Domestic Violence Isn’t Strong Enough Of A Word

My youngest daughter endured an unhealthy amount of abuse and harassment while in school. By her senior year she talked only of making tracks.

Soon after graduation she moved into her own place in Buffalo to be closer to someone who said all the right things while she was having so much trouble in school. He would pop in and leave. Sometimes he would stay for a few days. She didn’t really seem to have any say in the matter, control suited him. Soon he was there for good, and soon the beatings started. She was afraid to ask him to leave. When she tried to leave, it didn’t end well.

She didn’t come home often. She had planned on coming home for Thanksgiving in 2016 but canceled at the last minute after being pounded into submission. She wanted to go to the hospital, he just gave her an ice pack and told her to lay down. Her employer would threaten her with termination if she kept missing work.

He would threaten her with termination if she lost her job. He would go through her cell phone, monitored her every move, and even made her send pictures whenever she was away to prove her location. She was terrified to reach out for help, for fear that he would arrive before help did. Sleepless nights warned us she was in trouble. She kept insisting she was fine, and was happy to be spreading her wings. The tone of her voice told the story of an uphill flight.

One of the better days that I’ve had in a long time was when my daughter got dropped with one punch as soon as she walked in her apartment. The mistake he made was she landed by the door. She opened it and ran out as he gave chase. She has a brother who plays running back in college and one who plays running back in high school, she got the wheels in the family. She made it to a corner store where someone called the police and an ambulance. After initial treatment at ECMC, she called our oldest daughter in the Philly area who called us. My two sons and I picked her up and brought her home. She had a bloody nose, a black eye, old facial injuries, and a variety of defensive bruises up and down her arms and legs. In the days to come she complained of blurred vision and short term memory loss.

The Buffalo police had him in custody within the hour. He was so confident in his control over her that he went back to the apartment to reheat his dinner. We found it still in the microwave when we moved her out. As they were closing in, he left her a voice mail warning her not to press charges. He told her that he knew all of her addresses, and if he went to jail, he would kill her as soon as he got out.

On February 10, 2017, her sister drove in from Philly, she insisted on being the one to drive her to Buffalo to file the charges. He was no longer being held on the initial incident. She decided that would be the last time she would be in the same room with him. My wife and I attended the rest of the hearings, the first two coming on March 1 and March 22. The defendant failed to appear for the latter however, we feared that he was en route to make good on his threat and called to warn our daughter. As it turned out he was back in custody on an unrelated matter. On March 31 he was escorted into the courtroom by the Erie County Sheriff’s Department. After another continuance it was onto April 12 where he finally plead guilty to a reduced charge of 3rd degree attempted assault. A class B misdemeanor which carries up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, one year probation, court mandated counseling, and a permanent protection order.

I don’t like the term “domestic violence.” It implies that an argument got slightly out of hand and became just a tad physical. Given the size difference that’s always involved I think “cowardly violence” works better.

I’m proud of my daughter for putting her concern for the next potential victim ahead of her own personal safety. And for asking me to tell her story so that others might benefit. And Godspeed to whoever got involved and made that 911 call from that little store in downtown Buffalo.

Dan Nelson is a Bemus Point resident.