Do you ever get a bad feeling when the phone rings? As a domestic violence victim advocate for the City of Miami Beach Police Department, I got that feeling often.
"Lou, there's a lady down here who needs to see you."
It had become hauntingly easy for me to spot an abused woman in our busy department lobby. As I introduced myself to this visitor, she looked up at me sheepishly, and the bruises on her face spoke volumes.
Jackie (not her real name) came to our department seeking help with a domestic conflict. Her story was typical. She and her husband had gotten into a verbal altercation that escalated to physical violence. She'd called 911. Responding officers determined that he was the "primary aggressor," having struck Jackie with his fist and leaving visible bruises. Having probable cause, our officers arrested him for misdemeanor battery, and he was taken into custody immediately to await a hearing.
Before I could begin my usual inquiries, Jackie cut in. "Mr. Reed, is there any way that we can stop this process and let my husband out of jail?"
I was somewhat taken aback, although this kind of "victim's remorse" is common. "Why do you ask, Jackie?"
"You see, he's an elder in our church," she said nervously. "If this ever got out, he could lose his position. I'm really afraid that he would blame me, and that would just make matters worse. I'd rather just forget the whole thing."
"Has he ever physically struck you before?" I asked.
"Yes sir, many times. But this is the first time that I've called the police. I was angry and scared. But I wouldn't have done it if I'd known he would end up ...