Friday, January 26, 2007

Victimizing the Victims Part II

You find that by light of day the money is still gone but you have access to more people who can help.

A few hours of sleep helps.

Your husband, who has worked all night and gotten no sleep at all, reads the anger and panic in your face and while he initially complains that going to the bank can wait, realizes that you are about to careen off the edge of sanity if he doesn't wait just a few more hours to rest. He sends you off to your first day of testifying in court for your new job.

You arrive at work and tell your new boss what has happened. He gives you a look of concern and wonders out loud if you might not be better off doing something else today. "Your mind isn't going to be here, anyway," he says. He means well but it comes across as being a bit condescending and he seems to read this in your body language and immediately changes course and says, "Well, never mind then, come on; we have things to do."

On the ride over to the court house he tries to help you be a little more understanding of the sheriff's departments. You're not ready to do that. You talk instead about feeling even more victimized by the very people who are hired to help. He suggests that you write up your own report and deliver it to them. You wonder what form to use for that report?

The court room is packed. It's term day. You look around and wonder how many of these people are in the court room today because they are crime victims. Do most victims even know that this is the day when cases are reviewed for dismissal or extension or other sentence changes both minor and major. If they do know, do they feel that justice is served here?

The day begins with the seating of the Grand Jury. These are the folks in the community who determine if the Commonwealth has a case worth pursuing. They are given instructions by the judge and are sworn in and removed to a back room where they begin hearing testimony from a steady stream of investigators, deputies and other witnesses.

You wonder if the people who stole your money will ever be caught, and will the evidence collected be enough to get past a Grand Jury and into a court room. You decide it is better to focus on the cases coming up before the judge and for a little while forget about what has happened.

You end up being in court for less time than you thought. The new assistant commonwealth's attorney does not spend a lot of time making arguments pro or con. He presents the facts and moves on calling for statements from probation officers and offenders. A handful of civil matters are docketed for later dates. Some offenders lose the privilege of living in the community because they still cannot follow the rules. Others have, at least for a time, found ways to function fairly well under supervision, claim to be contributing members of society now and are released from their sentences. You learn there is usually a pool placed on each offender regarding how long it will be before they return with new arrests.

You, your boss and coworker leave the courthouse just after noon and head back to the office. There is a message on your cellphone from your husband who reports he has been to the bank, there are four forms you must sign and he is leaving them in front of your computer at home. He says they must be returned in the morning so the bank can start the process of getting your money back. He doesn't say how long this will take but notes he is going to bed and he will see you the next day because he has to work again tonight.

You return to the office. You feel better. You feel lighter. Perhaps some progress is being made. Your phone rings, it is an assistant to your delegate calling. She is very kind and you apologize for the frantic and bizarre message you left for them the night before. She assures you that it is okay and she understands and is concerned that I felt I was given the run around by the various law enforcement agencies. You advise her about what the forms the bank has prepared. She asks if you have to close the account. You don't know. She tells you to call her if you have any more problems or need any more help. You feel she is sincere in her willingness and ability to help.

You spend the last few hours of the afternoon drafting violation reports and filling out arrest warrants.

You get home. Your son says he isn't hungry, chats for a minute and complains that school is "stupid", then disappears to his room with the phone. He's worried about his report card and knows he will soon lose his phone privileges because of his grades. He is stressed.

You look at the pile in front of your computer and find the forms and sign them. You call your husband at work but he is so busy that he doesn't have but a moment to talk and says he will take the forms back to the bank in the morning.

He also tells you the bank says they don't need a criminal complaint from the sheriff's department. Something in the back of your mind sets off a low alarm bell. For some reason, you don't quite believe this is true. You decide to write out your own complaint as your boss suggested and deliver it to the sheriff's department with a copy of the state law first thing in the morning on your way to work. You decide to request that they process it and call you if they have questions.

You have no appetite but decide that a glass of wine would probably taste pretty good. While reading your emails you have a second glass.

You get an email from the friend you wrote the night before who works with Victim Services. She provides the name and phone number for the contact person in the Attorney General's office that works specifically with fraud and identity theft. She also strongly suggests that you contact the various credit bureaus to warn them not to open any accounts in your name or using your social security number. You wonder if this means that you won't be able to open any new accounts either.

You also get an email from another friend who knows people in California. Her connection there writes back with the names of the Board of Supervisors and their phone numbers and suggests that you contact them to complain about how you were treated. His job is to collect child support from deadbeat parents. He understands what it is to be a victim. In addition to his suggestions, your girlfriend provided a link to the FBI internet crime site where you can file a complaint.

You feel very tired. You decide to wait until you are less exhausted to write to the FBI.

You still don't know if you have to close the account that you have. You try to mentally draw up a list of business who get automated payments out of that account. You can only think of one but you know there are others. The wine is starting to cloud your thinking.

And you are so tired!

You wonder how to go about getting your paycheck if there is no account to transfer it to and who you have to call to get this fixed. You think about calling your husband back to ask him but know he is probably up to his eyeballs with the inmates and staff he supervises at the prison.

You find some leftovers in the refrigerator and heat them up in the microwave. Cooking requires more energy than you have right now.

You knit a little on the sock you have been trying to finish but it just seems like too much effort. You look at the clock. It's 9 p.m.

You tell your son you are going to bed and order him off the phone. You get the dogs settled in for the night and crawl into bed. You don't even bother to get undressed. In minutes you are fast asleep.

Then, there is loud bang on the roof. You look at the clock. It is 1:30 a.m. The wind is howling and the tin roof on your house is bumping from the wind. You get up and let the dogs out. While you are waiting for them to come back you get a glass of water, then drink a second one. You feel hungry and eat a yogurt. It's 2 a.m. You let the dogs back in. You start to write hoping you will be able to get back to sleep before dawn. At 3:20 a.m. you head back to bed.

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