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Where to start? What my neighbor did to his wife

It happened a year ago. My neighbor Rachel knocked on my door during the holidays. She was scared because her husband, (I will call him Big Panza) twice as big as she is with a voice that booms instead of talks, wanted a divorce.

They have three boys and she had no place to go. Panza has been beating her up, why hadn't I see it? Rachel could barely walk, Panza had beaten her in her pelvic area. And she had bruises on her neck and chest too. Rachel was sexually abused as a child. She drinks, and she's bipolar, and with all the medication she takes, she moves slowly, like she's drunk, but she's not. She weighs maybe a hundred pounds and she says she fights back sometimes when Panza hits her.

Rachel's not a great housekeeper. She feeds my cats, and she's very tender with her boys. They love my cats too, especially Snowball and Floofie, and aren't the type of boys who break windows.

Panza broke her jaw ten years ago, and that's why Rachel is always massaging her slightly crooked self. Panza broke her nose. Panza calls her names, he sits on her, he threatens her.

For months I tried to get Rachel to a lawyer, to a therapist, to a shelter. But she was afraid of Panza. She hoped they would get back together. She cried over losing her boys and had no place to go. Before she finally was released from a psychiatric ward after a two week stay, Panza didn't go pick her up.

Now Rachel lives with her elderly mother in the deep westside. She never sees her boys, and I have seen that look in their eyes of mother-loneliness and hate because she's left them.

I hear Panza yelling at his boys all the time. Their grades are dropping. The other day I heard him call one of the boys a Dummy. With all his yelling, I know he has called them much worse.

When he turns on his boom-box voice, he scares the cats, the birds, and even the leaves tremble.

Rachel called me the other day. She says that Panza goes to see her at her mother's house and that he takes her clothes off and does whatever he wants with her.

She thinks this is the way it has to be.

I wish I could do something. It's like I know the ending to this movie, only I want to leave now. But I can't. Something in me wants to see what will happen even though I don't think it will be happy.

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