It’s Not Tattling

First, I would like to update you on the domestic violence situation. I want to thank you all for your advice. Unfortunately, the laws about domestic violence are incredibly stupid (in my opinion) and only the woman being abused can actually press charges against the abuser. So basically, I can’t do anything for her except call the police every time I hear him abusing her.

Ugh.

But I was talking to Robby last night, and he pointed out that the sounds we have heard that we have attributed to the neighbor boy throwing a tantrum and the dad yelling at him, might, in fact, be abuse.

I never even thought of that.

I can’t believe I never thought of that.

I think I was just so stuck in my head about the neighbor lady that I didn’t make that connection. And I had wondered before if the dad was abusing the son, not too seriously, but in passing. I didn’t have anything other than a paranoid feeling, and I didn’t feel right calling social services about a hunch. But now we have solid evidence that he abuses his wife, so there is a strong chance that he abuses his son, too.

I thought and thought about it, and decided that what made the most sense was talking to my director at T***. I could explain the situation to her and see if (and who) I should call. So that’s what I did. And, like I thought, she said that I should report my suspicions. So she gave me the number, and told me to tell whoever I spoke to exactly what I told her. About how I know he abuses his wife, and I have heard sounds that could have been child abuse. She said that it’s possible they already have a file on him, and even if they don’t, at least they will start one.

And then she said something weird.

She said that every time she called to report she always felt guilty, as if she was tattling.

And I was so confused. How in the world could you feel guilty for reporting suspected child abuse? I can remember a few times in Junior High when I was being brutally picked on and I decided to tell a teacher, and I did feel guilty. But I was 14 and trying to stand up to a bully. At that age, you don’t have the conviction to stand and say ‘what I’m doing is right’. You feel guilty because the popular kids picking on the ‘fat kid’ is ‘normal’ and who are you to try and change that? To say it’s wrong? But when you are an adult, and you are trying to protect a child, how on earth could you think of that as tattling? It’s not as though you are lying to get the parent in trouble; you are trying to protect the child. And reporting based on a feeling verses actual evidence are two very different things, but still, how could you feel it is tattling? It is never tattling.

Maybe it’s because I was abused, maybe I just have a different point of view, but the main thing I feel now that I am preparing to call and report him to child services is determination., I am determined to stop him. I am determined to protect that little boy. I am determined not to let him get away with this. And I am determined to do everything I can to make those things happen.

Asking for Advice (Please)

I know what it is like to be terrified of your abuser.

In all honesty, I am still terrified of mine. And I’m a little scared of my neighbor because of that residual fear of my abuser, so I completely understand the fear she is living with every moment. I just keep praying she finds a way to leave and/or get help.

If I knew her, I would talk to her about making a safety plan and tell her my story and encourage her to get help, but I don’t even know her name. And I worry that her husband would be suspicious if all of a sudden I start talking to her. Plus, neither of them work, and if she isn’t with her husband then she is with their son, so I don’t even know if I could get her alone.

I just don’t want to do anything to make the abuse worse for her. Should I try and talk to her? Which would be better, risk bringing his wrath on her by talking to her, or wait and hope I can catch him abusing her on tape? I know she has to be the one to press charges, but if I can get it on tape, then I have proof to show the cops and maybe that will help (?).

Please, advice. I can’t just keep waiting, wondering if each sound I hear from next door is his next strike, her next cry.

What Kind Of Person Does That?

I had to call the police this morning because I could hear my neighbor beating his wife.

It was just horrible. I’ve heard him yell before, but she has always yelled back. At least, I thought she had. But this morning. This morning was like nothing I’d ever heard before.

I had my headphones in and was listening to Harry Potter while I worked on our budget, and I had just taken my headphones out to call AAA to have them jump my car when I heard it. He was yelling. Like I said, I’ve heard him yell before. Unfortunately, him yelling isn’t uncommon. And, to be honest, Rob and I have wondered before if he is abusive, but we’ve never had anything other than a feeling.

Until today.

Because among his yelling I could hear banging–thumping even–and a guttural wail. It was that soul deep cry that happens when you’re heartbroken. I made that exact noise when Rob and I were falling apart last year and when we lost Jamie. I have made that sound so many times when the trauma of the abuse consumes me. I know that noise. And I felt myself grow cold when I heard it come from next door.

I think they were in the front of the house because that’s where the sound was loudest, so I cracked our front door open so I could hear more clearly. And what I heard just confirmed that he was hurting her. There was lots of swearing. She was moaning and crying. She said ‘please stop’.

He said ‘I can do it harder’.

And that is when I called the police.

I don’t know if they heard me call, or if I was too loud when I shut the door, because the sounds stopped abruptly while I was on the phone. I gave the dispatcher all the info I could, and they said they would send someone. Then she asked if I wanted to leave my name, and that’s when I hesitated. I knew that leaving my name would help her if it came to court, but I was also terrified that he would find out I had turned him in and then come after me. I asked the dispatcher if giving my name would help keep her safe, and she said that they prefer witnesses leave names and contact info for those types of calls, so I did. And I’m still scared.

I kept glancing out the peep hole every few minutes, praying that the police would get there soon and help her. I imagine it didn’t take long for them to get there, but it felt like forever before they showed up. I finally saw the cop at the door, but he didn’t knock. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to hear her cries (although she’d been quiet for a while) or what, and he walked away for a bit and then came back. After a while, he walked away and another cop left the house, so I think one was in the house while the other was outside.

But then they still didn’t leave. They were hanging around in the side parking lot next to the neighbors house. And then a few minutes later the neighbor rode up to the sidewalk on his bicycle. He got off the bike, looked at the cops, and said “do you guys know what’s going on?”.

And that’s when I realized.

They keep their bikes on the back porch. He must have gone out the back door, gotten his bike, and rode off so that he could claim he hadn’t been there. And I just couldn’t stop thinking “what kind of person does that?”. Not only does he beat his wife, but he has the malice and forethought to think how to make himself seem innocent. That’s just horrible. And way too familiar.

I want to help her. I want him to have to pay for what he’s done. I don’t want anyone to have to be trapped, but I don’t know how to help her, and that makes me feel helpless. The only think I can think of is to keep my eyes open and if I hear anything again, I need to get my camera and record it so I have evidence. I don’t think talking to her will help, because most physical abuse victims won’t leave their abuser, and if she didn’t take the police’s help then she probably won’t take help from anyone.

And I’m scared that he will find out it was me and try and take revenge. But I hope he is a coward, like most abusers. And the situation brings up bad memories and feelings, but all I can do about that is process it, talk to Robby and Sheila about it, and try to help her so it doesn’t haunt me. I could never know abuse was happening and not try and help. I just keep praying that he will get arrested.