If you had asked me in early 2013, I would have said that my marriage had become difficult, my relationship to the person I had married was strained on good days. I knew this was the way of any long term pairing. I could reason my way around most anything. Even an abusive marriage. It's what I did best, making excuses for other people's actions at my own expense.
It's the echo of that little girl so long gone now, but ever present. The five year old who was a pedophile's favorite play thing.
Sometimes, to survive, we bargain ourselves away. It is a hard habit to break.
In July of that year I was finally finished negotiating with my abuser. Harsh words lead to threats, threats to a physical attack. I was done. We were done, but I had to bide my time.
Just as on every other occasion apologies were made. Attempts to keep me silent. I obeyed. I stayed still. Every trapped animal knows not to move when their predator has them cornered. I watched the clock, knowing he would be catching a flight in a few hours.......It's funny how survival instincts come back to you, just like being pushed off a bike, you learn how to fall so it hurts less. It took me one more day before I was brave enough to report it. I was trying to minimize things again. Trying to find a way to stay in the balance between reality and the fairy tale I had lulled my judgement, my dignity, to sleep with.
The Deputy who came out was named Larson. I showed him the bruises on my arms and wrists. The ones that were a perfect map of what was done to me, in blues and reds and purples, some of my favorite colors. There was a bloom of vivid hues on my chest where I had been held down, a knee with weight behind it, on a stone floor. Deputy Larson agreed to take pictures, only after my son insisted. When I bared my shame, my humiliation his response was almost flippant "Those don't look too bad" he remarked without emotion. I should have known then. I should have realized abuse here was tolerated. His questioning was odd. Did I think my husband was cheating, was he seeing someone? I did not care, that was the last thought in my mind.
You see the artist, who left me a canvas study in realism, had promised to kill me, to kill my family and I believed him. I still do.
I forced myself out of the house and filed for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. I cried the entire time. I hated crying. However I could not stop the flow of tears and with them self blame. I had to enter and reenter information at a Domestic Violence kiosk near my home. I misspelled my name, my address...forgot my birth date. All I could think of was what he was going to do... When he found out I told, what was he going to do to me?
It's not what you don't know that hurts you, it's the truth that leaves scares that burn.
Somehow I thought that little paper Pierce County issued me was a shield. A safety net. I was such a child. By January he had broken the order multiple times. Deputies would be called out, but nothing was done. I was told if he was still there when they showed up they would arrest him. That would prove a lie. In September, that flimsy court order was no match for an angry estranged spouse and a sympathetic Deputy. I had been gone out of town for a few days. When I came home I discovered the garage door had been kicked in. I called 911. It took an hour or so, me sitting on the concrete block block steps, grown cold as the sun faded out. That time the Deputy was Kreis. He stepped out of his police vehicle already speaking. "I was just here the day before yesterday. Do you know why I was here?" I confessed I did not. He said my husband had called him out to the house. That he had wanted to file a report against me. That I had taken his things.
I had my own question. I was shaking as I asked it. "Why didn't you arrest him? He broke the restraining order and you were right here." Deputy Kreis was unmoved. He stated that my estranged husband had said it was not in effect. He later said he didn't check to see if there still was one. He didn't want to discuss it with me. What Deputy Kreis did want to talk about was my divorce. He asked me "what it going to take to end this?" four times he asked. He stated that my estranged husband had told him "all about me." I stood in my driveway stunned. Silent. Deputy Kreis was not done. Taking a step towards me, he made air quotes with his fingers and said "Let me give you some "friendly Deputy advice", sign whatever you have to sign, get out of here and get on with your life."
What is the proper response to such a statement? I stayed still. That night I made an online report of the incident, not for the first time. Sargent Batista called in response.
He promised to talk to Deputy Kreis. He assured me there was no reason to make a written reprimand in Deputy Kreis's file. He would not need to talk with my Step Father who had witnessed the conversation. Actually, that was about the gist of his phone call. It was not about the continuing escalation of my abuser's actions, or any plans to keep me safe. No, it was all about helping his own officer. In the weeks since, there have been more incidents, my mother has been threatened and things stolen from her property. There is no need to point a finger in these things. My estranged husband readily admitted he did it. Yet he is free and I am still trapped.
I would discover the man I married had a history of assaulting others. A history of arrests. A history of being in possession of guns despite being banned from them. He had been a member of two local gun ranges. He spoke before Kitsap County Counsel to support Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club. I cannot wrap my mind around that one. When questioned by Pierce County Deputies, in the Summer of 2013, he stated the weapons belonged to me. They did not. In fact they were held in the name of his friend, a gun dealer who sold them to him. Ironically the very man who introduced us, on the gun range in Gig Harbor. Now, in his latest filings with Pierce County Superior court, my abuser states the weapons are his personal property, that they always were and he seeks them back in the divorce.
It doesn't matter what he does. He has become emboldened and I am hunted, haunted, tormented with no end in sight. That this is happening here....HERE ...is unfathomable. For all the fine talk, nothing has changed. I was at the Crystal Judson Justice Center today and I had to ask...."What happens to the others like me?" What happens when no one will help. When Pierce County Sheriff's Department not only refuses to uphold retraining orders, but actively inserts themselves in domestic violence cases on the behalf of the abuser?
I am afraid to leave my home. Afraid to be outside. I am fearful when I see a patrol car. Fearful of people. I trust no one. How can I.
I cannot be the only one.
Where do we turn? Well, for me, I turn to you. Please, pass my words on...remember those that came before and those that will come after and let there be a clear message "This is not okay."
I send you love, strength and hope, never forget hope. I've no idea what to do, but I am not going to cower. I have overcome too much. This will not be the thing that ends me. I pray, I am not prey. I will not be silent, I will not be still and I will not give up. I will slip the snare.
I went to the Crystal Judson Justice Center and spoke with an advocate, she was kind and understanding and seemed incensed at the way I had been treat. She walked over to the Prosecutor's side of the building and spoke with someone. She said she would find out why nothing had been done, why charges weren't filed. When she came back she was just as earnest, but not as passionate. She numbered off the list of reasons that the prosecutor chose not pursue the matter. Firstly, she explained they never got the pictures. The ones Deputy Larson had to be prodded to take. Secondly, she said I waited three days to report the incident. I did not interrupt her, I just sunk further into despair as I realized...it didn't matter, what happened to me was never going to matter. I did not bother to correct her. You see, I reported the assault the morning after it happened, correcting her was pointless. I have gotten used to this by now. Then she gave me a third reason, the one that carried real weight. I was in the middle of a contentious divorce and they had not moved forward.
Actually, it was 2 days before that and one day after I said I wanted a divorce, he was several states away. When I felt safe. I just left. They weren't going to help me. He had been so determined to file first. I didn't care. I had made an appointment with an attorney, but that was a week away. I really didn't realize that it mattered who filed first. How wrong I was. By not filing the paperwork myself, something he did, I set myself up as the villain. A scorned wife. Here we are in 2014, in a no fault state, and if the male files first the female is automatically not to be believed. How 1950's, stereotypical. I am many things, however typical is not on that list. I am a person. I have the same right to not be hit, not be harassed as anyone else and I have the same right to justice and safety. I have never been in trouble with the law, my last speeding ticket was in 2004 for 3 miles over the speed limit. I am private and don't make friends easily. I am guarded. That doesn't make me less than. The fact that in this county a man can still get away with this is nauseating. The things that Pierce County Sheriff's Deputies feel it is appropriate to say to potential victims, whether they personally believe then are not is appalling. Nothing has changed. Nothing. When this man abuses his next victim, and I am sure he will, Pierce County will hold a bit of responsibility. They have sent a clear message and a road map on how to get away with domestic violence. The CJJC says there is nothing they can do for me and they have no idea what I can do. It is devastating. The prosecutor never spoke to me on this matter, never asked for pictures, never even gave me a reason as to why charges would not be filed. I wonder why weapons charges haven't been dealt with. On this last day of Domestic Violence Awareness and while gun control is on the ballots I sincerely want to know why the laws we already have set in place to prosecute violators are not informed. Kitsap Rifle And Revolver Club has my estranged husband signed in as a shooter in there log books. They have him recorded firing on their range. Recordings they have been required to keep. He was listed as a member of that range and on February 13th 2010th (I will check that date) they have footage of him illegally buying a shot gun from a duped retired police officer. A deal that was struck with that same gun broker who supplied his other weapons. It will be on those recorded tapes. Taken on the rifle range on one of the 4th or 5th range, if I remember correctly. I remember it because I am so...shocked panicked that someone who was banned from being around weapons would knowingly do such a thing. It is still the good old boys club and they stick together. Laws are what they use to intimidate those who don't silently scamper away, not for those that they favor.