Thursday, January 15, 2009

Living in a broken home......

The night is cold, the ground is laden with snow, and as you rush to the scene of the domestic, you find yourself wishing you had actually gone to the cinema and not into work. The Christmas lights look rather stupid, the house is littered with them, maybe the electricity bill caused the argument, it's sometimes as simple as that. Knock, knock, knock, the door opens, a middle aged man, he's very calm, alarm bells start ringing in your head, and not the festive kind.

As you walk in, you notice two young children sat on the bottom step of the stairs, the boy is crying, the girl is looking after him, she has her arm around him, good girl. The man says to you:

'Come in, this way.'

He leads you into the kitchen, a woman is sitting in a chair, dinner is on the table, four place mats, four plates, you notice two empty bottles of wine, the man does not smell of liquor. Your female colleague takes point:

'Are you all right luv, what's the matter?'

Two minutes later you arrested the middle aged man for assaulting his wife, he is taken to the custody suite, where he is interviewed. In the interview he breaks down in tears, he tells you that he can't take it any more, he cooked a lovely meal, for his wife and children, they all sat down to eat it, twenty minutes later, after his wife had drank almost two bottles of wine, she lectured him, she shouted at him, she pushed him right to the edge, so he hit her, once, only once.

You couldn't get a statement from his wife, she was catatonic by the time you went back, passed out on the sofa, the children spent the night with their grandparents. You have been told, time and again, it is not your job to believe or to take sides, the Police gather the evidence, and present it. But that time, you believed the husband, you knew he was telling the truth, you just knew.

You went home at 00:15, driving slowly as the roads were still laden with snow, you weren't thinking about what to get your girlfriend for Christmas, or what to do on New Year's eve, because all you could think about was those two young children, living in a broken home.

'A child sees everything, looks straight at it, examines it, without any preconceived idea.'

Olive Schreiner


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