I hate violence. One of the reasons I hate violence is because I grew up on the wrong end of it as a child. It leaves me feeling unsettled. Unfortunately there are times in our world when the only answer to violence being waged, the only way to make it stop, is for either a higher quality or larger amount of it to be used in response.
In September of 2009, I was attacked by a gentleman who I believe was in a state of road rage. Josh was in the car when this happened and was traumatized to the point that I finally had to take him to a therapist for nearly a year to work it out as he was living in a constant state of fear.
Josh and I were returning from a doctor appointment in Omaha and I’m really not sure what I did to offend this poor guy but he became enraged and decided to make it obvious to me in the one-half mile ride from the interstate exit ramp to our apartment.
Racing in front of me and then slowing down to below the speed limit. Stopping where there was no stop sign or light. Starting to move again slowly then hitting his brakes and on and on. His attempts at taunting and frustrating me weren’t working very successfully. I was basically detached which isn’t always the case when
After he stopped once more in the middle of the block, I politely put my turn signal on to turn right (even though I’m behind him) and what do you know? He decides to turn in the same direction which happened to be the parking lot of the apartment complex Josh and I lived in.
Our new friend, whose name turned out to be Martin, decides to go in the same direction. This proves to be incredibly ironic later in this story. He continues to try to exasperate me and (on that day) I continue to remain calm. Eventually we are in front of our building and he comes to a complete stop. This time he sits there for about ten seconds and eventually I decide to pull around him. I thought maybe he was picking somebody up who lived in the building across from ours. Surely he wouldn’t just sit thee and block the road.
As I pull the van around and in front of him so I could back into the handicap space in front of our door, he guns his engine and accelerates towards us slamming on his breaks at the last second and stopping about six inches from my son’s door. He immediately jumps out of his truck and runs to my side of the van and places his snarling face next to my window calling me out. This is where things really get interesting.
I look him in the eyes and put up my index finger in the universal gesture of “just a minute” which I also said out loud. At this point I can feel the adrenaline start to poor into me veins and my breathing move up into my chest. Typical adrenaline dump symptoms which I was familiar with and had trained in with my friend Bill Kipp of F.A.S.T Defence. You have likely heard of it as “fight or flight.” I tell myself to breath and push my breath back down into my lower diaphragm, I tell myself to relax and everything is going to be fine. I feel my heart rate slow down immediately and my breathing relax.
I back the van into the parking space and he walks along side the van keeping his face nearly glued to the window staring me down. After parking the van I once more politely ask him to wait a moment and after putting the van in park and shutting it off as well as taking off my seat belt, I open the door. Our new friend then lunges inside the van and punches me in the chest. Realizing this guy has lost his mind and I need to take immediate action to protect Josh and myself I start to step out of the van. As soon as my left foot touches the ground, Martin slams the drivers side door on my left shin actually denting the bone but not breaking it.
Did I mention I hate violence?
Once I’m out of the van he starts to unleash punch after punch towards my face. I deflect each blow thinking to myself “What the hell is wrong with this guy?” Finally I decide he isn’t going to stop so I have to stop him and I do.
Josh is hysterical! He he is crying and screaming. I’m trying to get him out of the car which at this point in time was a bit challenging due to the fact he is still very unstable on his feet due to the impact the brain injury has had on his motor skills and balance.
Seeing Josh in this state focuses my senses into a laser beam. I feel concern because of this threat and the last thing I want is for Joshua to be hurt again. My primary focus is getting Josh to safety and making sure this guy doesn’t get up and try again.
Once I get my son inside the apartment I pass him off to my mother and try to explain to her, with Josh still crying, what just happened. I decide I need to get Josh to his mothers because if the police show up, I don’t know what the neighbors saw and if they didn’t see how Martin attacked and the only thing they saw was my last two movements, then I’m going to jail and I don’t want Josh to see me getting hauled away in handcuffs on top of whatever else is going through his mind.
The irony of this insane and unnecessary event is that after Martin eventually gets up off the ground and back into his truck, he drives over about eight parking spaces, pulls his truck into a spot and goes into the adjoining apartment building. He was my neighbor. We actually shared a common wall between our apartments and up to that day had never met.
Once Josh had calmed down a bit, I take him back out to the van and get him buckled in. Sure enough the police drive up and the questions start. I lie to the police regarding the whereabouts of my attacker. I simply told them he drove off. In my mind, it was a done deal and it was settled. How stupid of me to think that.
While I believed it to be over, Josh was deeply traumatized by it and I had no idea the deep and profound impression it had made on him. For the next several months, he would repeat the events of that day to anyone and everyone who would listen. He told the clerk as we were checking out at Target. He told his school teachers. He told wait staff at restaurants.
Eventually I had to take Josh to a professional so he could get some help in understanding what had happened and that this wasn’t going to happen again. That he was safe. That I was safe.
Luckily the people who witnessed the event that day had seen every bit of it start to finish and told the police exactly that – 100% self-defense on my end. What a relief!
As Josh and I sat there in the van waiting for the police to drive away, my son had something on his mind. He says to me, “Daddy, how come you didn’t take me with you?” I asked him where? He said, “Outside, when you had to fight that man. I could have helped you.” I had to suppress a chuckle at that point. My eight year old, badly brain injured son, thought he wanted to get out there to protect and serve. I told him that it was daddy’s responsibility to make sure he was safe and that kind of problem was for me to handle. Josh’s response to me at that point was, “Yea dad, but I could have finished him off.”