Joseph Kerr writes at the Good Men Project:
What do you do when a girl hits you?
I was sitting across the desk from the child protective services supervisor, who spoke with confidence of things he didn’t know.
“You’ve been to Iraq, we know all the guys who come back are fucked up in the head… If you need medication to stay focused or to see someone for mental issues — we know the military just sends you to war and spits you back out on the streets — we can help you with that.”
That’s one hell of a worm in the water. I had steady hands on my gear as the bullets were flying. My voice was confident when addressing senior leaders no matter the circumstance. Now I wore a nice-guy smile and kept cool as the guy who was going to decide if I was fit to see my daughter again belittled my Marine Corps career and used my stack of medals to weigh the scales against me; to prove my psychosis.
My hands lay gently on the table; the identification tabs from jail and the hospital were stacked on my left wrist. I turned my head slightly. He’d have to continue to insult my manhood and military service into a baseball-sized lump enveloping my eye.
“What do you do when a girl hits you? … You wouldn’t just stand there, right? I mean you’re a big guy, you’re a Marine, you’re trained to fight, the Marines wouldn’t teach you to get beat up….”
Getting hit by a woman is a new kind of scary for me. I can face fear, I can fight scary, but I can’t hit a woman. It’s a prisoner’s dilemma for the assaulted. The guy laughed at me when I said there’s nothing to do except just turn away. I asked what he’d do if I were a woman and started hitting him in this private interview room. “I’d grab your arms and hold you back,” he said. I countered, “that’s going to be tough for you to explain why I’ll have your handprints and bruises on my arms and there’s not a scratch on you.”
He made a final attempt to reduce me to a crazy-veteran archetype. One more question and I could relieve him of the work required in an actual investigation.
“So the police thought you were lying, right? That’s why they arrested you. If they believed you they wouldn’t arrest you.”
Breathe. Think. Pause, not too long. The words have to sound calm. Breathe.
My marriage wasn’t great. Heck, let’s be straight, it was on the verge of collapse. Probably had been there for at least two years. I was staying for the kids. My wife and I fought (verbally) nearly every time we had more than a few sentences to say to each other. We were roommates with chidden running around. It was horrible, but each weekend I was home and I had my kids. My two awesome kids. I’d take them out as often I could and do anything I could so they didn’t need to be in the middle of their mom and I.
Finally it was going to end. She wanted to move out of state with the kids and had no interest in discussing sharing custody. “We’re not discussing it, you can’t stop us from leaving. Sign it or I’ll get a lawyer and make you sign it.” She handed me a do-it-yourself version of divorce papers.
I reached out to some divorce lawyers. This life sucks for me, for the kids, for everyone. What do I do? “It’s a game of chicken in your house now,” the he said. “Neither one of you can leave with the kids, and the first one who leaves without them is a step behind in trying to get custody.”
Is there a worse possible way to resolve such a pending disaster?
Then the email confirmation — plane tickets, one adult, two children, one way, leaving soon. Tomorrow morning would be different, but sleeping on the couch was normal. I ended up on the ground next to the stairs. She kicked my head into the solid wood base. I blacked out, came to, stood up, bleeding. My daughter was screaming, “Stop hurting daddy!”
It was over. We were over. I headed out the door to the police and then the hospital. My daughter stopped me. “Daddy, you need to go to a doctor, here take this,” she handed me a bandage. “I love you” was the last thing I said to her. It’s been almost a month.
I walked into the police station falling apart. What happened? What will I do next? What happens on Monday? What happens for the rest of my life? How will I explain what just happened to my kids? My head was spinning as much from the injury as from the complete collapse of my home life. I knew the officer, I had came by the night before suspecting that my wife was leaving with the kids, he assumed why I was crying, “hey man, it’s alright, you knew this was going to happen….”
I pulled off my sunglasses and revealed my bloody face. “Whoa, what the hell happened?”
I started piecing together what happened. The argument, her throwing the breakfast I was making for the kids on the ground, grabbing my laptop, the stairs, my kids, screaming. I pulled out the Band-Aid and broke down again.
“Is she hurt? Did you hit her…?” No. Never. I waited.
“We’re sending a car over there to talk to here.” I waited some more.
“You wife is telling a bit of a different story, as happens a lot in these situations, she says you threatened her.”
“We’re going to take you into custody now.”
“Stand up and put your hands behind your back.”
An hour later I was handcuffed to a hospital bed waiting for CAT scan results to know if my head was bleeding. I looked at the officer.
“What do you do when a woman hits you?”
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