Remembering Sonya Bailey

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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A life was dramatically changed for one woman after she fell victim to domestic violence, but now she's being laid to rest.

Sonya Bailey, 49, originally of St. Albans, passed away Sunday after living 16 years in a nursing home.

She was unable to walk, talk or eat on her own and was constantly in pain, according to her mother.

"She had no life," Elena Campbell. "I mean she was there but that was about it."

In 1994, Sonya Bailey and her husband, Chris Bailey went missing and when her family saw her again, she was in a coma.

Chris Bailey is serving a life sentence for abusing Sonya at their home in St. Albans.

Bailey beat her so badly, she had irreversable brain injuries.

He even locked Sonya in the trunk of his car, before crossing state lines and taking her to a Kentucky hospital.

"I would pray that she would be normal again," I'd pray for her every night and just hoping that she would come back to herself."

Sonya's mother would visit Sonya everyday for more than a decade and describes her daughter as caring.

"She was always there to help," Campbell said. "Right now it's hard to believe that she's gone."

Counselors are advocating for more than prison time, but rehabilitation to prevent another life from tragically being changed and taken.

"The victims, the offenders and the entire family, if they don't get some kind of counseling to help them deal with the trauma and the reasons why they're involved in these types of situations then the cycle of violence just continues," Domestic Violence Counseling Center Elizabeth Crawford said. "The cycle of violence can be broken, people can learn new behaviors and people can live in peace and not have violence in their homes."

Sonya and Chris Bailey were still technically married but Sonya's mother is still trying to change that.

A federal law enacted in 1994 made Chris Bailey the first person prosecuted under a domestic violence law.

Chris Bailey is in federal prison serving a life sentence.

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