The moment everything was over I was left frightened to my very core as I was driving to the shelter while on the phone with the domestic violence counselor running for my life! I had survived a 5-year ordeal of emotional and physical abuse perpetrated by a covert narcissist.
It would be about 2 months after I had come home from the shelter that my youngest son would frantically run down the hallway telling me to lock down the house and activate my security system because the neighbor that lived across the street was out of control! I remember going to my front window and witnessing two little boys screaming at their father to let their Nana go, to leave her alone as she tried to exit the front door using a walker. She was attempting to maneuver out from under a man that was 6’3” and went about 220 lbs. blocking her escape.
I stood frozen, my chest so tight I was barely able to draw breath, it was as if the whole incident was happening to me as I melted into the spectacle! I wanted to reach for the phone, but I couldn’t as I was left immobilized feeling that overwhelming fear, the one that was all too familiar as it encompassed me. I don’t know how I snapped out of it, but minutes later I ended up in total survival mode as I barreled down the hallway and grabbed the phone to call the police. I then contacted my next door neighbor who was ex-military hoping he could help until the police could arrive on scene. Little did I know I would be the first and only witness that would testify against this man giving the police the power to finally arrest him! What would happen next would be a full-blown war!
For non-identifying purposes we will call the neighbor Nick.
The day of the hearing at our local Magistrate’s office, Nana and the public defender were trying to come up with a deal so Nick could avoid prison. After all Nick was a raging alcoholic and drug addict that suffered from Bipolar and if he got the help he needed he wouldn’t abuse his family anymore. I knew this was not the case, people abuse because it is about power and control. Alcohol and substance abuse only intensifies the outcome. Soon a police officer had come out of the room and told me that the most serious charges had been drop and I was free to go.
Being a witness to a crime is difficult enough but when the abuser lives a stone throw away and has revenge on his mind you are now introduced to a new level of abuse as I became his new target!
My son’s bedroom was in the front of the house and that is where it started. Nick would stand in his driveway shouting obscenities and raging for what would seem to be hours. He would sit in his vehicle and turn the music up just trying to get our attention. Even though we practiced the grey rock method nothing changed. Nick was on a mission and it was to destroy any assemblance of normalcy that I had.
As soon as I would take my dogs outside to do their business I would be met with a screaming barrage of obscenities. I would keep my head down and not acknowledge him as he would end his outburst howling like a wolf. I would close the door behind me with my heart beating out of my chest and short of breath trying to regain my composure.
I was still seeing my counselor at the women’s shelter on a regular basis and we tried to come up with some sort of safety plan. We knew how serious the situation was because Nick had already threatened to kill his mother! Because I never dated the man and he wasn’t a family member the agency’s hands were tied. So, she directed me to our local District Magistrate to see if there was anything he could recommend.
This was the same District Magistrate that dropped the most serious charges against him, and I was sent home never testifying to the violence I witnessed. When I told him who I was and that I was being harassed because I witnessed the abuse the Magistrate told me he was no longer going to drop any charges against Nick in the future. Well, that was nice, but it didn’t help the situation I was in now. The Magistrate informed me there was nothing he could do until he was found guilty of the long list of harassment and disorderly conduct charges that he had racked up during his already two-week tirade. I could only sue him for money damages after that. I didn’t want Nick’s money, what I wanted was a restraining order!
I then turned my attention to the District Attorney’s office and again found no solution, I had to wait two months while continually calling police. I made sure I kept meticulous notes and documented every police report and officer who came to the scene. The officers were tired because over the years they had long been trying to find a solution to the situation, but Nick’s mother kept dropping charges which left their hands tied.
During the course of this explosion Nick’s mother tried to leave again, this time he jumped on the hood of her car telling her she wasn’t going anywhere. Yes, the police came but she again refused to press charges. This just makes an abuser feel more powerful! So powerful in fact that he began harassing all the neighbors yelling that he was untouchable, and he was!
No one could drive past his house without a bellowing onslaught of cruelty and then have him following them down the street. I would pull into my driveway only to be met with Nick screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs! My next-door neighbor was working at a convenience store in town and as soon as her shift was over she walked out to a barrage of nasties that grabbed even her managers attention. Nick was out of control and we all knew it, unfortunately, there just wasn’t anything we could do other than filing more police reports.
During this time we were all living in fear! Fear of what he was possibly capable of and hoping that he wouldn’t hurt his mother or his children!
As the hearing date approached I had major anxiety. I had been newly diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and suffering from aphasia which made it exceedingly difficult to testify. I had written my statement out so I could read it rather than trying to rely on what could have been an incoherent rambling of events. Interestingly enough, Nick pleaded guilty to every charge except the ones I was a witness to. Having knowledge of narcissistic behavior, I knew this was just a ploy, an intimidation tactic and a chance for him to weave a false narrative.
When I entered the room, Nick was in jail house scrubs and had been arrested for harassment and various other charges stemming from another family who was going through similar circumstances. Surrounded by four officers, I read my statement and then it was his turn. He began his questioning, “had I or anyone in the household been drinking that evening”? I answered, “absolutely not”! He continued, “were you or anyone else in the household doing drugs”? Again, my answer was “absolutely not”! I knew about projection and the blame shifting tactics narcissists use as he was in fact the one who was drinking and doing drugs. He had also found out that it wasn’t just me calling the police. On this particular evening there were three others besides me making calls to 911. In his soft voice that would make anyone assume he was innocent of being such a monster he continued, his neighbors had targeted him, and he had no idea why we were all so against him. After this, he was found guilty and taken back to jail!
Nick came back to his house and things were quiet for a short time. Within about a month I heard a soft knock on my door. It was Nick’s mother and she wanted to know if it was alright if she sat on my patio until police arrived. I told her no! She would have to try to make it up the steps and get into my home for both of our safety. The officers arrived and this time Nick had taken her car. To hear her story and knowing some of what she had endured was crushing! Nick would hide her walker on the other side of the home, so she was unable to retrieve it which left her immobilized. The death threats, emotional and physical abuse she had suffered over the years had taken their toll! Having two young grandsons bear witness to all of this was unimaginable.
Eventually he would be pulled over an arrested for DUI and having non-consent from the owner of the vehicle in which he was driving. This happened while she was still sitting in my home and it was a godsend! Nick’s license was already suspended for a least 4 DUI’s in the past, so I knew he was going to serve jail time for this one. Nana was finally safe!
Like many victims of domestic violence this means we have time to breathe. Countless victims have nowhere to go and not having custody of her grandchildren she was not going to leave them alone with their father. She knew how volatile he was and didn’t want them physically harmed. During this time, she was working with the court system trying to gain custody, but her pleas were falling on deaf ears as Nick was the main custodial parent ever since he and his girlfriend split up years earlier!
Finally, things ended for not only the neighbors but for Nick’s mother. She found a place to live in a different town and I believe she finally had gotten a custody order that she was comfortable with. After she moved Nick never came back to the home and it sits vacant today. It is an eerie reminder of the cruelty we all experienced that summer when an abuser was outted for the brutality he was committing behind closed doors.
I don’t know what ended up happening to Nana and her grandbabies, but I pray they have found safety and healing away from the dark clutches of Nick.
If you are experiencing abuse please reach out for help. There are many resources available to help families navigate this frightening time. Don’t try to go it alone without a safety plan and support system.