Skip to main content

Rachel, The Battered Woman from the Pink House Next Door

The reason I haven’t written is because of Rachel. I live in the barrio, well, San Antonio is one eternal barrio, a heaven and hell mix of fix-your-flat-tire repair shops, tortillerias, taquerias, pitbull puppies for sale around the corner. There are no bookstores here, no kiosks, and the only place to buy the New York Times is at the Starbucks off the freeway. My street is working-class, on the poor side of Jefferson High School, away from the big homes of the Monticello district.

I like living in the barrio, it’s real. But I also know why people don’t like living here, it’s too hard. People here have problems that my family surmounted years ago, my parents made sacrifices so that I wouldn’t see what I have in the almost-three years I’ve been here. And I know there must be something wrong with me – because I want to see it. I want to help, but I'm not able to help. Like for example,

Rachel. I haven’t been able to write because of her, my next-door neighbor. Right after New Year’s, she knocked on my back door late at night and told me she was scared because her husband, Jim, had just taken their three kids to his parents and wanted a divorce. That she was to leave immediately, and she has no job because she's a stay-at-home mother, a good one from what I've seen. I tend to stay away from her because she’s bipolar – that’s another long story – but this time I really looked at her delicate cuerpecito and noticed again the lump in her jaw, only she also had a purple skid-mark bruise on her forehead and she did that funny shuffle she always does, as I walked with her back to her house.

Why did it take me so long to realize she's a battered woman? And that Jim, her husband at 250 pounds-plus, has been beating her every week since I’ve lived here? Didn't I hear her screaming? Was that what it was? It seems that he’s lost his job at USAA and wants her out of the dilapidated pink house next door. He’s taken their three young sons, and though they’ve been married ten years, he wants her out of the house as soon as possible. He wants her to go live with her mother, and he's told her he won't ask for child support until she gets a job.

Of course I called the police, and the domestic violence specialist came right over and I heard all the gory details of how Jim has sat on her, beat her head with the phone when she's tried to call for help, kicked her, and how he broke her jaw years ago, that’s why she has that funny lump she’s always massaging. Jim wouldn’t let her go to the doctor, and so she let it heal itself. The police officer sent for the Evidence Team, and they came over and took photos of Rachel’s injuries, which included bruised ribs, a bloody tear in her scalp, and more in her pelvic area.

Then Rachel began telling me about her past. She’s from the Westside, and the story begins with her father who brutalized her, and her brothers who followed his lead. She’s been telling me the story in bits and pieces as I’ve driven her to a lawyer, to a counselor, who have advised her to go to the Battered Women’s Shelter.

“I’m scared.” She cries, trembling from the beatings that Jim gives her when he comes around, threatening her, watching her, telling her she has to have sex with him if he wants to see the kids.

“I’m scared, I’m so scared.” That’s all she says when she hears that under Texas law, she has rights, that she can fight for her kids, that she can get spousal assistance to help her get a good job. She has a high school degree, and a nursing assistant certification. She cries for her children night and day. She drinks. She takes her medication and plays with my cats, and my abandoned barrio-gatitos follow her into the pink house and keep her company.

She’s got Marilyn Monroe-blond hair, but the bleach-job compliments her, she's very guerita, and wears tight jeans well because she weighs maybe 100 pounds. Her husband is a beast compared to her. Her children are gentle with my cats, and I remember how Jim yelled at them all the time. When I tell her this, she gets quiet. "Why does he want to divorce me?" Then she says, “I’m sorry, I don’t want to bother you, thank you for everything.”

The counselor from the Domestic Violence Unit warned Rachel that Jim might try to kill her or the kids. I've offered several times to take her anywhere, encouraged her to get help from the Battered Women's Shelter.

The other day she cried again.

“I’m so scared of being alone.”

To Be Continued

artistic credit: "Carmen," Ana Montoya,


Anonymous said…
YOu call I-10 and Vance Jackson the barrio?

Popular posts from this blog

Twelve Heads in a Bag: Hector Saldana's Krayolas painting in bold, true colors

Longleaf pines are native to the southeast United States, and their conservation status is vulnerable. Only three percent of this historic, unrottable pine tree forest that can live up to 500 years remains. With long leaf pine (no smack gum) by the comeback sensations, The Krayolas, it is clear they intend to make great music for the long haul. I’m talking about one song in particular, “Twelve Heads in a Bag,” a deceptive rock-ballad (written and sung by Hector Saldana, with Max Baca on bajo sexto and Michael Guerra on accordion). Twelve Heads… is dedicated to the beheaded victims of Mexico’s drug wars. As has been said before but needs to be said again, it is the first corrido of the 21st century and it’s for the history books. Twelve Heads in a Bag makes you want to dance with a Lone Star in your hand, no matter the barbeque stains on your Tshirt, wondering why it wasn’t you in that bag.

A battered woman from San Antonio loses her reporting job

Gina Galaviz, 43, KSAT-TV's I-love-the-police reporter, "has been fired" from the television station , according to the San Antonio Express-News, and I'm quoting verbatim here from Jeanne Jakle's byline, "after she was charged with assault following a fight with her boyfriend," Ronald Aguillen, 46.

Ok, so we in San Antonio know about the time in 2004 when Gina filed charges against another boyfriend, the former SWAT cop, who was a councilman at-the-time, Ron Segovia .
There were allegations of an apple being thrown at her nalgas, which humiliated her, and that he also pointed a gun at her. It was not the first time, she told me.

Tough-guy Segovia got off - I think he had three attorneys representing him if I remember correctly, and in this city, like too many, the cops are in bed with the grand jury - they need and depend on each other, and this grand jury decided there "wasn't enough evidence to pursue a criminal case against him."

Segovia wa…

Bloody Towels & Jerry Joe Pittman, Asst. Police Chief of San Antonio

Assistant Chief Jerry Pittman has called the San Antonio Observer, San Antonio's leading Black newspaper, to say that he's human, that he's made a mistake. But I suspect he's thinking twice about retiring, because he needs another year to get his full pension.

He’s scary
.When I first saw Asst. Chief Jerry Pittman en persona, San Antonio’s highest-ranking black cop, and certainly most-controversial, my gut talked to me.I was at Pittman’s press conference downtown, orchestrated by the most expensive public relations firm in town, Connolly & Company, on March 11, 05, where he announced his exoneration from rape allegations brought by his step-niece, a 39 year-old working-class, black, woman. Chief Pittman, a 6’5” blue-black brother, with bullets instead of eyes, would’ve shot me if he could that day because of my questions, while the rest of the media kissed his grits.Look, I’m a middle-aged woman who trusts her intuition about men, and I know what I feel.But - I’m a…