I rarely share the details of my private life on the internet but I felt to compelled to do so today. I wanted to tell you the story of how I ended up in gaol (jail) and facing a criminal charge for what was a relatively trivial matter. I’m not doing this to justify my own behaviour, or to criticise my family. or a few over zealous police officers, but rather, to give you a real life example of how a domestic squabble can quickly escalate and spiral out of control, resulting in some serious unintended consequences.
[Page 1 of 3]
Background to the Incident
In late September 2014 I moved back home after my mum’s husband of 23 years passed away from lung cancer. Unfortunately, moving back home also meant living with my sister (L) who is a drug addict and more than a little nuts. I did it because I was struggling financially and my brother suggested that pooling our resources would make it easier for the three of us girls to make ends meet. While I had kept in contact with my mother and sister over the years, I hadn’t lived with either of them for more than 25 years. But it sounded like a good idea at the time.
What was immediately apparent to me was that my mother and sister’s definition of what constitutes ‘normal behaviour’ differed quite considerably from my own. It was normal for L to swear and scream abuse at our mother and for mum to make excuses for her bad behaviour. Then I discovered that L had been taking half our mother’s pension from an ATM every fortnight. L began helping herself to mum’s bank account to support her drug habit when mum’s husband was hospitalised in May 2014. He died in a hospice in July and I discovered the theft in late October, while I was setting up internet banking for mum. Mum blamed herself for giving L her PIN to withdrawal money for her on one previous occasion. I believe mum probably suspected L was stealing from her, but she didn’t want to have a confrontation. Even after I discovered the theft, mum wasn’t angry and she didn’t even mention it to L. My brother and I urged mum to change her PIN at the bank and not to disclose her new PIN to anyone.
A Family Argument Escalates and the Police are Called
It all started on a Monday 22 June 2015, when I was awoken by L screaming abuse at our mother (almost a daily occurrence in our house). I intervened telling L: “Don’t speak to mum like that,” and then L started yelling at me. Of course, I don’t like being yelled at but I’m much less emotionally fragile than mum (who physically shakes when she’s stressed) and I give as much as I get from L. However, everyone knows that when you argue with a family member, a lot of that old unresolved stuff bubbles up to the surface and that’s what happened on this day.
Something that had been bugging me for months is that since last summer, L has been sleeping in the lounge-room. She said it was too hot to sleep in her room upstairs but when the weather cooled, she refused to move back upstairs. She said it was haunted (not the entire house, just her bedroom). L is obsessed with the paranormal, always watching TV shows and reading books about ghosts and demons. L’s other favourite past-time is scavenging for junk that other people throw away and before too long, the lounge-room was looking like an episode of Hoarders! So when she left the house on the evening of 22 June 2015, I took everything upstairs and dumped it in her bedroom.
Mum is retired and because of L’s drug use she has been on the disability pension for almost a decade (she is now 43). So with L practically living in the lounge-room and mum spending nearly all of her waking hours in front of the TV, there isn’t any physical distance between them. I figured maybe they wouldn’t get on each others nerves as much if L moved back into her bedroom. But when L came home about 10.30pm, she was furious and let it rip with the expletives as she stomped upstairs to retrieve her bedding. I met her half way on the staircase and tried to talk to her calmly. It started out well enough with L telling me how upset she was about her adult daughter (it’s a long story) and I hugged her. Then I began explaining my reasons for wanting her to move back into her bedroom and she got very angry and said: “This is my f…’in house and I’ll sleep where I f…’in want to!” Because she has been living at home for 12 years L considers me to be an intruder and as such, I have no right to complain about anything that goes on in our home.
I wasn’t getting anywhere so I threatened to call the police on L for smoking pot in the lounge-room (morning, noon and night) if she didn’t move her stuff back upstairs and sleep in her bedroom tonight. But L is a cagey one and she called the police herself and told them that I was provoking her to hit so that she would be charged with assault.
When the police arrived they spoke to L out in the drive way where she was waiting for them and then they spoke to our mother. Mum told the police that I was always antangonising L and causing arguments. With two against one, I was immediately cast as ‘the bad guy’ and after that, the police weren’t interested in anything I had to say. They gave me a lecture, telling me not to antagonise L because it was upsetting our mother. I told them about L yelling all the time at mum and how she had stolen her money, however the police didn’t care about any of that.
When I said, “What about her smoking pot all day and night.”
One of the male police officers replied, “She told us about that. She’s doing it in her own home. She says she doesn’t have any on her right now.”
“But smoking marijuana is still a crime, is it not?” I said.
Raising his voice the policeman then said to me, “Then the next time she has it you take her marijuana down to the court house and ask her to be charged!”
As this was the first time they had been called to our home since my family moved back into the area seven years ago, I suppose common sense told them that I must be the problem child. So after giving me a lecture the police turned on their heels and left.
I was furious about what had happened with the police. But what I did next was stupid…