by Robert Lanz, LCSW”
“Children must learn how to meet their own needs, not develop an externalized sense of self by being expected to meet the needs of others. To develop this critical social and emotional skill, children must be able to develop trust in relationships with men.
Dr. Pinsky M.D. The Mirror Effect
(I was recently at a retirement party for one of my cop friends. Of course there were about fifty cops there that I knew so I promised I would put this story at the front of the queue.)
As soon as I entered her room, I knew she was involved in the sex business in some way. It wasn’t the brief, veiled warning I received from the nurse before I went in that tipped me off. It was the fact that even with a fat lip, eye makeup tearfully running down her face and baggy sweats covering all her curves, she was still able to project such eroticism that a blind man would have noticed. I wish I could say exactly what it was that made her so sexual. Some primordial, hormonal thing, I guess. Maybe guys who hire women like this and pay them big money to dance naked understand it better than I ever will. All I knew for sure, and any straight guy would have known it too, was that whatever she had, it worked. It worked on me the moment I set foot into her room, hitting me like the desert heat when you leave a Las Vegas casino in the summer.
She was already crying when I entered the room and then she cried even harder when she told me that her boyfriend had beat her up, again, and that he almost killed her this time. She sobbed that he had choked her in a stairwell while trying to have wild sex with her at the same time. Of course, when the victim of a crime comes to my attention in the emergency room, there is a legal protocol that I have to follow, so I called the cops.
The only problem I could see then, other than the simple fact that she was arousing all men within striking distance, was that her boyfriend was himself a cop, a guy who was paid to arrest people for committing acts of violence. According to the patient, in what would be a really twisted night for almost anyone, there was a gun involved, and death threats were made. All of that sexual energy, all of that violence, all of those complications made me just want to go home. I was thinking what a nightmare this was going to turn into no matter what I did, and my name would be all over the paperwork. It took a couple of hours before I got the full story from the cops who finally showed up, and only then could I start to appreciate how right I was going to be about the nightmare part. As right as I’d been, it turns out, about the sex business aspect.
Our beautiful but bruised stripper was supposed to be under the protection of the sheriff’s department, who already had a handle on the sick and twisted relationship she shared with a cop from a very well-known police department. Not the infamous, LAPD, for once- being stupid with a gun and in uniform wasn’t limited only to big urban police departments. Smaller departments from the richer parts of Southern California have their problem officers, too, and I was about to get into the internecine workings of one of those departments far beyond the point where it would be merely interesting.
The stripper was also a speed freak, sucking methamphetamines up her nose on a regular basis. The alleged woman-beater cop apparently liked the power of powder, too, and was probably able to furnish it at no cost, fresh from the evidence locker back at the station. Even though the sex goddess was under the questionable protective custody of some elite county sheriff’s witness protection team, she had been able to slip out of the hotel, meet her boyfriend on the sly, do some drugs and then have an amphetamine-fueled, near death experience with him.
Our city cops showed up because the assault happened in our town, and regardless of whatever was happening elsewhere, it started, at least that night, on our turf. Of course, as luck would have it, or more likely as pure sexual energy would have it, the cop who showed up chose to do the interview alone because of what he called “a pre-existing relationship” with the victim. Given all that had been going on, and he seemed to know a lot about it, it would seem the prudent thing for any cop who had ever met this woman would be to act like he hadn’t, and discretely haul ass to another part of town. A pre-existing relationship was only going to bring extra attention, and even an innocent liaison would be suspect with this obviously overactive sex bomb. And as I said, the way this woman projected sexuality, no one would ever assume the pre-existing relationship was anything other than sexual.
When our cop went into the patient’s room to interview her alone, that’s the first thing I thought and boy, was I jealous. But that was another life for me and I didn’t have a pre-existing relationship with this particular sex goddess, so I was confident I could do my job despite the intense arousal factor.
After the cop was through with his interview, I went into the room and did my job the way I would have with any other victim of domestic violence. I acted in a totally professional manner, managing to control the impulse to check out her breasts every time she looked away. She was now in a simple patient gown, and the attributes that had been previously disguised by the baggy sweatshirt were now more than obvious. It was pretty clear that she was proud of them. I stepped on all the fantasies that were trying so hard to take over my thoughts, and I didn’t smile back when she smiled seductively at me. Despite my urges, and I’ll confess, there were many, I didn’t flirt back when she flirted with me. Sex was a weapon with her, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to be her next victim.
Still, I did wonder why I had never met someone like her at a time in my life when I dreamed about meeting someone like her. Why couldn’t I have met her at an age when it would have seemed like a good idea to have sex, drugs and danger all wrapped up together as if nothing bad could ever happen. Now here it was rushing into my life in the dark of night, flaring up like some teenage fantasy. But like the tired old middle-aged grown-up that I was, I acted with consummate self-control. The interview went like any other, except for the extreme tension headache that I developed from suppressing every impulse that any normal male would love to not suppress. I was a professional and couldn’t let my feelings get in the way of my job. I was proud of myself for that. But I had to think for a moment whether the statement I was about to make was one I would make to someone less sexy, until I realized that it wouldn’t make sense to say it to someone who wasn’t extremely sexy.
“If you are going to try and get off drugs, and you start going to the twelve step meetings, I think it would work better for you if you wore really baggy clothes. If you don’t, everyone will be relating to you as a sex object, and it will only make your recovery more difficult”.
It was the truth, of course, but she had been working people with her sexuality for most of her life, and the idea that some feeble statement from me was going to bring wisdom and insight only goes to show how much of an effect she really did have on me. Even if it was lame, I had to say it. I have a hard time with self-destructive people not facing the obvious, and I always try to put what should be obvious in an obvious package that is as succinct as possible. Maybe some day, a patient will gain insight from that succinct package, and it will become a mantra for getting better. I doubt it, but I still try, anyway.
The sheriffs came and took the woman back to the hotel where they would start all over again with their investigation. The potential charges had been bumped up from simple domestic violence, the use of illegal drugs and cavorting with a stripper (which in and of itself might have been understandable and excusable in most police departments). Now, they were looking at assault with a deadly weapon and possibly attempted murder. This case had legs. It was going places. My name was now on the chart and I was going right along with it.
Two days later, I got a call from the small but well-funded police department across town. Internal Affairs wanted to interview me. They told me they would bring a release from the victim giving her permission for me to talk to them about the case. To make it convenient, they said would come at midnight, the time when my shift was supposed to end. Of course they came on a night when my shift had absolutely no chance of ending at midnight or any other reasonable hour, so they cooled their heels in my office until I could make time for them.
When I finally got to my office to meet them, my first thought was that they sure looked like Internal Affairs cops. If I had walked into a room full of strangers and someone asked me to pick out the internal affairs cops, I would have laughed and pointed to these two. Cheap suit on the sergeant, snappy, off the rack suit for the lieutenant. The sergeant slouched and let the lieutenant do most of the talking. I told them what had gone on, what the patient had told me and how her injuries looked. I may even have offered an opinion about something or other in my field of expertise, which includes weird behavior. Then they started to ask me more questions about the woman and as the conversation progressed, I realized they hadn’t interviewed her yet.
“You guys haven’t met the victim, have you?”
“Not yet”, the lieutenant answered.
The thought of these two straight-looking guys walking into the room with the sex goddess and trying to maintain their professionalism after I had such a hard time doing so had my mind reeling. Not that I didn’t consider them professionals. They were. Professional cops. I don’t think they had received the same kind of training I had about transference and counter transference, or about how to deal with issues of sexuality when interviewing clients, patients or victims. I imagined they were about to get worked, and once again, I gave in to my impulse to state the obvious.
“Be careful when you interview this lady. She exudes sexuality. She uses it like a tool. She’s better at it than you are at resisting it. She the consummate professional. She’s strong in her stuff and she’ll overwhelm you.”
They looked offended. Clearly they were thinking, what woman could ever do that to me? These goofballs had probably been worked a hundred times in their professional and personal lives by sexy women and didn’t know it. But like most guys, they thought they would recognize it if it were happening. I didn’t think so.
“What exactly do you mean by that, Bob?” the lieutenant asked.
Jesus Christ, I thought. Am I going to have to get graphic? I knew I was. And I knew I wasn’t going to be professional about it. I knew because all my life I had wanted to be in a situation where I was actually way ahead of the cops and I was in a position to flaunt it. Kind of like the way their victim had flaunted her sexuality at me. I don’t know why I do these impulsive things, but it has always been a problem with me as long as I can remember. They aren’t mean things, and I really didn’t want to hurt anybody with my observations, but sometimes an effective wake-up call has to have a different ring to it. I put my own personal ring on this one.
“She has a rack to die for. She has a smile that melts you. Her body language says she’ll do things to you that will make you want to leave home and give up your pension. Sex oozes from every pore of her body”.
I threw in the appropriate amount of animation to go with my description, like I was on stage performing a well-polished act. Now I was working these guys with reckless abandon and having a great time doing it—the late show, and I was the star. They were laughing. I was laughing. We made a lot of noise together and it probably didn’t sound much like a normal Internal Affairs interview, but I think they got the point. If not, at least I had delivered a good warning, but I don’t think it scared them. I do think it made them want to rush right over to her hotel and interview her immediately, that is, if she hadn’t already left again to go binging and getting knocked around by some rogue goofball cop on drugs. I knew they were going to blow it with her just like any normal guy would, and I knew they would be thinking of me when they did.
“Goddamn, that silly social worker was right. She sure knows how to use those boobs.”
Later, they interviewed the doctor who took care of the stripper the night she got beat up and needed emergency intervention. His interview was much more sedate than mine. He told me later that the two cops had mentioned the previous interview, the one with me. They told the doctor I had been interesting. They were right. I had been very interesting that night. Really funny too. Right on the money, and they could never say they hadn’t been warned.
The cop who apparently had taken drugs with the stripper and beat her up got fired, as I found out later from one of my cop friends. The victim herself was killed a few months later in a single car crash, so I never had to go to court. It’s probably better that I didn’t, because sometimes I get carried away even in the most structured of situations. Not this time. I wasn’t going to get carried away with the sex goddess because finally, I had that part of me well under control. But it would have been hard not to get carried away with all that sex and violence stuff in front of a judge and jury, and I knew I’d have had too good of a time at it and that would only have gotten me in trouble. I really did need to move past that sort of thing and finish growing up.
My chief regret was not having a chance to see the incredible sex goddess again, even in the staid confines of a court room. I had enjoyed the interaction with her because it was a lot of fun in a twisted way, her successfully pushing all my guy buttons without having it affect the way I treated her one bit.