Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Thanks

I had made the decision about noon. I pulled up my blog on my work computer and read all the comments from the post Vulnerability, especially those ones which recommended that I talk to the police, report what had happened. That idea had been bouncing around in my head since the incident happened. What kept me from doing it immediately was simple, fear (first) stole my ability to process and think beyond the moment, relief (second) flooded my senses when it was over and all I wanted to do was get home and get under a blanket. But a few days later, some wise advice later, I thought about going to speak to the police.

"But," I wondered, "is what he did to me serious enough to bother the police? Will they see me as a silly, overgrown child tattling on someone for 'not being nice to me'?"

Whatever the worries, I decided to go to the police.

I've never done this before. I once had to call them when my car was broken into, several years ago - they didn't even come to look, just took the report over the phone. I have done training for police officers on issues of disabilities, speaking once at an international conference of sexual assault investigators to over 500 police officers. That was a trip. But I've never gone to the station with a complaint.

Until yesterday, after work.

We arrived at the police station and as we were headed in, I found my heart was in my throat. I was nervous. Really really nervous. I was afraid of being looked at with pity, or with contempt (why contempt entered my head I don't know), or with a patronizing smile. But, they are there to serve and protect me, so I wanted to give them a chance.

It didn't start well. I was asked at the desk 'how I could be helped' and I blathered on about what had happened and why I was there and how I just thought they should know. I shoulda made the decision in the morning, maybe I'd have planned this out better. The police guy (I couldn't tell a rank for the life of me) told me to wait for a minute.

A while later a woman came out to greet me, she brought me into a little room and asked me to tell her exactly what happened. That I could do. That I did. She made notes as I talked. She asked me a couple of questions, could I describe him (I so wanted her to say perp but she didn't) and I told her that I could. I described his height and weight, hair colour and style, jacket, sweater, jeans, sneakers, wristwatch - I'm a writer, I'm a watcher, I notice. She smiled a couple of times as I described him and at the end she said that I'd make a very good witness.

As we talked, I relaxed and oddly, I felt control coming back. I didn't really expect anything much to happen with this, but I still felt that I had taken action. She told me that she appreciated me coming by, that it was important that they know that there was someone out there with extremely hostile attitudes towards a specific group of people. That they'd be on alert should anything happen.

Then.

She said that she was sorry that that had happened to me. That everyone should feel safe in the community, that it wasn't ok for him to have behaved like that. She told me that she took what I said seriously and that it mattered that I had come in.

I was moved.

I don't know who trained her, or if she just came that way, but she was very good at being reassuring and very good at communicating strength along with compassion.

Thankyou blog kin for spurring me on to do what I did yesterday.

It needed to be done.

With your help, I did it.

13 comments:

wendy said...

It sounds like you were directed to exactly the right person! I'm glad that it helped, that you feel better for having taken action and reclaimed control. That's as important as reporting "the perp"!

Anonymous said...

I really believe that the work you and many have done over the past few years with the police have made a difference in their attitude, respect and actions. I am going to use this as an example next time some one tells me the police don't care.

thanks for sharing.

Kei said...

You took back control and regained what he took from you. Way to go.
I see a time in the not to distant future how you will use the entire story to help someone else you encounter.
Although, could be you already have by blogging it.

Thanks~

Mieke said...

Your first reaction, when it happened, although performed instinctively, was a very intelligent one. It saved you, and it saved Joe some big trouble perhaps.

Reporting the facts to the police, was a courageous actin. It is always easier to do nothing, but by your action you may rescue others from agressive people in the future.
(Reminds me of an old Jew who told me one day that the period of the second world war- even in the camps- was being felt by himself as a kind of climax in his life, because all the time he and his wife had been able to do important things for other sufferers, especially by giving them moral support.)
Mieke.

lilwatchergirl said...

Dave, this is the most inspiring thing you've ever posted. I'm so impressed. I hope they find the guy (I'm being very restrained by avoiding some of the terms that are in my head for him). But even if they don't, I firmly believe that you have protected other disabled people from this kind of abuse. And you've taken control of the situation, which is amazing.

I've never had to report someone for disability hate crime. I hope that I would be strong enough to do so if I needed to, though. If I ever do have to, I will remember your example. I hope others reading this will too.

chris said...

Thanks for the update Dave and well done on doing this. I really hope they catch him.

Stace' said...

Bravo,
I told my younger brother, who also happens to be handicapped, about your post. It sparked some amazing conversation about feeling vulnerable with a handicapp. A conversation I wouldn't have initiated otherwise. Thanks!!!

I'm enjoying your blog!

Stace' said...

Handicap. Oops!

gracie said...

I think it is so important to be pro-active for ourselves. I have no problem being assertive when it comes to my daughter, who is also handicapped, but i have a much harder time for my own benefit. Thanks for your blog! I feel so empowered by your words.

Lola said...

Go Dave!

It is so easy to adivse another to do something that is so difficult to do oneself.

Thank you for modelling that, for sharing your story. It is great that it doing it helped you and wonderful that it has already helped others.

Cheers and another hug x

Laura

lina said...

I seriously would have never thought to go to the police - but how logical is that.
Good for you for doing the right thing.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I am really glad you had a positive experience (well, not really but you know what I mean) in reporting this and weren't brushed off - I am also glad that you weren't silenced; it took a lot of courage to make that decision and I hope when the time comes, you will help me make the right one too.

Kathryn said...

Dave - good for you. I am sorry the whole thing happened - but I agree with the others - very smart to placate the bully than stand up to him. Crazy people like that are dangerous and not worth provoking.

It's nice to know that there are people like that in the police force - like the woman. I would have been very nervous going in there too. Bravery all round for you.