Beaten II

The has been some really interesting conversation over in the comments thread for the post 'Beaten', while I don't have a lot of time to reply to comments I do read each and every one.

The very next day we were called to a woman who had been assaulted. We arrived to find her talking to two police officers in her house, she had been punched in the face and would have a black eye coming up soon. They were getting details on the male who had assaulted her.

The story was fairly simple. The male was her ex-boyfriend but she had stopped seeing him some weeks ago, however he kept coming to her place to persuade her that he still wanted to date her. This time though he had seen fit to break into the house and then to punch her in the face.

The police knew of the male and were trying to get the woman to press charges.

For some reason she didn't want to.

Was it because she knew him and worried that he would come back and kill her if the police were involved? Was it because she didn't want to go through the trouble of the courts? Or was it some other reason? I couldn't understand it myself, but then, having never been beaten, I don't expect I would.

So the police could only refer her to the domestic violence team and leave the patient in our care.

Sometimes I'd like more 'closure' in my work.

For some reason Amazon has reverted to an old draft cover for my book. It makes me glad that we went for the one we did. Amazon should be changing it back soon, so hurry if you are interested. Also, can I take this time to mention that 'Blood, Sweat and Tea' would make a wonderful Christmas present for the whole family (that's one for each family member, not one per family…) Also be prepared for strange posting times as I'm on late shifts this week, which means I can lay in bed as long as I like…

24 thoughts on “Beaten II”

  1. Possibly this, or other abusive relationships from her past/childhood, led her to believe she deserved it?If she's been physically abused before, low expectations and that “learned helplessness” thing set in, and if she loves the person doing it as well the combination almost guarantees she'll not make too much fuss.

  2. Sadly, it's apparently very common for women to refuse to press charges. What gets me is why the have to? I mean, she's been hit by someone. Regardless of whether she complains or not, she's told the police they did it so can't they just haul the piece of **** in and lock him up?The book: I finished the PDF version yesterday, only getting to posts I'd read before in the last 30 or so pages. Loved it. I will buy a copy when I get back to the UK, I promise!

    Last bit: is it possible to change my profile on here? It's defaulting to an old web address for me and I can't find a way to update it without changing it every time I post!

  3. My mother was recently the victim of an violent assault by her (now ex) boyfriend, and she initially gave a statement on the night, but subsequently went back and said she wanted the statement removed. As a result, her attacker could not be prosecuted, and was bound over (this was what my mum wanted)In her case, she acted this way precisely because she was seeking closure – the event caused an end to a troubled and difficult relationship. Despite the blood, pain & bruising, she felt a palpable sense of relief that it was over. She didn't want it to drag on and on in court, have to relive the event, or face her attacker again (especially in public).

    Sadly, closure for the victim does not neccesarily equal justice.

  4. I thought the police could charge them even if the person assaulted didn't 'press charges'. I seem to remember a recent advertising campaign stating this. Was I just dreaming?

  5. I live in a block of flats. The one above me had been empty for a bit but new people recently moved in. I hadn't had a chance to meet them at all but I'm fairly certain it was a man and a woman because I heard them having a full-volume row each night. Meh. So what. The couple downstairs do that too, I just stick my earplugs in and let them carry on. I can still hear it but not word-for-word any more.Until one night, after about twenty minutes of yelling, there's a couple of crashes (as of crockery) some thuds and loud screaming, followed by a slam of a door. At that point I phoned 999. The operator asked if there were any kids there and when I said I didn't think so, her boredom set in. Apparently she would “make sure officers in the area were aware”. I don't know if anyone did eventually turn up at the flats – certainly there was no one for at least two hours.

  6. “”..Was it because she knew him and worried that he would come back and kill her if the police were involved? ….”” – – speaking as one who has been thumped by an “ex” Yes – the police cannot protect you 24/7. The “ex”, if that way inclined, will often see any retaliation as a reason for another “thump”. And possibly “…Was it because she didn't want to go through the trouble of the courts?…”” These things rarely, if ever, get as far as Court. The CPS do not feel it is the best use of Taxpayers money. Ta11u1ah

  7. Everybody is making the assumption here that some sort of official action is warranted in this case. Perhaps it isn't, perhaps it is.If this had been about two blokes, one had taken a pop at the other and the one popped at had said to the police “No, leave it. I don't want him charged.” then I don't think the reaction would have been the same.

    Perhaps this woman felt that official criminal action would be too harsh a response for the damage done to her; in just the same way as a bloke might. Just because someone has made the mistake of using violence it isn't always the case that it must be met with a response under the criminal law. Not every example of a physical altercation between the sexes is deliberate abuse and we shouldn't assume it is (equally, we can't assume it isn't). You need more information than “there was a fight” to make that judgement.

    As to this case? We don't know; but I think we shouldn't jump to the conclusion that we know better than the woman who declined to press charges. She may have perfectly valid reasons not to want it taken further that aren't in the classic domestic violence victim pattern.

  8. There's no easy answer… but this is, unfortunately, quite likely the norm. The reasons it goes this way are multiple and complex.In the previous post's comment, I likened domestic violence to classical interrogatory/wartime torture. The victim loses his or her sense of self, identity, and individuation. With domestic violence victims, they have often been controlled in everything in their lives – what they do, what they eat, where they sleep – everything is in the hands of the abuser. The abuser has made it such that if he (or she) is put in jail, the victim is certain that she will not survive. It's much like a parent-child relationship, in the very early stages of childhood identity development. Young children equate parental love to survival: “If mommy doesn't love me, I die.” This equation is true in many respects – if mommy and daddy, the center of my world and universe, die, I do too. I have no food, no shelter, no love, no protection, no sanctuary, no toys, nothing *familiar*. Victims of domestic violence tend to regress to this state. So – say Mary was thumped really hard by Bob. If Mary puts Bob in jail, he will (a) lose her one and only connection to the world (he has already done a fine job of isolating her from her family and friends, so without him, she is truly alone); (b) lose all financial support (more ofthen than not, he controlls the money in the relationship); (c) Even from jail, she fears he will retaliate. He has friends. He can decide to sell the house from under her, because she's not on the paperwork. He can make her life hell through the trial. He can try to accuse *her*. He can try to claim self-defence. She KNOWS he's manipulative and that people can be made to see things HIS WAY. Besides, he has already convinced her she is stupid, worthless, and that she needs him to get even the basic things of every day life done.

    See how the cycle can just be impossible (or feel impossible) to break?

    Now – for a more personal look into things… My ex, in a final explosion, had beaten me to the point that attempted murder charges did stick when he was brought to court. He had broken most of my ribs, my pelvis, my skull, my collar bone, my arm. I practically bled to death. Classic, textbook-style aggravated physical/sexual assault causing severe bodily harm. When emergency personnel showed up, there was significant concerns about survival. Obviously, I made it, but not without flatlining once in emergency surgery.

    … and I still wanted to get out of “pressing charges”. EVEN with him behind bars, EVEN with him caught red-handed, EVEN with the fact that the case was an open-shut case… I didn't want to (now, I wasn't going to get a choice, it was out of my hands… but I wanted to defend him! He tried to claim self-defense.) Why? I thought it was my fault. I thought I deserved it. I was convinced that if he was put away, I would die. I'd be on the street. AND… I was convinced he'd find a way to hurt me, even from his prison cell.

    I understand how frustrating these things are. I have given talks to police officers who deal with this kind of thing – EMTs, too – and sympathized with them. What we need are tougher laws, and better safety nets for victims. We need crown attorneys (in the commonwealth) and DAs to be able to prosecute even if the victim doesn't immediately want to press charges. We need quick and efficient counseling for victims… and even with all that? We may only be able to bring half of these bastards to justice.

    It's discouraging.

    BUT – changes start with each and every one of us here. The issues have to be spoken of. Young girls need to be taught that they don't HAVE to take this kind of shit from anyone – Mom, Dad, Brother, Uncle, Boyfriend, Husband. We, as a society, need to frown pretty damned bad on these Wastes-of-Carbon known as “abusers” and take away the power they think they have. Most of them are truly cowards, once they are faced with other males who are more dominant than they are…

    Courage to all – and warmest thanks to everyone who deals with these things during those “emergency” moments. I know they feel powerless to help more than they already have. There's so very little they can do… BUT… BUT BUT BUT, I can't stress this enough… NEVER under-estimate the POWER (especially as a male worker with a female victim before you) of telling her, in the back of your ambulance (or car, or whatever):

    “You know, no matter what you think, this wasn't your fault. You didn't deserve this. No one does. No, not even you.”

    Good luck with work, Tom.

  9. You're not dreaming. In most commonwealth countries and in the US, this is the case.The issue, however, is that if the victim (often the only “witness”) refuses to cooperate, it's going to make the whole case a pain in the rear to prosecute. Defense attorneys will be quick to say, “it could have been someone else!” or even bring the victim in as a defense witness!

    That said – I think they should PUSH that kind of law and advertising… so that these jack***es, who are like true bullies and who tend to back down some when they're faced by people who push them back, would think twice before resorting to fists…

  10. Very true – but if the cops were encouraging her to press charges, and if they already knew the bloke… I'd have suspicions. Cops and EMTs are often the people who get to get the best “feel” for the situation when they get there.Maybe it was a “spat” and this had never happened before, and wasn't part of a pattern of violence. Maybe it was. Maybe the bloke had already done 5 years in jail for thumping his ex girlfriend. Maybe he'd been stalking this one a while.

    You're right – we don't know the details. But every time a man punches a (likely smaller?) woman in the face, hard enough to give her a black eye and other bruises? I'd rather see charges pressed. Hell, even if it had been two blokes going at each other, I'd like to see people punished for causing grievous bodily harm to one another!

    But your point is well taken.

  11. Doh. I also meant to add:Please note that dude had been:

    a) stalking her and wanting her to get back together with him

    b) BROKE INTO HER HOUSE

    c) punched her in the face

    … if nothing else,she could have pressed charges over the break-in…

  12. Well said.I personally have not attempted to prosecute either of my abusers. At the time, I was a terrified teenager. Now I'm an adult who has moved on and doesn't particularly want to revisit the experiences in any great detail just in order to give the bastards a chance to do a university course without worrying about their living expenses.

    I promised myself that if I hear through the grapevine (it's that sort of town) about anyone else going for a prosecution, then I will speak up and look into whether my medical records would be useful evidence and so on. But for now, it's not worth the hassle.

  13. “Was it because she knew him and worried that he would come back and kill her if the police were involved? Was it because she didn't want to go through the trouble of the courts? Or was it some other reason?”I think most people have covered this already. Fear is a big factor. Fear that he won't be locked up (as we all know how difficult it is for people to actually be given custodial sentences these days), the police can't be around all the time and there is the fear of retribution. The fear of facing him in court as a witness. The fear of having to admit what they have been through (there is a lot of shame involved when you are the victim of abuse) and fear of making things worse in the long run. There is the fear of judgement; we can all sit here and say “It's not your fault, you didn't deserve it” till the cows come home, but until the victim can learn to love herself and know she deserves better, she won't believe it. Finally, there is the fear of the defence and the tendency for them to rip apart witnesses in cases of domestic or sexual abuse or rape. I don't know how accurate the stories are, but people know the horror stories and how they are allegedly made out to be the one at fault by the defence, and this is definitely something has to play a part.

    Although I've said “she” for the victim, in this case I'm referring to this specific case – of course men can be victims of abuse, and abusers can be women.

    As for pressing charges… well, it's emotionally exhausting, and difficult to do when you're already feeling crappy. My childhood was years of abuse from a “close” female relative – physical and mental – and although she was also abusive to others, I bore the brunt of it and while she has apologised for her obnoxious behaviour to the rest of the family, she refuses to admit she even did anything wrong towards me (despite the rest of the family backing me up). Pressing charges now that I am capable, as an adult, would serve no purpose as she is in a nursing home and it would only serve to humiliate my other family members as it would reveal further abuse perpetrated by others (it's a long and complex story).

    I did, actually, take some steps towards legal action against my abusive ex – after years of physical and mental abuse I finally found the strength to leave him eventually, only to have him and his father stalking me, ringing and threatening me and later my new partner, turning up at random times and frightening me so much that my parents ended up doing a 200 mile midnight dash to make sure I wasn't alone in the house as I feared what he would do. I did look towards getting an injunction against him (this was 11 years ago now) but thankfully the threat of legal action was finally enough to keep him well away from me, and shortly after I moved anyway. But again, I never persisted with the legal action. At the time, it would have been harder to get a prosecution as the laws were different, and I was still having daily nightmares about him finding and hurting me. I simply wanted to put it behind me, get on with my life without him, and move on. I didn't discuss it with anyone other than mentioning it to a couple of close friends, and it certainly would have been incredibly hard to take it to court.

  14. Well said. I can certainly identify with everything you've written. As you said in the previous post – just keep being there, non-judgemental, and offering support and reassurance that it's not the victim's fault. They might not believe you but every person that tells them it makes a little chink in their self-hatred.

  15. (At least in the US) I doubt your testimony would be admissable in court. Prior acts/convictions are generally not considered evidence of guilt. There are exceptions when a unique pattern of behavior was involved, or if the defendant's character is cited as evidence of his innocence. A statement from you might influence how prosecutors handle the case–pushing for a stiffer sentence, for example–though.

  16. Ratchick, you have made some very pertinent points here about fear. I was going to say that since Tom's patient had already finished with the guy, she had managed to get beyond the 'low self worth' problem and get the hell out of the relationship. However, with a rejected , obsessed and violent ex on the loose, this becomes one of the most dangerous times. Sadly, it is true to say that injunctions make very little difference to stalkers and the truly obsessed. If Tom's patient lived alone, I bet she had no faith in that avenue making her any safer. In fact it could have made things much worse. To paraphrase…Hell hath no fury like an inadequate and violent lover scorned.

  17. I've been reading this blog for a few months now and this issue has finally prompted me to post something. Elenfair has hit it on the nose. First he deliberately isolates you from your friends and family then brainwashes you into the belief that you can't survive without him. Your self-esteem is destroyed. I finally left my husband because I couldn't face living with him any more so I made an active choice between suicide and survival. I left while he was out of the house because I believed that he would have killed me rather than let me leave of my own accord. I never fully realised until I left how terrified I was of him. When he tracked me down he threatened to kill the friends that I was staying with for harbouring me. He was throwing the old “I'll kill myself if you don't come back” line at me but I'd expected it.Now I look back and marvel that he had power over me for so long (9 years). There's a lot of stories of women repeating this pattern. I've done the opposite, it's very difficult for me to sustain a relationship because I'm extremely independant and won't let anyone try to tell me what to do.

    I understand the frustration in watching someone waste their life but it is so hard to get the courage, self-belief and support to leave. I didn't view myself as abused so didn't think that I qualified for a “safe house” and it was hard to find somewhere to go as I was so cut off from everyone.

  18. Oh, I wouldn't say that she “managed to get beyond the 'low self worth' problem” just because she somehow found the strength to move out.The low self-worth issue is something she'll be working on for the rest of her life.

  19. Yes. Apologies for bad wording there. I agree with you. I meant she managed to get beyond it *enough* which is, as you rightly say, just the beginning of a long road…but it's a big beginning that some folks can't contemplate without a lot of help and support.

  20. When I was in the UK a In 1992, I stayed with a friend of mine in Surbiton.She lived in the basement of a converted Edwardian mansion, and her upstairs neighbour was a sad cow with a young son and a foul tempered racist ex squaddie. I mention his racism because my friend is dark-skinned, and she had taken stick off him for years.

    One night there was some terrible noise and knocking about and screaming. My friend was afraid to call 999. I of course wasn't.

    She had taken another beating a few days earlier, and looked bad before he lit into her.

    The officer came, and was fairly nonchalant about the whole thing, no hurry, talked to us, heard the ruck and went upstairs finally to see what was going on.

    He came back down and said there was nothing he could do. Even though she had been beaten terribly, he explained to me, she would not lodge a complaint. I was gob-stopped.

    In some places in the states (Washington state is one) if the cops show up and one person looks battered, the other goes to jail. If both look battered, they both go and it gets sorted at the hospital or jail. No one has to lodge a complaint. It's battery. Whether they're married to one another or not.

    That poor old cow finally died a few years later of massive organ failure, after many more beatings and a descent into alcoholism.

    Her 12 year old kid was left with that bastard, and according to Mary, was no better than he was, a right tear away.

  21. Perfectly said and described, it takes a lot of courage and strength to get out of an abusive relationship and more than most people think.Sage

  22. Aye, that's exactly it – a lot of people misunderstand that finding the strength to leave is just the start of a very long journey, and that is why so many people end up going back to abusive situations. Sadly, the low self worth doesn't just fix itself.When I finally left my abusive partner I was probably only weeks away from trying to take my life because of the mental state I was in. After a while, I began seeing someone who had been a friend and had supported me since the split – he was incredibly supportive and loving and tried so hard to make me feel better about myself, but it took me weeks before I could even meet his eyes, because I felt so awful about myself.

    It's been 11 years now since I left that abusive relationship, and I'm still fighting the “hate yourself” demons. It's very hard to eradicate effectively 18 years of being told you're worthless, disgusting and should have been aborted. To this day, I still have occasional nightmares about being “found” or being back in those situations I was in through the first two decades of my life. They are thankfully rare now. I've made a lot of progress but there's a long way to go, and I suspect I'll be working against the tendency to blame myself for everything for the rest of my life.

  23. My husband, Eric, was a Houston police officer for 10 years (before his Crohn's disease made him a 'liability' to the department) and he's seen his share of battered women (and a few men). He takes a hard line on this and is more than happy to put these guys in jail, give advice and help to the women (where he can) and help them get help for themselves.I've got enough of his stories to write half a book, I think.

    This one stands out. Eric says the only time he ever laid hands on someone was the guy who had held a steak knife to his tiny girlfriend's throat and left pinpoint pricks of blood on her neck. This guy was one that Eric was happy to take to jail, even though he wasn't the primary on the call. The girl was terrified he'd come back and kill her as soon as the boyfriend got out. She was probably right.

    All the way to jail, this guy was ranting and raving about how he was going to kill this woman, kill my husband, kill his family and so on. Now, anyone with half a brain doesn't threaten a police officer's family… but my husband was already well into white hot rage before that. Eric's own mother was a frequent victim of abuse by a long series of husbands and boyfriends, and so was Eric. (I believe this was one of the reasons he joined the police force.)

    They get to the jail, and the bad guy shuts up. Won't cooperate with anything Eric asks. He's asking the standard questions, height, weight and so on, that they fill out on the report. This guy says “I'm not telling you shit,” and starts in with the “kill the girl, your family” and the name calling associated.

    Eric says he was so entirely enraged by this point that he got out of the front seat, pulled the prisoner out of the back seat and grabbed him by the throat, lifting him up on his toes. Now, this prisoner was not a small guy and Eric is only about 5'8″. Eric held him there, very calmly, watching the bad guy's face turn red and his eyes bug out. Then he told him, “If I even hear that you have been back to that woman's house, I will hunt you down and kill you. If you ever threaten another officer's family, I will hunt you down and kill you. Do you understand?”

    The guy nodded as best he could, Eric put him back in the back seat and got his info (bad guy was very cooperative now) and booked him in to the jail.

    Eric wasn't one to follow up on his cases, ever, but he heard this guy skipped town while out on bail. They never got another call to that house, and he never saw the guy again (and he would have, the beat he was in at the time was small).

    For what it's worth, my husband could do his job very persuasively with words and attitude alone. He is the only officer I know with no IAD complaints against him :). I stand by his actions on this call 100% because I firmly believe this guy would have killed that woman had he gone back over there. That he completely believe my husband would kill him first may have saved her life.

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