CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Trapped in her bathroom, Celena Roby concentrated on her young sons' cries.
"I was kind of crumpled on the floor, between the sink and the commode, and I remember focusing on their cries," she said, "because I didn't know if I'd ever hear them again."
It was September 2008. Roby had been living in an abusive relationship for 11 years. That morning, as she got ready for church in her home outside the Parkersburg area, her abuser asked her a question.
When she didn't answer right away, he lashed out. He shoved her over and over, threatening her and blocking her from leaving the room. Her head bounced off a cabinet. Roby suffered injuries to her eye and head.
"To this day," Roby said, "I still don't know what question that was."
Now 33 and living in Wirt County, Roby is working to change state laws. She wants the Legislature to create a misdemeanor offense of unlawful restraint. Thirty-eight other states have such a law.
She's calling her proposal "Celena's Law."
Abusers often restrain their victims to control and terrorize them, said Angie Rosser, spokeswoman for the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. They might lock them in a room or hold them down.
"Nothing [in the law] really addresses what we commonly see in domestic violence situations," Rosser said.
West Virginia has a felony kidnapping offense on the books, but it doesn't apply to many domestic violence incidents, she said. The law against kidnapping says the situation must involve the offender restraining or taking a victim to obtain a "concession," such as ransom.
Celena's Law would give prosecutors "one more tool to protect victims and hold domestic violence offenders accountable," Rosser said.
Under the proposal, those found guilty of first-degree unlawful restraint would face up to a year in prison and up to a $500 fine. A second-degree offense would carry a penalty of up to six months in prison and up to a $100 fine.
Roby's abuser used control to isolate her. She says she didn't have her first adult friend until she was 28.
"I called it my three-bedroom prison," she said of her former home. "I was like a puppet, and he always controlled the strings."
She left him after the bathroom incident -- after her then-7-year-old son asked her why she didn't just answer her abuser's question.