Warning: This post is about domestic violence.
I read a brave, beautifully written post over at Deliberate Donkey this weekend. It is a warning to the new girlfriend of Melanie’s abuser aptly titled The Letter I Wouldn’t Have Read Either. That post has been nibbling at my brain since I read it. I had the opportunity to warn others and was ignored.
The most frustrating and angering aspect of my abuse, both the childhood sexual abuse and the abusive relationship that I was in later, is that I could do nothing to prevent future victims. What I went through was positively for naught. Neither of my abusers were ever punished in any way for what they did to me. They are still free to create a mountain of fresh victims and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.
Not long after I escaped the domestic violence in Boston, I went home to Detroit. This visit was twofold. I wanted to meet the infinitely sympathetic and helpful Detroit police detective who had spent hours helping me build a Detroit police report over the phone. He even liaised with the Feds to help me get Federal warrants for mail tampering and fraud, even though I didn’t even live in the city of Detroit anymore. I wrote a nice letter about him for his file, but I wanted to shake the man’s hand because he was a totally awesome human being. I could have mailed or faxed him the documents he needed to complete the arrest warrants, but I felt the need to do it in person in Detroit. Because Detroit was sociopathic asshole’s hometown, too, I wanted to feel that Detroit was mine, and not his.
The second reason I went home was to find out who my friends really were. Most of my friends in Detroit were mutual friends we had known since high school age. I wanted to get an idea of who was on my side and who was on his. My entire life had been shattered and I didn’t feel like I could trust anyone. I needed to know who was in my corner. With my emotional and physical wounds still raw, I was considering moving home with my tail between my legs. I wanted to see if I still had a life there.
The morning after the night everything went to hell, the Boston police sprung him from jail and he stopped by the house to grab his belongings. Then he set off to Detroit. I was about a week behind him. I was reassured that he was already gone by the friend who had been in Boston that night. I knew, of all people, that I could trust her since she had witnessed his brutality first-hand in Boston. Still, when I got off the airplane in Detroit, I became ridiculously paranoid. I could swear he was around every corner. It was probably just memories assaulting me, but it was uncomfortable nonetheless. I was protected in Boston by a restraining order, but that piece of paper wasn’t worth a thing in Michigan. At the first opportunity, I got a restraining order in Detroit, too. That made me feel safer.
My friends had a make-shift reunion for me. I showed them my bruises, still very much present a week later. I showed them my knocked out tooth. I showed them my fractured jaw. I told them the story of how he tried to kill me. I told them how he had scammed our neighbors in Detroit and Boston. I showed them police reports and restraining orders from two cities. I told them about how he had completely destroyed my life.
Little did I know that the very same people had a make-shift reunion for him the week before. They had heard him tell his story with victim and abuser switched. Apparently, I had lost my mind and tried to kill him. I kicked him out of the house and wouldn’t let him have any of his belongings. I stole all of his money. I gave him a black eye. I had completely destroyed his life. Boo hoo.
I had police reports from Boston with pictures of my battered body, car and friend. I had arrest warrants from Detroit with ATM surveillance shots of him stealing money. I had a federal mail tampering charge. I had copies of bogus checks and credit card applications, utility bills and leases in other people’s names with his signature. I had restraining orders, broken bones, strangulation marks around my neck, two black eyes, knocked out teeth and bruises everywhere.
He had that damnable sociopath’s charisma.
They all believed him.
All but two.
A lifetime spent in a city, my hometown, and I walked away with two friends. They are the two greatest friends anyone could ask for, still, the betrayal stung like hell. It was pouring salt in the open wound of abuse. That trip still makes me want to cry when I think about it.
Still, that was not the end of the betrayal. The worst was still to come.
Years later, when I had moved to California, away from Boston where most of the evil had taken place, I heard from one of my two remaining friends. Frantically, she told me that one of the friends who didn’t believe me was getting married to the sociopathic asshole who had destroyed my life. She begged me to do something. What could I possibly do? I warned them all years ago. I showed them the damage. I had warned her. It was all I could do.
Still, even through the betrayal, I didn’t want my former friend to go through what I had. I didn’t want anyone to go through that. So, I rang her up. I tried one last time to stop her, but she still wouldn’t listen. They were married a month later and moved to Las Vegas.
Six months later, my former friend the newlywed called me up. She said she was sorry for not believing me. I asked her if she was alright. She said no. I drove four hours to Las Vegas. We cried and hugged and raged and drank a lot. Both of us tried to pretend that we were the friends we once were before he ever came into our lives. It didn’t really work. We kept in touch for a while, but after a year or so, we drifted apart again. Sharing the same monster was probably too much for a friendship to bear. Too much had happened to both of us.
I hate to think of how many other victims that sociopathic asshole has chewed up and spat out. I’ve learned that some lessons just have to be learned the hard way. Even if you have the opportunity to warn someone, odds are they won’t listen anyway. Still, the knowledge that I’m not the only victim makes me rage and die a little on the inside. I can do nothing to stop the monsters and that makes me sad.