Domestic violence: A true story

	Kevin VanAntwerpen
GVL Columnist

Kevin VanAntwerpen
GVL Columnist

Kevin VanAntwerpen

She called me because she was scared, and I heard it all happen.

She’d just moved into a loft on Division Avenue in Grand Rapids with two boys she barely knew. She’d been romantically involved with one (we’ll call him “Owen”) during the first few weeks she lived there, but broke it off after discovering he spent an unhealthy amount of time with a stripper.

Now he’s drunk. In her bedroom. Screaming at the top of his lungs.

She tells him to leave. He refuses.

“Give me your phone,” he orders her. She refuses.

On the other end, I’m sitting in my bedroom in only a pair of jeans, polishing off a Miller Light. I was supposed to be falling asleep.

He snapped. I heard noise. His yelling. Her screaming for help. Something – a lamp, I imagined – shattering on the floor.

I hit the end call button and dialed 911. After informing the police, I slip on a t-shirt and look for my keys.

When I’m in the car, I call her back. She answers. She can barely speak – she just breathes heavily. She cries.

“Calm down,” I said. “I’m coming to get you. Tell me where you are.”

She’s in the bathroom. He had pushed her down and pinned her to the bed, but she somehow managed to kick him off and escape (probably thanks to the alcohol impairing his senses). I tell her to stay there until I arrive.

I picture a scene from the movie “The Town” playing in my head – walking into my brother’s bedroom and saying, “I need your help. I can’t tell you details. You can never ask me about it. You can never say anything to anyone. And we’re going to have to hurt some people.”

My brother would respond, “Whose car are we taking?”

But there’s no time. I drive to her loft alone. I get there before the cops do. I find her in the parking lot. He’s there too. “You’d better not be fuckin’ coming over here,” he yells. I cross the parking lot anyway. As I do, the parking lot is flood with lights from police flashers.

They put him in the back of the car. It’s starting to rain. She leans against my car while they question him, and I give her my coat. I light a cigarette and breathe. She can’t live there anymore. I drive her to her parents’ house. I speak with an officer on the phone, and he says, “We’re not arresting him. There’s nothing we can do. There were no signs of injury on her.”

Domestic violence is hard to prevent. Once it starts, it’s even harder to stop. There’s often little the police can do. The only way to guarantee it doesn’t happen is to be smart. Something my grandfather used to say was “be careful the company you keep.” So, for the sake of yourself and the sake of the people around you – be careful the company you keep.