Though such back and forth is fairly typical of contentious divorce cases, there is no question that Reade was a victim of domestic violence. (And it goes without saying that any level of domestic violence is wrong.) Nonetheless, there is a striking contrast between Reade’s own accusations against Dronen in 1996 and the horror-movie narrative she would pen thirteen years later.
In her 2009 article, Reade wrote that “Tate” violently shoved her on one occasion when they were still dating in Washington, D.C. in 1993, and started battering her shortly after they moved to North Dakota later that year: “The first time he hit me, we had lived in the Midwest all of two months. The subject of the fight was unremarkable—the damage to my nose and jaw was not.” On the other hand, Reade’s February 29 1996 statement accompanying her application for a restraining order (at a time when she had no incentive to minimize accounts of her husband’s violence) mentions episodes of “yelling and screaming,” as well as furniture-slamming, but alleges only one violent interpersonal incident prior to February 21, 1996—at some point in late 1995: “Three months ago, he punched me in the arm during a heated discussion.”
In the 2009 article, Reade asserted that in the three years after their daughter was born, “Tate would beat her, threaten her, and commit incredible horrors against both of us.” In her 1996 statements, she alleged no violence toward the child other than one incident in which Dronen admitted to shaking her, and her main concern was that Dronen might leave with the girl, not commit “incredible horrors.” And while the restraining-order petition claims that Dronen frequently talked about killing himself, the 2009 article gives these suicide threats a far more sinister murder-suicide twist: “Tate threatened to kill himself, Molly, and me if I left.”