OK, class, lets talk about nightmares.
About domestic violence.
Yeesh! Right? That sick feeling in the pit of our stomach. For some it’s deja-vu and for others it’s a distant memory of a line crossed.
What does that have to do with business anyways?
And why do we keep talking about it anyways,
it’s like on the news everyday.
Haven’t we had enough about wars,
now we have to talk about divorce?
(forgive me, I’m a poet as well…)
As I was saying, “A” is for Assault.
That was yesterday’s theme. A friend of mine stood me up for lunch, only here’s the difference between men and women, she made sure to let me know she couldn’t make it the only way she could. She no longer had a working phone, her now ex-boyfriend had put her phone in a sink full of water so she couldn’t call the police. He took all of her computer cords as well, but not before trying to choke her with one of them.
She escaped while he went out on the patio for a cigarette. It was 4 a.m. She drove herself to the police station. She kept talking about the knife he held to her throat. She didn’t know she had ligature marks and bruises on her neck until the police asked her if they could take pictures of her neck. Her arm was still sore where he had tried to break it and her back was sore as well. She was in shock and the doctor who examined her gave her an anti-anxiety prescription to relax her.
It’s 6:00 a.m. The police have arrested him. They took photos of the interior of her condo and the weapon as evidence. All she can think of, was that there was no way she could make our lunch meeting and photo-shoot as she had not slept all night.
She had just a little battery time left on her laptop, so she messaged me on Facebook and all she really told me is she couldn’t make our meeting.
It’s 11:00 am when I text and call her to tell her I’m running late. It’s 11:20 when I arrive and call her and leave a message that I have arrived. It’s 12:00 when I text her again and call her and leave her a message. By now, I’ve had a Baily’s coffee, and tell the waitress I will order the Eggs Benedict as I log on my laptop (I bring my office with me everywhere I go and pick the table with the electric outlet.) It’s when I log on my email and I checked my messages, and then finally check my Facebook profile. There’s a message from her, letting me know she couldn’t make our meeting.
It’s 1:00p.m. I tell her I will be here for a few hours anyways, she can still come down. Finally she breaks down and confesses her ex-boyfriend tried to kill her and she feels so ashamed.
I ask her if I can come over. She is shocked that I want to come up to her place (she lives in another town). Yes, I said. When I see you, I will share my story, mine includes toilet paper, lipstick, a toothbrush, nail polish and it will make you laugh. She shares her address. I take my time, I make sure to psychologically prepare myself. Then I pay my tab, pack up my “office” and get in the truck and drive to her place. I know something she’s about to find out. I want to be there when it happens and help her through it.
I arrive, she comes out of her apartment when she sees my rusty pick up truck. The first thing I do is open my arms and give her a hug, she starts to cry. She’s sobbing. Then we go inside, I bring my office with me.
We go into her place and she tells me her story. While we are outside on the patio so she can have a smoke, a police woman stops by and wants to talk to her. I tell the police woman it’s probably better if she comes inside rather than discuss this situation outdoors where nosy neighbors are listening.
This is the part I saw coming. By then the anti-anxiety prescription the doctor gave my friend are taking effect. My friend is a little lost and fuzzy. The officer tells her the charges that were brought against him. Attempted murder, uttering threats, destruction of personal property (her cell phone aka her business phone line and her contacts were destroyed by him when he put her phone in water.)
I told you this is about business.
Then the officer tells my friend that the MALE Officer of the Peace has decided that there was not enough concern to consider him to be a dangerous offender, so her ex-boyfriend will be let out within the hour and he has a curfew as well as must stay away from her and her condo as well as have no contact with her. This officer was here to let her know she will be bringing him by to pick up his car and personal effects.
My friend is confused.
“But he tried to kill me!”, she keeps repeating,
“They pressed charges! When do I get to be a witness?”
I tell her this is what happens. They let them out of jail. The officer explains the process to a full trial can take almost a year with several pretrials and that my friend will not need to be there.
“He’s going to get away with it?” She keeps asking. She is confused and keeps repeating she doesn’t understand. She’s in shock again.
I help her through the part where she collects his things and put them outside. I ask the officer if she will take steps to protect herself, she is petite and he just tried to kill a woman. The officer is stoic. She says she will have him in the back seat. I’m just as concerned for this brave petite woman who looks hot, tired, and frustrated. She’s seen this tree before.
The officer mentioned to my friend that she should never let him back in again. She knows most women let their abuser back in. They are financially and psychologically dependent on their abuser. And they are afraid. They want to play nice, this is their survival instinct.
My friend and I talk quite a while, I tell her my story. She is laughing. She says I should be a comedian. Then I tell her my other friend’s stories.
One friend I worked with in hotel reservations one day confessed as to why they closed the blinds every night in this glass office building. Her ex husband who was abusing her came to her place of employment one night. He had brought his shotgun. He couldn’t get into the building. He saw the light from the windows and the shadows of women answering phones and began shooting into the windows hoping to shoot her too. Of course he was arrested. No one was hurt. To her credit and those she worked with, she stayed at that same job. She had kids to support.
That was over 25 years ago.
I have another friend who couldn’t find a job after the military. So she took the only job available in her town, working as a cashier at 7/11. On her first day, while training with her female supervisor, a man walked in with a gun and put it to her head. Then locked both of them in the freezer while he robbed the place. As she was telling me the story, I laughed. She chastised me, crying, telling me it wasn’t funny. “But you’re alive to tell the story!” I reminded her, “I take it you are not going back?” No, she wasn’t. Her next job was as a prison guard where they were on the other side of the bars and she had her own gun.
That was 20 years ago.
Another friend told me her story the day after it happened. She was with two other men going business to business separately to sell wall art for $20 each. One client said for her to come back at 3pm. He was a stylist cutting a teenager’s hair with her mom watching. So my friend came back at 3pm. Her coworkers were waiting for her in the parking lot. She walked into this male hair dresser’s salon, they were alone. She thought nothing of it, she helped him sweep as she chatted with him.
She felt safe. What could possibly go wrong? She was in a nice neighborhood at 3 in the afternoon at a hair salon with her coworkers waiting outside for her. The male hair stylist told her his money was in his office. He walked into the office, she followed him. That’s when he closed the door and body slammed her against the desk and proceeded to rape her from behind. Then when he was finished, he gave her the $20 for the painting. She left, in shock and pain. When her coworkers saw her expression, they asked her if she was OK and she told them what had just happened. They called the police. He was arrested. She was processed as a rape victim. Then she had a nervous breakdown.
That was over 15 years ago.
I told you, this story is about business.
“A” is for Assault.
Back to my friend who went through hell. She tells me her ex-boyfriend has sworn to destroy her reputation and put her out of business. She owns a couple of businesses. She works from home. She shows me his Facebook page as she explains how she has tried to escape him before, that she had moved before and had kept her new address from him. He told her he would spend nights watching the place he thought she lived. He tracked her down on Facebook. He intimidated and slithered back into her life. I looked at his Facebook page, he posted her business links on his page. He claims to be engaged. I mention it to her, she states, that’s part of his obsession, they have never been engaged!
There’s a couple of photos of him and her way back in the beginning, when she thought she had met a nice guy, when he was grooming her to let her guard down so she could let him into her life and open up about herself to him. We looked around the group page, there was no option to block him. I recommend she write to Facebook and ask them to block him and remove his postings. But first, she will need a police report which will take time.
She has no phone, she can’t access her email either. She is out of business. It’s the weekend. Her funds are limited. She has to buy charging cords for her laptop.
She’s dealing with the emotional aftermath, fighting depression.
I introduce her to “Geraldo”, my pet electronic turtle. It makes her laugh. I tell her JayLo has something for her, I Google Jaylo – Domestic Violence – YouTube and come up with the preview for the movie “Enough”. My friend watches it silently. I have her write down a line from the movie.
“You have an animal right to protect your life and the life of your offspring!”
Then I teach her some self defense moves with everyday objects and tools. I email her Section 34 and 35 of the Canada criminal code that gives her the right to take steps to protect herself and her property. With her permission, I take photos of her neck and email them to her as well.
I also remind her, from now on, to lock her doors, close her blinds and to smoke under her range hood instead of relaxing outside with a cigarette. She is now a caged bird and her condo is her new prison. The parkade looks ominous. I recommend she park at the shopping mall where there are cameras. At least someone can hear her screams. Perhaps she can trade with someone who has an outdoor parking space? She’s concerned he might slash her tires. I remind her she can buy new tires, if she is parked where there is a camera, the police will have more evidence against him.
She is still a good hostess in spite of everything, having made dinner and inviting me to do my laundry at her place while we chatted when I asked her if she knew a good laundromat in the area. It’s almost 2 a.m. when I leave, having turned down her offer for me to spend the night. I have a dog to walk and my own issues to deal with.
I drive “home” and notice “Hands” has 12 pack of beer on the back of his truck. I go to my RV and see a banana peel on my windshield wipers. My banana eating stalker has been hungry. There’s 2 banana peels, one is on the ground. I decided to carry a pair of sharp scissors with me as I walk my dog. When I return and get ready for bed in my RV, I hear the truck back door slide up. I turn off the lights and realize I have a pretty good view of my neighbor “Hands” from the back window. He is wearing a leather jacket and jeans. He’s drunk with his curly black hair bobbing up and down as he is facing the inside of the dark truck standing outside of it. My dog sits behind me rather than go to sleep, my behavior is different tonight.
I continue to watch my neighbor. I wonder if I am in danger yet not want to be paranoid about it. Is he my banana stalker? Is he sending me a message? Is he peering in the cab of my RV while feeding his hunger? I need to wait for him to go to bed so I can get some sleep. But instead he’s doing something with his back to me. Finally I realize he’s making himself sandwiches. It takes him 2 bites per sandwich as he shoves them in his mouth clumsily one after another. I’m trying to see if he’s eating a banana.
Will I confront him? I think. No. It’s just a banana peel. Occasionally he looks around, even looking in my direction, I hold my breath and continue watching. His mattress is filthy and grey in the back of his truck. I don’t even see any sheets nor blankets, just a mattress. I can’t quite see what else is in the in the back of his truck. He keeps looking in there, leans on the side. I think he wiped his eyes. I feel sorry for him.
Then I remind myself, he could be a criminal wanted by the police and is in hiding. This could be a stolen truck. I remind myself the statement I made to my friend a few hours earlier. My one regret was being so trusting and naive. No. I will not let my empathy blind me. He looks larger than average. I am afraid for my safety. Like any woman on a dark street with a stranger acting strangely feet away. Even my dog is unsure of him when we pass on the street. He finally takes off his jacket and crawls into the dark innards of the truck and brings down the rolling door until all I see is a hand pulling the door the rest of the way.
I should move as my friend should move. But it’s no use. Dangerous men are everywhere. My friend lives in a beautiful condominium in a great neighborhood. I am parked in the industrial area next to my mechanic.
“V” is for Vigilance.
Use your gifts for good, not evil.