Lifestyle

Domestic Violence Victim: My wife is violent and vindictive.

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Written by Timothy Heavner

My wife is violent and vindictive. A number of years ago she attacked me in our living room. I was holding our toddler at the time, the baby was in the crib. In the heat of the moment I just walked away. I took the toddler with me, got in the car, and drove to another state to stay with my dad for a few days so I could be in a safe space for me and my son, get some advice, and sort out the next step.

My wife called the police and filed a report that I had attacked her, “stolen” our car, and “kidnapped” her son. I received a call from the police asking for my version of the story. I told them everything in detail, just as it had occurred. I was told I should return to New York immediately and check in with the local detective assigned to the case. I did as I was told, was arrested, spent the night in a jail cell, was arraigned the next morning charged with domestic violence. After posting bail, I returned to my dad’s house while I searched for a new place to live and continued to try to sort out the next step in this new nightmare.

A trial date was set, but in the meantime I had no visitation rights with my children, a restraining order placed against me, I was not allowed to return home to get my things, my medical equipment (I’m diabetic). I had to recreate myself from scratch as an adult: buy a new wardrobe, find an apartment on my own, set up new bank accounts, figure out how to get my mail, … all kinds of stuff you don’t even think about until you’ve essentially been thrown out on the street.

While awaiting a sentence, I was mandated to attend a domestic violence class on a weekly basis. The class was extremely strict: no missed classes, no late arrival, a steep cash payment upon the beginning of each class, weekly attendance for at least one year or more according to a decision by the court. The class was held in an inconvenient location at the edge of town accessible by a lone bus route that involved hours of my time to travel there, and the constant fear that I would not arrive on time.

In the “class” we were treated to anecdotes about acts of violence committed by men against their female significant others. Domestic violence, according to the instructor of this course, was an act of violence committed by a man against his female partner: only men can commit an act of domestic violence, and only against a woman. My wife’s attack against me and the son I held in my arms would not qualify as an act of domestic violence by this definition. We were not allowed to question this definition, or else we would be dismissed from the class as “disrespectful.” If we asked about a situation similar to mine, where the woman attacked the man, with or without provocation, we were called out for “blaming the victim” and threatened with dismissal. I suffered through this indoctrination for over 14 months.

My wife sued for child support, so my salary was garnished under the assumption that I was not responsible enough to make payments on my own. After the automatic deduction, I barely had enough to survive. I did not have enough for my insulin co-pays, food, rent, travel money, etc, nor the required fee for my domestic violence course, so I made whatever choices I had to to try to keep going. Sometimes I went without my medication. At one point I was so broke I couldn’t afford to attend the domestic violence course, so I missed one and got kicked out. At my next court appearance the judge threatened me with jail time if I did not resume, so I stopped taking my medication and started eating one small meal per day to try to keep my blood sugars in a safe range.

I sued for visitation rights with my kids and won a couple of hours every other Saturday. Between the time the initial incident took place and the first time after that I saw my “baby” he had taken his first steps, had his first birthday, and was speaking his first words. I had missed all of it.

Most weeks when I arrived to pick up my kids, my wife would be out (sometime she would be pulling out and driving away just as I got there), or she would pretend not to be home, so I didn’t get to actually spend much time with my kids, despite the court order. I went to the police station to complain, but they told me to bring it up at our next court date and let it go at that. Once, when I arrived to get the boys, she stood in the doorway screaming profanities at me in front of the neighbors and my children, refusing to let me take them out as planned. She kicked me — hard — so I called the police. Several cars arrived (since we already had a “history”), and despite the fact that there were witnesses, I was told to “walk it off” and try again the following week. Well, that didn’t really work for me the year before, but I did as I was told and left the scene.

I am not a “poor me” kind of guy. I fought this whole charade as hard as I could: I talked to lawyers, joined a men’s advocacy support group, told everyone I could about the injustices that were taking place. One lawyer literally said, “I wish you could afford to hire me: I’d love to win this case in court.”

Eventually, I had my day in court. My lawyer said, “plead guilty and take the punishment. You cannot win this, and if you plead not guilty and lose, the consequences will be far, far worse.” I wrestled hard with the choice, but I eventually took his advice. I plead guilty to Menacing in the Third Degree, was mandated to take the domestic violence class for one more year, and nothing really changed except that I had to make a couple more court appearances to follow up with my attendance at the class.

What I’ve learned:

  • If a man attacks his female significant other, he has committed an act of domestic violence; as a result, he will go to jail and lose everything.
  • If a woman attacks her male significant other, she was justified because she is defending herself against a person of privilege; as a result, the man will go to jail and lose everything

It sucks to be a man.

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