Rachel Ball grew up in upstate NY. She is currently serving 8 ⅓ years for criminally negligent homicide, two felony drug counts and a misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of a child. Like many survivors who are unable to leave abusive relationships, Rachel was held responsible for the actions of her boyfriend Josh Bennett.
Even though Rachel and Josh were only together for a year, the relationship became intense very quickly. At first he showered her with attention and gifts,taking Rachel’s kids out to the movies, but quickly became jealous, manipulative, and abusive. Rachel had been using cocaine recreationally, but over that year, began to experience very intense withdrawal symptoms — she found out that he had been mixing heroin with cocaine to get her addicted to it to ensure that she would stay with him. They were both evicted from her mobile home when he got caught dealing drugs on the premises. She lost two jobs because he would show up to her work unannounced and harass her about her male coworkers out of jealousy. The police were called multiple times, but they never questioned Rachel separately from Josh. She didn’t feel safe telling them about the abuse with him standing right there.
Rachel tried to hide the abuse from her children but one day her older son and daughter saw Josh push her down the stairs. Fearing for Rachel, her daughter sent a Facebook message to Rachel’s best friend asking him to come pick them up because “Josh is hurting mommy”. This incident spurred Rachel into action; she made a plan to leave.
The day that she was planning to leave, she had packed all her stuff and was calling a cab when he woke up and overheard her. He took the phone from her, cancelled her cab, and beat her unconscious, smashing her head off of walls, door frames, and a bedpost. For the next three days, Rachel could barely remember what happened, and was in and out of consciousness. Josh gave her more drugs under threat of violence when she woke up so she passed out again. When she finally woke up, she saw him at the foot of a bed with a shotgun, asking her if she really wanted to leave. Fearing for her life, she said no. He told her to go downstairs and make breakfast. She didn’t hear her baby, Kayleigh, which was unusual, so she asked him where she was. He said she was sleeping and that Rachel should let her sleep and go make breakfast. Rachel had a feeling that something was wrong so she went to check on her, finding her unresponsive and cold to the touch. She immediately called an ambulance to try to save her. When the paramedics came they rushed Kayleigh to the hospital, but tragically she was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Rachel was distraught and inconsolable, and wanted to cooperate with the police because she wanted justice for her daughter. The DA charged her and Josh with Kayleigh’s death, and threatened to charge Rachel for the guns and drugs that were found on the property (all of which belonged to Josh).At the advice of her lawyer, Rachel reluctantly agreed to a plea deal to a lesser charge because without it she faced the possibility of life in prison.
Rachel has been sober since the day she found Kayleigh. She now knows that her story is the story of many women who are living with addiction and in abusive relationships. She will always carry the pain of losing her daughter, but hopes that in telling her story she can help others. In her time at Bedford, Rachel has been taking classes through Marymount College and is working towards a degree in sociology. She lives on the honor floor and works for the DMV. She hopes to become a counselor so she can help women escape abusive relationships and assist those who struggle with addiction. She has participated in family violence treatment, alcohol/substance abuse treatment, Alcoholics Anonymous, and parenting classes. She is working consistently to end the abusive cycle she was caught in so that her children grow up knowing she is a survivor. Rachel has also rediscovered her love for writing and hopes to publish her life story some day. She looks forward to moving in with her elderly grandmother and being reunited with her son and daughter. They are all anxiously awaiting her return home.