The hidden half of domestic violence
How to have eternal life
The Road from Home
I remember seeing Ed that evening out in front of the house, talking as we had many times before. Ed was never one to share family problems, even with his best friend. He never liked to burden others with his own problems, but this time it was obvious that something was bothering him. I knew that Ed's wife Paula was disenchanted with
their marriage, but Ed hadn't even brought the subject up. I'd seen it all too frequently. My brother Paul, my friend Steve and a dozen or so guys at the office. I wish I had told this story long ago.
For Paula, the freshness of marriage and the novelty of caring for the children were gone. Ed was just not the same man Paula had married 5 years earlier. She was angry with him for not spending enough time with the family and not paying enough attention to her.
"Damn him," she cursed. "Damn him, for working all those hours," forgetting that the overtime was needed to pay for the new house, her new car and the extra money required to support their growing 2 year-old daughter and their 4 year-old son.
Ed came home that evening after working his usual 12-hour shift and found a note on the kitchen counter. The note from Paula, said that she was bored and went out with her friends for a few hours, and that the kids were with Grandma. Ed thought, "good, maybe some time out would help Paula's attitude". He didn't worry too much about it, but called his mother-in-law to check on the kids. "The kids are fine, and Paula should be home in an hour or two," Grandma replied.
After we spoke for awhile, I tried half-heartedly to
reassure Ed, but I couldn't muster up the energy. Ed reminded me of myself eight
years earlier. My own divorce had nearly ruined me and I was saddened to see the
same thing happening to so many other friends, especially Ed. I did not know for
sure, but all the signs were definitely there. Well, we were not going to solve
anything tonight, so I said good night to Ed.
Ed went inside to fix himself a sandwich. Paula had not bothered to leave anything for him to eat. He grabbed a beer from the fridge and sat down on the couch in front of the TV to eat his supper. He was soon fast asleep. It was only 9:30, but Ed had to arise at 4:00 AM.
Meanwhile, Paula is at a local establishment with her 3 girlfriends, complaining about the low-life husband she ended up with. The foursome traded war stories with each other, each arguing which one has it worst. The top story of the night came from Julie who described how she had her husband thrown out of their home for spousal abuse.
Sympathetically, each of the listeners exclaims, "Oh, no!" "Poor girl!" "What did that beast do to you?!"
"How badly were you beaten?" Julie explained that she actually wasn't beaten at all. She just
complained to the judge that she thought it might happen. The other three ladies listened intently. After a few more beers, and a few
more tears, the four ladies parted ways.
Ed, still asleep on the couch at home, was awakened by what he thought was an explosion in the kitchen. No, it was just his wife slamming doors, throwing anything within reach and screaming at the top of her lungs what a no good SOB her husband was. She rushed towards him, and pushed and shoved and slapped her husband at will. All Ed could do was to restrain Paula by holding her from hitting him anymore. At this, Paula became even more enraged, so Ed hastily left the house and went to grandma's to check on the children. He realized that it was nearly 2 AM so he decided to call first. The kids were OK and he told grandma not to awaken them. Ed checked into a hotel for the night.
The following day at work he called his now sober wife and asked if she was ready to sit down and talk about what had happened. She said yes so he came home after work. They had a long talk, everything seemed OK, the children were back from Grandma's and life was back to a relative norm. Still, something about his wife seemed different to the husband. He could not quite put his finger on it, but it had his attention.
A few weeks later, Ed came home from work and once again found no one at home. He searched for a note in the usual locations but found none. He called his mother-in-law to see if his wife was over there. "No, but I'll let her know you called if I hear from her," she said. She hadn't heard from her daughter all day long. With a little more concern, he made a few more phone calls to friends inquiring about his family's whereabouts. The answers were all the same, no one knew anything.
Ed sat down on the couch to think of what to do next. A few moments later, the doorbell rang. He opened the door and there appeared two local police officers. Ed was overcome with concern for his wife and children as he thought of all the terrible scenarios. The police officers asked if they could come in. "Yes, of course", he said as he worriedly inquired about his wife and family. The officers said that they were all fine, in fact they were just outside in the car.
The officers further explained that the reason they
were here tonight was to serve the husband with an order of protection and
remove him from his home. In utter disbelief, he asked what in the world the
officers were talking about. The police showed the husband the order of
protection. There it was in black and white; the husband was accused by his wife
of committing an act of violence against her and his young children! He tried to
explain to the officers that this was a completely untrue. The officers replied
that; "they had no choice in the matter but to enforce the court
After being allowed to pack a few personal belongings, Ed drove off in his 1979 Ford pick-up truck. As he backed out of the driveway, he
noticed his 4 year-old son, Ed Jr., staring out of the car window in tears. He immediately wanted to stop, but knew that he could not.
He drove away from his home not really knowing where he was going. A few miles down the road, he had to pull over as the tears started to
overcome him. He gathered himself and drove to a local liquor store and bought a small bottle of brandy. He then checked into a run-down
motel and laid down looking at the picture of his two children he had in his wallet. He slowly drank the brandy and fell asleep.
The next day at work he realized that some of the tools and supplies that he needed for his work at the current job site were still in his garage at home. He called his wife and asked if he could stop by after work to pick up the tools he needed. "Yes," she said, "but you have to be here at 5 o'clock sharp and you can't take too long. Ed didn't know what to say, but replied, "It should only take about ten
minutes to load up. I won't bother you at all."
Ed arrived at the house to load up the tools and supplies at 5 PM. While he was in the process of loading his truck, he noticed out of the corner of his eye someone pull up in front of his pick-up truck. It was the local county sheriff. Paula appeared from the house and handed the order of protection to the officers. The sheriff informed the husband that he was being placed under arrest for violating an order of protection. He was being charged with "interfering with judicial proceedings".
Ed tried to explain to the officers that his wife gave him permission to load the tools and supplies that he needed for his employment. The
police explained that they had no discretion in the matter and had to follow the letter of the order of protection. Ed asked, "whatever
happened to common sense?" The officer did not reply as he handcuffed Ed and placed him in the back seat of his patrol car. In addition to
the arrest the police informed him that he was being served with divorce papers. Ed was shell-shocked and on his way to jail. En route to the county jail, the officer confided to Ed that he did not agree with the way that the court orders were being enforced. The sheriff added that; "in previous years officers were given latitude"
in such situations. Not anymore. It puzzled both occupants of the police car.
At the bench trial, Ed had to represent himself. He
could not afford an attorney because he had sunk everything into the new house
and he was now supporting two households. The court refused to grant him a jury
trial or to appoint an attorney for him, even though he was being prosecuted in
criminal court. As the trial proceeded, he
explained to the judge that he had his wife's permission to pick up his tools. The judge listened to what he had to say and then asked
him if there was anything else he wanted to add. In less than 5 minutes, the husband was found guilty of the charge. He was sentenced to pay a $500 fine and ordered to attend classes for
domestic violence. Reeling from shock, he blurted, "Your honor, I am not guilty of domestic violence!"
The judge told Ed that the charge was "included" in domestic violence, and before Ed could try to interpret that tricky piece of legalese, the Judge informed him that the alternative was to go to jail. Ed decided to take the classes. Little did Ed know, but in the eyes of the law he was now guilty of domestic violence.
At the custody hearing, Ed argued for joint custody of his children. The judge informed him that the plaintiff, Paula, desired full custody of their children. The judge also informed the husband that since he was guilty of domestic violence that he had no choice but to give his wife full custody of their children. In addition Ed was instructed that a party appointed by the court must supervise his visitation with his children. Ed strained to keep his composure in
front of the judge. He knew for the time being he was absolutely helpless.
After, the divorce was final, the Ed found himself living a life of poverty. Over 60% of his wages were garnished to pay for child support and spousal maintenance. His ex-wife was awarded the home and was living with her new boyfriend. He could not stand the thought of having to see his children while under court supervision,
so he decided not to see them at all. He knew that someday, when the truth came out, they would understand.
As the month's progressed, the Ed fell into a deep depression. He began to drink heavily and started to miss work. Eventually, Ed was fired from his job. He moved on to another state, and then to another, taking odd jobs, whatever he could do to subsist. After a few years of this, the heartache became too much to bear. One day he drove to an isolated stretch of road along the side of a small river.
The little boy, now 7 years old, wondered why he had to get dressed up for church on a Monday. Mommy explained that everyone was going to
church to visit daddy. When the family arrived at the church, and the little boy saw his daddy for the first time in 3 years, he remembered the day that his daddy had to go away.
THIS happens FAR TOO OFTEN! PLEASE LISTEN!
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JUNE is Domestic Violence Against Men Awareness Month