It all happened pretty much the way the police report said it did.

When I came out of the bathroom I rolled down the hallway, shutting the closet door to make room for my wheelchair, talking to him as he put clothes away. Then the door swung open and banged against the wheel. My hand started to bleed and I let out a yell.

Without a word he came out of the closet and hit me. He pushed my wheelchair over, knocked me to the ground and for the next few minutes struck me and kicked me repeatedly. I barely had breath to scream. He grabbed a lamp and started choking me with the cord. Then he stopped, just stopped. It was over as quickly as it started. He went into the living room and left me there, still without a word. I lay on the floor for a few minutes, then got myself up and went into the bathroom.

That's where he found me. He told me someone was at the door and I'd better pull it together. I found a police officer in the living room. He asked if we had been arguing. They had received a call, he told us. We said it was nothing and the officer left. I was afraid to say anything. I am a gay man, after all, in a small southern city.

I filed the police report three days later. Here's how it happened. The day after the beating I got a call at work. The officer said that they wanted to speak to me. She told me that a Department of Human Services caseworker wanted to interview me, too. They wanted to arrest him, they said, because I am a "disabled person at risk" (that's what they said). At risk my ass, I thought, this was my lover. But he still hadn't said anything about it, and I knew what it meant when he wasn't talking: "Drop it."

What should I have done? I still loved him, that was the worst of it. Sure, we'd had some rough times, but it was a partnership that had lasted for seven years. Everything we had we had together—joint checking account, names on each other's cars, the new lease. I had been in a wheelchair for less than three months, but the day I cam home I knew we had problems. We were going to have to move, my employer was being less than helpful, I couldn't drive (both cars were stick shifts). Already our friends were vanishing.

I couldn't afford to be alone, not now, not the way things were going. I knew I could make it if he was with me. This was him, after all, those brown eyes, the face I had fallen in love with across a classroom. He was my first and I always thought he would be my last. Yet those eyes were not the same eyes anymore. What should I do?

The day I made the police report they were talking jail, assault and battery on an invalid—now there's a word I never thought would be used to describe meso when the DA's office offered to put our case in family court, I agreed. While they arranged the warrant and the restraining order the people from Domestic Violence explained the two most important rules: (1) Stay away from him. (2) Report it immediately if he comes near or tries to make contact. Here I was, a battered, beaten cripple, being cared for by police officers who seemed to understand and really give a damn. This was the twilight zone.

When they got to the apartment he was gone. After ten days he finally showed up at work and that's where they arrested him. I learned in court that if he had called the number on the card left at his mother's house they would have simply served him the papers and explained the restraining order.

Family Court was not what I thought it would be. I expected a little privacy. But there we were, two men in a crowd of woman charging their husbands or boyfriends with assault. The judge explained the rules of conduct imposed by the restraining order and set a trial date.

Less than two months later he pled guilty, was put on probation, and sent to anger management classes. He would be in a group of men who beat woman.

I was alone. My friends had been his friends, my family his family. I was living a bad Country Western song. But here I sit, three years later, working full time, driving, getting by. I'm still single (talk about trust issues), but I'm safe.

I have seen him only once, in passing. We didn't speak. My new home doesn't have any hallways. I keep the doors shut all the time.

©2003 T.J. Boothroyd


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T. J. Boothroyd has been a C7 neuro para for the last six years. He is single, lives on his own and works full time. He enjoys water-skiing, downhill skiing, sled ice-hockey, and is learning to fence. He volunteers at the Patricia Neal Center in Knoxville, TN. His last piece for BENT was Before it Mattered.


 

BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/September 2003