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BATTERED WOMEN

Story ID:10041
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Middleburgh New York USA
Year:1978
Person:Battered Woman
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BATTERED WOMEN
By Fred Wickert


There has been a lot of controversy in the news lately because of some of the woman battering by certain NFL players and what the NFL did or did not do about it. In some of the news coverage reporters were trying to be friendly to the NFL by reporting that the incidence rate within the NFL is less than the general population. Maybe statists show that, but I am not so sure that is necessarily true. I say that because there are far more unreported cases than there are reported ones. It just might be that fewer cases in NFL families are reported than in the general populace. Whatever the truth may be, there is far too much of it and it is a far greater problem than generally known. If all of this stuff coming out because it is the NFL helps public awareness overall, I say it is a good thing.

I was a police officer for 25 years. I know from that experience that it is a far more common problem than is generally realized. I have been called so many times because someone called about hearing their neighbors. The call never came from any victim. Victims are usually prevented from making calls when the abuse is occurring.

When a call comes and the police respond, more often than not, the wife who has been beaten will refuse to press charges. It used to be that you could not make an arrest unless the victim signed a complaint. Nine times out of ten they refused to sign a complaint. They often said, ďOh no, I donít want him to go to jail. I love him. I just want you to take him some place else for the night. Heíll be okay when he sobers up in the morning.Ē The police officers hands were tied unless she signed a complaint. I was a Police Officer in New York State. The state finally recognized the problem and passed a law making arrest mandatory and for both parties to appear the next morning in family court. That sharply reduced the number of calls because neither party wanted to go through that. Those who did go through it were often ordered by the court to get counseling and it helped. For those that went unreported there was no help until something serious happened and then it was too late for help.

These battered spouses are not always the wife either. Sometimes a small or handicapped man is married to a woman far bigger or stronger than he is and sometimes it is the wife who batters the husband. One of my sisters was large framed and she was strong. She could punch like a man, something I personally can attest to. Her husband was not only about 45 lbs lighter than she and shorter than she, but he was a very mild mannered man who didnít know the first thing about fighting or self-defense. If she had ever taken a notion there is no doubt in my mind she could have mopped the floor with him.

In my experience I found there is a certain similarity to women who get battered. They fit a pattern. They tend to think the guy will change. He never does but they believe he will. They will conceal it from family and friends. They donít want anyone to know they and the kids are being mistreated. They will almost never file a complaint with police. They will even make excuses for the man, much like the wife of the NFL player who knocked her out in the elevator. Once they get out of a relationship like that, they go back in to another relationship as bad or worse with another man.

I have never forgotten one case in particular. She was a woman in her thirties and lived in a trailer park. She was not married to the man she lived with. He had a drinking problem and he came home many nights late after drinking and beat her. She got black eyes and black and blue swelling of her face, but she always refused to sign a complaint. Finally after a particularly brutal beating she did have him arrested. That of course, ended her relationship with the guy. Soon she moved in with another guy. I warned her not to. He was well known to the police as a woman beater. Three months later he broke her arm in a beating. She had to go to the hospital and he was arrested and spent a few months in jail.

One day the woman approached me on Main Street. She looked great and was smiling all over. She wanted me to know about the new man in her life. She was so happy about it she could barely contain herself. She told me what a nice gentleman the guy was. She said they were getting married soon. She told me he always took her to nice restaurants and to the movies and such, and he never once asked for sex. He was never inappropriate and he didnít even try to kiss her or anything.

I told her not to be in a hurry and that it had only been a few months since the last guy. I told her wait until she knew more about him. She assured me she was going to be okay this time. She was sure of it. What could possibly go wrong? He wasnít even a drinker. Skeptically I wished her well. I genuinely hoped this time she was going to be happy. It was not to be.
I saw her a few months later on the street. I asked her how were things going with her new man. She looked so down as she told me, ďYou are not going to believe this.Ē Then she went on to tell me that he had rented an apartment upstairs in a building next to a farm machinery dealer. I knew the place she referred to. They got married as planned and then after the wedding they went to the apartment he had rented and furnished. When they got upstairs in the apartment, he introduced her to another man who was waiting there. He pointed to a bed room and told her that was to be her room and that he was going to be sleeping in a different room with the man she just met.

This was in the 1970ís and gays were not open about it in those days. They went to extreme lengths to keep it hidden. The two men were gay. He had married her for appearances sake. He let her understand as long as she was quiet, did the housework and grocery shopping that she had a place to live and could do as she pleased He provided her with all her needs except a man. In the meantime it provided cover for he and his lover. I suggested she see a lawyer to find out what her options were and then told her to look at it as a blessing in disguise. I told her that at least she had a home and was not getting beaten several times a week. She got a strange expression on her face and said that was true and she had not thought of it that way.

A few months later I resigned my job as Chief of Police and left for other employment. I never saw her or heard of her again so I donít know how her life turned out. I do know that it is and has been a national problem of great proportions for a long time that we donít hear much about. I hope that with the NFL bringing it to national attention will finally cause some progress to be made in addressing the problem because it is one that should never exist at all.

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