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My Story

Even as I hit the submit button on WordPress to publish this essay, I wonder whether it’s the right thing to do. There’s a chance that, after reading my story, potential clients – who would not have known about my mugshot on the internet and the charge that was made against me – will judge me poorly and decline me for work. That would make me sad, for I have a lot to offer my clients, but I accept their decision.

More importantly, my voice must be heard. #ownvoices

First, to set the unpublished record straight, the charge was found to have no legitimacy, and quickly dismissed. Regardless of my innocence, my most-displeasing photo remains on search engines. Guilty until proven innocent.

I did make a request to one website to remove the mugshot and they did. But wrote a blurb over the black square saying that I asked for its removal …. implying I had something to hide. Another website agreed to remove it – for $250. The USA doesn’t have legal precedence for search engine companies to be required to remove mugshots of those found innocent. The Right to Erasure case in the EU doesn’t apply to us. #right2bforgotten

I need to explain the situation because as I am the product for sale
– the writer, communicator, public relations advisor – people deserve to trust me.

I also know there’s a bigger issue here. There’s a dire need to expose a problem that too many women are afraid to discuss. #domesticviolence

If me was my client, I would tell me to write what I’m writing and publish it to my website, as I’m doing. I’d even tell me to blog about it on others’ sites, post about it on social media, and find every other way to bring light to a pressing issue that society continues to ignore.

It comes down to control. I have the ability to control what I say. I cannot control how others respond to it. I cannot control others’ thoughts or actions. But I can then control how I feel about those responses.

My X could not control – nor should he have tried to control – my ideologies and principles on life issues, parenting, environment, etc. Such as my belief in the science community’s concern about climate warming and the need to address it with a multipronged approach. And like my belief in talking calmly to a child who makes a poor choice rather than to reprimand, scold, insult, threaten and physically intimidate – as was his MO. #narcissist

My X routinely lost control when everything didn’t go his way. That inability to control everything and everyone, and his lack of acceptance of that impossibility, drove him to rage.

He needed to have empathy – a key ingredient in a successful marriage. I’d wager that empathy is essential in police work as well. But my X – who was a law enforcement officer  – was and still is not willing to give up on the belief he can control everything. #bluewallofsilence

so here’s what happened

It was more than two years ago yet I still see the greenish blue bruises covering my body when I look into my daughter’s eyes.

And while he’s largely been out of our lives, the consequences of his actions remain. As do the scars. They are wired into her words and woven into my reactions. They cause frustration and indignation and pain.

“I did not understand the dynamics of domestic violence,” writes Nanette on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence blog. “I misunderstood and assumed ‘domestic violence’ is strictly physical assault. I had no idea the definition was broader: verbal, mental, financial, digital, spiritual, stalking.” https://ncadv.org/blog/posts/officer-involved-domestic-violence-a-survivor-story

the early days

My ex-husband’s abuse began with ridicule and intimidation shortly after I left my career, sold my house, moved 1400 miles with my young daughter and married him. It morphed through the years into verbal assaults and psychological threats then eventually to physical altercation.

If you asked him, he’d say he didn’t do any of that. I was crazy. That’s what he repeatedly called me. He started calling me that after I told him about my mother’s mental health issues. It should have been a warning sign when he had nasty nicknames for his three ex-wives. But I trusted him. He was a cop.

http://www.abuseofpower.info/index.htm

“You are labeled as crazy or as a troublemaker. … He says people will believe his version of the story because he is a police officer,” writes Diane Wetendorf, the author of Police Domestic Violence: A Handbook for Victims.

Diane’s “pioneering work in police officer-involved domestic violence has taught advocates how to safely help survivors and battered women to know ‘they are not alone, they are not exaggerating, and they are certainly not crazy.

No one – not even his family or mine –believed the veracity and severity of the situation when I shared some stories of the arguments. “All couples have problems,” I was told. I was even reminded that being raised by a mother with personality disorder, depression and severe anxiety makes me less functional in a marriage.

It’s extremely challenging to differentiate normal marital problems from subversive psychological abuse. It’s even harder when the offender has been a law enforcement officer for nearly five decades.

keep quiet

“From across the country we heard claims that alleged abusers got their partners repeatedly arrested…” writes Alexandra Heal for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2019-05-01/police-perpetrators-domestic-violence Her articles on domestic abuse by police officers won her the Private Eye Paul Foot Award 2020.

The only stats floating around the internet on officer-involved domestic violence date back to the 1980s and 1990s. Leonore Boulin Johnson in a study found that 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence. https://sites.temple.edu/klugman/2020/07/20/do-40-of-police-families-experience-domestic-violence/ In her testimony at a hearing before the Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED338997.pdf [p34], she stated that 10 percent of spouses she surveyed said they were physically abused by their partners at least once during the last six months.

So why would a woman stay in her marriage to that kind of cop? “In general, these women are terrified. … these women know the cop knows how to commit violence without leaving a mark and they say, ‘Everyone will think you’re crazy.’ says Andrew Burmon for Fatherly digital media. https://www.fatherly.com/love-money/police-brutality-and-domestic-violence/

Says Tanya Brannan http://www.purpleberets.org/violence_police_families.html, “He knows how to inflict pain and leave no marks or bruises. … He tells her that if she does call police, the officers (his colleagues and friends) will believe him and not her … and he’s right.”

vicitmization

I know firsthand that that indeed will happen ….. because I lived it. Less than an hour into the new year, 2019, he grabbed my writer’s wrist and twisted it, as he had done before. Instinctively I slapped him. He clenched my neck, under my jaw, and lifted me off the ground. As I write this, I can still feel the chill on the bottom of my dangling feet.

Later he would tell the prosecutor that because I could scream, I could breathe; therefore, he claimed, I was not choking or scared I could die. She rolled her eyes as she relayed that information to me and uttered “As if that made it ok.”

After I scratched his face, he dropped me. But the abuse continued, pressing on my eyes, throwing me several times into a step, jumping on my back and other things I cannot put my fingers onto the keyboard to write (all of which are injuries where bruises don’t show immediately) and telling me what a “sick bitch” I am, until I curled into a ball. He then called the cops, went into the bathroom and pulled open the scratch marks. “I’m gonna make this look bad for you,” he said.

After we each talked separately with the two officers, one of them handcuffed me and drove me to jail. On the way, she said, “Alcoholism is common among police officers, especially those on the job a long time.” She wasn’t giving me new information. Any questions I had of him being an alcoholic were confirmed years earlier when he was taken by ambulance to ER for stroke symptoms that turned out to be a .28 BAC.

NOTE: BAC .25-.30 = Drinkers display general inertia, near total loss of motor functions, little response to stimuli, inability to stand or walk; may lose consciousness or fall into a stupor http://www.intheknowzone.com/substance-abuse-topics/binge-drinking/blood-alcohol-concentration.html

turning point

It was difficult for me to muster the sympathy for him as I sat handcuffed in a police car. I was the one who tried many times to make it work. Counseling, self-help books, meditation.

Besides, sitting there in the back of that cruiser, lights rolling and cuffs digging into my injured wrist, I wondered this: since she really felt he had alcohol abuse issues, why was I the one being taken to jail?!

I was the one who had to strip naked in front of a uniformed officer after having just been beaten by one;

* who was then told, sarcastically, I should keep my wedding ring on as an exception to their policy of removing all jewelry (I pulled it off and handed it to her);

* who spent two days in jail because my arraignment was delayed;

* who didn’t know she was covered in bruises (no mirrors in the jail cell) when the guard demanded I announce aloud in front of everyone who did that to me;

* who had to have her 16-year-old daughter bail her out of jail;

* who had a mugshot posted on the internet, forced shamefully to defend oneself.

But no positive change in him occurred. He always turned it back on me at some point.

After great emotional pain and disruption to my daughter’s life, the charge against me was dismissed. That happened quickly after the prosecutor got it. She found it had no basis.

But before that dismissal, when I would have been thrown back in jail had I contacted my abuser, he texted and called me repeatedly, trying to coerce me into contacting him. He even texted threats to my daughter that she’d be locked permanently out of our home if she didn’t get me to contact him. Manipulation, coersion, intimidation – these are injuries that show no visible bruises.

I did not waver. I adhered to the rules imposed on me. This was the defining moment. If I quaked and reverted to old behaviors of self-blame and negative self-talk, I’d never come back from that. It was especially important because I have a teenager subconsciously emulating my actions.

facing facts

The arresting officer did follow through on her promise to a file charge against my abuser. I saved the paperwork. It’s in my file cabinet. My file cabinet is the only place the charge will be. Because it was dropped – no mugshot, no fingerprints, no job loss – after his boss, on request from my X, talked with the prosecutor.

Typical. USA Today found 85,000 cops under investigation and 200,000 cases of alleged misconduct. Yet how many of those cases were prosecuted? How many of those officers lost their jobs? How many have their mugshot circulating the internet?
https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/investigations/2019/04/24/usa-today-revealing-misconduct-records-police-cops/3223984002/

That report uncovered 2,307 cases of domestic violence. I wonder how many of those cases were dropped…

Forty percent of officers with domestic violence charges successfully pled down to nonviolent misdemeanors and kept their guns and badges, according to Voices of San Diego. https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/public-safety/police-officers-who-commit-domestic-violence-often-get-to-keep-their-guns/

“Abuse is an open secret among police officers,” writes media executive Andrew Burmon. “Many officers claim that it’s the result of a stressful job. But … stress doesn’t really cause abuse. There are lots of stressful jobs. Paramedics and surgeons and firefighters don’t have this kind of problem. The more honest officers will tell you that policing is a job about control – controlling people and controlling chaotic environments. It attracts people with that mentality and that desire.”

no grudges

Being around law enforcement for 30-plus years, I know that not every cop commits domestic violence. Not every cop has rage. The Thin Blue Line doesn’t create monsters from every person who becomes an officer. But it does attract people who have aggression issues. It does, under the current design, focus on power and control over others. It does breed anger and narcissism at a faster rate than the general population.

Pew Research found that 71% of officers who are frequently angry and frustrated believe that “aggressive tactics are more useful than a courteous approach.” https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/03/09/roughly-one-in-five-police-frequently-feel-angry-and-frustrated-on-the-job/

Aggression and control permeated my former marriage. It wasn’t until I was discolored and stripped of self-esteem that I found the courage to stop it. To walk away. I didn’t return to my home until he was legally removed. I ended the marriage. I got myself and my daughter into counseling.

Today she’s enrolled on full earned-scholarships at a distinguished private university, studying marine science and sustainable business. She has meaningful friendships, beautiful artwork she has created and plays piano on ocassion. In fact, shout out @shop.ari.s.closet for believing in me enough to encourage me to go public with this.

For me, while I freak about my X’s possible reaction should he see this essay, I awake thankful every day for my health – my arms that can write and my brain that imaginates, for the birds setting up homes in trees over my house, for my cat who sleeps aside me nightly, for family who believes in me, and for friends that I’ve known since a child who still want to be friends.

#breakthesilence

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stop invisible bruises

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People deserve to believe that I will make good decisions and provide counsel that results in successful outcomes.

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https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/01/27/most-americans-support-right-to-have-some-personal-info-removed-from-online-searches/

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IN THE BEGINNING, WE WERE HAPPY … OR SO I THOUGHT.

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Domestic violence is
two to four times
more common
in police families
than in the
general population. www.PurpleBerets.org

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As many as
275 million
children
worldwide
are exposed
to violence
in the home.

https://www.unicef.org/media/files/BehindClosedDoors.pdf

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“Strangulation
is an ultimate
form of power
and control,
where the batterer
can demonstrate
control over
the victim’s
next breath.”

https://www.pottstown.org/DocumentCenter/View/211/Strangulation-Information-for-Victims?bidId=

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Ellen Kirschman Ph.D.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cop-doc/201910/intimate-partner-abuse-what-if-your-abuser-is-cop

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“It’s rare
for police officers
who engage in
domestic violence
to be held legally
accountable,”

write Carol Wick
& Kit Gruelle
in The Hill.

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