She was 'afraid': Durham woman's death puts renewed focus on domestic violence

Josh Chapin Image
Thursday, March 16, 2023
She was 'afraid': Durham woman's death puts focus on domestic violence
A Durham family remembers the victim as a caring sister and loving mother who lived in fear -- and has a message for other women trapped in an abusive relationship.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's easy for Lakisha Polite to talk about her baby sister Nicole Bullock.

What isn't so easy is talking about her death.

"Nicole was a wonderful, loving person, she loved her kids," Polite said.

Bullock has five boys. The youngest is 2-year-old Elijah.

"A mother would do all they can for their kids and that was Nicole," Polite said. "I feel like the system failed her and her boys."

Bullock was killed at the Sonesta Select Hotel in South Durham 10 days ago. The father of her 2-year-old, Rodney Crawford, has been charged with murder.

"Her statement was: 'I'm afraid,'" Polite said, "'I'm afraid of what he's going to do to me.'"

Court documents show Bullock filed a domestic violence protection order in July 2021.

That expired but in April 2022, she filed a new one, which was set to expire in two weeks.

Yet in January, prosecutors say, Crawford broke into Bullock's home and assaulted her.

"He broke her windows out in front of her children," Polite said. "He beat her in front of her children. He got arrested and was on home arrest. But how did he get out that night?"

Help for those trapped in domestic violence

Safety planning is one thing Nisha Williams recommends.

She is the legal director for the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

"It might be as simple as I'm going to text my sister, 'Hey can you order us pizza tonight?' and that might be the special signal we've established to call for help," Williams said. "The fact that this person encountered multiple restraining orders in their situation is unfortunately something that happens more often than not with survivors."

Its website has a list of every domestic violence crisis center across the state. Those centers can help people file orders of protection as well.

"I can't have my baby sister back, those kids can't have their mom back," said Polite, who helped organize a balloon release for Bullock this past weekend. "We have to reach out to the women all over the world. Young ladies you have to please seek help; it's not right, you have to get help."

It is free to file an order of protection, and if you do it with a domestic violence service provider, they can connect you with a Legal Aid attorney.