Jennifer Hudson was the first witness called to testify in the trial for the horrific murders of her mother Darnell Donerson, brother Jason Hudson, and seven-year-old nephew, Julian King.
William Balfour, who was dating Jennifer’s sister Julia, is the guy who’s suspected of committing the grisly killings of J-Hud’s family members. Jennifer Hudson said on the stand that she never liked Balfour, not even when they were in grammar school, telling the court, “I told her over and over again to not marry him. We did not like how he treated her.”
It sounds like Jen was smart to trust her gut about Balfour, but unfortunately, Julia was so blinded by her feelings for him that she didn’t realize she deserved better–which is a common thread in emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive relationships. Often abusers will make their victims feel isolated and insecure, if not outright terrified, so they think they will never be able to find anyone else or live without their abuser. At the time of the murders, Balfour was on parole after serving close to seven years in prison for attempted murder and vehicular hijacking–but even that wasn’t enough to drive her away from him. Julia said herself on the stand that Balfour made it difficult for her to leave and often threatened her life, telling her, “If you leave, you will be the last to die” and “Remember, if you leave me I will kill you.”
Jennifer Hudson obviously, despite her and her family’s best efforts, couldn’t predict the tragedy and terror that would ensue, but she can help other women learn to see warning signs and how to help a loved one or pal who may be in a potentially dangerous situation. What can you do to help a friend who may be in an abusive relationship? The National Domestic Violence Hotline suggests these tips:*Let your friend know you’re there to help. They may not even realize that their relationship is abnormal or unhealthy, and sometimes it takes an outsider to point it out. The key is to avoid being judgmental, especially if your friend goes back to their abuser–because those are the times that they will need you (not criticism) the most.
*Encourage your friend to have a life outside of their relationship. Pursuing interests, friendships, and activities will help bolster her self-esteem, which will make it easier to leave a bad situation–because she’ll learn to value herself enough to realize there are other things out there and that she deserves better.
*Continue supporting your pal even if she leaves the relationship. She may be lonely and vulnerable without her partner, so she will need you just as much, if not more, than before.
*Help your friend make a safety plan. It’s good to have one for someone who is in and out of an abusive situation. Often when an abusive relationship ends, the abuser is more dangerous than ever, so this is super important!
*Encourage your friend to talk to counselors, lawyers, and professionals who can help. Go with her for moral support if she needs it. She may be more likely to open up if she’s with someone she trusts.
*Know that you can’t “rescue” your friend. We’re sure Jennifer Hudson would have loved to save her family and her sister, but at the end of the day, the abused party has to save themselves: it’s their decision, whether we like it or not. The more supportive and nonjudgmental you remain, the more likely they will come around to help themselves.
We can only imagine how difficult, horrifying, and heartbreaking this ordeal is for Jennifer Hudson and her family. Hopefully finding justice will ring the Hudson family a sense of closure and peace. We only hope her wise words will help others in her and Julia’s situations escape before it’s too late.
Have you ever been in an abusive relationship? Do you think abusive relationships get enough attention in the media? Have you ever helped a friend out of an abusive situation? Are you following coverage of the Jennifer Hudson family murder trial? Tell us in the comments!