Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Microstory 258: Perspective Thirty-Three

My job is extremely stressful. I don’t get a whole lot of feedback from callers, so I never really know if things went all right. I work for a domestic violence hotline. People from all over the country call us for help with abuse. Sometimes the caller is being abused, sometimes it’s a friend or family member, and we even get calls from abusers who realize what they’re doing is wrong. Obviously being an advocate comes with its limits. Since we’re communicating anonymously over the phone, I can’t go and actually help the people who call in. After they hang up, I can’t be sure if they took my advice, or if they’re safe. I feel so frustratingly powerless to help. I’ve started writing this comic book series about a superhero who never saves people from burning buildings, or fights villains. Instead, she flies around removing people from unsafe domestic environments, and mediating disputes between family members. I’ve still not settled on a name for her, but I’m leaning towards Doctor Safespace. That seems a little cheesy to me, and feels like an advertisement for our services rather than something victims and survivors can look up to. Whatever her name is, she’s not bound by arbitrary laws and regulations. She can go in and stop the violence at its source. Just this last week, I took a call from a child who happens to live in my home town. He was hiding in the closet while his father was drunk again and hitting his mother. It was heartbreaking to hear him tell me what was happening as it was happening. I could hear the screams in the background. It took me awhile to convince him that he needed to hang up and dial 9-1-1. A part of him knew that the situation was serious, and needed to be dealt with, but as a child, he couldn’t help but spend the time telling me about his alter ego, Prince Malvolio. He had clearly created this character in order to escape from his world of abuse, but that was no longer helping as the two worlds were colliding with each other. Finally he agreed to hang up and call the authorities instead. I hope he’s okay. If this weren’t anonymous, I would have Doctor Safespace team up with Prince Malvolio.

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