|BWS Stories - "Take A Walk On The Wild Side"...Dating|
"Take A Walk On The Wild Side"...Dating - Becoming a Killer
Dianne Schwartz is the author of Whose Face is in the Mirror? which was chosen as the Hay Foundation Book of the Year. Her website, www.eadv.net offers assistance for battered women, complete with a message board for sharing and giving advice.
She is the founder and president of Educating Against Domestic Violence.
Becoming a Killer
What were we doing Sunday night? Wait! I remember. We were eating pasta and watching The Sopranos. It had become our weekly ritual, an enjoyable event my husband and I looked forward to.
At the same time we were watching the dysfunctional family on television, my daughter was being held hostage in her Arizona home, 2000 miles away from us, by her current boyfriend, a neurologist, who was fulfilling his residency at Barrows Institute in Phoenix. Angry with her over an argument they had earlier in the day, he came to the house where he beat and raped her until early morning when he decided it was time to leave.
She didn’t tell me anything until a phone call three days later.
“Mom, he held me captive in my own house! I tried to go along with everything he said or did so he might leave. I’m sitting here bruised and sore. I can’t even go to work.”
I felt the blood drain from my face as the unspoken words hung in the air. I’m the author of a book on domestic violence! She knew all of the warning signs. How could she allow a man like this into her life?
“I knew better but I was tired of being so picky about men and lowered my standards,” she softly explained as if she had read my mind.
Even without details, which I didn’t really want to hear, I was enraged! We both skirted around the word “rape.”
“You have to call the police,” I begged, just like I always explained to the many women who called or e-mailed me.
She let out a long, helpless sigh. “No, I’m not going to do that. Who would believe me? He’s an upcoming doctor and what am I but a Hollywood trained make up artist?”
I’ve always gone into the protective mode for any battered woman but this was my daughter. She wasn’t listening to me as I spoke of him continuing along this path and doing it to another victim and how she was letting him get away with it by not reporting it. My words fell on ears that would not hear.
“He thinks he has a right to do this to you and if you don’t do something about it there is going to be another woman who will be victimized by him. You have given your power away to an abuser!”
“I know you’re right but I’m not going to go there! It’s my life and my decision and you have to respect that.”
After trying to talk sense to her without creating more stress, we hung up and I called the Scottsdale Police Department and spoke with an officer who, although sympathetic, told me there was nothing I could do. It was up to my daughter, but he promised me they would schedule extra patrol cars to cruise by the house and check on her if they saw any cars in the driveway.
I called her back an hour later.
“Do you want me to come to Arizona to be with you?” I asked her.
“No, I’m fine. I just have to hide until my bruises fade.”
As my thoughts went wild thinking of him coming back to the house, and her lack of protection I asked her to join me in Ohio for a while, which she finally agreed to.
When she departed the aircraft at Cleveland Airport, my heart sank to my knees. Two black eyes, a badly bruised nose, fingerprints marking her upper arms. That was when I my mind shifted from protecting my daughter to revenge. What had been her problem was now adopted as mine and I was justified in my actions because she wasn’t just another dating violence statistic…she was my child!
As I stared at the ceiling every night, unable to sleep, I planned various ways to hurt, harm and torture him…before I murdered him. He had to suffer first before he died and he had to know exactly who it was inflicting so much pain--a very angry mother!
I searched through her daily planner for a name, anything that might give me information on him. There was nothing. I combed the Omaha, Nebraska online alumni website looking for a medical student that had also been a cheerleader. Difficult to do when you don’t have the years he attended or a name. I continued searching, searching, searching.
While I might have seemed normal to my family, I was going into a new thought process…I would stalk him before I committed my final act.
I would wait until he walked to his car in the hospital parking lot, I would lean over him as he sat behind the wheel and like Clint Eastwood, tell him I had become his worst nightmare. I would warn him to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life because he would never be safe again. He was a marked man.
I would go to hospital administration and tell them they have a rapist and abuser on staff. I would walk up to him in the halls of Barrows and loudly ask him if he’d raped or beaten any women lately.
I would find out where he lived and put flyers on all of his neighbor’s automobiles, identifying the criminal/abuser/rapist/doctor that was living amongst them.
My rage grew each night and I realized I had become a killer in my mind. I was going over the edge and it was making me miserable. I couldn’t live with thoughts of revenge, or stalking because it was what I spoke against. “Don’t try to get even with the abuser, just walk away, seek counseling and live a happy life,” I would tell those who had safely escaped a violent relationship. And yet, I couldn’t seem to practice my own words. I had begun to believe I had the right to be judge and jury.
I did what all writers do--I poured out my pain and anger in words. I wrote until the horrible feelings would lessen. I cried while I typed, I pounded my fist on the desk; I prayed and asked God to help me forgive. I also knew I could never torture or kill another person. I felt completely helpless.
After one week, she felt it was time to return to Arizona. Her outward bruises were fading and she knew she couldn’t hide the rest of her life. As she was sitting at my computer, checking the flight information, she read what I had been writing on the incident, which I had left on my desk.
“Mom, please don’t worry, okay? I’ll be careful and if he shows up at the house, I’ll call the police. I promise.”
I had to allow her to be an adult and handle this situation the best way for her, not me. It was something she suffered through but I had stepped in and being a mother, tried to take on her pain and feel what I thought she should be feeling. It wasn’t my place.
Like all abusers, he didn’t feel he’d done anything wrong and his phone number showed on her caller ID, no messages but he’d been calling while she was gone. He eventually left a voicemail, simply asking how she was, she hadn’t been answering and he thought she might have gone to Ohio to visit her parents. So cavalier, he was. So innocent.
When she felt strong enough, she finally answered one of his calls.
“You need to hear what I’m saying,” she boldly told him. “My parents know what you did to me and my mother would like nothing better than to paste your name and picture on USA Today and if there is any woman that can get it done, it’s her! My father would like to take the law into his own hands and deal with you the old fashioned way. So, I’m telling you that if you have anything to say, you’d better say it now because if you call me again, you will be served with a court restraining order, by the police, at the hospital and everyone will know exactly what kind of person you are. So, do you have any questions?”
After a brief pause, he said, “no.” End of him.
When she took control and regained her power enough to stand up to him and even threaten him, I was finally able to begin my own healing and let go of my anger and need for revenge. In a spiritual journey together as mother and daughter, we grew closer because of a very traumatic event.
*Four million women are victims of abuse every year.