Throwaway Victims

Patrick Hensley

Most people don’t know his real name, and that is no accident. He is adept at avoiding questions involving his life. He needs it that way. A predator needs to be able to move around unnoticed and in the shadows. He is a large man, strong, and without any significant features. He grew up in a broken home watching his father repeatedly beat his mother. When the police were called by neighbors, she would tell them she fell down, or she deserved it because she hit him first. Lies. He grew up watching this occur time and again, and he didn’t feel sorry for his mother. He thought she was weak. He thought all females were weak, and he wanted to feel the same power his father felt.

Fast forward many years later. He has a construction job, and relies on the government to help him with the necessities. He rents a small, modest nondescript house in a diverse working class neighborhood. His neighbors know little about him. They have no idea of his penchant for violence against women. No knowledge of the many domestic violence convictions, the time spent in prison, or his predatory behaviors. He watches them from his window. Any women who see him staring immediately feel a sense of uneasiness. They know. He enjoys their uneasiness, revels in it.

He spends much of his free time in areas that most of us avoid. He is comfortable there, among the throwaways. He drinks in those bars and walks those streets. A hunter. He considers himself a craftsman, and he has honed his tactics over many years of practice. He has learned to prey on the forgotten, the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the homeless with mental health issues. He finds it easy, comforting. He trolls the areas where they stay offering friendship or alcohol or drugs. Whatever it takes to gain their trust. Once he has it, he invites them home. Don’t worry he says, I will take care of you. More lies.

As soon as he gets them home, his demeanor changes. He turns cold, angry, and violent. He demands sex. Most say no; he doesn’t really care. Even the ones who give in to his intimidation wish they hadn’t. For him it isn’t about the sex, it’s about control, and violence. That is why she is here. He will take what she won’t give him, even if it isn’t what he wants. He will hit her, repeatedly, and she thinks she sees him smiling. Saying yes won’t help, he doesn’t even hear her. The only thing he feels is hatred and disgust. He remembers his mother cowering in the corner and refusing to tell the police what really happened. He hates weakness.

She is eventually able to escape and run out of the house, or he gets bored when she simply gives up. Many of them flee partially dressed and battered. They don’t call the police, they never call the police. A concerned neighbor sees her walking down the street, crying and bloody. He does call the police. We arrive and begin asking the questions. She is scared, injured. She refuses to cooperate and says she made a mistake. We know what happened. We have seen this exact situation played out many times before. We ask if it was him. The blood rushes out of her face and she stops breathing for a moment. She stares at us with wide eyes. She then says she doesn’t want to talk about it and simply wants a ride out of the area. She refuses to provide us with any information.

We can’t believe he is getting away with it again: the predator, the monster. Once again, and as he has many times before, he chose the perfect victim. The throwaway. He knows she won’t cooperate with us. That is no accident. He is very particular in who he brings home. He doesn’t want to go back to prison. He knows we will knock at his door. He won’t tell us anything. He knows we may arrest him anyway, as we have many times before. We will find a reason. But he also knows the system, and is familiar with the words from the prosecutors: no jury appeal, we will be unable to convince a jury panel of twelve, victim credibility issues. Are you serious? He is going to avoid prosecution once again? We can’t believe it. This monster that preys on the weak, the drug and alcohol addicted, the homeless, and the mentally challenged. He knows how these stories will end. He has honed his craft. The victims will disappear into the night and he will be released. Or maybe not.

This story is not over; this is a story of survival. This time he chose the wrong victim. Although she was scared, and she did fit his profile, she was stronger than he ever anticipated. She changed her mind, not for her but for the many other throwaway victims before her. She decided she would cooperate with us. She knew because we told her. We told her about all of the victims who had come before; the women who had been assaulted, humiliated, raped and left with nothing but a nightmare. We told her about his past, about his ability to choose victims that he knew he would never have to face in court. He made a mistake, a miscalculation. She was much stronger than he anticipated. Even if her credibility was questioned, her injuries and the evidence would not be. He wasn’t smiling when we placed him in handcuffs and took him to jail. He is awaiting trial and facing life in prison. She is in a much better place, having finally received access to the help she needs. She will be fine, and she will be a credible witness in court. She is not a throwaway victim. She is a survivor, and she now dedicates her life to helping others.

Patrick has been a police officer for 21 years and currently occupies a command position with a mid-sized police department in the Bay Area. He is also a graduate student attending the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security. Homeland XYZ was developed in collaboration with members of his cohort to introduce a writing platform for students to publish and for crowd-sourcing answers to difficult Homeland Security questions.

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