Recovering from a Random Act of Violence

In the blink of an eye, something can happen that will change your health and well-being, your future, your view of the world.  For example, you could be walking across the street, carefree and strong, and be struck by a car.  You could have a brain aneurism or a heart attack.

Or some unknown person, with a twisted heart, could come out of nowhere and assault you.

These are not happy thoughts and not usually the type of thing that I write about on this blog.

But that was before some random person committed a violent act against my son who was punched so hard that his tooth was knocked out, who now has stitches all over his lips and gums with his teeth wired to his mouth, who still can’t understand how anyone could do something so violent for no apparent reason.

What happened? As my son was on his way home from the bar in London, Ontario with a girlfriend, a young man walking on Richmond Street in front of him suddenly turned around, punched him in the face and ran away.  Many witnesses and even two police officers were on the scene.  My son was on his knees, blood dripping from his face with his tooth in his hand, shocked and dazed.  He never even saw who hit him.  The police were of little help and told him he’d better get in a cab and get to the hospital.  No report was filed.  No attempt was made to catch the perpetrator.

My son is in fourth year at the University of Western Ontario and on the Western Mustangs Lacrosse Team.  He has been gearing up for this lacrosse season physically for months and excited about it all year.  After they shoved his tooth back into his mouth and stitched him back together, the doctor told him he wouldn’t be able to eat solid food for weeks and likely had more painful dental surgery in his future to save his front teeth.  But that wasn’t what really upset him.  The most devastating news that night was that he couldn’t participate in contact sports for 6 weeks.  He was out for the season that he’d been looking forward to all year, his last season playing for the Mustangs.  It was the year that he thought they might be able to win it all and they had just started the previous week with two wins.  To suddenly be told he could no longer be a part of their quest was heartbreaking.

But he knows and we know that it’s done and now we must pick up the pieces and move on.   When things go wrong, our brains often do the ‘what if’ or ‘if only’ dance.  If we had done something different, if only it hadn’t happened and so on.  Something like this with consequences that will be felt for months, is hard.  Of course, we all know it could be worse.  We’ve heard about violent crimes of this nature, often associated with young people and alcohol or drugs, where the damage is extensive, where sometimes people die senselessly.  At least my son will heal and this will eventually be a bad memory.

The other obsessive and difficult thing to deal with is the anger, the need for some kind of retribution.  I’ve seen his facebook statements about this incident and his friends’ comments, their rallying cries.  A natural tendency is to want to find the guy, to hit him back, to sue the guy, to get even, to hurt as one has been hurt.  The more one thinks about it, the more these emotions can swell up and make a bad situation, worse.

And for me, I feel outrage at the police who were there when it happened.  Aren’t they sworn to serve and protect?  My son and his friend said they seemed indifferent, didn’t want to bother with the situation.  I called the London police last night to ask about this.  We can still file a report and they have video cameras downtown so they may be able to find footage of what happened although it’s unlikely they’ll be able to identify the perpetrator from the video.   We may pursue this.  I’m not sure whether it’s a good next step or if one is best to ‘turn the other cheek’ at this point.  The constable that I spoke with said there was nothing reported and it would be impossible for him to determine which officers were on the scene as there would have been about 100 of them out on the street on Friday night at that time.

But this astounds me.  Is this type of thing happening so often that they don’t even try to stop it?  Why are they working on the street if not to do something about violence like this?

I fear the answer is that with so many college and university students frequenting the bars in London, that there are fights and violent incidents all the time.  All they do is break it up and move on.  I’ve tried to find statistics but what would they mean anyway if most incidents are never even reported?

How do we stop this? Can we only grit our teeth when our kids go out at night (for we know they will not stay home) and hope that they are wise enough, or lucky enough, to steer clear of the lunatics?

I don’t know the answer to this but I do know what I must do.  I must help my son to move on, to accept what can’t be changed, to try and turn this negative into a positive or at least a life lesson.  And I must do the same.

Eden

With a professional background and education in enterprise software but a lifelong love of the arts, I published my second novel, "Vision Speak", in 2010. Over the past several years, I've explored photography, film production and screenwriting. Along the way, I've questioned my obsessive pursuits - am I crazy? Perhaps this quotation from Thomas Merton serves as explanation. "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” I'm still searching... 

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  6 comments for “Recovering from a Random Act of Violence

  1. Jennifer
    September 26, 2011 at 3:28 am

    So sorry to hear about this… what an awful thing to have happened. And no reason why? Makes it even worse. I hope he gets through this okay…. it won’t be easy. Hugs and Kisses to you both. xo Jen

  2. Aunt Rene
    September 27, 2011 at 9:20 am

    This has brought me to tears. Our world is becoming such a sad place to live in at times and such non caring people out there. Especially the police. What if it was their child it sure would be different. I am so shocked and so sadened by such violence. I am so disappointed in our police, we pay big taxes for their protection. The public need to know about this terrible crime.
    Our heart felt thoughts go with you and may he heal quickly.

  3. Jordan watt
    September 27, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Our family has never been very religious but I think we both believe that something greater and impossible to explain is out there. I was reading a book recently and in it it falls to a priest to ask the question “why do bad things happen to good people, why does god allow evil to flourish on earth?” whether or not one believes in a Christian god the answer to that question is worthy of repeating here: god (or whoever) didn’t create puppets to populate the earth. We’ve been given free will and the ability to do despicable things, and with that freedom comes an awesome responsibility. We must put an end to those horrible things, one tiny step at a time. We can’t snap our fingers and stop senseless violence, we can’t force the law to mean something more, we can’t make love and peace become more important to everyone over night. What we can do is remember this event and take from it what needs to change. We can avoid unthinking reaction and violence in our own lives because we know the pain if such things. We can react with compassion and sensible thought because we know the dangers of the opposite. We can be better through tragedy and show others the proper way of moving forward with our own actions. The world will not become better because we wish it too. It will become better because we help it to become that way.

  4. September 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    I am so impressed with Jordan’s response to this situation, and I believe we can all benefit from his perspective. Of course it is normal to feel anger, resentment, outrage etc. when someone we love is unjustly harmed; but as Jordan points out – acting on feelings of revenge would perpetuate the very behaviour which we find detestable. Violence begets violence, UNLESS we can consciously see beyond our own damaged emotions, think with a reasoning mind, and act with a compassionate heart. There will always be situations in life which we question; events that occur for which we cannot find any reason, injustices that seem pointlessly cruel. As humans we are hard wired to try to understand, and if we can’t – then what? It is what we do with these life lessons here on earth school that shape who we are as human beings. That define what our values are. They can defeat us, they can harden us, or they can afford us an opportunity to grow in a direction which is of benefit to ourselves, and to others. That Jordan could identify this and react with such clarity shows enormous enlightenment and leadership. He has shown us how to take a stand against violence, how to heal from a wound so fresh, how to become a better person. Thank you Jordan.

  5. October 31, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    An update on Perry… He had his treatment at the endodontist. Two teeth were dead but the treatment went well so we are hopeful that this will keep them in his mouth. Return visit next week. The good news is that he was cleared to play lacrosse after the root canals. And he’s done very well. He is now 5 – 0 as goalie for the Western Mustangs for the season, one of the top goalies in the CUFL (Canadian University Field Lacrosse – http://www.cufla.ca), even with the missed games. And he will now be able to play next weekend in the Canadian Championships which will be at Western. He did report the incident to the police, hoping to see the videos from the street. They took the report but were not overly interested in pursuing anything. But, overall, he is back to his old self..

  6. verdonv
    November 6, 2011 at 8:46 am

    This just happened to my son, same place, same scenario, Richmond near Pall Mall, just walking around with he crowd on a Saturday night. Fortunately, my son just got a black eye and seems none the worse, other than confused. I’m wondering if there’s someone videoing these things and they’re on youtube, or if it’s a gang thing, or just some warped individual. I’m glad to hear your son is on the mend.

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