I often find myself imitating Brother Juniper (The Bridge Over San Luis Rey) a lot. He attempted to determine what shortcoming, what sin, led to the death of several people when the aforementioned bridge collapses.
I’m drawn to a dissection of newspaper articles on self-defense related tragedies and successes. Unfortunately tragedies are news, not successes.
Laura Fruscella (age 64) was by any account a resource in her community. She spoke several languages, worked with many charities, was a productive member of her community.
Her flaw was two-fold: she had bad taste in men and was incapable of realizing that some people refuse to follow the same rules of civilization the rest of us do. Dale Peters (who she had been dating for 9 years) had no trouble coloring outside the lines when he wanted to.
Peters (age 65) had a long history of abusing her physically and verbally but she never reported it because she was afraid of him. Finally she attempted to leave him last August 26, but was apparently unable to make a clean separation.
Through a domestic violence pilot program assessment, authorities determined at that time (Aug 2017) that Fruscella was at “high risk” of becoming a homicide victim! Peters was charged with domestic violence and taken into custody. He posted 10 percent of his $5,000 bond on Aug. 28 and was released.
We’re rounding the corner on Laura’s timeline, unfortunately she had no idea. On Sept. 25, she said he sent her 6 text messages. Five days after Fruscella reported Peters had violated the protection order, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Peters did not appear in court on Oct 17 to answer the charges of violating a protection order and a warrant was issued Oct 17
On Oct 29, around 8:40am Peters went to Laura’s home, broke in and cut her throat, killing her.
Following her death, Megan Gergen with the Domestic Violence and Children’s Advocacy Center indicated while a protection order is essentially a piece of paper, it puts the burden on the abuser to stay away and is hopefully just one part of a bigger safety plan. “A shelter is certainly always an option. Therapy is always an option. Just calling our helpline is always an option. Reaching out to family, friends, letting them know what’s going on,” she said.
Really? A man breaks into your house and Megan hopes calling the help line and letting your friends know will prevent your death? Would Megan do that? Not if Megan has any sense at all.
Here’s a few more concrete suggestions to deal with a violent abuser.
Top of the list: Never get a protection order until you own a gun and have started to training with it.
Change the locks.
Buy a burner phone and stop using your old phone number and social apps. Don’t give your abuser the chance to find you.
Give that number to only people you trust with your life, because you are. The fewer the better and instruct them not to give out the new number to anyone. Never give your number to any of the abuser’s relatives. If Grandma Abuser can’t call her grandkids, tough!
You have to explain to your younger children they have to move out of the Internet and back into the physical world.
Stop using all social media and tell your friends not to post, snap, chat anything about you or your activities. Ask them to wait to the next day to post if the social media addiction is too strong.
Change your routines. Drive to work a different way. Change you schedule. Keep your eyes open for anyone following you. Every abuser has friends who think you’re the bad person and they just want to help the abuser out.
Report every incident of attempted or actual contact to the police. You need to establish a paper trail indicating what you have done to avoid any conflict. Juries like knowing you tried to de-escalate.
Remember that gun? Find an instructor that understands the complications of lethal self-defense and how to survive. What do you need SWAT team or commando tactics for? You’re going to wait for the abuser to come to you.
Did I suggest a blade? Carry a knife and the gun so you can get to it right away, not at the bottom of a purse or buried in a briefcase.
Practice the way you carry.
Carry the gun and a cell phone everywhere. Don’t tell your boss, your best friend, your stylist or anyone else. They don’t need to know. Certainly don’t tell your abuser. Let it come as a surprise.
Decide in advance you deserve to live and anyone who attempts to kill or harm you deserves to be stopped. Tell yourself you will shoot in defense of yourself. Your instructor will help you with the specifics.
Now, after you’ve started training, have the gun, bought a burner phone, changed the locks, THEN get the restraining order.
Like Megan says, it’s just a piece of paper.