"Hello, my name is joy." The woman was just under thirty. She could have been my daughter.
"Hello Joy, what can I do for you?" I asked.
"Sarah Livingston at the shelter suggested I come see you. She said once in a while you help women like me."
"Like you, what does that mean?"
"It means my husband is a violent man. He sometimes hits me when he is drinking."
"Are you living at the shelter now?"
"Yes, I'm afraid to go home."
"Do you have children?'
"Yes a seven year old little boy."
"Do you work?"
"Yes, but I can't afford to pay you. I am saving for a place of my own."
"Do you have a restraining order?"
"Yes, and I have had James arrested. He will kill me when he get out of jail. That restraining order means nothing."
"Actually it does. It means, if he comes for you, he is fair game."
"It won't keep him away, but it puts you on the right side of the law, if things go badly. if he comes after you, kill his ass."
"I couldn't do that," she said with her eyes down.
"If you truly can't do that, then he is going to kill you. Maybe not this time, but someday he is going to kill you. If Sarah sent you to me, she thinks you are serious about ending this thing."
"I'm not going to murder my husband," she said.
"I didn't say murder, but you need to be ready to defend yourself. If that means deadly force, you have to be ready to use it. Otherwise you are wasting my time. All your husband has to do is stay away."
"What exactly are you suggesting?"
"I can teach you how to defend yourself. I can even give you the tools to do it, but I can not give you the will to do what has to be done. If you don't have that, what I teach you will just get you killed."
"I need time to think," she suggested.
"If you come back, be ready to do what has to be done. You need to work out your own reasons for doing it, but be ready to do it."
Two months later an article appeared in the local newspaper.
Carbon City man shot and killed by estranged wife.
James Dunn was shot and killed as he attempted to break into the home of his estranged wife. According to the police report, Dunn broke down the door. His estranged wife shot him with a 12 gauge shotgun. Dunn was pronounced dead at the scene.
There was a long history of spousal abuse according to the district attorney's spokesperson. "Since it was a well documented case of abuse and since Mr. Dunn was in violation of a restraining order no charges will be filed in this case. It seems Mrs. Dunn acted in self defense."
I took no pleasure from the death of James Dunn, but I also did not shed a tear for him. I suppose if the DA were to push it, I might be complicit in his death. I did buy her the shotgun and teach her how to shoot it, just for such an occasion. We practiced the scenario several times. Fortunately she and I are the only ones who know. I doubt that Joy wants to tell.