Thursday, January 21, 2010
Another theme that occasionally overwhelms my night is that of female abuse by their, boyfriends, fiancées, spouses and sometimes strangers. On occasion I’ll pick them up at the emergency room and take them to a shelter. Other times I’ll pick them up at the location of the crime and become involved in their escape, even with the abuser pursuing or threatening us. Whatever the case may be, it throws a pall over the rest of the night, as I can’t shake the vision of swollen black and blue female faces, with teeth missing and blood dripping from their nose, mouth, eyes and/or ears, along with broken bones.
One of the worst cases that I encountered was a few years ago on a cold rainy winter night in North Salem. I got the call at around 10:00 PM and when I pulled into the driveway at the address, I saw a woman sitting on the porch, in the rain, without a jacket. She stood up as soon as I stopped and walked over to my cab and got in.
“Look what he did to me!” She sobbed.
I turned the dome light on and looked at her face. Her left eye was swollen and it looked like the eye was out of focus, her nose was pushed to the right, and her mouth was so swollen that her lower lip hung, exposing bloody gums and a missing tooth, along with some other bruises and cuts on her face.
“What happened?” I asked, and added “Are we heading to the emergency room?”
“No,” she said. “Take me to the Silver Dollar.”
The Silver Dollar is a bar on the South East side of town. My job is driving people where they want to go, not where I think they should go, so I did as she requested. On the way there she explained what happened. Earlier that afternoon she was supposed to meet her fiancée, that she had been living with for the past 5 years, at a bar to watch the Ducks game. They just got engaged the month before, and she had signed her truck in both their names, just like the house that they lived in. She arrived 15 minutes late and an argument ensued, that they brought home with them, after the game was over. The argument escalated until her fiancée exploded in anger and repeatedly punched her in the face, until she collapsed. Then he dragged her by the hair, out the front door and onto the middle of the front lawn, where he deposited her, and ripped the engagement ring off her finger so violently that he broke it. Then he told her that they were through and he never wanted to see her again and don’t try and come back or he’d kill her.
About 6 months after I dropped her off at the bar, I picked her up at Winco, with a load of groceries and drove her to a house in South Salem. I immediately recognized her and told her that I picked her up the night that she was attacked.
“Oh, it was you?” She said. “Thank you for taking me to my friends at the Silver Dollar, my name is Sally. I was in shock and they called an ambulance as soon as they saw me. I was in the hospital for a week, and had a concussion and almost lost my eye.”
“Did you get your truck back?” I asked.
“No,” she said, “I wasn’t able to get it back, and we are still in court over the house.”
“Why isn’t he in jail?” I asked. “He got a good lawyer, and claims that I was drunk and tripped on the porch and hit my face on the concrete step, but I don’t care, because I could have been married to him.”
When we arrived at her house, Sally told me that her son, who was in the Marines, and just returned from Iraq, was living with her, and would help with the groceries. When we pulled into the driveway, he was waiting. He was over 6’ and must have weighed a solid 250 lbs. After I drove off I thought to myself, Sally’s son must not know what happened, or he would have been in prison for murder, instead of helping with the groceries.