Car 6

Car 6

Monday, May 18, 2015

Knowing Better

One thing I do not speak about often is that I am an adult survivor of child abuse. When I was a pastor I would encounter victims of domestic violence. It did not take long for me to realize that I was ill trained for this reality. It is scary how many ministers truly are.

I started working with and learning from Guardian Angel home, Susan Murphy Milano and other experts in the field. I wish I could tell you about all the heroic deeds done with this information, but the fact is you lose more battles than you win. The upside? You do not create more harm and you also have a higher chance at helping a victim become a survivor who gets out.

One night in the taxi a fellow driver was frustrated and needed to vent. He told me about how he picked up a woman from one of the women's shelters and took her back home (this is common, they often return several times before getting out for good-if they ever do). He took her to a neighboring town and the abusive husband was the former mayor of that town. He was belligerent to the  driver while talking to his wife like dirt and flaunting his power. When the driver did not do his bidding (he demanded the driver stop the meter while her belongings were being unloaded and also demanded the driver aid in the effort) he claimed to know our owner and he would ensure his "fat redneck ass" would be fired and he better not even think about driving in this town again. Of course came the obligatory,"Do you know who I am?" comments and other bs of showing his power and the driver's powerlessness.

I tried to tell him that there was nothing he could do and living in the tension of helplessness is hard. He thought she was stupid for going back and I tried to explain to him the conditioning, emotional control and gas lighting that goes on in domestic abuse. He asked me about the cops and the court systems. I told him about the things I learned about the failures in that from some of Milano's books such as "Time's Up", "Defending Our Lives" and "Holding My Hand Through Hell" along with information I learned from Guardian Angel Home as well as my first hand experiences where the courts failed women and children along with tales of some cops and ministers who chose to look the other way and participate in victim shaming.

He looked at me and said,"You should write a fuckin book. You are like an expert or something."

I looked at him and replied,"No, I care and try to help. The experts are who I need to listen to. It would be dangerous and irresponsible to let my compassion be confused with leadership in this field. I know better."

Due to the special kind of hell we work in some nights, the fare and the conversation was pushed out of my mind and life moved on. Then came a fare dispatch gave to me. I was picking up out of a woman's shelter and taking her to a neighboring town. When I looked at the first name and the address, I suspected it might be a small world. When the woman and her belongings were loaded into my vehicle she was being escorted out with one of the counselors, I knew. I had worked with this particular advocate before. She took one look at me and recognized me.

"Pastor Pat? What the hell are you doing here?"

"Not a pastor anymore, Becky."

She whispered into my ear,"You already know what this is, Pat. Remember your boundaries."

I took a deep breath. "Yeah, I will."

I heard Becky say things to the woman. She encouraged her to use her resources and document the abuse. She reminded the woman that she has worth.

We were on our way. It started in silence.

"Did she call you a pastor?" the woman asked.

"Yeah. Used to be."

"She knows you?"

"Yeah. Our church used to work with them. They helped me help a lot of people." I said.

"I have kids. I'm just doing what I need to do." 

From there we had a conversation. The details of that conversation the rest of the way to her house are something I am not willing to talk about.

We pulled up to the house and he was waiting outside with another man. He and the other man walked up to me and he told me who he was and told me his associate was a police officer and I will turn off my meter and help him unload the car or I will face the consequences. He then told me that he knew our owner and they are old chums. 

I just said,"Meter stays on. Considering I was not asked politely, I stay in the car. Officer, may I have your name, badge number and a card?"

The older cop said I don't need any of that and I should do as I am told. 

"I see no squad, I see no badge, you are not in uniform. This vehicle is under video surveillance."

The husband said some insulting things to me. He assured me that I would lose my job. She was told to go inside and wait while the two men unloaded the vehicle. Every time he came to the vehicle he told me off and his buddy gave me dirty looks. 

Three trips later they were done. He told me he did not have to pay me, but he was going to anyway. He also told me he was going to get every dime of it back after I got fired. He threw the money into my cab and I started to pick it all up and count it to make sure I had every penny due me. I looked at him and said, "I need another $2.25."  He reached into his wallet angrily and tossed two singles and whipped a quarter into the taxi. 

"You think you're cute?" he growled through grit teeth. "You don't know who I am."

I spoke back. My temper was gone. "Fuck you. You're a piece of shit has been who couldn't get re elected. Fuckin impotent piece of shit." 

He poked my jacket as he said,"I'm having you charged with assault for that. Your world is over." Each poke got harder and harder.

I grabbed his shirt collar to pull him face to face and said,"If you're gonna charge me with assault? Let's make it worth it. It's you who doesn't know who I am. Gonna look real good in the papers. Ex politician and ex preacher. Who's more corrupt?"

I saw something in his eyes. Fear. His demeanor changed. His eyes watered. "Please. Don't." he said softly.

I knew better. I knew what was going to happen to her now. I fucked up.

I let him go. 

"I'm sorry. I was out of line." I said.

He walked back into his house. I drove off mentally kicking myself. I wanted to win, she lost. I wasted justice, she gets his revenge. I lost my cool. So will he.

I knew better. 

To this day I see minsters who don't know better. I see self proclaimed advocates who harm instead of help. In that moment, I was no better than them. In this moment. I am honest enough to not delete the record from the web, deny my statements and place a felt need preserve a reputation over the truth. They do so at the cost to human lives. The mistakes made by advocates come at a cost to the victim.

I knew better.

*note: A lot of people claim to know the owner of the taxi company who do not. They know his name. I also can safely say that he would never knowingly befriend a wife and child abuser. I feel that needs to be said.

No comments:

Post a Comment