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"Although many aspects of McCarter's experience are unique, others are common among abuse survivors all across the country. When they defend themselves, often after prolonged abuse and multiple attempts to seek help in stopping their partner's violence, they become entangled in a legal system that frequently views them not as victims or survivors but as perpetrators who must be severely punished."– Victoria Law, The Nation

Why must survivors be criminalized when they are doing what everyone tells them to do, i.e. leave the abuser and stop the violence to somehow save themselves?

Disrupt the silence!


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At the unveiling of the Wall of Silence commissioned by the NY City Mayors' Office to End Gender-Based Violence, Ava Wilson of the Gibney Move to Move Storytellers speaks to the audience. Powerfully, the story tellers honored survivors of violence through personal stories, poetry, and dance.

Disrupt the silence!


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Sandra Manick of the Gibney Move to Move Storytellers performs an original movement and poetry piece at the opening of the Wall of Silence. The art installation was created to disrupt the silence and educate people through the art of telling the true stories of courageous women who survive extreme violence through their desperate acts of self-defense.

06. 25.22.

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Standing at the wall, Simone Justice remembers the trauma of her long childhood history of abuse. She mentioned how difficult it was for her to not kill her father, a violent sexual predator, who made her life as a young girl, unbearable. Simone is deeply empathetic with those who are forced to act out in violence against their abusers in order to survive.

Disrupt the silence!

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"Peering into The Wall of Silence I reflect on the countless women and children around the world who are left without recourse to violence and neglect. I refuse to use the word "domestic" to preface violence because doing so denies what is really happening. What is happening is VIOLENCE—emotional, psychological, and physical violence. 

   The Wall of Silence is made of steel, but carrying the physical structure would be easy for a survivor who has had to endure the pain that women and their children experience every day due to the systemic infrastructures that imprison us. We are survivors because we are alive while many have died. And though you may think that when we leave, we are free, we are not. Those who have children may spend 18 years living through post-separation abuse, since our abusers wield the family court and our children as their weapons. Others spend the rest of their lives checking the shadows and worrying about their safety. Ironically, women behind bars may be freer in prison than they were before taking the extreme actions they felt they had to take. It's a surprise that more don't.

   Anyone who has had firsthand experience of an abuser's violence, persistence and evil will, would have more compassion. But when I look into the Wall, I see the countless lawyers and judges who know the systemic problems but have done nothing to improve things in their decades of tenure. I see the all-mighty dollar they worship. I see all the fathers’ rights lobbyists. I see the therapists and teachers who refuse to step up to testify. I see the friends and family who also refuse to testify. I see the laymen and women who refuse to be made uncomfortable long enough to learn something. I wonder, if I peered in further, would I see you too? Are you one of them? lastly, I see the following quote “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good (wo)men to do nothing.” Darina Rodgriguez, Wall of Silence, Collect Pond Park 


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Kris Brown, Noa Brown, Adam and Rebecca, gather at the Wall of Silence unveiling.

"I had the honor to meet Tracy, a registered nurse and incredibly passionate and intelligent advocate for herself and all similarly situated women, yesterday and hear her side of the story, and about how as a black woman accused of killing her white husband she has experienced what she believes is real systemic and institutional racism in our criminal justice system.  This is no surprise to many of us, but Tracy is in the spotlight now and the coverage of her trial and situation may be a way to highlight these issues and shed some light on a broken system, especially as it impacts women of color in our country."
–Kris Brown
dated 08.31.22

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Healer, mother of 4, grandmother, nurse, and knitting enthusiast – Tracy McCarter has been forced to wear this ankle monitor for two years – this is electronic incarceration. She is being treated like a murderer, not a woman whose only crime was to dare to survive her husband's mental and physical violence.

Collect Pond Park 5.25.22
The Gibney Move to Move Beyond Storytellers “truth-tellers” whose performances center on the transformative lived experiences of individuals. As the storytellers were
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Gibney Storytellers Doraina Rochford, Moreno Cummings and Sandra Manick were surprised when accused husband-killer, Tracy McCarter, came out in public to talk with people in the park. They created a circle of protection around her. Each spoke passionately for McCarter to receive fair treatment from the courts, imploring the DA's office and Alvin Bragg to do the right thing and drop charges against Tracy.
Disrupt the Silence!

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Powerful domestic violence speaker and minister, Doraina Rochford, offered words of support to Tracy McCarter at the Wall of Silence unveiling.
Disrupt the Silence!

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In the ethereal canyon of justice surrounded by the Criminal Courthouse, the Family Court House, and the Civil Courthouse, accused murderer, Tracy McCarter appeals for mercy: she spoke to the powers that be to understand her. why she had no choice but to defend herself in the moment when she believed she would surely die by her husband's hands.
Disrupt the Silence!

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At another divine providence encounter, NYC documentary photographer, Nina Berman arrived at the Collect Pond Park, and arrived in time to hear McCarter tell her story to an audience of one.
Disrupt the Silence!

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Photographer Nina Berman embraces Tracy McCarter in the Collect Pond Park.
Disrupt the Silence!

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An unfortunate day in the courtroom as the judge "denied a request by prosecutors to reduce the murder charges against Tracy McCarter to manslaughter — while advocates accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of reneging on his campaign promise not to prosecute domestic violence victims.

Acting Supreme Court Justice Diane Kiesel ruled the DA’s Office had failed to provide enough justification for their shift in perspective, finding their motion to downgrade the charges unconvincing and even contradictory to the law." - NY Post, 

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Focussed on the judge and how she is perceiving the 'story' the ADA Sara Sullivan was weaving.

"The omnipresence of the court officers is always felt. You're not free to show emotion, speak or express yourself. I'm always aware of the three armed guards around me as if I am a violent perpetrator or a threat to others. "– Tracy McCarter

Civil Courthouse


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ADA Sara Sullivan appears to have rushed to a judgment about McCarter's guilt. This may be her job but it appears like she is rejecting the truth and facts because they don't fit the narrative argued by the DA.

Civil Courthouse


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Honorable Judge Diane Kiesel, presiding over Tracy McCarter's evidentiary hearing. Kiesel went from being an investigative journalist to a Supreme Court Judge in 2018.
Kiesel has authored several important books on domestic violence, a subject of importance in her career as a judge.

At this hearing, Judge Kiesel granted McCarter's request for bail as long as conditions are met.
Civil Courthouse

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Tracy McCarter leans in to consult with one of her defense attorneys, Tess Cohen with ZMO Law.

Civil Courthouse

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After the evidentiary hearing, Tracy McCarter was able to breath again when she met members of the Survived and Punished group which provides resources for abuse survivors. McCarter was overjoyed that she was finally granted bail, and will get to soon meet her newest grandson.

Civil Courthouse

Tracy McCarter : Dare To Survive
donna ferrato
Sep 15, 2022

Our nation’s criminal justice system is beyond broken. From McCarter  (The Nation article) to  Marissa Alexander to Chrystul Kizer survivors are punished not healed. Survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence are criminalized by the court system: Judges and District Attorneys are the worst offenders of survivors' rights to fair trials. The system wasn’t set up to serve survivors, it serves to protect the perpetrators of abuse, dead or alive.  

I had the honor to meet Tracy McCarter at the unveiling of the Wall of Silence in the Collect Pond Park 6.25.22. The sculpture was created in response to a call from the NYC Mayor’s Office to End Gender-Based Violence. McCarter appeared like Aphrodite from the crowd of supporters. She was down and depressed. Immediately the Gibney Storytellers gathered around her showering love and compassion. It was a beautiful moment when McCarter found her community and knew she wasn’t alone.

Further Reading:

“The Worst Abuser You Could Ever Have” Tracy McCarter did everything we tell survivors to do, but that did not protect her from the abuse she suffered at the hands of the state.  Article in The Nation By Victoria Law.

The Wall of Silence – which was made possible with the support of the Mayor's office to End GBV – brought Tracy into my life. Click for more resources.

If this work finds a way into your heart, I hope you will contemplate this: There are countless women in prison whose sole crime was to protect themselves and their children from murderous husbands and boyfriends. Many things are shocking about family violence, but none more so than the fact that women are behind bars for trying to save their own lives.

Sign the petition to #DropHerCharges here or Donate to Tracy's Go Fund Me campaign. #STANDWITHTRACY #DropHerCharges

#StandwithTracy #survivedandpunishedny #daretosurvive #alvinbragg #drophercharges #endgbv #FreeThemAll #freethemny #leica

Donna Ferrato Photography

Donna Ferrato is an internationally-known documentary photographer. Photographer, activist, photojournalist. Living with the Enemy, Love & Lust, TriBeCa, Erotic Eye, Workshops, New York City-based. Stories of domestic violence and abuse, gender-based violence, women's rights, trans and transgender rights, portraits, rock'n'roll, guns'n'roses, nirvana
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