Powerless (1)

She tells me, at the start, that the reason that we have been called is that she fell over. Her friend is comforting her in the bedroom, but she's crying and her mascara is running.

“I just tripped over”, she tells me.

I look her over, it seems that there is nothing too seriously wrong with her on the physical level. But still she seems upset, sitting quietly, then suddenly bursting into tears.

Her boyfriend comes with her to the hospital, he strokes her hair and tells her that it will be alright.

Something in the front of my brain tickles, his actions seem 'off' somehow – not in any way that I could describe, but in some vague way his actions ring as false.

They argue about a phone – she wants to phone her dad, he won't give her the phone.

Now it's not the front of my brain that is tickling, it's my whole body.

We get to the hospital, the triage nurse looks at her and seeing no obvious injury sends her to the minor injury waiting room. I voice my concerns, but the nurse still thinks that the waiting room is the best place for her.

It's busy and loud, not the best place for this young, tearful woman.

Before we get there she turns to me and, between sobs, tells me that she and her boyfriend were arguing and he pushed her. Pushed her hard.

I head back to the nurse, I explain that I'm really not happy to sit her out in the waiting room as she has just admitted to me this domestic abuse. The nurse now agrees and we sit her somewhere quiet.

Before I leave I crouch on my haunches in front of her and hand her a tissue, she's still crying. I offer to call the police for her, but she refuses. I tell her that the police have specially trained teams, that there are people that she can talk to. She still refuses.

The best I can do is show her how to use a hospital phone to call her father.

I leave the hospital, walking past her boyfriend who is pacing outside.

“Will she be alright?”, he asks me.

“I'm sure she'll be fine”, is the only answer I can give.

And inside I feel powerless.

27 thoughts on “Powerless (1)”

  1. Sadly, the statistics show that she probably will go back to the boyfriend. The battered women I know have all been so mentally trampled on by the time the violence starts, they can't see any other life. Answering violence with violence is never the answer, but by god I'd be tempted. Credit to you for not reacting to him (the abusive, worthless oxygen thief).

  2. That's why I couldn't do your job, it not the sweat, the blood or the tears. It's walking passed people like that without puching them to the floor. There is no excuse for hitting a women.

  3. I agree, I'd want to solve everyones problems and the weight of them would crush me. We are so lucky there are people like you who do the best they can to help and are able to take the weight of what they can't do on their shoulders.Her age makes it so much worse, if she doesn't make the decision to be strong and stop this now she will probably be a victim for a long long time

  4. Well my dear, that certainly wasn't senseless drivel as you twittered it might be. It's so simple & compelling. As the other commanders have said I couldn't do this part of your job, I'd have made a very snide remark at least to the boyfriend.

  5. Do you guys have a vulnerable persons procedure? I believe (but could be wrong) that these days a victim doesn't have to press charges to secure charges being brought, but the police can do it. They will act in the victims best interest, who themselves may too distressed to make rational decisions.

  6. that is beyond rough to be forced to walk by. that being said, where i am located, once medical personnel are notified of domestic abuse, they must report it, & the police will take action- whether the victim agrees or not.

  7. Powerless maybe, but at least you heard her when she spoke out, and in my experience as a worker in the violence field, someone who gets a supportive response the first time they reach out will feel more confident to do so again. If you'd like I can give you cards and details to give to these kind of women?

  8. The other major issue for treating patients in circumstances like this, and with non accidental injury in children is that is important that any anger you are feeling is not shown to the patient.To do otherwise, however natural, can just make a bad situation worse, as the patient is likely to feel worse if being treated by an obviously angry person.

    On days where such things happen, I often come home and spend an hour or 2 partaking in video game violence. Its remarkably helpful to release the anger.

  9. I always amazes me the number of women we see shacked up with complete arseholes.Its true about the nice guy coming last. I bet there's someone out there that will treat her like a goddess.

  10. Oh! why! why? cannot someone bigger and meaner , show him a power trip and what it is like to be the receiver of some old fashioned pain.That is what was big brothers be for, unfortunately families are too small.Tom: at least she able to experience some human kindness from the male homo-sapiens, and may realize that not all males be jackals.

  11. Before he is branded a thug and a bully i would like to know a few more details. Not all women are innocent helpless little things always in the right having done nothing to provoke a push and tears do come easily to many of them

  12. Shame on you. Comments like that are one of the reasons people don't report the violence and they are not all women.

  13. Have to agree with that – while there are people out there who think it is ok to push women around this will never end. All credit to our ambulance hero though – as a woman I have a lot of respect for you and what you tried to do. Keep trying as even if only one woman ever takes you up on the offer of help, that's a massive achievement and a life changing event for the woman.

  14. I disagree with that statement. While I do agree that a man shouldn't hit a woman (call me sexist if you like, but thats the way I feel), violence in the defense of another who is incapable of defending themselves is acceptable, as long as the defender doesn't take things so far that they become an aggressor themselves.

  15. No, look. It's very simple. ALL violence against human beings is unacceptable, regardless of any aspect of the perpetrator or victim. End of story. If you start with “men hitting women is wrong” you very soon get to “its not abuse when a woman hits a man” and those are VERY dangerous lines to think along. There is no need to point out specific types of cases based on any attributes of perpetrator and victim – its ALL wrong. Even in retaliation. Or revenge.

  16. Ok, fair point about it still being abuse when a woman hits a man, but I still disagree that violence is never justified. There are all sorts of scenarios where I would hurt another human being. All of them invole me protecting a 3rd party.

  17. Something that has always puzzled me about people (and not only women!) in this situation: I can accept that people end up in a prison of their own making, having been so browbeaten that they can't see any escape. After all, that doesn't happen only in relationships – you see the same with bullying in the workplace. Victims seem to lose the very idea of moving jobs, even when objectively they can.But what I can't understand is this: why do people go back to the abuser even after they've escaped? The abuser's been banged up in jail at last, they are free – and once he gets out of jug, they take him back! This happened in my own family. What on earth is that all about? And no wonder workers in the field of domestic abuse suffer so often from burnout themselves.

  18. I am curious what sort of “details” you'd need to justify shoving someone around.Sounds a little close to “She had it coming” to be honest…

  19. How far do you go? At what point do you stop? Or do you not? A lot of violent people like to use the protection of a third party as an excuse. Violence only works as a control mechanism because of fear. There's a huge difference between defusing a situation, restraining an aggressor (until they can be removed to where they are no danger to anyone) and becoming an aggressor yourself. And that last one just reinforces the mindset that violence is an acceptable control technique.Also: Why single out women attacking men as a fair point? what about women on children? children on children? pensioners on men with learning difficulties? teenagers of mixed african, welsh and english descent in wheelchairs on otters? It's all bad in the end really.

  20. ” am curious what sort of “details” you'd need to justify shoving someone around”O.K. I have met quite a few women capable of giving a man a good”shoving around” often accompanied by a stream of abuse and the challenge “go on hit me”.

    What does a man do in that sort of situation? A few years ago there was an incident on camera where a young woman reputed to be only seven stone resisted arrest and it took five police officers to arrest her and the inevitable response of “police brutality”was trotted out by people with the same idea that all women are inevitably victims of violent nasty men. When they were told that controlling someone in this type of situation was`nt at all easy without some use of violence they just could`nt or did`nt want to get it.

    I`m not saying for one minute that this young woman was aggressive and deserved a” push” yes a push.no evidence of injury remember,but a silly knee jerk reaction like some of these does`nt help getting to the truth.

  21. If I (a female) was put in the position of having to defend my children (currently aged 4 and 2) from immediate serious physical harm from anyone, male or female (of any species), I wouldn't hesitate to do as much damage as I needed to in order for them to escape unharmed. And I do think that is a valid excuse for violence.

  22. I didn't single out women attack men, you did. I was directly referring to your post.In regards to how far to go, its dependant on the situation. If the aggressor can be chased off and the victim helped, then thats good enough for me. Its the polices job to deal with then.

    If thats not going to work, you stop when the aggressor is no longer trying to hurt the vicim, or you.

  23. For CatCat its Helen. NHS/Local Councillor Helen friends with Jennifer. Could you drop me an email there is something in the NHS you may want to respond too.

    Don't have your email address now you are not the Committee we where both part of.

    I will leave my anonymous email address here Helen AT fastmail.fm. Its forwarded to main address.

    Would love to keep in touch.

    Kind regards,


  24. Those cards are very useful. I tend to carry the regional relevant ones with me. I have, so far, given one out. My only concern at the time was that the abuser would find the card and give the abusee an even harder time.I have not had to go thro' domestic abuse but talking to those who have suffered those who've, thankfully, not been cursed will never know why those who do suffer return again and again.

    I know it's about control but i won't understand it. I will, however, try to have an understanding.

    Well done to those who work within that side of health. What a shame that mental health services pretty much shut down in the evenings and at weekends.

    [used to be emtvessel but unable to sign in under that name]

  25. You don't know the facts of the case. Would you feel the same if her boyfriend had pushed her over because she attacked him with a knife?This is not a hypothetical situation; it's more-or-less what happened to a friend of mine a couple of years ago. All sorted out now, thankfully.

  26. My answer to pretty much most of the comments above are that, since every case can be different, it is a good thing that we have courts, juries and judges to decide on each individual case.Certainly there are cases of self-defense where violence is justified, as there are cases where violence is certainly not justified.To speak in generalisations is to open up counter-arguments of specific cases.

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