Disclaimer: The stories on this blog touch on difficult issues and experiences.
CW: This week's story involves situations pertaining to relationships and domestic violence.
I guess back in 2015, my friend was dating this guy. There were some things off with him, but nothing that I could pinpoint. I kind of thought, "If she's happy, why would I say anything?"
I think it was June or July, she calls me one night. She had moved in with her boyfriend, who was an avid hunter, and she called me and said, "Hey, I just wanted to let you know that my boyfriend is outside shooting his gun and looking back at me menacingly. So if they find me dead in the morning...."
And I just sort of...I don't know. There was more that she was saying that I wasn't particularly focused on after hearing about my friend being in danger. So I told her, "You need to get out of there. Get in your car, call me when you're on your way." I still regret that I didn't stay on the phone with her. I should have said, "Stay on the phone with me until you get in the car. Don't worry about packing a bag, we'll figure it out and get you situated in my apartment."
So I hung up with her and every second that went by, every minute, was just dragging. I'm constantly worried. I called her a bunch of times, she wasn't answering. I enlisted my siblings and a bunch of other people's help to try to call her and we weren't getting anything from her so I was like, okay. As someone who has been in the fire service, I know that we have done welfare checks for lesser bullshit. So I figured I'd call in and let them know. I turned on my phone and I'm trying to listen to see if I can hear anything that the radio scanner app is saying, and I couldn't. So my mind is still racing, I'm pacing, doing anything I can to try to get my mind off of this until I can figure out what's going on.
Then I hear on my radio scanner app that an ambulance is needed to the address where she is, and the police were there. And I was like shit, well at this point I'm just going to hop in the shower and get ready to go to the hospital because I am expecting the worst. I got a call back from dispatch and the police said everything was okay, and that I was allowed to go and pick her up, or at least go see what the hell had happened. So I'm racing my ass off to get over to the house to make sure she's okay. I get there, and there are so many fucking cop cars. It was like all of them were there. Before I even got to see my friend, I was pulled aside by police and they said, "We've actually known this guy for a little bit, he's a sports coach, we always thought he was a good dude. If you hadn't called us, your friend would be dead right now.
When the police arrived, my understanding of it (and of course there are so many sides to every story) is that she was in the sun room on her knees praying, while he was pacing with a gun or a pistol that I'm assuming he was going to use to shoot or otherwise injure her with, until the police pulled up. He then somehow coaxed her upstairs and held her hostage with a loaded pistol. She kept trying to get away and he started choking her. And in the police report, it stated that they could hear her saying, "He's strangling me!" They kept trying to get in the room but he had the two of them barricaded in there.
Somehow, and again this is my understanding of the whole thing, my friend is actually kind of a bad ass. She somehow, at 110 pounds soaking wet, was able to wrangle the pistol out of his hand and either kick it to the police outside the door or hand it off to them, I'm not sure of those specifics. But she ran downstairs into the arms of one of the officers that was outside, and they were able to get her out. They arrested him, I think it was a five year probation with 90 days in the detention center. He got out between 30 and 60 days for good behavior.
Up until last weekend, I heard he had broken up with her. And because he knows how close she and I are, and I guess because he knows that I initiated the 911 response, he's afraid to have me know anything about them hanging out or anything like that because of his probation. But over the weekend, I was up visiting my dad, and I was talking to her on the phone, and she's not the kind of person that would necessarily go travel anywhere outside of her comfort zone without someone driving or helping her get there, you know? So when she said she was on the way back from St. Michael's, I knew. She would not drive when it's dark, she would not go anywhere like that by herself. So I just realized on the phone, right then and there, that somehow after he broke up with her they were back together again. The silence gave her away, she wouldn't be driving and talking on the phone as casually as she was, and she wouldn't be driving that far away without someone with her to help. So I got in a fist fight with some pond rocks over the whole deal.
I just don't know how to help her. I haven't confronted her about it because I just don't know what to say. I've been talking to her less, and we have a very close relationship to begin with, so I'm sure she's feeling that, I just don't know what to say. I probably will confront her when she brings it up in casual conversation like, "Oh, we just did this the other day..." - I'm not very tactful about it. I'm kind of a dick about the whole thing and I would be like, "Text me when you get home and let me know that you're alive." And I hate that I have to be that blunt but all I can do is be direct and honest. I just want to know that she's safe. I'm heartbroken because I feel like I've already lost her.
My other friends brush it off, they more or less say they can't do anything about it,that she's an adult, and that she's going to do what she wants to do. They're not as involved with her on the level that I am. One of them actually thinks that it was some sort of like PTSD flashback from what his previous career used to be, but I think that's bullshit. I can actually safely say that's not what the hell it is, as someone with lived experience with PTSD. His defense in court he said he was afraid the police were going to hurt them and that he was keeping her upstairs and trying to keep her safe from the police. I remember the entire thing, I actually testified at the Jury Trial. I was listening to the entire testimony as a witness in the courtroom, and you can even see in the transcript the whole fucking courtroom went silent because in that moment he threw anybody that he had any connection to under the bus to try to save his own ass.
I just wish I knew how to help her. I've written her letters, I've cried to her, I've talked to her, it breaks my heart because every day...literally every day I'm not sure if there's going to be a voicemail or a phone call or anything saying that I'm no longer going to have that friend anymore.
He's a big hunter, and I know he's really upset about the fact that he had to relinquish his firearms due to his probation. He's not allowed to leave the state without permission. She lives across the state line and he actually needs permission from his probation officer to go see the very person that he tried to kill, and they've granted it two or three times now. I know he's angry and I'm positive he's bitter. I'm even afraid for my own safety. I have these racing thoughts like, "What better way, other than killing her or trying to again, and in his mind he's not going to make the same mistakes again. In his twisted fucking mind, what better way to reach her than to reach me?" I even take my my own pistol into the bathroom when I shower now, and I feel crazy, but I'm afraid.
If you or someone you know is in need of help or resources pertaining to Domestic Violence, please do not hesitate to call these numbers.
Carroll County MD: Family and Children's Services 24 Hour DV Hotline - 443-865-8031
Baltimore County MD: Family and Children's Services 24 Hour DV Hotline - 410-828-6390
National 24 Hour DV Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)