Every day we hear horror stories about police brutality and police abusing their power. Here’s what I want you to know at the forefront of this story: my favorite uncle (by marriage, but that’s only a minor detail) is an amazing police officer. I trust this man with every fiber of my being. He’s a man of absolute integrity, grace and kindness. This blog is not an attempt to justify police brutality or to enter into the whole debate of are there any good police out there. I’m simply sharing my experience. I can already hear some of your protests: not every police officer is like that. I absolutely agree. In 2007 I called the police from a man’s home that had brutally raped and assaulted me. I actually called them from the shower. He was clearly not a smart man because he didn’t realize my cell phone was in my shorts pocket! I was so terrified that I couldn’t remember the address of where I was. As they attempted to locate me, I was locked in the bathroom. By locked, I mean my body weight was against the bathroom door. I remember this scene as visibly as if it only just happened. I was holding myself against the bathroom door trying to figure out how this was going to play out. It never occurred that this would end the way it did. As I hid in the bathroom I heard a very loud bang on the front door. (We were in the top of a top/bottom duplex). As the police were engaging him in conversation I heard him calling someone and setting up his camera. I heard the argument begin of them needing to physically see me to ensure that I was okay. He was adamant that this was not going to happen and that I was perfectly fine! Shortly afterwards, I remember hearing a loud bang as they broke the door down.
The next part is where a whole separate nightmare begins. I told them I had been raped. They took pictures of the places in the apartment it happened. They took pictures of the assault on my physical body. They did not tell me to go the hospital for a rape kit! They did not encourage me to seek counseling. They did however; make me ride with a male officer in a car alone to the police station where the interrogation began. I have no respect for that police department! I will never understand how or why they blamed me for “allowing this to happen”. Specifically when another woman had been raped and assaulted just three months earlier in this exact place. I will never understand how this male police officer could look at me in his patrol vehicle and say, “But you have a Masters Degree! How could you let this happen?”
Do I hate all cops? No, absolutely not! I understand that the police perform a very important task in our society and in our world. But am I going to get in a cop car anytime soon? Probably not!
A few months ago, I was breaking the law. I was speeding and ended up getting pulled over! It ended up being the new Chief of Police of the small community that I live in. He didn’t know me, and I didn’t have a clue in the world who he was. As he walked up my car, every moment of that old situation began to replay in my brain! By the time this police officer reached my car I was seriously a hot mess. I was shaking more than a person who was high on massive amounts of cocaine and I was crying.
In the past when I had this reaction, the police suspected this was some type of sympathy ploy! I’m sure you are familiar with the whole, “If I cry they won’t give me a ticket!” Each of the officers I have encountered in the past either decided to view this scene as a challenge or an insult. But not this man!
This officer treated me with the most grace and dignity I have ever been treated with! He didn’t see me as an attention seeking hot mess who was trying to manipulate her way out of a ticket! Instead he viewed me as something…well I don’t entirely know! He was so calming and reassuring. He just kept telling me to breathe and assuring me that he wasn’t going to hurt me! Even as I dropped the insurance card between my feet after rifling through two years of insurance cards!
In the end, he didn’t give me a ticket. But here’s the deal, I would still have just as much gratitude towards him even if he had given me a ticket. I broke the law… I was speeding! My gratitude has very little to do with the fact that I didn’t get a ticket. It has so much more to do with how he treated me with grace, dignity and respect. It has even more to do with how he worked his butt off to de-escalate the terror and anxiety I was going through. I literally lost count of how many times he told me to breathe and that he wasn’t going to hurt me.
I get that there are bad police officers out there! Let’s be honest for a second, I tend to look at them more like bad people rather than the profession as a whole. I mean I’ve had bad teachers (heck, my kindergarten teacher told me repeatedly I was too stupid to pass. When I was in the principle’s office to figure out why I refused to speak to her, I told him she made all the little boys cry so I wasn’t talking to her!). I’m sure I could dig up statistics of doctor’s that are charged with sexual assault or teachers who are charged with physical abuse. So perhaps we need to view the abusive or sick people who are in these positions versus characterizing an entire sect of professionals as a whole!
My uncle, whom I love very dearly! Is an amazing, caring, and loving man. His wife, my aunt, has so much more faith than I can even imagine! I cannot even fathom the faith and love it takes to send your husband out into the world as a police officer today. There’s so much police hate it’s not funny!
So, to the police officer who pulled me over! Thank you! Thank you for recognizing that I was not trying to manipulate you! I was not trying to worm my way out of a ticket! I was just struggling through a painful memory at the time! Thank you for recognizing it!
For those of you who follow my blogs, this is not my typical style. My intent in writing this is to hope that it can stimulate some healing for other people who have been harmed by bad people in any profession.
Jenn Bovee LCSW is a psychotherapist and Mindset Coach. She treats people locally and globally. Learn more about her here: www.JennBoveeLCSW.com