If you haven’t yet, please take the time to read Part Two. This is a multi-part series. A new chapter of my personal experiences will be posted every Monday and Thursday. Disclosure: If you have any form of PTSD, I do not go into the details of the abuse, but I do describe my time in booking.
I got, maybe, an hour of sleep.
WW (withdrawing women) kept me awake with their gas and sudden outbursts of pain. They peed in the community toilet every fifteen minutes and the flush was louder than a jet plane.
At seven in the morning, we were given another brown bag. Again I refused. The food was disgusting, I was too cold to be hungry, and I didn’t want to have to use the toilet. And by this time, I was cranky and developing a bit of an attitude.
The guards ignored the girls when they asked for blankets. Then all hell broke loose when the cell of girls who were processed after us was led one by one to see the second commissioner. All of us were banging on the walls, the doors. Standing on the bench to kick the small window. The guards didn’t even bother to tell us to stop.
By noon, I was infuriated. Screw ice, I was bubbling with lava. A male prisoner handed me a brown bag of lunch and I threw it across the cell. One of the WWs scampered over and began eating it as if it was her last meal.
I paced around my cell, trying to stay warm and active.
I began counting the seconds with my footsteps. And every fifteen minutes I banged on the door of my cell and demanded when I was going to be seen by the second commissioner. When I was ignored, I banged on the door till a guard would saunter over. I told them I was thirsty. Told them we needed blankets. She was irritated that I was calling her over for petty things, but if you weren’t going to do your job fairly than I wasn’t going to make your job easy.
I would not go unheard.
Then finally, girls in our cell were starting to be called to see the second commissioner. We quickly learned if they didn’t return, they were being released. If they came back to use the phone, they needed to post bail. They had to change into the pink prison suits and were escorted to the “Domes” as everybody called them. Dome One was where the really bad bitches were incarcerated. Dome Two was where everybody else went. I didn’t care to know which one I would be subjected to if the commissioner decided I was going to have to sit until bail was posted.
At three in the afternoon, my name was called to see the second commissioner.
I was led to a tiny, dingy room with olive green walls. It was covered in graffiti from ballpoint pens. There was a glass wall dividing the room in two. On the other side was a woman who was glued to her computer. She was surrounded by books and papers, not a single fraction of organization apparent.
Another woman was ushered in and introduced herself to me as my lawyer. She was a “Glamazon” of a woman with a thick body, mocha skin, and wild hair. She wore a black suit and had on black framed glasses. I felt all my energy of hope shift to her. I gave her everything I had left. And she seemed ready. Competent.
She assured me the commissioner couldn’t hear a thing and asked me to explain why I was there. She was surprised the incident itself happened two months, which seemed to be the consensus all around. When she had heard all she needed, she gestured to the commissioner she was ready.
The commissioner explained to me that the SAO had signed off on my warrant had suggested my bail be set at $25,000.
I gasped and turned, stunned. My lawyer simply shook her head. “These charges are absolutely ridiculous. Not only is this retaliation, but now she’s been victimized twice.”
She told the commissioner what had happened between him and me, again saying it was completely ludicrous as to why I was there. And the second commissioner agreed. She released me on my own recognizance. As we waited for the paperwork, my lawyer asked to see my warrant and which “asshole commissioner” signed off on it. When she saw the name, she rolled her eyes.
“He’s the biggest man bitch I’ve ever met,” she grumbled. “Give me your mother’s number. I’ll call her and let her know you’ll be out within a couple of hours.”
I admit, I melted a little. Tears fell from exhaustion, from relief. I was led to another room, another cop asked what I was in there for. After another explanation, he took shook his head.
“We see this all the time.”
Why do they see this all the time? Why don’t victims have any rights?
I was taken to the pre-trial service room where a woman explained to me I couldn’t have any contact with my husband, couldn’t return to my home. As if he was worried for his life. And by four in the afternoon, I was in another holding cell, waiting to be released and gather my belongings.
One of my friends was waiting to be released as well. The moment I stepped into the room, we threw our arms around each other and congratulated one another. For the first time in twenty-eight hours, we were smiling. When they handed over our items and buzzed us out, we emerged in a waiting room. There was nobody waiting in the chairs. The lawyer had told me she was going to call my mother, but I figured she must have not been able to reach her since she wasn’t waiting for me. Since I didn’t have my phone, I made my way to the numerous pay phones.
“They don’t work,” said the secretary, before I could lift the phone from the receiver. She looked up from her report and grinned. “You must be Danielle.”
Although it will continually bother me when people call me by the wrong name, I said, “Yeah, that’s me.”
“You have somebody outside waiting for you.”
I nearly ran up those stairs and threw myself through the sliding glass doors. But I didn’t see her. As I began to walk down the street, I heard my name called. My mother only calls me “Daniella” when she’s irritated with me, and as she stepped out of the car, her fists were placed on her hips. I was miffed for a second, thinking she may have thought all this was my fault. But she opened her arms and pulled me into a hug.
“I’m fine,” I assured her, which was truth. I was glad to be away from that place.
“I’m not.” She helped me into the car where my father was waiting.
They told me they had taken care of my dog and cat while I was away. That they had found a lawyer. My mother was a furious emotional mess, upset that I hadn’t eaten or used the bathroom in over twenty-nine hours by that time.
And when I got home, I dragged my feet into the shower, turned the handle to as hot as it could go. I crumpled to the floor, curled up into the fetal position and cried.
And cried, and cried.
I didn’t know a heart could feel so much grief. I thought leaving him was the worst pain I could experience but I was so wrong. This was.
Fear. Anger. Frustration. Desperation. Humiliation. All of it inside my heart and it would surely make me ill. So I cried, hoping it would ease some of the pressure.
When I was able to stand again, the water had become cold. I allowed my body to freeze up again. I would be ice once more. I would not give him the satisfaction of breaking.
Part Four Coming Soon…
Domestic violence is all around you, even if you can’t see it. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience physical violence in their lifetime. If you’re being abused and don’t have the support you deserve, call the hotline where trained advocates will give you the advice you need. You’re not alone. For more information, visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline website here.
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And as always, thanks for reading – Dani