I was presented with a question by one of my coworkers at CCASA: “What do you do to leave work at work and not take it home with you?” This question was asked after we had returned from court. The trial we were able to sit in on involved a sex trade worker who was nearly beaten to death with a baseball bat by one of her regulars.
Before being asked, I didn’t realize I was taking my work home with me. This case in particular has affected me more than usual. I can’t seem to pinpoint what it is about this case that makes it stick out in my mind, but I find myself constantly thinking about the situation and wanting to know the answers to all the unanswerable.
Everyone I’ve spoken with about the case are baffled by how bizarre a situation this really is . This is a man that has a post secondary education and a good career, no criminal record, and he came from a seemingly normal and supportive family. Additionally, there was no evident motive for this man to assault this woman. On the video of his interrogation, the accused said he didn’t even know why he did it. The accused had known the survivor for two and a half years and stated that she was a “great girl”. He would fly her in to stay the weekend with him, he would take her on vacations to places like Mexico and Hawaii; he always treated her well. In two and a half years, there was no sign that he would/could act like this.
From the video of the perpetrator’s interrogation and his demeanor in the courtroom, he seemed like a docile man. He was very emotionless and somewhat dopey. He gave you the impression he was going to fall asleep during the court proceedings; not out of malice or defiance, but rather that was just his personality. What would enrage this man to the extent of beating this woman nearly to death? Not knowing the relationship between the perpetrator and the survivor, and not knowing each individual on a personal level, leaves me drawing my own conclusions as to why he did it. The inability to get the whole reasoning behind his actions puts me in a zone of frustration and guessing.
Seeing the survivor testifying in court, there was something about her that just drew me in. I was able to put a name, face and personality behind the “sex trade worker” label. Hearing her speak made it easier to personalize all the events that happened. Her parents were in the courtroom supporting her as she testified. She came from what seemed like a normal family that loved and supported her even though she was a prostitute. While the survivor was testifying, she was very to the point and showed no emotion. There were so many questions running through my head that I wanted to ask her. It made me want to scrape away all the layers and get to know her on a personal level. I wanted to be able to understand where she was coming from and how she has been able to build up the strength to deal with such a horrific incident.
Coming back to the question my coworker asked me… it made me realize I don’t seperate my personal life from my work. Perhaps this case has been able to penetrate itself into my thoughts because of all the unanswered questions; it’s up to me to try to fill in all the blanks. Over time, I believe people are able to dissociate their work and their personal lives but, because this is such a new indepth perspective on the issue, it has affected me more.