How can I stop dwelling on my actions that may have caused loss of life?
April 16, 2012 2:48 PM Subscribe
I feel (at the very least) tangentially responsible for another persons death (murder) and I just can't shake it.
posted by holdkris99 to Human Relations (47 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
OK so forgive me if this is long and meandering.
Several months ago I was waiting for a ride at a public light rail station. A truck pulled up and parked within 50 to 75 feet from me and a young couple got out and kind of just stood by the truck making out and stuff, they seemed all lovey-dovey. This went on for about 20 minutes. Eventually they stopped and she got her bag out of the car and started walking up towards the train platform and the guy said something -I don't know what I was wearing headphones listening to music- to her and jumped in the truck real quick. She clearly got upset because she started running back towards the truck yelling at him. She got back to the truck just as he was backing out and putting the truck in drive to go forward. His window was rolled down. She was still yelling (and by this time I had taken me headphones out but I still couldn't really make out what was being said though I was being as nosy as possible) and he started to pull away. She threw her stuff in the bed of the truck and she tried to jump in the bed. So he stopped and she went back to the window and just started wailing on him. Hitting and slapping him. So he started driving away. She ran alongside the truck and was trying to climb in the window it looked like when he hit a curb and it jostled her loose and she fell to the ground. He drove away. Myself and three other girls who saw the whole thing unfold went up to her to see if she was okay and she just stormed past us and called someone on the phone and headed to the platform. She didn't appear to have any injuries or anything, just kind of shook up. She got on the next train that came to the station and was gone.
about 15 minutes later a police car pulled up and got out and was just looking around and I said "Are you here about the girl?" And he was like "yeah did you see it? Tell me what happened." So I did, pretty much what I said above but with more specifics (kind of car, race, what they were wearing - stuff that isn't relevant to this post). He said they had gotten a call that a guy had ran over a girl then drove off. He asked if I would characterize it that way and I said "no." He asked if it looked like she was the aggressor or if he pulled her into the car. I said that he was trying to pull away and she was trying to stop him, that if she would have not reached in the window he would have drove off, though once she kind of got her head and arms in there was no way for me to know if he started pulling her in, as they were driving away from me. Anyway, he took my info and left.
A few days later I got a call from a detective wanting to come and get a written statement so I agreed. I wrote the same details that I said above. He said the girl was contending that he purposefully ran over her and was being held charged with attempted murder. He asked the same question the responding officer did, would I characterize it that way, as the girl being ran over and I said no. Went through the same spiel really. They said they would be in touch and that I may need to be deposed, etc and left. Some days later I received a call from the detective saying that being the only unbiased witness and that my retelling matched, almost exactly, the guys account he was freed and thanked me for my statement etc. I remember specifically he said "normally the guy in these situations is screwed because when there is no witness favor is usually given to the girls side of the story" or something to that effect. He said the girl eventually said that it happened more or less the way I said.
So that was that. Then, a couple of months back, mrs holdkris and I were watching the local news and a story came up about a guy who had killed his girlfriend and sure enough, it was them. I couldn't fucking believe it. Still can't. Since then I have been questioning myself about what I actually saw. If I did the right thing by even talking to the responding officer. What my responsibilities were in this situation. Some of my friends have told me that I did the wrong thing, that I should have assumed the guy was a dick and should have either not said anything or not made it seem like it was the girl's fault when talking to the cops. I didn't really think I was assigning blame, I was just reporting what I saw.
Anyway, I know none of this is a question. I feel like I did the right thing and am not looking for validation. My question is how to deal with the feelings that, had i kept my mouth shut, this girl would still be a live and the guy would probably be in jail for attempted murder or some kind of lesser plea or something. I am not one to dwell on the past, ever, but this I just can't shake. I feel somewhat guilty even asking for help for my mental/emotional well being when there is a family out there that have lost a daughter. I realize therapy is going to be a common suggestion but I have no insurance and little means to pay for it, even on a sliding scale basis, though I am open to suggestions for anyplace that does that kind of thing pro bono. I travel to all of the big cities in TX at east twice a month so any place in Dallas/Houston/Austin/San Antonio would be fine (I am an athiest. I know I could talk to any number of religious leaders ie. priest and preachers and such, but I would refer a secular option) Any recommendations from personal experience or if you can point me to some books or anything that might help.