A Breath of Panic (Trigger Warning)

It came as a small scratching at the door. The wind and rain pounding on the outside making it easy to ignore. The cats sat staring at the closed curtains, each bristling. Then came the howls of the neighbor’s dog. It was snarling with rage. Even still, it could’ve been ignored. It was an eventful storm, loud and showing the wrath of nature. Nature screaming at the impending violation of his presence? The words brought me to pause, literally as I was watching a movie. “Oh (expletive) the door is locked.”

Immediately I sprang into action, my immobile body trapping me with the slowness that comes with adrenaline. My hands shook as I dialed first the Security office at the apartment, then the police. Someone had tried to enter. I couldn’t tell if it was my Ex. I knew it was. The cats ignore most strangers but fear him. In fact every day I still find new shades of things he has done. Today I learned that William answers to curse words.

The operator for 911 asked me to stay on the line. I appreciated that, I felt like I was going to pass out from panic. I didn’t tell her. If I said it, it acknowledged the part of me that had to wait. She had answered the phone before and remembered my voice, and that alone was comfort. Another bang came, and I heard the van driving up to the front. There were some thuds… then he was inside. It lasted for a split second, I never even saw him. The Security officer was there, and the police came as quickly as they could. The storm slowed them. I listened to the howl and watched my cats rage.

What happened? Using his key he broke into my storage unit, then he forced the door to open with brute force. The cats hid, and I risked pain by rolling off of my spot and crawling behind the wall space. I didn’t cry. I will probably when I lay down. I can’t yet. Everything is still to fresh. It’s been five hours and I just sit here. I finished my movie, I called people.

There is of course more to this story, but, he came again. I had just started to feel safe. The police told me I may not open my windows or doors, they will be watching the apartment as they can but any other crisis will pull them away. This will last until I move. I know too, now that there are two warrants for his arrest. I asked if I could write about that, and they said “Sure. If he reads it he may turn himself in, which will make his punishment much less.”

He did get away with some things. He took a few of my wheelchair accessories but not the wheelchair. I had started to feel safe. The complacency of having a moving date in mind and being about to pay my deposit via the help of my friend M, it left me feeling safe. I am still imagining. I am not just staring at the walls but I am browsing online stores and imagining what items may look like in my home and my yard.

I am (expletive) terrified. I should be. The idiot (yes I am just going to call him what he seems to be) first broke into the wrong apartment. The neighbor’s dog went after his balls and he may or may not have a serious groin injury. The neighbor did not see his face but was fairly certain it was him. They also called the police. Other neighbors heard the barking and looked outside. A total of six different neighbors and myself called in but he still escaped.

I do feel safer knowing that they didn’t ignore it. I have some balls I got for free with a bag of catfood, I am not sure why they were giving dog toys away but, I had been intending to give them to a service dog I know. Now they will be one less. The officer hand delivered the tennis ball for me, because that dog saved my life. I would’ve ignored it. I’ve felt like a crazy woman jumping at every sound.

It has worn me down so far, that I cannot even comprehend saftey. It feels like this distant dream. The concept that I could be safe? It’s a sweet torture. I can’t stop imagining it but now it feels like the worst idea ever. I do not want to sleep in my bed, it smells bad and I am afraid, one of the neighbors reported a gun.

Because he entered the storage unit and only he and I have a key, it was deemed beyond a reasonable doubt that he broke in. The police are going to make my landlord fix my door first thing in the morning, and security is parked out front. I know they will protect me but, I cannot stop the fear. None the less, I know I did the right thing. The police were impressed with my ability to protect myself. I will be feeling the effects for days.

In fact I never would have known he had entered the storage shed if I had not leaned on the door to keep my balance. I felt it shift and we all heard the lock click. I checked because they suspected he was hiding in side, but no such luck.

I do know this will help me with my restraining order. I go to court Wednesday at 9:45 AM. If he reads this maybe he will show up. He can tell them it’s all in my head.

I keep replaying the moment where he penetrated my home, there was a crackling sound, the door still closes now but he forced the locking mechanism through the wood, which was already damaged enough it looks whole. I felt myself stop, the cats were bolting away so I rolled and felt the most pain I have in a long time. I know nothing is broken that wasn’t before, and I will be bruised but, if I had been in his line of sight I might be dead.

I can’t wait to move. The good news is my friend who is helping me with the rent and deposit this month, so I can get out of Dodge has also replaced my waterbed mattress and has given me bedding. This means when I move I will sleep that first night in a bed that is full of clean instead of the decrepit filfth. I may even leave the mold filled waterbed here with the bags of his belongings. I no longer plan to try returning them to him. I will abandon it.

If you are wondering how bad the bed is, let me just say that the smell fills the entire house, and both K and myself have been taking benedryl so that we can breathe, the cats too. When I lay down it crunches, and sometimes it stabs me hard enough I can’t find a spot to rest on. I have no bedding as it is, and the poor man wound up having to replace everything except my bed frame. My ex found a way to ruin everything he could.

I will eventually post the wishlists here, though I may hide my really outlandish jewelry wishlist from you all. I decided to just make a list of anything pretty I may someday want, ignoring the fact most of it is over priced and I would never buy it.

Thank you all again for your support. I want to use this moment to draw your attention to a blog post that reminded me that this would’ve been way better if I wasn’t disabled. I wouldn’t have to fight for any police response. Tonight has been the major exception and not the rule. I had probably the best officer on the entire APD show up. So, here it is. This too has a trigger warning but it’s worth it.

Hot Dogs

In Washington domestic abuse victims now can protect their pets. A part of me felt utter elation for a split second before the futility of this struck me. If my cats are home alone, and my abusers magically find me, a piece of paper is not going to protect them. Yes, violence against animals is a huge problem, especially when small children are victimized by the terror that Daddy or Mommy is going to hurt Bowzer because they were bad.

I have been there. I spent years trying to eradicate my ability to love any small animals out of fear. This sudden dejected response brings me up to a point of realization, we need better protection for our humans and animals. If I had felt that I could have safety, options, or that my existence as a woman without children would have not meant another tour of danger where my life was forfeit able to convenience by the shelter system locally, I would not have spent four years with hidden abuse.

I do not like to talk about these topics, but I feel I must. How can I deny the truth and expect other people to see the way out? I was shown, or I would be far worse off than I am now. From some aspects that notion is laughable, after all how can my health get much worse? I can answer that question. I also look at my mind. My mind is strong, free from suicidal ideation for the most part, and it is able to reject the idea that a bullet is the best pain killer.

That does not mean that I should have to feel fear. It is an awesome thing, the hallelujah godliness sort of awesome, that our animals are finally being acknowledged as impotant. Often, if food was not enough to make me obedient, all I had to do was think of my cat and her own special needs and I would do what was asked of me, even if it was torturous to my body. Give up the money I need for clothing and food? I’ve done it. As of right now I am fighting back from a waredrobe of two shirts and four pairs of pants.

Does not having clothing seem silly to compare with being hit or your animals being burned alive? In some aspects it does, yet, being forced to wear clothing that is not appropriate for the season can be dangerous. You risk exposure, overheating, freezing, sunburn. Not having enough clothing to merit doing laundry or to make it worth the time to change out of the outfit you have on for a week is also depressing. Many women are controlled in their relationships by their lack of finance for fashion, it becomes a third rate priority and eventually that can impact their jobs, their social lives. This impacts their ability to be taken seriously and to feed their children. If they are not taken seriously during a crisis, either medical or one where they make their break for freedom, this can leave us with another statistic, instead of a survivor of abuse.

Should it? Not at all. So, as we celebrate this new law in WA, lets look at other ways we can try and help people to rise above. I look forward to the day when a Utopia exists. Man, Woman, White, Black, Asian, American, Mexican, none of these words will matter. Violence will be a memory, not forgotten but taught about with utter honesty so that history does not continue to repeat.

I have a dream, a dream for every woman who has ever felt fear, for ever child who has waited to see if Daddy was going to get mad because they sneezed. I dream that these women and children find freedom and grow into well rounded adults who are secure, able to advocate to protect the weak and the innocent. I dream of a day when domestic violence is a faint memory, a shameful one, and is no longer an option.

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