By KARLA WOOD
Ms. Karla, I need to come see you. Thomas told me to call you. Can I come today? Yeah, I already went to court once. No one would listen. Do you have time today? My next court date is just next week. Okay, I’m leaving right now. See you in about 30 minutes. Thank you so much.
Hey, come on in. Let me put my pup away – she’s a Greater Swiss Mountain – I know she’s big, about 120 pounds now. She’ll be 2 this 4th of July. Just a have a seat. You want a Coke? I’m having one.
So, please fill this paperwork out for me while I read her complaint about the horrible man you’re supposed to be. I didn’t do this, Ms. Karla. I understand – fill that out. Okay. So, what happened in court the other day?
I got there and was sitting in the rows by myself. There was a whole bench full of lawyers and whoever else gathered around my girlfriend and son. When she pointed me out to them, they glared at me and then one of them moved them into some other place out of the courtroom. I haven’t seen my son in 13 days now – he’s only 3. I miss him so much. He was trying to look at me but his Mom kept turning his head back to her and then like I said, they moved out of the court room.
Okay, what has been going on in your family? My girlfriend, well, ex now…uhmm…well she’s been taking pills and smoking and drinking. I drink too though. But well, she’s mad at me because I told her if she didn’t quit doing it so much and around lil’man that I was leaving her and taking lil/man with me – that we can’t live like this no more. She won’t work, she won’t keep the place half way clean – always says it’s lil’man’s fault and that she’s tired. But, as soon as I get home from work, she’s out the door with her girlfriends and don’t come home ‘til real late. Either all jacked up ready to fight or barely standing and passes out on the living room floor. I carry her into the bedroom so lil’man won’t see her when he wakes up. I didn’t do the stuff she says in there. We did argue though, but I didn’t hit her and I sure didn’t pull no knife. She’s done this before – to her other boyfriend. I believed her and thought I was the one who got her away from him…‘til now… now, I feel bad for the things I said to him. Anyway, I need your help. Everyone up there is against me. Will you help me?
Yes. Yes, I will. Just try to breathe. It’s going to be an uphill battle, you know that, right? You know there’s a whole bureaucracy, heck a whole system, in place to make you the big bad wolf, right? Yes, ma’am I know, but I didn’t do this and I’m gonna probably lose my son and my job. Everything…okay, we fight the one who cried wolf.
The above account is fictional; not any one person or incident, but rather a composite and indicative of the many conversations that have taken place over the years. I’m a private attorney who defends those wrongly accused of domestic violence. For 16 years, I have helped mostly men (some women too though) battle the entire system that so wants to believe every alleged victim.
In my experience, the truly battered and abused woman who finally makes her way to my office, is asking only one thing – can she leave? She is not interested in the games/drama of court, of getting the leg up in a child custody battle or getting possession of the house from the outset of what will be a nasty divorce process. She is so beaten, mentally, that she doesn’t know if she can leave. No one is for domestic violence. But, please, please don’t believe all you read or hear; don’t take it at face value; look into the situation before you judge – for one day you may find yourself right in that same seat – alone and looking for help to defend yourself against an entire system. Watch for those who Cry Wolf.
Wood is an attorney in Waynesville.