During a 23 year police career, I found myself dealing repeatedly with battered women and a few battered men in domestic violence (DV) cases. Each time, I offered DV information to the “victim” and, in the case of females, delivered them to a “safe-house” if they agreed to go there.
Often the “victim” was the same person again and again. Likewise the batterers were usually the same people over and over. These same couples were “regulars” for our department. Employed, unemployed, well off, or flat broke; the DV assaults crossed all income lines.
Over and over I would see the subordinate partners bloodied, bruised, sometimes hospitalized, and sometimes dead. With those that survived, I would often plead with them to seek help and to leave their abusers.
They would tell me
“I know he loves me. He did not mean to hit me. “
“He did not mean to choke me.”
“He would never hurt me on purpose; he’s just drunk”
“He was just playing; he didn’t mean to hurt me”
“Where would I go? How would I feed my children?”
These and many more such lines were the reasoning that the victim’s used to convince themselves that their partner was a “good person” and justify their own abuse. Most would spend a night apart and rejoin the abuser as soon as he (or she) was released from jail; sometimes sitting with them at their arraignment on the DV Assault (or battery) charges.
When I arrived at a DV assault scene, the perpetrator was usually gone. There was usually damage to a door or door jamb, a wall, perhaps an appliance; the victim would usually be huddled on the couch (visibly injured with bloody face or blackened eyes) with crying, terrified children. If only they could see what I saw. Perhaps then they would find it easier to leave, or to testify against their abuser rather than defend them.
There was a frustration in knowing that this had probably occurred before and would likely happen again. There was an anger of sorts in hearing the victim defend the person that hurt them.
To explain those feelings on my part I need to tell you a little about me. I am a big brother to a sister, and I am a father of six now grown kids of my own. Five of those six are daughters. Of fourteen grandchildren, four are girls. As a boy I was small for my age and was often bullied. As an adult, I am 6’2”, 200lbs and protective of those who cannot defend themselves. If anything, getting into law enforcement just made me more protective and seemed a natural career for me to have been in.
So, for me the repeat victims were somewhat heartbreaking for me to deal with. Thankfully there were a few of those many victims that did listen to me and then to the advocates at the women’s shelter. Those women would show up at my office from time to time over the years since, to thank me again, and to show they were still okay. That was always heartwarming, and was a reminder that sometimes we get through. Sometimes we make a difference. Sometimes we save a life.
I had once read a report that said that a DV victim is likely to be physically assaulted a dozen times before they ever report it. Police might be aware of a problem residence due to disturbance calls by neighbors, but unable to confirm a domestic assault because the victim had not been hit where it’s visible yet. These would be escalating attacks that would eventually result in emergency room visits.
Without intervention, the violence is likely to continue until the abuser either kills the abuse victim, or the abuse victim reaches a breaking point at which they kill the abuser.
With all of the aforementioned as a preface, I ask, I plead with you to be part of the intervention.
If you are the abuse victim, look up the number for the women’s shelter nearest you. (If you can’t find one, call your local police; they will have the number on file, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233) Call the shelter and speak with an advocate. They will arrange transportation for you if you need it. They will provide you (and children if applicable) with food and housing for the short term as they help get you set up for the long term, for a life without your abuser. You need to do this for yourself and for any children you may have. Don't be battered again. Don't let your children witness your being beaten again. Don't keep the children in a situation where they will likely also be abused by your abuser.
If you know someone who is being abused, try talking to them. If you can, obtain some DV literature from an advocacy center and share that information with the victim. If you do not feel that you can talk to the abuse victim, share what you know with law enforcement on a confidential basis. Perhaps then, when police are called or sent to a call at the abuse victim’s home, they can go better prepared to know what to look for. Perhaps they will be able to get your acquaintance to talk with them and even end her abuse. You too can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for more info about how you can help.
If you are the abuser, and you have read this far, you know you need help. You know you are hurting your partner, your children , and yourself with your actions. Seek out an anger management class and speak with a psychologist about dealing with your issues that lead to your violent acts.
I am now retired from law enforcement and can no longer help individuals as I used too. So I ask for your help in helping to stop domestic violence. Thanks for reading.