On January 24, 1885, at 9:30 in the morning, a woman from the small rural village of Saint Laurent in East Flanders entered the Palace of Justice of Ghent. Pregnant with her eighth child, she had fled from her husband and was filing for a divorce. That morning, she was led to a small room—the office of the judge of the Regional Court—and was standing alone with four men whom she barely knew and did not understand because they spoke French. Her husband had only sent a lawyer to represent him. As the woman's “avoué” presented her complaints—abuse, threats, and finally her fear for the life of her unborn child that had forced her to leave the marital home—she could only hope he had correctly recorded her story and was representing it convincingly enough to take her case to the next level. Until then, her divorce had been a game between jurists in which she was not much more than a prop. After this reading of her complaints, however, the whole neighborhood was alerted to her failing marriage. Some neighbors even entered the courtroom with her to act as witnesses. Not only the judge, but the whole local community took up the task to decide if she had been the victim of a derailed husband, or had failed as a wife. And accordingly, it was decided if she was to become a “divorced woman,” with all the social stigmatization attached to that notion, or if she would be forced to return to her abusive husband again.