Over the course of four years I met, spoke and exchanged numerous e-mails with Dotty. Although I wasn’t assigned a specific case involving her, as I wrote in the first piece, we both benefited from this time together; my helping Dotty emerge from this long dark tunnel and Dotty helping me understand some of the dynamics of domestic abuse from a person who lived it for so long. The following are excerpts of some of our many e-mail exchanges:

As the saying goes, a marriage may end, but the divorce does not. It will affect me throughout my life, but how I choose to move forward from it, those are conscience everyday choices I make. I choose to pick up & move forward & embrace the beauty that the good Lord sends my way!

Many among us have to admit to making the comment about an abused woman, why doesn’t she just leave? Here Dotty addresses that issue:

Some people will say, well why didn’t she just leave him. I want them to know what an abusive partner will do, to the victim, if you try running away. They find you, makes all the correct promises to the victim, & give me one more chance I can change, because I love you, and I can’t live without you. Love is not supposed to hurt, you learn later in life. I want other victims portraying themselves going down the same road of despair. By making a visual connection, something may cause a stir of emotions, that if not today, they will have retained & remember they are not alone.

Throughout my time with Dotty, I placed a great deal of effort into helping her realize the need to rebuild her self- esteem. From my time with Dotty I have learned this is a huge obstacle in moving on with life. Despite what natural talents, education or personality a victim of domestic abuse may have had at one time, self-esteem and personal confidence are the first casualties of domestic violence and the hardest to regain. Dotty wrote me after returning from a trip and shared her experience in going to a local restaurant:

People enjoy being in my presence, so different than it was years ago, when they probably didn’t get to know me. I missed so much in life, unjustifiable, ever. Not at one point during any of these conversations, did my pre divorce life ever come up, I was me & a happy me!!!

The last guy before leaving, who came to sit next to me, was a whole different character. A young man, why within two minutes he was talking about why men, how they beat & kill their wives girlfriends & children. Further into our conversation, as I let him talk & I listened… Apparently his cousin was murdered, then the father turned around & shot both of his kids. He had just got back from a celebration for the families being held & I could tell, lots of unresolved anger!!!

I was like why is God sending me this guy, while I was about to head out & had escaped the world of DV & my previous life & experiences. Don’t know why he chose to sit next to me & start a conversation as such, to a total stranger???

Well I found myself being an advocate, & must I say, a pretty good one as the woman behind the bar, was eavesdropping & came up to me during the conversation & applauded my stance on DV. She herself, experienced it & is now a single mother. She especially loved the part that I was telling this young man, that verbal abuse is as detrimental as physical. This young guy, was trying to make me believe that verbal was justifiable, sorry but being silent I could not.

Being silenced is like stepping into a role, I so got out of & I cannot be silenced. There’s no room for silence in Domestic Violence!!!

I didn’t have to share any of my life experiences or name any names, it became clear that I stood on my own & not afraid to speak the facts & share some knowledge about DV. It was not on my agenda, but fate had to have played a role & have put this young man in the seat next to me.

He talked, I listened, contributed when I felt I had to, since his road to recovery is far from over, easy to see. He couldn’t stop thanking me for having helped him, as I was leaving, go figure.

I am going to make a difference, it’s occurring around me!! Nothing I experienced will ever be lost. Not a moment you spent by my side was ever lost. The beauty of it, is here we have Dotty, the soft spoken, broken wing, who is now, vocal, healing, empowered by my own triumphs & tribulations!!! There’s a lot of living to be done & I’m chasing it.

Dotty and I remain in contact to this day and consider each other as friends. If I were to write an e-mail to her it would go something like this:

Dotty,

I want to thank you for letting me be a part of this story and your life. Despite my years of investigating domestic violence offenses, I had yet to be moved to the point of spending this amount of time so absorbed on such a cause. I have been driven to write many articles and editorials from my experiences but most of those out of frustration. Yours is one of tragedy ending in hope and survival and frankly I can never get enough of that. I don’t know where this story will lead or how many women will be impacted by it but one thing for certain; it changed one old Cop for sure.

Aside from being the scribe to this great story, I also know I have made a friend. I don’t need to wish you luck because you have the inner strength, fortitude and will-power to endure anything thrown at you in the future. You should be proud of who you have become and what you stand for. I pray just a little is rubbed off on those women out there who are or were in a similar situation as you.

Please stay in touch and let me know how the rest of your story goes. I only hope the sequel is much less traumatic.

With love and respect,

Steve

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Steven Edmondson is the domestic violence investigator at the Sagadahoc County District Attorney’s Office.



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