With her abusive husband behind bars, Teresa Bradford was ready to move on with her life.
She didn't know that he would be released only 44 days after attacking her. Or that he would violate a protective order to show up at her home with killing on his mind.
As Yahoo 7 News reports, this wasn't the first time the Australian mom of four had tried to escape the abusive relationship. A friend told 7 News that Teresa had taken out four court orders on her estranged husband.
Then, in November 2016, David Bradford beat Teresa so brutally that she lost control of her bodily functions. The assault landed him in jail.
But in mid-January, Bradford was released on bail. According to ABC News Australia, police asked the magistrate not to release him, citing his fragile mental state. They pointed out that Bradford had threatened to kill his wife and had made suicidal statements.
However, because Bradford had no criminal history and had been incarcerated for 44 days, the judge granted bail. The conditions of his release included a protection order barring him from going within 100 meters of Teresa (except for court appearances).
Shockingly, Teresa wasn't warned that her estranged husband was free again. Teresa's friend Karina Mason told ABC News Australia that she urged the 40-year-old mom to ask police what was happening:
“Someone contacted her to say, 'Did you know that Dave's been bailed?' and she was none the wiser, she didn't even know that there was a bail application in.”
Two weeks after his release, David Bradford showed up at Teresa's home armed with a knife. In front of three of her children, he stabbed Teresa to death, then committed suicide.
Teresa's heartbroken friends remember all of the warning signs of the abusive 17 year relationship. Traci Hyde told Kidspot:
“He had to know at all times where she was, who she was with and how long she would be gone for. He controlled every aspect of her life, even doing the same with the kids.”
The outrage following Teresa's death brought attention to how domestic violence cases are handled. It has also prompted many to call for reform of the local bail system. However, law enforcement agencies still struggle with how to prevent renewed violence in cases like Teresa's
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five women in the U.S. is a victim of severe domestic violence by an intimate partner. Moreover, the Violence Policy Center reports that 72 percent of murder-suicides are committed by intimate partners and 94 percent of the victims are female.
Protection orders — such as temporary restraining orders or the bail conditions that were intended to help Teresa — aren't as common as some believe. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) reports that a minority of women in abusive situations (40 percent of those in shelters, 12-22 percent of those who report abuse to the police) have an existing protection order. Most women who ask a court for a restraining order have suffered years of abuse before doing so.
Moreover, experts are split on the efficacy of restraining orders in deterring abuse. According to the National Institute of Justice, violation rates for court protective orders range from 23 percent over two years to 60 percent within six months.
The existence of a protective order does make it easier for authorities to monitor abusers. Therefore, the NIJ suggests victims be encouraged to take out protective orders, but warned that an order won't deter all abusers.
Dr. Steve Albrecht, an expert on domestic violence, agrees that restraining orders can be problematic as a way of preventing abuse. He wrote in Psychology Today:
“Some ... victims participate in their own murders by not reading the warning signs, not trusting their intuition, and over-relying on the ever-flawed criminal justice system for help. The life they have to protect is their own.”
In Teresa's case, she had been training as a nurse and was excited to be following her dreams. One of her classmates told Kidspot that Teresa was the “most genuine and caring person I have ever met.”
Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to pay for Teresa's funeral costs and help her children.