Grace Jarvis looks through pictures of her husband Dale Jarvis Jr. She describes D.J. as a very good stepfather; a man her three young children looked up to.
"All five of us would curl up on the couch and watch movies. He would always be there for the kids," she said.
But she also says their marriage was rocky at times.
"He would be angry, call me names, spit on me," she said. "He would throw clothes at me. He would break things a lot."
But Grace Jarvis made it clear her husband never physically assaulted her and never behaved violently in front of the kids. She said most of the abuse occurred after D.J. spent time with his father, who had abused him for years. Grace would try to talk to her husband about his relationship with his dad.
"He would be like, you just need to move on and get over it. So, I think that is what he told himself every day," she said.
Reporter Matt Henson: How long did this go on?
D.J. Jarvis: Ninety percent of my life since I was a kid.
D.J. says pent up frustration from decades of physical, mental and sexual abuse caused him to snap during a fight with his dad back in February.
"I never hated him; I hated the way he treated me," he said.
D.J. beat his dad to death with a hammer. Prosecutors charged D.J. with murder, but later allowed him to plead guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter. D.J. will spend the next 15 years behind bars.
"Once we looked into his father's prior activity and conduct, many of the things Dale Jr. stated we were able to corroborate as far as the neglect, the abuse, the mistreatment. That is in no way to digress what he did," Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne said.
Matt Henson: Why did you never report it?
D.J. Jarvis: I was afraid of him. He was a lot bigger than me. He was a logger his whole life.
Matt Henson: So you feared for your life?
D.J. Jarvis: Sometimes, yeah. I've had him pick me off the ground one arm by the throat and beat me in the face.
Linda Johnson is the executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Vermont. She says D.J.'s explanation for not seeking help is common. She says only one or two out of every 10 abused children will report the abuse as a child. Most wait until they are adults to come forward.
"People don't get help sometimes because they are afraid of what other people will think, the consequences for themselves, like I won't have my drugs that I need, my father may kill me," Johnson said.
And without help, the cycle of abuse continues. It's estimated 30 percent of abused and neglected children will abuse their own children when they become adults. Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59 percent more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28 percent more likely to be arrested as an adult and 30 percent more likely to commit a violent crime.
"Unless you address the pain, the suffering and the trauma you have experienced in childhood, you could carry that over into adulthood," Johnson said. "More people don't than do because there are caring people around them."
D.J. says his family was aware of the abuse. He would often stay with them after severe beatings from dad, which he says were fueled by alcohol and drug abuse.
Matt Henson: Are you mad nobody helped you get help?
D.J. Jarvis: No, not really. It's my fault I didn't ask for help. I should have asked for help.
D.J. says he always would move back in with him, though, when he thought his father had cleaned up. But D.J. also admits his dad supported his own drug addiction; a habit he picked up from his father's constant use.
"I suspect it was more than just getting drugs from his dad," said Thomas Powell, a forensic psychologist. "He seemed to have hoped and longed for a better relationship with him that wouldn't be based on abuse."
Statistics also show about 80 percent of 21-year-olds who were abused as children suffer from at least one psychological disorder. D.J. says the abuse caused him to become a loner. He dropped out of high school and had few friends.
"He didn't look to me as a guy who wanted to live a real bad and violent life. Dale looks to me as one of the most isolated and helpless and hopeless people I have seen. The eyes, the affect, the words, the actions all speak to a guy who did not have a lot of choices in life," Powell said.
D.J. hopes by sharing his story from jail that victims of child abuse make a better choice than he did-- killing his father.
"They should tell somebody to help them. It's not good to hold things in," D.J. said. "I will always love my father. I could only take so much."
Child advocates say if you are a child who is being abused, find someone you can trust to assist you in getting the help you need. But advocates say adults in the community have the biggest responsibility in reporting symptoms of child abuse, since most children are too afraid to come forward.
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