Men in Blue
“Do you have any marks?”
The Officer’s ‘all business’ tone began to shift my perception of the direction I felt the conversation was initially going.
I didn’t have an answer for him. If I would have had time to look for cuts and bruises before they arrived, I would have also had time to wipe away the mascara that had dried after running down my cheeks, chin, and neck.
They stepped in closer to me and briefly glanced at my arms and face.
“I don’t see anything” one of them said under his breath to the other as if he was being inconvenienced.
In this moment I realized nothing was going to change.
From the tone in their voices and the subtle drifts of their bodies back and forth as if they were restless and this was a waste of their time, I knew this had become just another call. The Harford County Police had better things to do than to stand in hallways with 20-somethings who had just been slightly thrown around.
All my feelings of rationalizing Eric’s behaviors came running back to me.
Maybe I was wrong to feel wronged by him. It couldn’t have been that bad if the officers standing front of me were this underwhelmed. After all, what Eric had done just now was nothing compared to what he had done before.
But then, that’s just it… This isn’t the only thing he had ever done.
I’d taken a lot over the years. I’d been thrown down on gravel roads with his hands around my neck- I’d been told he was going to kill me and actually feared for my life- I’d been run off roads and tracked down- I’d been woken up in the middle of the night to random punches- I’d been pushed down and struck in vulnerable moments…
So yes, Eric throwing me down on the floor, placing his hands around my arms and banging me into the floor repeatedly while screaming in my face, and then spitting on me really felt minor in comparison. The whole thing only went on for a handful of minutes before they arrived knocking on the door when usually these things lasted for what felt like mini lifetimes.
Suddenly, I found myself wishing it had lasted a lifetime- I wished that it had been one of the regular occurrences of Eric hitting or choking… Anything that might somehow grab their attention and make them do a 180 and treat this as if it were more than nothing.
I wanted them to see everything I had been through and to understand in my life, in this moment, this was everything.
I instantly went from doubting myself to doubting my faith in the officers standing in front of me.
I expected Eric to do what he had done, but them? They were supposed to, in my mind, save me. They were supposed to run in, understand the situation, react in an empathetic manner, and help me out of the cycle I had fallen in. Yet, here I was being made to feel like I was somehow a waste of time.
“So, what happened?”
It was my chance to speak up. I tried to think back over what had just happened and organize my thoughts into coherent phrases for them, but my adrenaline kept stopping my mind in its tracks leaving it to simply run in place.
When I opened my mouth words rolled out faster than I could arrange them. They tripped over each other forming lurching sentences and jumpy thoughts. Just as I felt I was building up a momentum that kept my words well aligned, another 2 officers walked up the stairs. I was mid-sentence telling them how he had thrown me down when-
“Hey, I haven’t seen you in forever!” One of the original officers had turned and called out to one of the new arrivals.
I shut up.
Now all four officers were deep in conversation about what had been going on with them in their lives, how Officer Three’s wife was doing, and, most importantly, they were attempting to coordinate lunch plans.
Suddenly it didn’t matter how torn up I was because I was invisible.
I watched them laughing and exchanging conversation as if I were some invisible entity hovering and observing from above, yet my toes were still digging into the dingy hallway carpet.
All those times I never called the police… It seemed I hadn’t missed out on anything.
Every time I heard them joke and laugh it felt like a knife digging into my side. I felt more betrayed by them than I did by Eric.
A few minutes rolled by, and their conversation eventually came to a natural lull. The original officer turned to me with a smile still plastered across his face and said, “Oh… Can you start from the beginning?”
These Officers weren’t Superheros like the 5-year-old me had always assumed Police Officers were… They were just people.
If I wanted saving I was
going to have to do it myself.