackey Hughes of course went through a series of events that led to his abusive behavior.
He as depressed, angry, embarrassed that he could not provide for his family and many more aspects that triggered his behavior. Even though he went through those things does not make his actions Justifiable. With an abusive relationship comes many things. The receiver goes through physical pain as well as emotional, mental, and spiritual turmoil. They see the world in a different light and they have no vision for tomorrow from what it seems. They go through stages of life a lot differently than a regular person. Their children also go through certain abuse as well even though they aren’t being physically hurt.