|Family|| Dan Hoffman (ex-husband)|
Tommy Hoffman (son)
The attorney tells Elliot and Olivia that Dan started abusing Jill, his second wife shortly after their wedding two years ago. Kim, Dan’s first wife and Tommy’s biological mother, had left a year before that; Dan probably abused her too and told everyone that she left them for another man. Dan had psychologically terrorized his son, but hadn’t laid a hand on him...yet. Jill had known that Dan’s crossing that line was only a matter of time She’d never made a domestic violence complaint because her husband is 'Mr. Pillar-of-the-Community' in their exclusive small town of Rye, no one would believe he's a batterer.
The case against Dan takes a major bad turn when the judge won’t allow the domestic violence workers to testify that Jill told them she was being abused. Tommy’s testimony would convict his father, but SVU is still barred from talking to the boy. Alex asks about Kim Hoffman, who as Tommy’s biological mother has every right to talk to him. Elliot replies that SVU hasn’t been able to find her. Captain Cragen tells the detectives to find someone who’d known Kim.
Allen Wheaten, the Hoffmans’ longtime neighbor, knew Kim was being physically abused because he’d seen the injuries and didn't believe that Kim left them for another man. He believes Dan murdered Kim, because late one night, he saw a van pull into the Hoffmans’ driveway. Someone filled the van with garbage bags and drove off. The next day, Kim was gone. Wheaten contacted the Rye police with the van’s license plate number and his suspicion that Kim was murdered. The van belonged to a Dawn Trent, a soccer mom from Port Chester who said she’d been delivering Girl Scout cookies. Case closed.
Dawn Trent tells Elliot that she had helped Kim escape that night from her abusive situation. Kim didn’t take Tommy with her then because Dan was on the verge of killing her; she had to leave fast. She hoped to return for her son once she was settled elsewhere. Dawn belongs to a group which rescues domestic violence victims and passes them from one person to another, eventually resettling them far away from their abusers. All any rescuer knows is the next link in the chain.
Elliot follows the chain of Kim’s rescuers, locates Kim and tells her everything that’s happened.She told Elliot Dan used to beat her so badly, she couldn't walk. She tearfully tells him she had gone back for Tommy, only to see him happily playing on the front lawn with Jill and calling her “Mommy.” Kim then thought he was better off there, because what did she have to offer him. Elliot persuades her to come back for Tommy’s sake. If she doesn’t, Dan will be acquitted of Jill’s murder; and Tommy will be returned to his father.
At the courthouse where Dan’s trial is in progress, Kim talks to Tommy in the hallway. The bond between mother and son is reestablished. When Tommy is called to testify, he and his mother walk into the courtroom together. On the witness stand, Tommy is too terrified of his father to speak, and the judge allows him to step down without testifying.
As Alex leads Tommy past the defense table to leave, Dan flashes him a big smile and says, “I love you, son.” Tommy looks at his mother sitting nearby, then quietly says to his father, “You killed Jill.” Dan’s lawyer immediately asks for a mistrial, as the judge calls for order in the court among the murmuring observers. Dan’s good-guy mask slips off as he coldly urges his son not to testify, but Tommy turns to Alex and says, “I’m ready. I can do this now.” Dan can only watch in silent, seething rage as Tommy returns to the witness stand. As Tommy sits down, he glares at his father with a steely, righteous defiance that not even Dan’s most violent abusive fury will shake.