From Love to Fear

IMG_0156I have a loved one who fell in love with a man who she thought was the man of her dreams. Instead, he has become her worst nightmare. Where there used to be love there is now fear and anger.

Their relationship followed a pretty classic path for abusive relationships. It started with him pursuing her and making her feel special. Then, gradually, things changed. His anger started bubbling to the surface and she became an irritant to him rather than a comfort. For years, he did his best to isolate her from her friends and family. He stole from her and her children without thought or conscience. He would threaten her with harm and, on at least one occasion, followed through with physical violence.

An attorney friend of mine put it best when, years ago, she checked out this man’s arrest record for me. I had just found out that everything wasn’t as “fine” as I was being told and that there were big problems in the home. After reading his rap sheet and interpreting the legalese, she very simply said, “Jean, he’s a bad man. This is a bad, bad man.” Of course, life is not that simple or clear cut.

I don’t know much about this man’s childhood, but I know there had to be some horrific occurrences to turn him into the violent adult he’s become. Things had to have happened that caused this adult to choose to escape into a world of drugs, alcohol, and violence instead of dealing with reality. I understand these things, but understanding doesn’t make his behavior acceptable or forgivable.

For years my loved one had faith that this man would change and that the good side of him, which only she could see, would win and he would become the man she believed he could be. Unfortunately, after four years of trying, she finally had to admit she couldn’t continue living her life with a surly, violent partner with addiction issues.

After the two split up, she moved away from him and despite vowing it would never happen, in a moment of weakness or in an effort to pacify him, let him know where she lived. One sunny Sunday shortly thereafter she and her children returned from church to find the front door open and the front window shattered. She wisely kept driving and called the police. When the police arrived, they found her former husband in the house with blood on his hands and the wine he had splashed all over the walls had left a macabre imitation of blood spatters.

This man is a violent career criminal but he isn’t stupid. He told the officers he lived there and the window had already been broken when he got there. Thankfully, there was enough doubt in the officer’s minds that they still handcuffed him and took him to jail. After what felt like a prolonged dance through the court system, the man pleaded guilty to all charges and was given a whopping six month’s jail time.

Because this man is savvy enough to plead guilty when facing charges, the system’s response has always been to put him in jail, usually for the minimum sentence. Never mind that spending most of his adult life in jail hasn’t changed a thing. He skates through the system with minimal impact and has bragged that serving time is cake.

My loved one would have been better served if she had encouraged this man to grow and sell marijuana. In Kansas the charges are taken seriously and the judgment is stern. But scare a woman to death, make her fear for her own safety and the safety of her children, and you’re given a slap on the hand.

As I write this, this man is about to be released from jail. The system has done nothing to help him deal with his anger, his violence or his addictions. While he, obviously, couldn’t indulge in his addictions while he was incarcerated, there has been no counseling or help given to teach him how to deal with temptation and anger once he is released.

In the meantime, my loved one is frantically trying to find a home she and her children can move into where he can’t find them. She, and everyone in her circle, is reaching out to every network and lifeline we can think of for help. Every time she thinks she’s found a place she can feel safe in, things shift and the home becomes unavailable.

I could quote uplifting platitudes all day and all night and I would believe all of them. Believing them doesn’t help as I watch my loved one’s struggle with what’s going on in her life. She needs to be safe and she needs to be able to live without constantly looking over her shoulder in fear. If you, or anyone you know, has rental property available in the suburbs of Kansas City, please contact me. Your time and your help is appreciated.

If you, or anyone you know, is currently in a violent relationship, please contact SAFEHOME in Overland Park, Kansas. SAFEHOME provides a healing atmosphere where survivors of domestic violence can gain inner strength, build self-esteem, explore options, and establish a life free of violence. Call their 24-hour hotline at (913) 262-2868 today. You can find more information online at www.safehome-ks.org/

What are your thoughts?