When a Wife Attacks: The Flip Side of Domestic Violence
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because violence solves very little.
By Joy April
Divorce was only meant to be a threat. I mean, I never thought it would actually happen.
Jack, my estranged husband, and I were already two bottles deep when our friend Brian stopped by. We poured the last of a magnum of BV Tapestry and continued to chat. Jack and I had been discussing reconciliation, but then he said to Brian in an offhand way, “In a few months we’ll be divorced anyway.”
He was showing off for Brian. I was pissed, and before I could stop myself, I’d thrown my wine in his face.
It’s not nearly as satisfying as it looks in the movies. But I didn’t pause for his reaction. Instead I walked straight to the kitchen and started pacing. I realized how underwhelming the throwing of my drink in his face was: It didn’t make me feel better at all.
That was when I heard Brian scream, “Oh my God, that’s blood!”
Then I started to think about the wine — the BV Tapestry we had been storing for more than a year. It wasn’t an everyday wine, and it was all gone. I had wasted that last glass. And that made me angry. I wanted my wine back.
I went back into the living room.
“Give me your wine,” I demanded
It seemed like a perfectly reasonable demand to me. Jack had provoked me into throwing my wine in his face and now I wanted his wine so I could drink it. He argued, not unreasonably, that if he gave me his wine, I’d only throw it in his face.
I grabbed the stem of his glass and we started a tug of war with a very delicate glass full of very expensive wine. After unsuccessfully trying to take the glass from him, I gave up. I let it go and walked back into the kitchen. That was when I heard Brian scream, “Oh my God, that’s blood!”
I rushed into the living room as Jack rushed into the bathroom. The glass we’d been fighting over lay shattered on the floor. I had no idea how that had happened. Jack’s face was cut and bleeding and he was shouting, “You did this to me!”
Jack would not let me come near him. He went to my parents’ house for help, while I started to clean up the mess. I asked Brian to stay with me until Jack got back. I got ready for bed, took a sleeping pill and lay down.
“I think Jack set the house on fire!” Brian shouted. I saw yellow and red light flooding in from the front of the house. Someone was knocking frantically on the front door.
I didn’t want to get up. The sleeping pill I’d taken was starting to kick in and we’d had quite a bit to drink. Jack couldn’t have set the house on fire, I thought. He wouldn’t. After all, it was his house too.
I tried to make sense of it as I headed to the door, thinking that whoever was pounding on it was coming to evacuate the house. I opened it to several police officers. Police officers asking me to confirm my identity. The flood of light was coming from the cop cars in front of my house.
“Is Jack your husband?”
“Yes. Wait, what happened to Jack? Is he OK?”
The officers wouldn’t tell me anything, just kept asking stupid questions, and then finally: Had I gotten into an argument with him that evening?
“Yes. What happened? Is he OK?”
“Ma’am, you’re going to have to come with us.” I was terrified that they were taking me to identify my husband’s body. Then, “We’re placing you under arrest.”
When the police saw his face they asked what had happened to him. He slurred, “I got into a fight with my wife.”
The sleeping pill I’d taken was in full effect by this point, and confusion reigned. “Is Jack OK? Where is my husband?”
Apparently, Jack had been pulled over for a DUI while driving himself to the hospital. When the police saw his bleeding face, they asked what had happened to him. He slurred, “I got into a fight with my wife.” Rather than arrest him for a DUI, they opted to arrest me for domestic violence.
“All right,” I said. “Let me go put some clothes on.”
“We can’t let you do that, ma’am.”
“You’re kidding me. You’re gonna take me in like this?” I was suddenly very aware of how little clothing I had on. We waited for a female officer to arrive even though there were no fewer than five officers in my living room.
I was chided for “cleaning up a crime scene,” and “obstruction of justice” was mentioned. I hadn’t thought of my living room as a crime scene, I was just cleaning up a mess in my house. When the female officer arrived, she took me into my room to get some clothes. I was instructed to keep my hands where she could see them at all times, so I grabbed the first thing I saw: a pair of overalls.
As soon as I fastened the overalls, I was cuffed. The cops told me I had the right to remain silent. If only I’d had the ability to because for some reason I could not stop laughing at the unbelievable situation I was in.
“I’m under arrest! Goin’ to jail … I’m a criminal,” I said. “A felon. I’m gettin’ locked up. Goin’ to the pokey.”
I could not keep my mouth from running, and “criminal” and “felon” were suddenly the funniest words to me. The cops were questioning Brian, they had taken him to the side, and he was talking to them but I was laughing my ass off. I continued to laugh my way through being booked, no less than when I was asked if I had any gang affiliations.
“Hell yeah, I have gang affiliations!” I said, still laughing. People had always said my uncle was Mafia, but I had no idea if it was true.
I gave them every nickname I’d been called since birth, and I was the kind of girl who answered to “Hey you.”
“Are you suicidal?”
Well, you never could know. I mean, I was on antidepressants and I wasn’t really sure how I felt about my new “convict” status. Yeah, it was all fun and games.
Right up until the cavity search, when it became uncomfortably clear that they were not joking.
I was placed in maximum security because of my “gang affiliations” and apparent risk of suicide. I was taken to a private cell, where I finally fell asleep. I slept until 12 hours later, when Jack bailed me out. He also got me a lawyer, and I was acquitted of all charges.
But the divorce? That still went through.
- Joy April, OZY Author Contact Joy April