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Stopping the Silence: My Tool to Escape From Domestic Violence and to Find Liberty and Justice

Telling the Court About the Abuse
Stopping the Silence
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More than a year
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Telling the Court
To the Judge
What You Need to Know
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Why do You Stay? Traumatic Bonding
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June 28, 2002

Dear Judge:

My name is Samuel. I am the person Frankie Arena  nearly killed on September 18, 2001, and I am requesting that you remand this criminal to jail. I have been subjected to months of unrelenting abuse, and tormented by this cold and calculating man. He continues to violate my order of protection, and to abuse, and to restrict my freedom. His sadistic actions have affected me emotionally, socially, psychologically, physically, academically, and financially. When I learned of this probation hearing, I hoped I would be heard. I typed several letters attempting to describe the painful details needed for the court to understand how this criminal’s actions have affected my day to day life. This process has caused me to relive the trauma from those terrible months in which Mr. Arena abused me with no remorse, no understanding and no feeling for the way his actions affected me.

It is, however, impossible for me to fully explain to you what this person has done to me. How can I convey how he systematically took away my ability to trust others? How can I explain the fact that I no longer feel safe in my relationships; not just the new ones I managed to develop, but also the trusting and loving ones I had before the abuse? Because of this criminal, I no longer feel free to be my true self. I constantly feel a pervasive sense of doom, and insecurity and mistrust mark my relationships. My life, which once was joyful, is now full of anxiety and tension. Even my interaction with my family is suffering as a result of those months of torture I faced in this man’s hands. Any hint of disapproval or distress causes me to shut down emotionally. So, the “quality times” with my loved ones become another source of emotional and physical pain. In the end, I am left isolated, depressed, shamed, and fearful. I have sleepless nights, nightmares with people trying to kill me, severe headaches, heartburn, and stomach cramps. The scar left on the right side of my neck by Frankie’s violent act can not be removed and for the rest of my life whenever I look in the mirror I will be reminded of the abuse. I cut myself every time I try to shave the hair around that scar; and every time I meet someone new, I am asked what happened and have to relive the abuse again.

My ability to persevere has been taken away by this man’s sadistic actions. I was always able to “try again” if “at first” I did not succeed, which is how I was able to realize my dream of getting an education from NYU. I re-applied a second time to that school after being rejected for admission and was accepted with a scholarship. Today I not only have a BA from NYU, but also received two Masters from Columbia University; however , the sense of failure and worthlessness left in me by this abuser causes me to shut down and freeze at the thought of accomplishing my goal to get a Ph.D. That is also the way my body reacts when faced with everyday life’s challenges.

Because of all these traumatic experiences, I have to see a psychologist twice a week in an attempt to cope and try to gain my life back. I have to take anti-anxiety medication every day in order to manage the panic attacks that I experience. If I leave my apartment, I have to take a taxi because I fear Mr. Arena could attack me at any time. My friends are forced to make sure I get home safe, and wait for me to call them as soon as I am safe at home. All these things add to my financial responsibilities.

These major affects in my life did not happen overnight. Mr. Arena and I became romantically involved in May 2001, and like every abuser, he wore a mask to hide the monster he is. He presented himself to be the perfect partner. In July 2001, when he had gained my trust, his true self began to emerge. He started to call me names such as “low life”, “trash”, “loser”, and “dirty foreigner." He started to throw ashtrays, remote controls, and books at me. When I would ask him to get out of my home, he would start to cry, apologize and claim that he never acted that way before in his past relationships and that I must have done something to make him act that way. Also, there were several nights in which I fled my apartment in fear of being physically hurt by this man. I would run out barefoot and with no money and walk for hours until I imagined Frankie would be sleeping and it was safe for me to return home. When I ended my relationship with him that month, he continually called me crying for forgiveness and promising to never treat me that way, and I believed him. Things only got worse . On my birthday, August 11, 2001, he got drunk and began to insult me in front of friends. I locked myself in my bathroom for hours while he continued to scream how "bad and what a horrible piece of trash” I was because I would not give him all the keys to my apartment. One of his friends confronted him by saying he was acting very abusive. Frankie began to hit his friend and I ran out of my home. He called me on my cellular phone and said “Samuel, I love you, please come home so we can spend the rest of your birthday together. I am OK now. I love you please come home.” I trusted him, and the minute he was alone with me he began to hit me till I began to bleed from my lips. This went on for 45 minutes until I was able to throw my keys out of the window and his friend was able to open the door. The super of my building called the police and Frankie ran away before they arrived. He called me collect many times that night. About 5 AM, he had a friend of his call and that friend begged me to talk to Frankie. He cried, said he was sorry, that he lost it. I told him to leave me alone.

Then, on the following Tuesday he called to say he was getting counseling, and convinced me to meet with him. He sounded so sincere, but I soon found out everything he told me was a lie. On September 6, 2001 he began to physically abuse me again. I asked him to leave or I would call the police. He said “go ahead they won’t believe you. I am white and you are a foreigner. They will never believe you." The police came to my home (compl. No. 16821) and he left. At this time, the police were extremely concerned for my safety and were the first to warn me that Frankie would eventually kill me. Then our City was attacked by the terrorists and I spoke to Frankie on that day. He cried and said “we love each other so much. Look at all the people dying. Please let's try again. I am better, I got help. Things will be different.” I agreed to meet him and try again. One week later at Bandito’s restaurant, Frankie almost killed me by shoving a drinking glass into the right side of my neck, cutting an artery. I began to bleed with such a pressure that the restaurant had blood all the way from the ceiling to the floor. Frankie ran out and I was left to die. Strangers came to my help, whereas the man who claimed to love me left the scene of the crime in fear of being arrested. I thought my life was about to end. It is a miracle I am here today to tell about what happened. Like many victims of abuse and trauma I was on denial for several months, and Frankie began to call it a “freak accident”, something he kept saying over and over. He was arrested (compl. No. 6450) and later plead guilty to this crime. During that time I just could not accept the reality of what happened. Thank God the ADA who worked on this case looked up for my safety and well being. As part of the deal she gave Frankie, she requested a full order of protection valid till the year 2006. Looking back, I realize that if I did not have this order of protection, Frankie would already finished what he started on September 18, 2001 and I would be dead today.

Still, on November 11, 2001 Frankie physically abused me again. He gave me a black eye and caused major bruising to the back of my neck. He ran out of my home before the police arrived and a report was filled (compl. No. 20154). Frankie then had his roommate tell me he was suicidal and had checked himself into a hospital. A week later, I met with him. Again I fell for the lies and manipulation. He said that “if I go to jail, I will kill myself .“ This time he made me stop my therapy with my psychologist and my treatment for victims of domestic violence at the anti-violence project because he feared losing his probation if I were to testify. He made me hide with him in Hoboken, New Jersey. He said “you are the only one who can help me. No one understands me. I can’t lose you. If I lose my probation my brother will kill you”. He was arrested for this and the charges were dropped because the ADA was unable to communicate with me.

The evidence is piling up, showing that Frankie’s criminal obsession with abusing and tormenting me is immune to restraining orders, immune to a judge's admonitions, unfazed by arrest after arrest, and completely unaffected by any terms of probation. Then, on March 23, 2002 Frankie violated the order of protection once more. He came to my job where he was abusive, intimidating, and again caused my mind to freeze and shut down. He called me collect, cried and said he had no money, and then came to my apartment drunk and high on drugs. He said “I will teach you a lesson.” I was afraid he would hurt me again. He left in the morning and called my home several times that day. I did not take the calls. He called me on Monday again. As the week went on he got verbally abusive and I became determined to never have any contact with him again. I reported this violation to the police (compl. No.1789). He was arrested and is being charged for several counts of contempt to the court and aggravated harassment (case no. 2002NY021308).

Soon after he was released on bail, this abuser made a desperate attempt to use the system that is making him accountable for his actions by making a false police report against me in Queens, where no one knew of his history of abusing me. However, on May 8, 2002 the ADA dismissed those allegations “in the interest of justice”. He continues to make up lies about me claiming I try to speak to him. I want this vicious man as far away from me as possible because I want to live!. As I continue my therapy, I continue to remember the abuse and overcome the denial. I don’t know if I will ever recuperate from the trauma, but I want a chance to try. Frankie’s vicious attempts to hurt me and the lies he is telling people make me feel unsafe. Someone he met in anger management verbally abused me and threatened me because Frankie’s lack of remorse allows him to try to reverse the truth and make it look like I was responsible for the abuse when the truth is I never lift a finger against him, not even to protect me from his violent attacks. Frankie restricted my freedom to frequent public places in this city by lying he has an order of protection against me, and so making it look he is the victim and not the criminal.

On May 19, 2002 Frankie violated the order of protection once again. This time he came to my job and told me “you are going to get yours! Your days are counted”. I reported this exchange to the police (compl. No. 2565). This man nearly killed me once, now I live in fear he will try to kill me at any moment. Please protect me. Remand the defendant to the maximum sentence in jail, and give me the time and the freedom to begin glimpse a normal life again.




*Thank you Tracy for helping me with the editing of this letter.


* Domestic violence cycle:  It Reads Like a Dramatic Play