One of the worst things an abuse victim has to deal with is the invalidation, disbelief and ignorant behaviors from institutions that supposedly exist to help protect us. Too many of us have horror stories about calling the police for help and not getting it…or worse. Revictimization rates are extremely high, and police officers have high rates of domestic violence in their own homes, so the police are often very destructive when abuse victims call for help. It should not be this way. Society deserves police who 1. can pass a psychiatric evaluation to show that *they* are not disordered, 2. do not abuse their own spouses and 3. are well-educated about domestic violence and the charm of personality disorders.
When I was dealing with the narcopath, the police created a nightmare for me. At first, I didn’t realize my husband was disordered. I thought I could reason with him, get him to realize that threatening, controlling, raging and name-calling were not appropriate, and get him to listen to a therapist. (Yeah right!) I felt obligated to make the marriage work, and I felt trapped because he told me he would not help with medical bills during my pregnancy if I ended the marriage. There were multiple reasons I let him abuse me more than once. Pretty much all of us can honestly say we gave our abusers too many chances. And there are many known reasons that victims do this. There is no shame in it. We simply do not know how to deal with someone so sick. But the police in my case were callous and clueless.
After the abuser assaulted me, I got a restraining order, but it was not valid until the abuser was served. Guess who dodged being served? Yep. The abuser. Instead, he repeatedly came to my home to harass me, and the police could do nothing because he hadn’t been served yet. They did not have the papers to serve him because he kept giving fake addresses for where he was staying. It was frustrating! At one point, one particularly arrogant officer got in my face yelling that I was causing problems because I would not let the abuser in MY house when I was waiting for the restraining order to be served. He kept insisting that my spouse had rights to my home. I kept insisting that he get the abuser out of my yard. He knew the abuser was harassing me by dodging being served, but he kept getting nasty with me instead.
Later, the abuser talked me into dropping the restraining order by promising he’d go to therapy. This is a very typical abuser tactic, but I fell for it. Of course, the raging and intimidation re-started within hours. I ended up calling the police again. The same officer came back and told me it was my fault for letting the abuser come back. I was terrified and crying and he was getting aggressive with me saying I was dumb to let the abuser come back. He told me I was wasting his time and threatened me not to call again. Wow. I contacted his supervisor and politely let them know that their team really, really needed some tactful domestic violence education. The supervisor listened, and assured me I need not fear retaliation if I had to call again.
Well, of course I had to call again. After I went to therapy with the abuser, he came home incredibly enraged, (also normal with a narcissist and therapy. Per Lundy Bancroft, going to therapy with an abuser is dangerous. His book also warns women not to fall for the abuser’s promise to go to therapy if you drop the restraining order!) And unfortunately, the same angry officer came out. And yes. He did retaliate. He made false reports about me saying that I had a history of making false accusations. It was incredibly frustrating for me! I was dealing with a ticking time bomb who went into a verbally abusive explosion every couple hours screaming, raging, getting in my face and demanding I obey him…and instead of helping, the officer made false reports about ME. Sickening. But extremely common. The police are not equipped to understand domestic violence dynamics. They see a charming abuser and a crying, upset woman…and they see the woman as crazy. I recently learned that this same officer further retaliated by spreading his false reports about me to children’s services. He has done very incredible damage with his ignorance.
Today I contacted his supervisor again to let them know that their officers need domestic violence training and they need to be careful about making judgement calls on topics they aren’t educated to make judgments about. If the police officer had no proof that I was really being abused…that is far, far different from ignorantly stating that I was lying. He simply should have said there was no proof, which unfortunately is usually the case with domestic violence. But that certainly does NOT mean that nothing happened.
The supervisor I talked to was rather old-fashioned and got mad when I suggested that his officer had made a bad call and had actually revictimized someone who was already being abused. He said it was insulting for me to say they weren’t trained to understand domestic violence, because they all were. I pointed out that they were not mental health experts and that if they made the wrong guess, they could endanger someone. And you know what? He started telling me his beliefs on abuse…and PROVED that he had no clue. I was horrified. No wonder victims cannot get help. This man literally told me that only threats and physical attacks are domestic violence. I was flabbergasted. How very ignorant and dangerous. He then went on to tell me that raging, screaming, intimidating, threatening, controlling, financial control and more were not domestic violence. I think any DV advocate with real experience would beg to differ! He continued to say that many reports of abuse are false. Wrong. Statistics show that false reports are very rare. I pointed that out to him and he told me that he knew better. I think that is the problem. He did not know better and he wasn’t willing to learn. He ended by telling me that the officers all trusted each other’s judgment, so once the officer had made the false reports about me, the others were going to accept that as fact. This man was a lost cause, and part of the reason domestic violence is a serious epidemic. I’m sure there are good officers out there, but my experiences have been very, very bad.