The chance that one thing will happen instead of another.
Dale was found guilty of, Attempted Murder and Spousal Battery. He was sentenced to serve a term of 15 years to Life. “To Life” means he could potentially spend the rest of his life in prison. His prison term: Life With The Possibility of Parole deems him eligible for a “Lifer Hearing” where he would go before the Parole Board. The Prison Parole Board would determine if Dale was suitable for release back into society.
Dale went before the Parole Board recently (August, 2014) and was denied parole. He will be eligible to go before the parole board again in five years when he is 63 years old.
Dale has been incarcerated since 2001. The last time I heard from him was in, 2010.
I shared all the letters I received from Dale. Letters he continued to write after he was ordered to cease and desist all contact with me.
He continued to write after receiving a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). He wrote after he was served the Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO).
I turned over all evidence and reported every infraction; yet, when Dale went before the Parole Board, none of the violations involving me, were in his file.
The DVRO expired after three years. I didn’t bother renewing it. I suppose my reasoning was similar to that of many victims who file restraining orders: they don’t help.
Shortly after receiving his last letter, a woman called my cell phone on Dale’s behalf.
A stranger contacting me must of been what Dale meant when he wrote about finding a way to secretly get letters to me without being caught.
From what I gleaned: Dale used his superficial charm to befriend a fellow inmate. I don’t know whether favors were exchanged or if the new friend did Dale’s bidding out of kindness.
Dale wrote a two paged letter to me and gave it to his new inmate friend; who mailed the letter to his girlfriend. When she received the letter, she called me and said,”I have a letter for you to read from, Dale.”
She relayed Dale’s instructions: I was to read the letter and return it to the woman. She said, “I know where you live. I can come to your house, but I don’t want to be rude and just show up. So you can meet me here at the Chevron gas station on Bradshaw and Micron. You can meet me here, read the letter and return it to me or I can come to your home.”
The woman was affiliated with an incarcerated man. She took risks carrying out Dale’s bidding at the request of her boyfriend.
I met her at the Chevron gas station with the goal of keeping her away from my home and my children. I didn’t know what she was capable of.
She was a short, plump, Caucasian woman who appeared to be in her late twenties. She handed me the letter from Dale; which I read with great difficulty. I was distracted by circumstances. The woman stared at me while I read. She watched me the entire time as if she thought I’d attempt to get away with the letter.
The letter was filled with much of the same; attempts to intimidate and professions of love.
When I reported the incident to the DA investigator I had to recall as much of the letter possible as well as provide a description of the woman and her vehicle.
Silly me, I did not think to take down her license plate number. I did, however, have the number she called me from. I don’t know if Dale and his friends received consequences for (a) violating the restraining order (b) witness tampering (c) attempting to dissuade a witness.
I doubt it.
I believe the first prison Dale served time at was, California State Prison (CSP) Solano. While at Solano State Prison he came to possess a cell phone.
It is a misdemeanor to posses a cell phone in prison.
Dale made use of his cell phone by calling my former job, Advance America. He called numerous locations and when he found I no longer worked for the company he set out to find the woman who was formerly my assistant, SH.
SH was familiar with Dale who spent a lot of his time either at my office or calling my office; when she and I worked together.
SH contacted me and told me about her interaction with the incarcerated Dale.
When speaking to SH, Dale introduced himself as “Dale’s brother.”
SH said,”I knew it was Dale. I recognized his voice. I kept asking questions to get as much information as possible. I knew he was supposed to be in jail so I gave him my cell phone number and told him to call me later because I was at work; and that way when he called my cell phone, I’d have the number he was calling from.” While pretending to be his brother, Dale told SH he needed to speak with me urgently because the FBI was looking for me since I lied during my testimony. Furthermore, he wanted to speak with me and warn me because he didn’t want me to get in trouble.
SH said,”I knew something was wrong. All the stuff he was saying didn’t even make sense. Why would the FBI be looking for you, for lying? And they’re the FBI. You’re not hiding so if they wanted you, they would of found you. I told him, you and I had a falling out and that we don’t speak anymore. I told him if I did see you, I’d beat your ass. I wanted him to believe I couldn’t stand you; so he wouldn’t think I’d contact you.” This was very smart of her and I was thankful.
Once again the information was passed on to the DA investigator. A lieutenant at Dale’s prison was informed of his contact made with the outside world via cell phone.
Dale’s cell was searched and a cell phone was found.
The cell phone incident did not come up during his Parole Board Hearing. I’ve concluded, he wasn’t penalized. However, he was transferred to a different institution.
Avenal State Prison
At Avenal, Dale was in close proximity to his parents who visited him often. Dale was also in contact with church going people who believed he was innocent of something; rather than guilty of something.
One of those individuals, a pastor, contacted me. The pastor called my home one fall afternoon and introduced himself. He told me Dale was filing an appeal and urged me to visit him. He said, “Dale knows that you’re married and he’s okay with that.”
I asked,”How did you get my phone number?”
The man paused; then attempted to avoid answering. I repeated my question and he finally answered,”From the white pages.” The man’s goal appeared to be, convincing me that visiting Dale was in my best interest.
I told him I would think about it. I’m not sure why I told him I would think about it when I knew, I wasn’t going to visit Dale. Ever.
It’s that same behavior I tend to exhibit when in the crosshairs of a predator: I don’t say,”No,” and I feel if I say,”No”my life will be in danger. It’s the way my trauma brain functions.
I turned over the pastors contact information to the DA investigator, who let the pastor know the potential consequences of contacting me again.
According to the investigator,”He [the pastor] didn’t know. He had no idea what Dale was in prison for and just believed everything Dale told him. You shouldn’t hear from him again. He said he was sorry.”
Dale is currently an inmate at Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI).
I am privy to many other details because of who I know. The additional information I am privy to is not public information; nor is it my personal experience and for those reasons I’m unable to make those details public.
I never understood Dale’s personality. I thought he was dangerous, controlling and violent.
He wouldn’t allow me to go to college. As soon as I was free of him I enrolled and completed six years of college, earning a BA in psychology and MA in social work. Ironically, college is where I learned about humans of his ilk.
I am glad Dale wasn’t granted a release from prison.
After receiving a call from the pastor I got rid of my land line. Dale knows my address and my relationship status.
How? I’m pretty sure the pastor looked up information for Dale and provided it to him. A crime for which he did not face consequences. He put me and my family in danger. Supposedly, unbeknownst to him. He thought he was helping his wrongly convicted brethren.
One person said, she didn’t believe I had anything to worry about if Dale were to be released.
She’s incorrect. She’s never been stalked; never had a personality disordered person obsessed with her… she doesn’t know.
When Dale went to prison people told me “It’s over now.” I knew better.
They considered me paranoid when I said,”I could feel him thinking about me.” Then I found out he called nearly all the Advance America’s in my city, looking for me.
A few years pass and I find out he’s been conniving people to search for me and contact me.
He even had someone reach out to my son on MySpace.
He isn’t finished.
#1 Now regarding us-since the day we were together at I’ve wanted you and no other-you said same. I need you to know you have been like home to me. A place of safety, security, warmth, honesty and belonging. Every time I saw you or spoke to you those feelings came alive. This is all confusing. Didn’t you know that wasn’t it obvious with all the contact we made… That I couldn’t live without you? I thought you felt the same. How did you fool me? I believed you too! I couldn’t be wrong. Only explanation is you got mad and thought that I was playing you. I only kept some things away to keep you. Look at who played who-you drop me at Jail with a promise to stick with me-look betrayal.
You put two and two together and came up with 46. Wrong! I wouldn’t tell you about one truck ( $350,000 top-secret load from Canada big-time money). I couldn’t tell you about Hawaii (pick up seeds and bring back 100 pounds- we go back in December for 200 pounds and $750,000 that’s a lot of money). We would be set for life. Oh, I would have to work funeral gig for a while- anyway it was perfect but I can tell you with the $350,000 I would get from one of the trucks and trailers would buy xxxxx(ex wife) a house and out house. With the crop money we could be set for life. I knew if I got her money and quick divorce out-of-state it would be like I was served divorce papers, but I was trying to keep her from being volatile and it was working. I felt trapped like I couldn’t tell you but I was working for us the whole time. I really don’t know what happened that morning but I really think if something happened that would delay us getting together. Oh no I couldn’t handle that. I need you. Needed you where the hell are you?
I was so afraid to have you work with me because of your wrists. I thought if they got worse you would blame me so that’s why I wouldn’t have you come in.
I wanted you well I was thinking how do you I pay for your operation and take care of my baby? Were you already stepping out on me? Is that what you meant when you said you was going to tell me later during one of our phone calls?
Think! My ass is on the line.
Listen to this, you must believe that I only want you – I worked all the time to keep you and make the transition smooth. If I can get out soon I can still make that money but you must retract some statements. They will threaten you -but listen I’ll have a lawyer speak to you. Talk to him to help me and I promise to help you. At least help me out and stop the psychobabble shit about I will kill you when I get out.
I have never threatened you. You have me now you’re making good you said “I’ll destroy you.”
Stop your hate. I love you. We are perfect for each other without the distortions or the charade I would be free to finally be 100% myself with you and never worry about who what where and how. You must believe and trust. I forgive and I love you regardless though.
I know this is a lot-but we both talked about this and now nothing for me-no friends-work-this place sucks big-time trust me-please don’t breathe a word of this communication- I met a new lawyer today it was good. I don’t know if you got other letter so the restraining order just blindsided me-I have not will not ever threaten you or hurt you. What’s with you? Remember the second to last time your sons grades and lies? You chased the poor kid around his room for at least five minutes screaming hitting him with whatever, with buckle-belt beat him silly-you joined the rest of us in the living room and cussed”Goddamnit I’ll put him in the hospital.” You got mad and went and back and did it more for 3 to 5 minutes. It seemed like forever. Are you a good mother? I think so. But can you imagine your son telling or writing that out to the authorities?
You’d be in jail! Any incidents we got into was at your insistence! You are proven to be violent. That last night you were arguing, demanding and screaming that I come right now and get my stuff or I’ll be sorry and that I will be sorry it’s going out on the lawn now! You told me you would destroy me, over what? That you’re jealous? Yep I came close to you -to hold you and you swung at me then I tried to grab your hand and you kept on. I flipped you over to protect myself then you used your legs and feet kicking the hell out of me. I weighted your legs and swatted your ass for 30 seconds. I said you deserved that. I held you to stop. We slept and I apologized in the morning. He looked at me and said my holding my hand.”I’m sorry I don’t ever want you to cheat on me.” I said I’m sorry I won’t and don’t want to cheat either now I get a restraining order.
Look the only threat I made and I’ll keep-I said if you ever cheat on me I’ll leave so fast and you’ll never see me again and I said that you would pay me for everything. You said if I leave I would have a new girlfriend right away. I said bullshit that you would because you have never been without a man. You said you don’t know me very well I won’t look I plan on being single if we broke up.
So who was telling the truth? Who’s looking-who went out-oh my God! It just hit me you were stepping out on me before all this- is that how you hooked up so fast? You went alone to store and Dr. all dressed up a couple times and I asked-you give me vague answers were you? Answer me please! If so, this is easy I’m vapor. I’m gone and not another word from me because you’re not worth the lead in the pencil or paper. Tell me were you? Did you meet, have numbers, keep a foot in the door, were you a snake looking, keeping options open, meeting people and holding out? I don’t think so -let me know okay?
You going out dressed up by yourself- kids in the house -you said shopping at grocery store but you never would get dressed up just for that did you meet someone?
While I was planning for your faithfulness? Ironic don’t you think? I don’t now? Funny thought-oh man that changes everything! If so? Truth please. I told you if you cheated I’m disappearing my only threat-oh I know you cheated on me here in jail but that’s forgivable -stress, scared, threatening, confused. I can kind of understand. You never said it’s over or bye or anything.
I feel like if we could hold each other once more-your defenses would drop and you would be reasonable and get off this-I’m determined, high horse attitude, fuck this shit.
Holding each other always worked-when you got angry you were impossible sometimes irrational and rage oriented. But when you settle and open your soul oh my what a soul. I so love and miss how you could make me feel like I just came home when you grabbed my hand looked at me and said, “I love you.” Then squeezed a part of me.
Anyway enough enough except about cheating on me-what was that you said on the phone, “I was going to tell you about it later”-oh well I choose to love, bless you and the kids like always. No matter what you say I was and am better for you than you realize-
I was not only good for the kids-that’s cheap! That you said that bullshit-
The art is practice for me-it would be destroyed in my cell-keep it safe please. I love you please know that you’ll always be safe.
praying for your reply.
hello again- sorry to bother you but I’m in jail and things are unclear and confusing- surely if you were in my shoes you’d have questions, especially if you had no answers, Huh?
I’m really having a hard time understanding some things-so can we please review?
Please I don’t know what has happened. Okay so after my arrest I was full-time with you. You and me still in love with the same goal-life forever right? Right unless I don’t know something. Two, I’m trying to settle business -You said “I’m with Three, we are intimate you are a little withdrawn but you said still you were committed so let’s review that. We have spent this time up to this point working on one goal-being together. Okay, okay, we had a detour but we are right there you! you wanted 1 my divorce, 2. us together, 3. new life for me. I want the same so what were we doing-but with the delays we waited two years on truck -that turned out to be a scam. I wanted to wait for my son to graduate -what you did not know is that I wanted one last trip with the kids. First a trip in car across 6 states to see long-lost family. Kids want all of us to go to Hawaii- okay.
I can do that but truck deal falls through so I’m scrambling. Could you notice my tension and preoccupation? So I make possible business down Central Valley. I couldn’t tell you -remember me three trips to Madera area Modesto and Merced before the arrest? Okay that business included a contact to be made in Hawaii. I couldn’t tell. I’m thinking okay all this is cool I’ll go come back and file for divorce by August 25-move in my house with you. Xxxxx (ex wife) takes house on Bradshaw and my son goes to college. Girls stay in same house with their mom-continuity. Less stress on them.
I was also expecting a couple of checks -remember that’s why the joint account.
Okay review, you want me, I want you, same goals. Planning etc. I blow it. I don’t know what happened. I’m sorry, I still don’t know. You take me to court you want me-I want you -we have said we found the one- I’m committed- you’re committed-my last contact with you is good. Next you come visit -act weird -I’m trying to say little to be protective because we are still secret, right?
The next day you won’t answer phone-we have limited contact-you start going out and talking men on the phone. You never say it’s over or goodbye- just nothing. Now this, what happens from here? If you come visit under another name no one would know but me. Change your hand writing when you sign in- please visit with another persons ID and say anything to me-even if it’s goodbye. I need help in closure.
Please I won’t be long have even the guard told me that and I get to be out of this shit.
oh I must tell you that I know I must help people still after our journey in making this money, I’m going to do the car custom shop stuff on the side and work towards buying old hotel to house people and families, teach trade – like a habitat for humanity kind of thing. But just renovating peoples homes in ghetto neighborhoods-I know I must help people that’s what life’s all about. As God has my strength i’ll do it and wish you would too. I have been helping the inmates in here when they ask me to pray for them and a couple of them have wives that seem like they could be good employees for you-I gave them your number and numbers where they could get free food and clothes to help them out so if you get calls just know it’s me trying to help others from here and I know you can always direct them if you have a need-
I checked them out without question. I don’t just tell anybody. I wouldn’t do that. Love those kids-baby.
The man you said was the one, Dale.
It’s November 21st at 3:44 PM. I’m having kind of a bad PTSD day.
It’s been a while (although not long enough)since my sleep has been burdened by hours upon hours of nightmares.
Last night I slept six solid hours. The entire time I was trapped in agony. I woke at 4:00 AM and clung to my husband whilst attempting to make sense of my world. Sometimes I awaken-and it feels like I’m still in a nightmare. Intellectually, (because I know a lot about trauma brain) I understand I’m awake, but that understanding is battling the part of my brain that is telling me I’m in danger. I ground myself by grabbing my husband or my dog. It’s like I’m literally clinging to the present because my brain is telling me to run for my life or fight…but I’m touching my dog and she’s reinforcing reality by orienting me.
I always think of people who are battling PTSD without any education about it. I have hundreds of hours of research and education about it; yet there are times I want to blow my brains out. When people tell me “I hate it! I just want it to stop!” I say “I know.” But they probably don’t understand that I KNOW!
In paying close attention to myself, I’ve learned something new: If I have nightmares all night-> I’m going to be triggered upon wakening + primed for panic throughout the day. That means I’ll be easily activated.
: to make (someone) ready to do something
: to make (something) ready for use
: to cover (a surface) with special paint in order to prepare it for the final layer of paint
1 : fill, load
2 a : to prepare for firing by supplying with priming
I woke from the first nightmare, grabbed my cell phone and played scrabble, scrolled Instagram and Facebook and online window shopped until I found sleep again…when I did, more nightmares came. Nightmares upon nightmares.
One dream was about domestic violence: Every time I left the house I’d see a man come out of no where and attack this woman. I don’t know if they were married, but clearly her goal was to escape him. He’d do the same thing every time-Storm toward her,grab her,dig his right hand into her skull so that his four fingers went beneath the skin..then he’d drag her off like a bowling ball while she screamed in agony. Observers on the street were yelling “Someone help her!” I took flight. The last time he grabbed her, he didn’t drag her off right away. I knew he was going to kill her. I ran while trying to call 911 on my cell phone. He was killing her and I knew I would be next as well as others in the vicinity. I yelled my husbands name really loud and that woke me. I actually yelled for him in my dream and in real life.
What was that dream about? I was in a violent relationship in the past, but I don’t think that’s key. I need to look at my world to see if there is something happening giving me the emotions I experienced in my dream. Fear.
The other night I dreamt I was in a horrible car wreck and dying. I’ve been in multiple vehicle accidents. I even thought I was dead once after being rear ended. But again, I don’t think the dream was about reliving an accident. Rather, it was about the associated emotion. Fear.
Following a nightmare-I try to soothe myself until I cannot keep my eyes open any longer. I’m avoiding sleep at the moment. Sometimes I think the dream will continue or another nightmare will start if I return to sleep. Other times I cannot sleep because I’m amped from thee burst of adrenaline.
I have a drawer full of Xanax that I can use, but I don’t like taking them. I know they’re there if I cannot regulate my heartbeat. Sometimes the emotions from my dreams linger all day. When that happens, I stay on my property.
I ground myself by (1) petting my dog after she wakes me up. (2) go on Facebook and Instagram. I usually find funny things on Facebook. I post things and banter. Things on Instagram make me laugh pretty hard and looking at animal pictures make me smile. (3) I work on my blog of (4) I get up and do things with my animals or garden.
There are five chapters remaining. Two of which contain the last of Dale’s letters.
His letters have a theme. People like Dale follow a theme. Their discourse is what makes them discernable to me. It makes them predictable and their predictability keeps me safe.
I finally realized individuals like Dale cannot be anything but what they are; and what they are is something we can’t take chances with; something we can’t give the benefit of doubt.
I want to help you recognize themes. The most outstanding of Dale’s are: He violated, California Penal Code 664, 187, Attempted Murder. . .Yet, his letters are all about the same thing; blaming, not taking personal responsibility and manipulation tactics.
Your eyes only.
You have done nothing for me to trust you but please, I must ask you this in complete trust: if you’re reading this…only you and I know about it. That means it has been successfully smuggled out and sent to you. The prosecution knows nothing of it keep it that way, okay?
Please do not tell anyone I sent this please. They will charge me with witness tampering. I was in court yesterday and discovered that your testimony is all they have on my case-of substance. Why? You said I talked about XXXXX(his ex) 1-1/2 years ago. They had nothing and they boasted of it. I am begging you to stop and think. Please cooperate with my defense when they call. The prosecution will know nothing until the trial. You may be able to spin what was said to keep me out of prison. Please be calm and work with me if only to let me see my kids grow up please.
Something happened I need you to take care of me. After all the care i provided for you. Now the only time I asked, for your help, so close to our goals, you’ve abandoned, betrayed, terminated and destroyed. Only you XXXXXX, because I’ve kept the faith even in jail, and prison I’ve tried to meet your needs. I could have met more but you failed to see me and know the provisions for you. I’ve enclosed a couple of thoughts from an essay may you enjoy. Please think of these things regarding us. Please no one else. I need you to keep this letter private. If you receive this and only you saw it and was snuck out properly. Your reporting of it would hurt even more people and me.
My Dearest XXXXXX,
Hello! You must think I’m obsessed with you. You’re right. I am. I mean really, for three years you and me then when I’m expecting you …nothing. You bet I’m up obsessed. I guess it might be different if I wasn’t in Jail. I could go on my way, and cry in private. Try moving on. But I’d still want to at least have you explain face-to-face. I was so looking forward to marriage this year. Wouldn’t New Year’s be great? I don’t know how you do it. To turn off so fast. It must not have been love. I can’t…all my hopes, dreams, love was with you. Were you just playing me…you know making for a better life? Here we were weeks from three years of work and you stepping out like that. I remember you said, Dale, promise you’ll never leave me. Don’t cheat on me. Everything else we can work out. I believed you! I also believe that you weren’t servicing XXXX(my ex boyfriend) The week I went to jail you said we already discussed that- you said no, I said you were and you said no. I just found out but it didn’t matter because I loved you and wanted needed and promise to be faithful. So I was and am.
Really XXXXXX, if I was a player who was interested in a kept woman-why the hell do I write, care, call? Don’t my actions tell you my heart and commitment? Just look really-who will drop everything any time to wait on you hand and foot. I did! Every day I think I spoiled you somewhat. You expected and didn’t give a shit if I help you some days but I did anyway because you needed me. You still do. I didn’t know if you got other letters so let me repeat something.
Im hearing things like, all the lies- well there is only these: one, I didn’t file for the divorce -why? Because I knew she would want money. I needed the trucks they didn’t come and I know you and I agreed to be together by the end of the year so I decided to keep stability with kids get my son graduated and ready for college, go on vacation, leave, then go do a quick divorce out-of-state. I’m thinking no big deal it’s better this way and that you will freak out if you knew but it’s the only-Because you said you didn’t want have baggage. So with checks I could seal the deal on the house for her and we settle in. I asked you to marry me in a beautifully planned scheme-beginning where we met.
So let’s review, you left because of two lies? Is that right?
Now maybe three the one where I saw Steve’s girl at a bathing suit competition only because I could not reach him for a week and he said he’d meet me there. I was there 20 minutes and left. I didn’t tell you because I knew you would freak. That’s it -what other lies are you talking about?
So this whole thing doesn’t make sense unless1. you lied 2. You really didn’t love me -love is patient and forgiving 3. you were scared trapped and threatened 4. You were lied to 5. you let someone else in who messed up the sanctity of our circle 6 you already had someone else.
And if the purpose was to keep you with baggage and from freaking out and because we’d be missing our goals to be together, then all would be as planned right. I would think so, but no! Something happened from here to here. What was it? Have you already been stepping out on me? I didn’t think so? Are we not within moments of what we wanted? I think so. Our goals were almost met -yep, then what in the world happened what could it be …I ask over and over. You never led me to believe there were any problems other than the strain of waiting. You didn’t care about money, house…just being together.
Well here I am where are you? Okay my case well they had speculation mistruths, lies, conjecture-then you. What are you doing? Let me ask, let’s say George was in trouble, would you stick up for George? Yep. Then how come you can’t for the man you said was your man-who worked work so hard to make these transitions possible for us to be together. We slept together. And now im at the cliff and you want to push me over I don’t get it.
I’m just trying to figure out how all that we wanted and worked for could screw up so bad from here to there. Had I not try to protect you and our secret? I would have explained more at our last visit. I told you there’s more and come back and I’ll tell you. Now there’s still more, the business in Hawaii and farming in Central Valley. I wasn’t at liberty to tell you. So there. How can you help me make sense of this. Doesn’t what I was doing make sense for you and us? If you knew the rest, the stuff I said I can tell, you would understand more but now you’ve pissed our dreams.
It just doesn’t figure, anyway ramblings of an old man who you made believe in love and sacrifice all only to be rejected and betrayed at Loves finest hour. Hello. I love you, and forgive you and hope you can forgive me. You made me feel that there was no way of losing you.
Blessings on you my dearest. Oh, the order-so you never want to see me again? Is that it? Such hate, animosity and psycho revenge. I can’t see or believe you were capable but here we are. Again help me understand please? Love to you always. God’s best. And many blessings my dearest.
I have become an insatiable reader. 52 books. I average 400 pages a day. Man I never took the time since college. I just finished one that makes me think of us.
I asked him if he’d ever experienced domestic violence in his personal life. He said he hadn’t.
He told me about the fist fights he’d had with his ex-partner. Perhaps people view same-sex domestic violence differently. It isn’t different. Domestic violence is domestic violence.
He said,”I don’t even know anyone who’s experienced domestic violence…at least that I know of.”
Yet he does know someone, because he knows me. He forgets that I’m a survivor; because I don’t present like a victim.
Deanna Cook was a 32 year-old aspiring part-time fashion designer and up-and-coming writer. Her mom, two daughters, three sisters and extended family members meant the world to her. Deanna loved animals and had a great sense of humor. She took great pride in helping her mother and aunts cook during family events. Deanna was beautiful, driven and vivacious.
Sadly, Deanna had been involved in, and had seemingly escaped, domestically violent relationships. On August 17, 2012, Deanna cried out to the police department’s 9-1-1 call center for assistance and to save her life. The 9-1-1 call was taken by a 9-1-1 operator who could clearly hear Deanna screaming at the top of her lungs in fear, crying out for help.
Nearly three minutes into the call, Deanna is heard begging her attacker to stop and asking the attacker why he kicked her door in to gain entry. The attacker asks Deanna if she called the police. Five (5) minutes into the 9-1-1 call Deanna asks her attacker why he is attacking her and says “please, please stop it.” Approximately seven (7) minutes into the call, she tells her attacker “please, please, please…..why are you doing this to me.” Deanna repeatedly screams “help.” Despite knowing of Deanna’s location, using XY coordinates, the police were not immediately dispatched; there was no 9-1-1 supervisor on duty; and the 9-1-1 call center was understaffed, with 9-1-1 operators working overtime.
From the tone of Deanna’s voice and screams that her life was in jeopardy, it was obvious that there was a physical disturbance in her home and that her life was being threatened. Despite that it was apparent that Deanna was being threatened, attacked and was in fear for her life, it took nearly ten (10) minutes to finally “initiate” a dispatch request for officers to go to Deanna’s home in one of the city’s socioeconomically deprived neighborhoods. Deanna’s frantic 9-1-1 call lasts approximately eleven (11) minutes.
Later, once officers in the field finally “volunteered” to investigate her domestic violence complaint, the officers first stopped to investigate a false burglary alarm call and later stopped at a 7-11 convenience store to buy personal items. The police officers did not use lights, sirens, or increased speed to drive to Deanna’s home. When the police arrived at Deanna’s home fifty (50) minutes after her initial 9-1-1 call, the officers did not go to the rear of her residence, did not peek through all of her windows (where they would have seen signs in her bedroom of a violent physical altercation), and never attempted to forcibly gain entry into Deanna’s home. The officers simply knocked on her door then called her cell phone. Receiving no response the officers just left.
Two (2) days later, on August 19, 2012, after Deanna did not show up for church, her two daughters, mother, and one of her sisters went to her home to check on her. After getting no response to repeated knocks on her door, the family contacted the 9-1-1 call center for assistance. Again, the 9-1-1 operators refused to send anyone to the neighborhood. After once again being denied any assistance from the police department, Deanna’s family began to take matters into their own hands to locate Deanna. They went to the rear of her residence, where the four females kicked the patio door down, and noticed water flowing all throughout the house. Inside the bathroom, Deanna was found dead. When EMT finally arrived Deanna was transported to the morgue.
Prior to her death, Deanna was a domestic violence victim who had contacted police multiple times to report that the suspect had repeatedly physically abused and was stalking her. During several calls made to the police department, Deanna told the police that she was afraid that calling the police would get her killed, but she called again and again to feel safe. In fact, Deanna called 9-1-1 repeatedly in the weeks and months leading up to her death with the same concerns, that she was being stalked and physically attacked. In one such call to 9-1-1 Deanna said that the suspect was watching her house, and stated “[h]e’s already tried to kill me three times. I’m really just fed up with this. I can’t keep moving and changing my life because of this….”
During other calls with 9-1-1 operators and visits by police, the police department affirmatively indicated to Deanna that all she had to do was call 9-1-1 whenever she saw her attacker at her house and the City would “send the police there immediately.” Deanna was also told that the police department would increase the patrols in her area to help her feel safe, considering her stalking and domestic violence complaints. Despite giving Deanna these reassurances, the police never increased patrols in Deanna’s disadvantaged neighborhood; the police rarely investigated the complaints; and they did not respond timely to her 9-1-1 calls. Deanna’s voice was not heeded or taken seriously.
This is the story of the end or where it began; either way, it is the story of my new forever.
I hadn’t realized I was dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) until I witnessed a violent incident at work.
I experienced a lot of trauma during my lifetime. I didn’t forget, for my trials are unforgettable. . . to me. I suppose I never connected the effects of my injuries: fear, startled easily, rarely trusting, chronic nightmares, reacting dissociatively, distress following trigger, avoidance behavior, detachment, restrictive affect, negative emotions and beliefs, hypervigilance, issues with concentration, irritability, depersonalization and derealization. I had been living with these things for so long I just thought my reactions and behavior were normal. It is normal. My normal. Normal for a person who experienced many things that are abnormal.
The work-place incident occurred while I was employed at the first prison I was hired at. I had been there a little over three years when a new person came to work there. A woman. I’d known her for five years. We were in graduate school together and had been friends; although I ended our friendship because her behavior was out of bounds. She lacked boundaries in a major way and was unpredictable. In hindsight, I probably ended the friendship because her unpredictable behavior caused me a lot of anxiety. She was flakey, unreliable, and socially inept. What it amounted to is, I had difficulty trusting her. How could I trust her if she rarely kept her word and behaved histrionically. I did not like being around her because she always drew attention to herself and I do not like attention. I’ve since learned my triggers and the two things that awaken my senses are unpredictability and folks with personality disorders. The two tend to go hand-in-hand.
It takes mere seconds for my brain to alert me to idiosyncrasies. I consider it a gift: the way being traumatized repeatedly has sharpened my senses to the point of being psychic. I can watch someone,and before I blink, I will know what they are about and what they will do. I haven’t been incorrect yet.
I had been manning the unit alone for a few months due to a shortage of staff; which meant I had a caseload of 30 when I was supposed to have 15. It was manageable. Mostly because my team understood my position. One day my supervisor came to me and said she hired someone and was going to place her on the unit with me. I don’t know why, but I asked,”What’s her name?” When I was informed of this new persons name I felt dread. I said, “Oh, I know her.” My supervisor inquired,”Is it okay? Can you work with her?” I said “Yes, it’s fine,” but I knew I should of said, no. I reckon everything played out the way it was meant to.
I reached out to this woman in an effort to maintain a work environment free of impediments. I texted her and let her know I was informed she had been hired and that she would be placed on my unit. I invited her to lunch and to my surprise she immediately apologized for the downfall of our relationship. She held my hand and cried. She told me how much my friendship meant to her and that she admired me. I trusted her words were sincere, but when it comes to behavior, I’m a ‘wait and see’ type of girl. I thanked her for apologizing and tentatively agreed to try our friendship again.She started at the prison the week following our lunch date. It only took a day or two for her personality issues to surface at work. People can only wear a mask for so long. She was fine toward me, but she targeted two of our colleagues: a female psychologist and a male psychiatrist. Her antics (lying and splitting) disrupted our team. I don’t think my erstwhile girl-friend is evil. I think she has some unresolved issues, and she allowed those issues to spill over into other aspects of her life. She lacks insight, lies, plays games with people, and bullies them.
Watching her in action induced anxiety because her behavior was predatory. I work with predators by virtue of my my employment. I was ill-prepared for similar conduct from confrere’s.
I counseled her about her behavior, which is difficult to do when people lack insight and are personality disordered. I only advised her when she came to me about issues on the unit. Otherwise I minded my business. I would point out how her behavior contributed to the issues she brought forth. She never confirmed or denied her part. She would only look at me.
One day the psychiatrist decided he’d had enough of her bullying him. I was in one of the treatment rooms conversing with the supervising RN and our psychiatrist was seated at a table writing med orders and charting. The blighter entered the room with hands on her hips and chastised the doctor for not being present when she sought him out earlier that morning. The castigation continued with her pointing and waving a finger at the doctor; a man 30 years her senior. He’d grown weary of trying to ignore her and silently collected the charts he had been working in and quietly walked past her, exiting the room.
Roughly three minutes after his egress, he returned, and got in the face of his agitator. He was so close I thought he would strike her. I believe she thought the the same because she raised her hands as if preparing to deflect his blows. He yelled obscenities at her as he told her how out of line she was. When he was finished, he walked out and left us frozen in shock. He returned once more and said a few more words before leaving the unit.
I am stuck in a time where people pretty much think about themselves and disregard how their actions effect those around them. She had the narcissistic traits that forbade her to notice much outside of herself. As a psychiatrist, he knew his contender was personality disordered; yet he allowed her to encroach upon his limits until he exploded, and left collateral damage.
One of my triggers are men yelling and/or exhibiting erratic, domineering, abusive behavior. I didn’t know this at the time; if I had, I would of been prepared for what followed his tirade and may have been able to stave off some of the psychological and physiological effects of being triggered.
Triggered: Imagine typing a word or phrase into Google. Google will search and offer many results. I offer this as a comparison for the way my brain behaves when I am triggered. When I saw and heard the male psychiatrists violent behavior toward his female agitator, my brain, like a computer, searched it’s data bank for similar incidents (unbeknownst to me).
As it searched, it probably cross referenced Dale, who I wrote about in the Stalked Chapters; my ex-husband whom I’ve referenced in several of my essays; Advance America, I wrote about in a piece titled Friday where I had a gun held to the back of my head…so on and so forth.
The result was my brain alerting me that I and my female cohort were in danger. At the time I was not aware of the message my brain was communicating to my body. I have since decided to become somewhat of an expert on the topic of trauma, responses to trauma, and PTSD.
After the event, I suffered anxiety attacks when I thought about going to work, on my way to work and while at work. At first I didn’t know I was having anxiety with panic attacts. I thought my heart was pounding as a result of being severely anemic. I was very anemic at the time and as a result, occasionally my heart would race or drum in my chest and I found it difficult to catch my breath.
Finally, I relented and contacted our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). When they asked me why I needed to speak to a therapist I told them, “Something happened at work and I think I have anxiety associated with PTSD.” I was given the names and contacts for several therapists and by chance (nothing is by-chance) chose one who specialized in PTSD. So when I told him I thought I had PTSD he said, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure you do, but I don’t want to label you.”
“A moment of danger can bring about a temporary cessation of the stream of thinking and thus give you a taste of what it means to be present, alert, aware.”
I learned about this book from: lavenderenergy.tumblr.com