[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Waterland Blog, nor its staff:]

I’m writing in response to a recent Letter to the Editor from former City of Des Moines Councilman and my former partner and abuser, Anthony Martinelli. Mr. Martinelli and I met in the beautiful city of Des Moines through a mutual friend when we were both teenagers. He and I began dating in November 2005 and our relationship ended, after many tumultuous years, in September 2011. While I am not here to air his dirty laundry, I need to clarify some of the items he addressed in his letter that are misleading or outright untrue.

In his letter, Mr. Martinelli placed blame on at least eight other people or entities while taking zero responsibility for any wrongdoing in this situation. He displayed multiple trademarks of abusers that are noted on the Power and Control Wheel (highly regarded by The National Domestic Violence Hotline as a frame of reference for describing abuse) such as Intimidation, Coercion and Threats, and Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming. This demonstrates to me that his mandatory domestic violence and parenting classes were ineffective and he did not take these lessons seriously.

Mr. Martinelli fails to mention that while Des Moines Prosecutor Tara Vaughn did end up filing charges and representing the city in this case, this was because other jurisdictions’ prosecutors did not want to be involved when the defendant was a sitting councilperson. Per the Clarification Statement from the City of Des Moines Prosecutor’s Office, “[These] allegations were investigated by the Tukwila Police Department and the diversion agreement was negotiated by an independent prosecutor.” Ms. Vaughn did everything in her power to ensure that there were no conflicts of interest, but also took necessary steps to try to protect Mr. Martinelli’s victims – his partner and their son, from imminent danger. Mr. Martinelli denies being on probation, which is also in direct contradiction of the actual agreement made (36 months of monitored probation with possibility of reduction to 24 months). He was required to give up his firearm, which was used toward his partner in an alleged abusive episode, and charges will only be dropped at the end of his probationary period if he complies with all of the terms of the agreement.

Related to the comments about the Seattle Times article, for which I was interviewed along with another of Mr. Martinelli’s former partners, Cydney Moore (of Burien) – Ms. Moore, Mr. Martinelli, and I worked together on a political campaign in 2010 and 2011 and had become close friends. When I ended our relationship, I cut ties with everyone involved in that part of my life to recover from the trauma caused by his abuse, including Ms. Moore. She and I had not spoken in over 10 years and only reconnected after I learned of his arrest and reached out to her. As you can imagine, hearing that your abuser has been arrested on counts of domestic violence after a decade can be upsetting, and I took action to learn whether this was continued or escalated behavior on Mr. Martinellli’s part. Once Ms. Moore and I began talking, we were both able to confirm that he had, in fact, abused and mistreated both of us in a multitude of ways.

While I cannot speak to his current partner’s statements, I can speak to my own experience, which is this – Mr. Martinelli manipulated and controlled me, isolated me from family and friends, and gaslit me. I was so exhausted from the emotional turmoil at his hands that I couldn’t make decisions or think clearly. It took years of work to recover after I was able to get out. Based on the allegations of this case and my personal experience, Mr. Martinelli appears to be escalating in his abusive behavior. I hope that one day his partner realizes the danger he poses and gets herself and her child out of his grasp. My goal was never to hurt her, but only to hope she would hear my story and realize this is a continuing pattern that may only get worse. When you’re being abused, it is incredibly difficult to see your abuser for who they are. You’re brainwashed into defending and protecting them at all costs, because you don’t believe you are worth being treated with the love and respect that you deserve. The cost of leaving is often dire.

I’ll sign off with a few last comments. I love the city of Des Moines. It was my home for nearly 20 years. I grew up there. It pains me that Mr. Martinelli’s manipulative tactics got him into local politics. His threats for “potential litigation that may be forthcoming” are inflated and a waste of his time. I felt compelled to come forward with my story originally to bolster the City’s case against him. As someone who has experienced abuse, I choose to believe victims. The stress and disruption to my life that this has caused was only worth it because we had hoped for an outcome that provided Mr. Martinelli the help he needs. I will not sit in silence while he acts like he’s done nothing wrong. Victims deserve to have a voice, and I hope I can be an example to others of survival and endurance through incredibly challenging circumstances.

If you or someone you know needs help escaping domestic abuse, please visit thehotline.org or call 1.800.799.7233, (TTY) 1.800.787.3224.

In solidarity,
Kayla Wolfe

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you have something you’d like to share with our highly engaged local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to [email protected] and, pending review and verification that you’re a real human being, we may publish it. Letter writers must use their full names and cite sources – as well as provide an address and phone number (NOT for publication but for verification purposes).