15 Feb Sara’s Choice; A Witness’ Perspective
“Backstory: June 30, 2017
I lived in my own apartment for almost 4 years in April. I call my place the Cozy Cottage. I never had any major issues with my neighbors, though at one point I had a neighbor that played extremely loud music all hours of the night and day, that I could feel and hear it through my noise canceling headphones. (Note: Sensory Processing Disorder).
Anyways, end of June 2017 my Dad fell and broke his hip, so I was at the hospital with him from morning until 10pm.
I knew I had new neighbors (a guy and a female) above me, because I had seen them when I came home during the day to check on my cats and my Dad’s dog. However, these new neighbors had many friends over throughout the day and night. More foot traffic than usual for my building complex.
I used to work in the security industry for 13 years, so I’m more observant to new changes. I thought it was odd, but that wasn’t my concern at the time. Helping my dad and sis were my first priorities.
At night, after visiting my dad at the hospital and rehabilitation center, I would come home extremely exhausted. I would fall asleep rather quickly, though in the background I would hear noises upstairs– arguments. Fighting. Yelling. But, it didn’t dawn on me what all of the noises would entail until Monday, August 7, 2017 at 10:15pm.
August 7-August 25
My best friend had been coming over every Monday to spend time me; We chat about everything. Laugh. Cry. Create Art.
She’s one of my biggest supporters and has encouraged me throughout this situation and friendship. We used to attend bible study together every Monday night. That particular Monday night, she stayed later than usual which I’m grateful she did! She helped me as I helped her.
At 10:15pm, we were in the living room talking and laughing, when suddenly we heard an extremely loud noise. The loud noise sounded like someone had dropped several concrete blocks onto the floor, repeatedly. We realized it was someone being beaten and thrown onto the ground, repeatedly (the victim).
My friend heard her screaming and told me to contact the police. I contacted the police to advise them of the situation.
It was a blur from the moment I contacted the police. I can still see my friend in front of me. To this day, I hear that sound in my head. I never want to hear it ever again. It’s a sound I wish no one could ever experience.
Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence from a Witness Perspective.
Later on that same night, we heard the upstairs neighbor guy saying, “My girl locked me out.”
I thought that was the end of it. However, I was wrong. It was the beginning of fighting to defend and protect myself. Standing up against him. To fight to live in a peaceful environment. To be the voice for the victim, whom I did not know. To be MORE POWERFUL than him.
The last 5 months I was risking my life to a guy I never formally met. I didn’t care about him, but I was risking my life to help the victim when no one helped her. (I will get to that part later).
After the first domestic violence incident, I had an extreme fear of hearing that deafening sound again. Though, I knew if I heard it again, I would contact the police.
Everything seemed back to normal, almost, because I still heard noises throughout the night between 2am-4:30am.
A week before August 25, 2017
I had just got home from being out with my Service Dog Rufus, when a female neighbor (who lived diagonal from the upstairs neighbor guy), invited me upstairs to hangout. I met two other neighbors and we talked mainly about superficial things.
They asked me If I was the one who called the police, on August 7, as they too had heard everything occurring throughout the night. I mistakenly said, “Yes I called the police.” I do regret telling them, though I don’t regret calling the police.
They said, “Well, since you called the police than we won’t call them.”
I knew in my gut I made a mistake, though I didn’t know my mistake would put me at risk few weeks later.
Fast forward to August 22.
I arrived home from traveling with my other good friend to Franklin, Kentucky for the solar eclipse. Fantastic. Weird how a Totality has a different meaning in every aspect of our lives.
I went to bed and I actually slept well until I was woken up around 4am by loud noises. I was half asleep and tried to run out of my bedroom. I was having a nightmare when I was woken up. The nightmare was that I was being killed by the upstairs neighbor. Haunting.
When I jumped out of my bed, I ran right into the bedroom door frame where I sustained a concussion. I had to go to the ER to get checked. There were noises throughout the day and night, but nothing that warranted a call to the police.
After August 22, I observed that the upstairs neighbor guy would come out at the same time I would walk my dogs Rufus and Blu.
First, I thought it was coincidence, then I notice a repeated pattern. (Security training has advantages and disadvantages at times).
I noticed he would passively aggressively say hi, walk behind the building in front of my place, and then a few minutes later he would walk back towards our building.
I would be standing by the tree letting the dogs do their nature call, then he would loudly say, “hi” — to let me know he was behind me.
Yes, neighbors will say hi to each other as that’s a nice and courteous thing to do. But, when he said hi to me the first time that day, then came up behind me to let me know he was there– it was not friendly, it was presenting intimidating behaviors in a passive aggressive way.
It scared me, but I thought it was me overreacting. I had my best friend with me one time outside, and he did the same thing to both of us. She agreed he was intimidating me, they way he said it, did it, and came out at the same time.
I turned off my lights at 9:50 pm. At 10:00 pm, my front door was being knocked on aggressively– so much that it startled me!
I realized it was him, and his friends. I also realized he was friends with the female neighbor I spoke with earlier in the month. I saw her going to his place and vice versa after I told her I had called the police.
Anyways, they pounded on my door for 15 minutes.
I didn’t open it.
My number one rule for myself is to stay safe, which means not answering the door to anyone, especially guys at night.
My family and friends will text me when they are at my front door to let me know they are here. They know my rules.
His friends and him kept aggressively knocking on my door, telling me it was an emergency. I told them to call the police.
I could hear them talking. I should have called the police myself, though I was too scared and shocked. I know after that night, I started having an intense fear I was going to either be killed or raped, or brutalized in some way.
I couldn’t sit in my living room with my blinds open. My safe cozy cottage became a living hell. And, the next day I talked to the property management and they advised me they would take care of it.
September through October
I already have anxieties and PTSD, among other disorders. All heighten since the first 911 call.
I had constant fear walking my dogs and coming home to my house being burglarized, or that they would be there at my front door waiting for me.
He finally stopped being passive aggressive towards me, and stopped coming out when I would go outside. Though, he would peek into my place when I had my blinds open.
October 11, the day I decided to be more powerful than him.
I see a counselor because I have a lot of issues.
Anyways, this particular session I discovered how powerful I am. I’ll share few statements:
“he doesn’t realize, I’m not powerless, I’m Powerful, he’s powerless. he’s unaware, I’m the Powerful one, in this situation as I’m documenting everything he does (and others involved) with his “intimidating” behaviors. he’s doing it in his ‘charming’ passive aggressive ways, but no sir, I know his ways better now. I study people. It’s proof he’s in the wrong, so he will do anything to use his “scare” tactics on me, to prove I’m in the wrong.”
“I’m still terrified, anxious, and scared to death of him… Though, I act stupid whenever he’s being “charming” towards me. I’m not going to act afraid in front of him as that will boost his ego more and he thinks he’s more powerful. he thinks I’m afraid, so I won’t say anything to anyone.”
“I did the right thing, I’m not denying that fact… The repercussions from this is, his intimidating behaviors; emotionally and psychologically. But… Soon, his repercussions will be far worse than what it is now… he doesn’t know what is coming to him. he’s digging his own grave as we speak.”
“Do I feel bad for him, no. But it’s not my job to feel bad for him. It’s not my job to help him. My job as a citizen and neighbor is to report and help those that can’t use their voice. I was taught to be a voice for those can’t speak. Mom and Dad taught me at a young age to speak up for things you see wrong. Don’t be afraid.”
“he made that choice that night, a wrong choice. I made the right choice that night, again, I don’t regret it. Never will regret it. guys like him are cowards. The only way I can help (the victims) is to be their voice when they can’t say anything. I can’t wait until this end as he realizes a “little girl” took him down without him noticing, right under his apartment (or nose.) All he thinks I’m doing is playing with my animals all day long, which I do sometimes, but he doesn’t know that.”
“I wish I never had to experience this (and the victims)… I have a better understanding of myself; I’m still awkward, weird, funny, and intelligent. However, when a serious situation occurs, I become a Powerful individual in my own unique way.”
(That night I shared these on Facebook, though I had to set the privacy to only me, because someone told me I needed to pray for the abuser).
After that, I decided I’m not going to be his next victim, I’m going to be a Victor in this. I will do everything in my power to protect myself and the victim.
I decided to get a security camera installed in my apartment, because I felt there were people who didn’t believe it was happening. The domestic violence occurring upstairs I was making up just for fun. Domestic Violence is not a funny story to make up. Domestic Violence is pure evil for the victims.
I felt a little relief having a security camera.
October 29, 2017
I knew I would be contacting the police again as usually it’s quiet for a few weeks, then a few days later the noises escalate.
I contacted the police again at 3:39 am. You could hear my voice on the security camera and the domestic violence occurring. I was grateful the security camera recorded, though I accidentally deleted it as I was still learning how to operate the security camera.
I was hard on myself for doing that! I would send an email to my leasing property to inform them the domestic incident occurred again.
It was “ quiet” for the month of November. Quiet as the victim wasn’t being beaten up, but I still heard noises.
I still had increase anxieties and fear that little slight noises would turn into a domestic violence and decided to not have my best friend come over anymore, because I didn’t want her to hear what I had been hearing.
So, I pushed everyone away from me, because I wanted to protect my family and friends. I never want them to experience this side of domestic violence.
I isolated myself and only went out when I needed to.
I was falling into a deep depression, but no one knew it. I kept it hidden beneath me.
Few of my close supportive friends and family knew, though they didn’t force me to open up. They gave me space which I appreciate them all for that. I still feel extremely guilty for closing myself in, but it was the only way to keep my loved ones safe from him. I know he wouldn’t hurt them.
I called the police twice again, once on November 25 after thanksgiving, and the day of New Year’s Eve. I also had ruptured ear drums which we think is caused by him indirectly.
Leasing management didn’t do anything about these ongoing issues even though they stated they were.
December 4 (my mom’s birthday, Rest In Peace).
Another good friend of mine I’ve been in contact with (she has an experience with domestic violence), emailed corporate on my behalf. They couldn’t give her any information unless I contacted them. So, I provided them information.
Every 911 call, the few days before I have to call, it gets loud again.
At one point, I felt I was immune to the noises, the sounds of domestic violence, guys coming and going every day and night. Though, despite being immune I knew I had to take an action to end his behaviors for the victim.
I rarely saw the victim and when I did it was a quick moment. I saw the victim maybe 4 times in a 5 month span.
As of January 11, 2018 they neighbors were evicted.
I felt relieved that he finally was evicted for his behaviors. It will be peace and quiet again.
Then, all of the sudden I felt ashamed for feeling all of that, because the victim. I got the victim evicted too. And, my intent wasn’t evicting the victim.
I had a difficult time to process the guilt, and the eviction for his behaviors.
I constantly think about the “what if’s.”
Today, January 22, 2018
I’m sitting in my living room, imagining my life with no noises above me. No sight of him yet I’m still in constant state of fear as he has made friends in the building of our complex. I hope he doesn’t bother the female neighbor or cause more problems.
I have my family, friends and professionals to support me if I experience anything like this again and I know it won’t be the same for me, as any little noises I hear through the night I’m ready to call 911.
I’m finally sleeping 7 hours and my nightmares aren’t as frequent. I’m startling to be more “social” again though still haven’t invited friends over.
I wrote a poem, an excerpt:
Choices vs. none
I can Choose
To change the way I live,
It’s My Choices. . .
Are clouded by
his choices. . .
She can Choose
To change the way she lives,
It’s Her Choice. . .
Are controlled by
his choices. . .
I can see
The right or wrong choices
I’m deciding. . .
She can’t see
The right or wrong choices
She’s not deciding. . .
I’m deciding the Choices
That I have to Decide
Ahead of time. . .
If his choices
Continues to occur. . .
Will alter every time
he decides a wrong choice
I can Decide
She’s can’t decide the Choices
Ahead of time. . .
If his choices
Continues to occur
Will alter every time,
No matter if it’s right or wrong Choices
She can’t Decide. . .
Choices give us
An opportunity to experience every day, right or wrong Choices
We decide on our Own. . .
Choices are easily taken away
From us. . .
By someone else’s choices
In a split second,
We can’t control their choice,
She can’t control his choices . . .
Today, his choices,
To be HEARD
To be a VOICE
To be POWERFUL
To END him
My Choice; a Powerful Choice.
(Note: I didn’t capitalized the pronouns as he doesn’t deserve it. he’s powerless.)
I’ve learned in last 5 months, that people have judged me for staying in my apartment and not for leaving.
I’m not leaving, because I did nothing wrong. I was and still am adamant about staying at my place. I’m not leaving, because he can’t control my Choice. If I left, it would mean he won.
It’s my home. My Choice.
People stated it’s none of my business and to stay out of it. I’m not that type of person, I can’t ignore another person being victimized, or brutalized under my nose.
I learned to become Powerful. You must have the courage to speak up even if you are scared, or no one will hear you, or believe you. You have to be your own advocate for yourself and the victims.
Find your Courage to become a Powerful Victor.”
Written by: Sara R. Hedrick