Saturday, July 31, 2010

Standing Up To An Abuser: The Story of Jane

     Last night a good friend of mine, we’ll just call her Jane, was physically assaulted by her ex-boyfriend/father of her 19 month old baby. Now granted, Jane didn’t walk away with any black eyes or bloody lips, but abuse is still ABUSE.
     After a long interrogating lecture from (lets call the abuser Earl), Jane was in a daze of tears and hopelessness. Earl had thrown food to the floor, leaving it scattered about her freshly cleaned kitchen tiles; relentlessly questioned her about why she no longer wanted him and why she showed such disdain toward him; which in utter frustration, brought Jane to her silent cry.

     In an effort not to be seen and not to make matters worse, Jane excused herself to the bathroom. Jane sat on the closed toilet lid and let her sorrows flow freely, streams of bitter regret and longing for freedom. Jane had tried to hide, but knew already Earl would follow. He would come to mock and harass her further, as if she were doing something wrong. Jane pleaded to Earl, “Why must you always do this? Why must you always destroy things?” And in response Earl breaks Jane’s curling iron. “That’s why!” he yells. As if he has given a rational response. Poor Jane sits on that toilet and simply continues to weep. No more questions. No retaliation. Only slightly salty rivers of inner emotional pain draining through sad eyes.

     Earl is the kind of abuser who shows small signs of remorse here and there. Coming in and out of coherency and trying in futility to right his wrongs. Earl tries to mend the curling iron, but is beyond repair.

     Jane takes a seat on the couch as she watches the obliviousness of their 19 month old daughter, still unaware that there is tension, happily watching cartoons and waiting for dinner. Earl takes the seat beside her. He begins again, questioning her why she won’t treat him the way she had before. Jane listlessly replies that there is no point in discussing such matters further, their relationship has been over for a month. In a split second Earl’s hand is around Jane’s delicate throat, applying just enough pressure to overpower and incite fear in her. And as quickly as his hand was there it is gone again, but Earl has gotten his point across. Jane sits silently, still, replaying what happened only seconds ago and trying to hold back all emotion… for fear of encouraging more abuse.

     As Jane travels towards the bedroom to retrieve something from her purse, Earl follows. Standing now in the narrow hallway Earl tries to apologize, tries to hug Jane. Jane is so numb and harbors such hate in her heart towards this man, although she knows better, she stands there lifelessly waiting for him to comfort himself and be done with it. One minute she is standing there in Earl’s clutches and in the next she found her self airborne, winging down the length of the hallway and crashing awkwardly to the floor; a slight pressure in her spine from the rough landing. Jane lays there. She already gave up. She is not fighting back, but still she endures more torment. She is still in shock and is aware of the strange pressure in her spine, she isn’t sure if she is hurt. More crying. Jane can’t help it. Everything inside of her is begging for rescue, but none comes.

     Earl angrily tells her to get up. Jane complies and is luckily able to do so with no serious injury in her back. She takes a seat again in the living room.

     Pretending as if nothing is wrong, they eat. Even in her tender youth, the baby has now noticed the pain in her mother’s eyes; red and swollen from her weeping. Jane knows this because she can understand all nonverbal communication from her child. Jane tries too fake a smile in hopes of comforting her daughter.

     A few minutes later Jane’s best friend Nicole shows up. They had planned a visit earlier. Jane’s heart leaps in gratefulness. He cannot, dare not touch me now! Jane rushes outside to greet Nicole. Just the presence of Nicole brings light and laughter back into Jane’s sad heart, they travel inside to begin their visit.

     Earl lies pitifully on the couch, fuming at Nicole’s arrival, but not yet showing it.

     A short time later he storms in on their good time trying to scare Nicole into leaving, threatening to break more of Jane’s belongings, punching a gaping hole into the wall and ultimately denouncing his duties as a father.  He leaves.

     Nicole having been there for Jane throughout the whole three-year journey of this steadily declining relationship, encourages Jane to take a final step. Jane must call the authorities and report it all. Hesitant, Jane knows Nicole is right and if she is ever to be free then this is something she has to do.

     Jane calls the sheriff’s department and reports a crime; tells them of the hole in the bedroom wall, but denies any physical abuse. Jane has battered wife’s syndrome. She is afraid she will get hurt again later if she tells everything. However, Jane lets it slip that Earl is, in fact, mad at her and NOT the wall.  Dispatch informs her that an officer will call her shortly.

     Maybe three minutes pass and Jane’s phone rings. It is the officer. She explains what happened and is again asked whether or not there was physical abuse. Jane loses her composure and amidst more tears confesses the abuse to the officer. She describes Earl’s appearance and vehicle; she also informs him that Earl has a key to the house (he was supposed to be moving out the next day, however Jane knew that wouldn’t happen as planned). The officer thanks her and makes his way to Jane and Nicole.

     Upon the officer’s arrival, Jane answers all his questions and both women fill out a police report. Now the officer explains that they are going to find him and when they do, they are going to arrest him. The county will file charges against an abuser regardless of the wishes of the victim. Jane is comforted by this. Earl is getting what he DESERVES.
     Earl was taken into custody approximately 3-4 hours later that evening. Jane and Nicole continued to laugh and enjoy each other’s company, satisfied by Earl’s detainment. And after the visit had ended and Jane was alone again, she smiled as she prepared to go to bed for the night. The officer had also returned the house key Earl had in his possession and at least for now, for that night until Earl’s release, Jane was safe.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

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