For More Than 30 Years, Kim Bradley Hid From Her Husband

A survivor tells the story of decades of domestic abuse in Portland's West Hills.

For more than 30 years, Kim Bradley hid from her husband.

She fled her home dozens of times. Some nights, she wedged herself in bushes next to a Northwest Portland community center. Other nights, she hid in neighbors' yards, on their porches and in an abandoned garage near her driveway.

In those places, at least for a few hours, she felt safe from John Bradley.

She even hid in her own home. "I would hide in the attic," she says. "I've hidden in the laundry chute. I would lock myself in my closet."

Until one violent night a little more than two years ago, Kim Bradley also hid from her friends and family the abuse she now says she suffered regularly from her wedding day in 1983.

While to the outside world her life seemed ideal—a glamorous home, a handsome couple active in the community—she now says it was in fact a marriage continually punctuated by terror.

"People look at my life and think it was perfect. That's what I wanted them to think, too," Bradley says. "In many ways, I've been very fortunate. But the dark side never ended."

She says John Bradley controlled every aspect of her life. She didn't know how to leave him and feared if she did, it would be even worse than staying.

"He would hunt me down," she says. "He would be fine one minute and the next minute in a complete rage. He'd tell me he wanted to strangle me or to rip my head off."

On Sept. 29, 2015, she decided she could take no more. She called 911, she says, because she thought he might kill her.

Within minutes, Portland police arrived at the Bradleys' meticulously restored 10,000-square-foot home atop the Northwest Hills. They arrested John Bradley, a philanthropist, civic leader and CEO of one of Portland's largest construction firms.

Today, Kim Bradley lives in that home alone, protected by a court order against her husband. He's twice since been arrested and jailed for violating "no-contact" orders.

Their contentious divorce, filed after she called 911 two years ago, is nearly final.

Now Kim Bradley has decided to share her story. She says she's doing so in part to heal, but also in the hope that her experience will help other women find the courage to escape abusive relationships.

Revelations about powerful men exploiting vulnerable women have dominated the headlines recently. But, of course, it's not just in Hollywood, Silicon Valley or New York that men victimize women. And the sexual abuse of which movie producer Harvey Weinstein and others are accused, experts say, is part of a spectrum of male dominance and control that includes domestic violence.

Statistics show that more than 1 in 3 Oregon women have experienced domestic violence—a rate above the national average. They are overwhelmingly the targets of such violence, which is the cause of  more than half the homicides of Oregon women.

Kim Bradley's story was pieced together from interviews with her and domestic violence experts, and from court documents, including John Bradley's deposition.

Her husband declined to be interviewed.

"John Bradley is sober, doing well, and is moving past his divorce," said his attorney, Robin DesCamp, in a statement. "I hope the entire family can find peace and will choose to recede from the trauma and drama of this case—a case that has gone on for far too long."

The picture of the Bradleys' marriage that emerges illustrates that economic privilege offers no protection from domestic violence.

"Men often use their financial and social status to exert control," says John Wentworth, a senior deputy district attorney who oversees domestic violence prosecutions for Clackamas County. "This isn't a trailer-park problem like a lot of people think."

Kim Bradley has grown used to being asked, "Why didn't you leave?"
She and others say that question misses the dilemma many women face.

"The last thing you want to believe is your husband is an abuser," she says. "Because if he abuses you, what kind of person are you?

"You say to yourself, 'It's got to be my fault. It's going to stop. I can try harder, try something different.' But nothing changes."


When birds wing their way through Northwest Portland, they are often flying well below the level of the Bradleys' patio, which juts out from a hillside 500 feet above the city.

The Bradleys' home served as a gathering spot for Portland's elite: The couple hosted fundraisers for Portland Center Stage, New Avenues for Youth, Dove Lewis Animal Hospital and others. John Bradley has said he and Kim usually gave about $100,000 a year to such causes. In 2011, when soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney came to Portland, he greeted donors at the Bradley home.

John Bradley, now 62, moved comfortably in lofty circles. His company, R&H Construction, built Adidas' headquarters, handled the expansion of St. Mary's Academy and built a half-dozen New Seasons stores. In 2015, Portland Business Journal named Bradley CEO of the Year in its real estate sector.

Bradley was also president of the board of the Arlington Club, the 150-year-old downtown dining spot for corporate executives and Portland's elite. He'd also served on the boards of the Multnomah Athletic Club and the Waverley Club, Portland's most exclusive country club. But his 2014 election to the presidency of the Arlington Club marked a particular triumph.

"It was very important to him to be the president," Kim Bradley says. "He'd been on a lot of boards, but he'd never been president before."


Kim Bradley, 59, grew up in Boise, Idaho, and Bend, Ore., as the daughter of a successful lumberman. After she graduated from Oregon State University in 1980, she moved to Portland to work as a buyer at Meier & Frank.

The Bradleys met one night over lasagna at the home of a mutual friend. He proposed a couple of years later. She recalls that he was offended when she didn't immediately say "yes."

She agreed to the match but now says she wasn't really ready to get married.
The young couple worked evenings and weekends to fix up a 1928 home they'd bought in Northeast Portland. Even in those early days, however, there were warning signs.

By the time they were married at the First United Methodist Church in Southwest Portland in September 1983, John Bradley was already behaving in ways that scared his new bride.

"He was very controlling of my time and my presence," Kim Bradley says. "I had to be with him every evening and on the weekends. He didn't like anything that interfered with what he called 'family time.'"

And he would often erupt, she says, losing his temper and frightening her badly enough that she would leave the house until he cooled down.

In a May 11, 2017, deposition taken by Kim Bradley's divorce attorneys, Jody Stahancyk and Brad Miller, John Bradley acknowledged that when she was scared of him, "she'd run away."

Outwardly, though, the couple prospered. They had two children, and R&H grew.
Charming and popular in Portland's clubby real estate industry, John Bradley was the firm's rainmaker—doing deals and acting as the face of the company.

That meant the Bradleys spent many evenings and weekends entertaining potential clients.

Kim Bradley says her husband dictated every aspect of her participation.
"When we went out, I could never wear a jacket. He liked stockings with seams," Kim Bradley says. "And always high heels. He liked short, sleeveless dresses. The tighter and shorter the better."

If she let her hair down before going out with her husband, he'd tell her to go back to her room and put it up.

He also controlled her time with friends. When the Junior League switched from daytime to evening meetings, he made her quit her membership. She couldn't play in a weekend tennis league. "I did not go to movies with my friends. I never went out for drinks with friends," she says. "He controlled every aspect of my life."


Sometime around 2005, Kim Bradley says, the emotional abuse turned physical.

"John lost his balance," she says. "He used to say, 'It's hard to be me.'"

Bradley shared with his wife a list of the pressures he faced: He'd just turned 50; his business partner walked away from R&H, forcing Bradley to buy him out. Bradley also stretched financially to buy the couple's hilltop home for $2.5 million (it's on the market today for $7 million). In addition, he got caught having an affair with a subordinate at work.

Home became a gilded cage for Kim Bradley.

"When 4 o'clock would roll around, my heart would start pounding and I'd get anxious and I'd say, 'Here we go, another night,'" she says. "I never knew when it was going to happen."

The smallest thing could ignite John Bradley's rage. If the couple had panini for dinner, he'd yell if the cheese was melted too much or wasn't melted enough. If she asked how his day had been, she was snooping. If she didn't, that meant she didn't care. She talked too loud or not loud enough.

"At times, just asking him, 'How was your day?' was a fight question," she says. "He would snap and start screaming at me. His face would turn bright red and he'd lose control—he would call me a bitch, a cunt and a moron." (In his deposition, Bradley acknowledges using those words.)

John Bradley's verbal abuse would often start in the kitchen and end downstairs in the laundry room or in a corner, where it could get physical. On numerous occasions, Kim Bradley tells WW, he'd use his 60-pound weight advantage to pin her down, his knees on her shoulders. She recorded some of his tirades—the tapes are chilling.

After an outburst, he would rise at 4 am, as always, and often leave her notes of apology. She still has a stack of those notes: "I'm sorry I yelled at you," says one. "I'm very sorry I lost it last night. I love you," says another.

In his deposition, John Bradley acknowledged putting his hands on his wife in anger. Asked how many times he'd done so, however, he demurred.

"I do not remember," he said. "I don't document bad things in my mind."

"Do you have no current memory of any times?" asked Kim Bradley's attorney.

"I have memory of some times, yes," John Bradley said, adding, "I focus on good things. I try to remember all of the wonderful things."

Kim Bradley says that on two occasions, she defended herself. Once, she hit him with a bottle of olive oil.

"He came at me, and I said, 'Don't touch me,'" she recalls. "I hit him and bolted for the door." Another time, she kicked him in self-defense, injuring her foot.

Kim Bradley says for years, she confided in no one: not her siblings or parents in Boise, not her friends in Portland or even medical professionals.

"We presented this happy public appearance, and I didn't think anybody would believe me," she says. "And John always said he was the person in Portland everybody liked. He was the powerful person. He'd say, 'Nobody likes you. You'll be a lonely bitch without me.'"

Dr. Christina Nicolaidis, a professor of public health at Oregon Health & Science University who has studied domestic violence, says many survivors cling to the hope their abusers' behavior will change.

"Oftentimes, the abuser is very remorseful and the victim hopes that when a trigger stops, the abuse will stop," Nicolaidis says. "We also see an erosion of the victim's self-confidence. There can be a systematic almost-brainwashing."

Kim Bradley can't say for sure precisely when her husband first put his hands on her. She documented some of his attacks either with notes or, on several occasions, photographs of bruises on her arms and marks on her neck.

One of the incidents she recalls vividly is from May 2013, when she says John Bradley began yelling at her in their guest house. Then, she says he grabbed her in a headlock.

"He had both of his arms wrapped around my head," Kim Bradley says. "He wouldn't let go. I was terrified. I strained so hard to get away that my jaw popped out of its socket. I couldn't eat or open my mouth properly for weeks."

In his deposition, John Bradley said he remembered driving his wife to East Portland for treatment of her jaw, but he said he couldn't recall how she'd been hurt. "I must have blacked it out of my memory," he said.

On three occasions, Kim Bradley says, her husband physically attacked her when other people were around: Once in April 2013, when they were jogging along the Portland waterfront and he became enraged because she wouldn't take off her windbreaker, and once in May 2014 in San Francisco, when she asked him to stop communicating on his cellphone with another woman.

In the third instance, they were staying at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on Hawaii's Big Island in September 2014, when he grabbed her by the neck and wrists, leaving marks. She says she screamed so loudly she assumed they'd get thrown out of the hotel. But nothing happened.

(In his deposition, Bradley said he did not recall the incident at the waterfront and pleaded the Fifth Amendment in response to the alleged San Francisco and Hawaii incidents.)

Kris Henning, chairman of the Department of Criminal Justice at Portland State University, says a reluctance to involve oneself with others' domestic troubles is typical.

"In our society, we have a sense that what happens in a family stays within a family," Henning says. "We've built up a firewall that prevents strangers, friends and witnesses from intervening."


Kim Bradley says violent incidents built toward Sept. 29, 2015, when John Bradley invited his colleagues on the Arlington Club's 12-member board home for an early dinner. It was a Tuesday—Kim Bradley's favorite day of the week.

That's the afternoon she cooks lunch and serves and cleans up at a downtown homeless shelter.

"She's the perfect hostess with the perfect house," says a friend who requested anonymity. "But where she seems happiest is in her jeans and T-shirt, washing dishes at the shelter."

Afterward, when Kim Bradley returned home, she helped set the table on the patio and then went upstairs before guests arrived, still in the clothes she'd worn while cleaning up at the shelter.

After the meal, as board members were preparing to leave, John Bradley came upstairs and asked his wife to come down and say goodbye. She was dirty and tired from her shift at the shelter and didn't want to go downstairs.

"Tell them I'm taking a bath or I'm asleep," she recalls saying. "He snapped. He said, 'You bitch, it's not my fucking problem.' He picked me off the floor and threw me on my back."

The incident took place near the top of the main stairs, just above a hallway leading to the kitchen. Kim Bradley says it's likely guests in the house heard him shouting.

John Bradley went back downstairs, and the remaining board members—it's unclear how many—had left. When Kim Bradley came down, only Arlington Club manager Mike Legg was still there. He soon departed, leaving the couple alone.

Then, Kim Bradley recalls, at about 7 pm, her husband began yelling again and threw a chair across the kitchen, breaking a cabinet door.

That's when she called 911.

In a recording of the first call, John Bradley can be heard shouting in the background, and as Kim Bradley asks the 911 operator for help, she pleads that police not use lights or sirens because she fears it will enrage her husband further. "I'll never survive this," she tells the operator.

Minutes later, she called 911 a second time and tried to cancel the police response because she feared his wrath. Too late.

Officers arrived and arrested John Bradley.

He blamed her.

"Look what you did, Kim," Bradley said to his wife, according a police report. "I'm in handcuffs now."

Kim Bradley says the reason she finally summoned the courage to call 911 was simple. For the first time, she feared for her life.

"I didn't think I would survive," she says. "I didn't think I would live through the night."

When WW reported the incident two months later, a friend of John Bradley's came to his defense, attributing Bradley's behavior to his recently having resumed drinking. (He acknowledges being an alcoholic.)

Kim Bradley says her husband had indeed been drinking vodka that night, but that he was regularly abusive even during long stretches, including two lasting more than a decade, when he hadn't been drinking.

"Almost every other time he put his hands on me, he was sober," she says. "Anybody who blames his alcoholism for his behavior is totally wrong."


After the arrest, Legg, the Arlington Club manager who'd been at the house, assured John Bradley he would be discreet.

"Mike, you are an incredible man," Bradley wrote in an Oct. 1 email. "I'm sorry you heard my wife and I fighting."

Legg responded: "Please know that the disagreement will always remain between the three of us (I have witnessed a lot over the past 20 years at the club that are treated with the same level of confidentiality)."

A week after WW broke the news about the arrest, however, the Arlington Club announced Bradley had resigned his membership. One month later, Bradley's employees forced him out at R&H, even though he was CEO and majority owner. He's officially on medical leave and will continue drawing his salary until he turns 65.

"I was viewed as a positive, great person," he said in his deposition. "That's not the case anymore."

The Multnomah Athletic and Waverley clubs have kept Bradley as a member, although the MAC suspended him for six months. (None of the clubs responded to requests for comment.)

Kim Bradley says she's particularly disappointed in the MAC, which, since its founding in 1891, has served as a family-friendly gathering place for the well-heeled.

The club was a refuge for Kim Bradley during her marriage, the place she went nearly every morning for aerobics class and a bowl of yogurt with fresh fruit.

That continued after John Bradley's arrest and the court orders meant to keep him away. And it continued after he was arrested again in December 2016 for violating a no-contact order and spent 21 days in the Multnomah County Jail.

On Jan. 10, 2016, four days after he got out of jail, John Bradley sat in club's sports bar, staring out the window over the entrance.

"He picked the table so he could watch me walk in," Kim Bradley says. "He just sat there and stared at me. I literally froze on the sidewalk. I was terrified."

She continued inside but to her, his presence at the club was both physically threatening and proof of how little her well-being mattered to the club.

"These institutions are fine with what happened to me," she says. "Is my life worth less than his because people would like to pretend it doesn't happen?"


Kim Bradley isn't hiding anymore. But John Bradley is never far from his wife's fears. "I have nightmares about him all the time," she says.

In October, a Multnomah County judge denied her request for a stalking order against her husband, finding John Bradley did not pose a physical danger to his wife. (The restraining order she has against him expires next year; a stalking order would be permanent and carry greater penalties for violations.)

"Thirty years of abuse doesn't warrant a stalking order?" Kim Bradley asks. "His rights are always more important than mine."

Today, the Bradleys' divorce is in the final stages of mediation.

She lives alone with her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Andy, a can of Mace, and steel gates to protect her. Buyers are circling the house, and Kim Bradley is trying to figure out how to start her life over.

She'd like to make a difference in other women's lives. She plans to advocate in the Legislature and elsewhere to strengthen Oregon's laws that protect domestic violence survivors.

"I want to use my voice," she says, "to make a change."

Correction: This story originally said that on Jan. 10, 2016 when Kim Bradley saw her husband at the MAC, she "turned on her heel and went home." In fact, she entered the club. The story now reflects that. WW regrets the error.

Asking the Wrong Question

Here's why it's hard to leave an abuser.

By Rachel Monahan

One of the most common questions about domestic abuse is also one of the most harmful: Why don't victims just leave their abusers?

"'Why did you not just leave?'—it's very natural to ask that question," says Dr. Christina Nicolaidis of Oregon Health & Science University. "But the question can have an underlying victim-blaming tone to it. For somebody who hasn't been abused, it can be hard to understand that."

Victim-blaming goes on at the highest levels of power.

In 2014, for example, Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice was caught on video punching his future wife in the head. Surgeon and then-Fox News commentator Dr. Ben Carson, who has since been elevated to U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development, urged people to give Rice a break—because his fiancee stayed with him.

"Let's not all jump on the bandwagon of demonizing this guy," said Carson. "He obviously has some real problems, and his wife obviously knows that, because she subsequently married him."

Activists and survivors of domestic violence responded with the Twitter campaign #whyIstayed (and also #whyIleft) to help people better understand the dynamics of domestic violence. One of the most powerful arguments they've raised is that part of the point of abuse is to control a victim and make her stay.

"They abuse because they can, because it works," says Julie Owens, a North Carolina-based survivor and domestic violence expert and consultant. "Domestic violence is about someone's belief that they're entitled to dominate their partner."

There are many reasons why it's hard to leave. Here are a few:

1. It's dangerous to leave an abuser.

Survivor advocates cite several studies showing abuse victims are more likely to be murdered after they leave their abusers or try to.

"Separation and leaving someone can be one of the most dangerous times," says Merle Weiner, director of the domestic violence clinic at the University of Oregon School of Law. "Staying can be a rational choice even though it's counterintuitive."

It's one reason why advocates counsel that victims need a safety plan for leaving.

2. Abusers tell their victims that they're to blame.

Abusers blame their victims, and the victims may believe their abusers, partly as a survival mechanism. The manipulation and other control can be the worst part of a relationship with abuse because it can take away a victim's sense of self and agency.

"The victims that I've talked to—and I've talked to thousands over my career—almost without exception will tell me it's terrible to be beaten," says Erin Greenawald, a domestic violence prosecutor for the Oregon Department of Justice. "But the worst part is the emotional abuse."

Woman may believe their partners can and will change—that's often part of the cycle of abuse. Victims may have trouble accepting they have no control over how their partners treat them.

"People who don't understand it say, 'Look, there's a door, just walk out it.' She can't see it," says Owens.

3. Society punishes victims for standing up for themselves.

Almost 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence, according to the World Health Organization.

"The same forces that support a person's privilege and power over another person create space and opportunity for a Harvey Weinstein to be a sexual predator also support perpetrators of domestic violence," says Martha Strawn Morris, director of Multnomah County's Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services. "Harvey hired people to discredit those who spoke against his crimes. DV perpetrators hire lawyers to win custody cases."

4. Some of the same reasons people stay in relationships without domestic violence apply here, too.

"Why do people stay in a bad relationship?" asks Kris Henning, Portland State University's criminology chairman. "They have kids, shared property; they've invested a significant amount of time. They still may love the person."

There are also social and religious taboos around divorce. Economic considerations can make leaving difficult.

5. "Why don't you leave?" is the wrong question to ask a victim of domestic abuse.

A victim of domestic abuse is likely to be emotionally isolated. Asking such a question comes off as a condemnation.

"It definitely can lead to further isolation from the people who support them," says Rebecca Nickels, executive director of Call to Safety, the main crisis line in Portland.

"The best thing a person can do is listen and tell them they believe them. If we say, 'You should do this or do that,' we're just another person taking control away."

Looking the Other Way

Experts say Oregon could change its laws to better protect women from domestic violence.

Kim Bradley wants stronger protections in Oregon for those who face domestic violence.

Experts say there are two key areas in which Oregon lags behind other states.

The first is the penalty for strangulation, which Oregon law defines as "knowingly imped[ing] the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of another person" by placing one's hands around the other person's neck or blocking the person's nose or mouth. (Bradley says her husband put his hands around her neck repeatedly. In deposition, he said he could not remember ever doing so.)

In many states, including Idaho and Washington, strangulation is a felony. In Oregon, it is usually a misdemeanor. That means on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, the maximum penalty for strangulation is typically a year in prison; in Washington, it's 10 years.

John Wentworth, Clackamas County's top domestic violence prosecutor, along with advocates and his peers, has pushed for more severe consequences for strangulation. In the past, lawmakers have balked at the added cost of trying and incarcerating offenders. He's hoping they will reconsider.

"When someone puts their hands around someone else's neck, either they are trying to kill them or send a message: 'Your life is literally in my hands,'" Wentworth says.

A second area of the law experts say could be improved in Oregon is the process for obtaining a permanent stalking order. A stalking order does not need to be renewed annually, as a restraining order does, and carries harsher penalties for violations.

Merle Weiner, director of the domestic violence clinic at the University of Oregon School of Law, says the legal standard required to get a judge's approval for a stalking order is higher here than in other states.

In ruling against Kim Bradley's request for a stalking order Oct. 10, a Multnomah County circuit judge found that Bradley needed to cite "an objectively reasonable fear," not just her husband's unwanted contacts.

Weiner says such a standard places an undue burden on the victim.

"Our stalking statute is horrible," she says. "A lot of other states have better laws." —Nigel Jaquiss