Domestic Violence: Try as We Might – Those who Love You Can’t Save You...it starts with you
Truths from the Chaos
I am just as disturbed as the next person about Chris Brown and Rihanna’s most recent music collaboration and "twee-ffections" to each other. Sure, they do not owe the court of public opinion an explanation. No, they should not have to sneak around behind the public's back to be together or croon endlessly to each other either.
It’s just...I would feel better if...I did not have to watch...this cycle play out again.
The cycle of domestic violence can happen over and over again in an abusive relationship. The violence takes many forms and can happen all the time or once in a while. I know women say, "I’d leave him in a second if he ever laid a hand on me!" but it is my belief it is a situational perspective.
Although most victims are women, both men and women can be abused. As far as statistics on this topic, I only care to see an increase in police reports and educational tools. The rest holds little weight in my book. I already know the reality; a man and/or woman is hit-punched-slapped-choked-kicked and don't get me started on the emotional abuse, children, etc. There is only one reality to this horrific nightmare. The persons who have been sucked into this cycle of abuse are the only people who can save themselves.
Sure, both camps could release statements today that report participation in behind the scenes therapy, counseling, rehabilitation. It will not matter. It makes no difference if Rihanna is a role model for the young woman everywhere. It makes no difference whether fans are willing to overlook the past.
This is life at its ugliest...messiest...when we get to sit back and watch the cycle of domestic violence play out AGAIN.
It was around 12:30am on the morning of January 27, 2012 when I heard the screams.
I had just turned off my bedside lamp and my head did not even reach the pillow when I froze. I quietly got out of bed - as if my neighbors might hear me - and walked to my window. My fingers barely touched the curtains and the screams got louder. To my surprise - still today - I grabbed my cell phone and hurried through my home and out my front door toward the outside stair case that leads to my neighbors screen porch. I had almost run up twenty flight of stairs before I stopped myself on the last step (What is it with me and steps?!) No doubt my senses caught up with me, because I know better than to do what I was doing.
What are you doing?! He might have a gun.
Still, I let myself grip the edge of the unlocked screen door and began to bang it OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN against the door frame. Things became silent for a few seconds. The screaming started again. Brilliant. What now?
I slowly walked down the stairs all the while knowing I was helpless by myself. I stood at the base of the stairs and stared at the screen door ---as the screaming continued.
Phone. Phone. Use the phone. I called 911.
Next, I woke up my neighbor - who I do not know so well - to let him know what had just taken place and would he sit on my porch with me until the police arrived. He was extremely polite and said he would be right over. I sat on my porch alone and waited for the police...my neighbor.
Interesting how people will return to childhood places to put pieces of life back together. And when doing so, I cannot help but wonder if God purposely presents us with the snow globe from our past to create another opportunity to respond differently. I try to make light of these "opportunities" and refer to them as God's Mulligans. (Google it)
All the more reason my porch is my special place that leads into my haven.
The large steps and tall white pillars create a sweet southern charm, and no doubt the first thing I noticed when I stumbled on this gem of a place two years ago. Though it is a smaller porch, the space seems to embrace my oversized, distressed Airondeck chair --that I found at a local antique sale for $15--and a second chair with a side table. My porch creates a sense of tranquility for me as Ruthy Belle (My eighty pound Catahoula Leopard!) and I walk up the drive-way after my evening runs. It is usually just after dark and even though my monster fern and ivy in hanging baskets look to have outgrown their baskets, still look perfect against the white Christmas lights I have wrapped around the white pillars.
Tonight, though for some reason I instinctively unplugged the Christmas lights before I got ready for bed, so I sat in the dark as I waited. Not until everything was over and I was tucked into my bed, I felt glad, I had unplugged my lights. There is nothing tranquil, sweet, serene or peaceful about domestic violence. It is the darkest of the dark for people engulfed in the black hole of its abyss.
My neighbor joined me on my porch, and we sat for what felt like forever as we waited for the police to arrive. I don't know my neighbor that well. I tend to keep to myself, still. I suppose for readers my live out loud writing style contradicts me at home. In time, it might change. I don't worry about it just yet.
We filled the silence with talk about our neighbor and exchanged what we know. I think my neighbor was stunned to learn that the woman who was screaming has a Master’s degree and a high profile position in our community. My neighbor became quiet.
Me...I took note of the potting soil on my porch next to plants waiting to be potted. I should pot those plants and use that soil - it's been over a year now. I should probably go ahead and get another little Hawthorne shrub to plant on the left side of my stairs so both sides look balanced....
I am certain my neighbor didn't notice the bag of year old potting soil or the plants waiting to be potted or the hole on the left side of my porch steps. I knew he was struggling to understand. I knew he could not fathom how the highest education can't bring sense to a person in love with another person who resorts to the unthinkable.
I snapped my head to my left as I heard a nose. "She" had walked down the stairs and was on her way to her car. She wore a tank top and blue jeans and I could see the sweat glistening from every visible part of her skin. I could tell she was struggling to catch her breath in between sobs. I recognized her body language as she S.L.O.W.L.Y. walked to her car. She walked as though she had done something wrong -- in shame - her head was down and shoulders slumped forward.
I watched her struggle to unlock her car door as I jumped out of my chair and ran to her.
“...please, don't drive. Please take some time to calm down.”
She unlocked her car door, and I noticed she C.A.R.E.F.U.L.L.Y. sat herself down in the driver's seat. I wonder how many times he hit her. I wonder where he hit her.
"Please, believe me when I say I do not want to pry into your business. I simply want to make sure you are ok before you get on the road. Let me just stand here while you calm down. We don't have to talk.”
Her hands had gripped the steering wheel and tears rushed down her face when I spoke. Suddenly I felt guilty about calling the police. I knew I had to tell her what I had done. I KNEW I HAD TO TELL HER WHAT I HAD DONE.
"I called the police. They are on their way. Again, I was not trying to pry into your business. It's just... I was getting ready for bed when I heard your screams...you know I have heard you before. This time something forced me to do something, and that's why I ran up the stairs. I know things move quickly in these types of situations.”
“I don’t want to talk to the police.”
“Ok you don't have to talk, but they are still on their way. I am sure they won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do.”
“Did he hit you?”
I wondered if she would would admit that he hit her. She did not speak, but she nodded her head yes as she looked down.
“Are you ok?”
Again, she did not speak. She simply nodded her head as she looked down. I asked her if she would like to come inside to rest.
Ahhh... now I understand why we hardly know each other and rarely talk. She is afraid of my kitties. I offered her reassurance that I could put the kitties outside.
"I’ll be right back.”
I returned with a damp cloth and a cup of water.
“Here, wipe your tears and drink some water.”
“I think I can talk to the police when they get here.” (Breakthrough! Yeah!)
"OK. That’s good." --------------I knew our window would be short.
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It felt like forever as we waited for the police. I walked over to my porch and stared at my neighbor.
“This is FU_ _ IN ridiculous!”
I walked back to her as I scolded my inner child. You are not about to start having words with a policeman. Hold your tongue girl and remain calm.
When I reached her car I tapped on the window. She opened the door, and I assumed my stance to her left. I could sense she had better control of her breathing. Aside from her glistening skin and disheveled hair she looked calm.
“He really is a good man.”
W~A~I~T~~~~~~~~~ W~A~I~T ~~~~~~~~~~W~A~I~T~~~~~~~~~ W~A~I~T W~A~I~T~~~~~~~~~ W~A~I~T ~~~~~~~~~~W~A~I~T~~~~~~~~~ W~A~I~T
Finally, the police arrived.
"I don’t want to talk to anybody. I am fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I am sure. I don’t want to talk.”
I walked to the policeman, so we could talk in private.
The police officer walked into her proximity.
"Mam, are you OK?"
“I am fine. Thank you.”
"Are you sure, mam?"
"Yes. Thank you."
He turned and walked back to his patrol car.
"Are you sure you don’t want to come inside with me? I have room for you to stay the night. I can put the kitties outside”
“No, I am ok. I just want to take a few more minutes.”
"Will he come out here and bother you?"
“Ok. I am going to go inside now. If you change your mind please don’t hesitate to knock on my door.”
As I walked back to my porch, my neighbor stood up and shrugged his shoulders, threw up his hands to go with the "WTF" look on his face. I walked up the porch steps past him... opened my front door... stopped for a couple seconds before I turned to face him.
It’s a cycle..........In the beginning, she did not want to talk to the police. Then enough time passed for her to acknowledge the situation is wrong, so she admitted that she wanted to talk to the police. Then as, more time passed she convinced herself that he was a good man and she made a point to reinforce this fact to me. Then the police arrived, and she no longer wants to talk about the violence that just took place. I looked at my neighbor,
"It’s a cycle, Ron. There’s nothing we can do from here. It's up to them. Go to bed.
Thank you for sitting on my porch with me.”
A couple of days later I saw my neighbor as he walked down his stairs. "She" was in the car with her children. They were on their way to church. We waved to each other.