“Why would I want to marry you? You are a lazy piece of shit!” screamed the woman’s angry voice, penetrating my adjoining hotel room door like a knife.
I could hear him lunge toward her, as he reached for her face.
“You touch my face and I’ll scream,” yelled the woman as tempers flared and hands flew.
I experienced one of the most disturbing nights of my life last night, as a mother, public citizen and hotel reviewer. I was a silent witness to domestic violence in the hotel room next to me.
Alcohol-fueled domestic violence
I assume this was alcohol-fueled domestic violence, as the couple had recently returned from a nearby wedding. I could tell from both parties that this type of behavior was not new to them. She was screaming for him not to hit her, he was yelling and telling her to stop scratching his face. Foul language was flying back and forth, like a volleyball, across the room. Then I heard a young baby begin to cry.
My heart raced. My stomach dropped. They continued to fight. My first instinct was to step into the hall, pound on the hotel door and rescue that baby. Instead, I called to the hotel front desk for help.
Domestic violence intervention
The young receptionist who checked me in listened to my rush of words and politely said she would call to their hotel room. I said a phone call wouldn’t suffice as there was a baby at risk in the hotel room. Perhaps I should call 911? After my insistence, she said a manager would be sent to their room.
I waited for normalcy to return. Waves of verbal abuse continued between periods of him leaving the room and her talking, via telephone, with her mother in another room of the same hotel.
“Why should I have to leave the room and sleep in a chair with the baby when he keeps beating on me? That f@$ker should have to leave. He’s a worthless piece of shit!”
Hotel room domestic violence
I called to the front desk for assistance two additional times that evening. Finally, she went to sleep. I don’t think her boyfriend came back that night. The last time I looked at the clock it was 1:35 a.m.
The next morning, I wrote a note documenting the occurrence for the general manager. I told the front desk manager that I thought the young receptionist needed domestic violence response training and asked if there was a program in place at the hotel? Does a program regarding hotel room domestic violence even exist?
Hotel domestic violence policy
I reached out to numerous hotels to ask if they had any type of domestic violence policy. Needless to say, only one person responded to my request for an interview.
After speaking with the General Manager, he stated, “Our procedures are to first investigate any complaint. We offer the guest one warning. In most cases this resolves any conflicts. If the behavior continues or escalates, we include the local police.”
Domestic violence affects women
Domestic violence is a serious crime that affects one of four women at some point in her lifetime.
“As to what you should have done, let me first say that you did the right thing by following your intuition,” said Gloria J. Sandoval, Chief Executive Officer, STAND! For Families Free of Violence.
“I’m glad that you suppressed your urge to go next door to “rescue” the baby, although I’m sure with all your heart you wanted to do that! We do know that witnessing domestic violence or even being in a home where domestic violence occurs often has life-long and traumatic consequences for children, no matter how young they are.”
“On the other hand, intervening in domestic violence situations can be extremely delicate and sometimes lethal, which is one of the reasons that domestic violence agencies like STAND! are so important. Centers are located across the country and the majority of them have 24/7 crisis lines. In case you find yourself in a similar situation in your travels, you could look up the local Domestic Violence Agency and give them a call for advice or assistance. If you face this situation in the future, either in your travels or in your neighborhood, I would encourage you to call 911.”
Do you have experience with domestic violence? What steps would you have taken in this situation? Please leave a comment below.
Photo credits: top photo Domestic Violence Doesn’t Discriminate by Danny Marchewka. Silent Witness Table photo by Michael Cawelti.