2003 Domestic Violence Statement
Below is Chad Walter’s written statement to the judge having completed the “Solutions” Domestic Violence Intervention Program.
In 2002, Chad Walter was living in Albany, Oregon with his (then-)wife, their child, and two of his wife’s other children. (Names have been redacted from this statement.)
Chad Walter entered the Domestic Violence Intervention Program following a 2002 incident that led him to be charged with Assault in the Fourth Degree as well as Menacing. Walter’s indictment stated that Walter “unlawfully and recklessly” caused physical injury to his wife in front of their child (Assault IV), and that Walter had placed his wife “in fear of imminent serious physical injury by hitting her in the head, kicking her in the back and yelling that he was going to kill her” (Menacing). Walter pled guilty to the Assault IV charge and agreed to enter into a domestic violence program for six months. At the completion of this program, the Assault IV charge to which Walter had pled guilty to, was dismissed by the judge as per Walter’s plea agreement.
Walter’s statement largely speaks for itself. However, it is clear that Walter’s abusive patterns did not disappear following the completion of this program. Furthermore, whereas Walter has frequently cited post-traumatic stress disorder following his military service in Iraq as the reason for much of his behavior, the letter below concerns Walter’s patterns of abuse before his return from Iraq.
21 February 2003
Chad M. Walter Sr.
While I’ve been in Solutions, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and my beliefs that have molded me into the man I am today. But the most important thing I’ve learned is how to be accountable in every situation I’m in, everyday. My definition of accountability is realizing my actions, potential, and to stop blaming anyone or anything but myself for my actions. This is my responsibility, and no one else’s.
In every relationship I’ve been in, I’ve controlled and in one way or another abused the other’s involved. By relationship I don’t just mean intimate, I mean friends, family, co-workers, and strangers. I’ve never taken my power and control to abuse and violate anyone like this before. However, because I’ve been doing it for so long I’ve finally tuned my tactics into results that I want. In prior relationships, I’ve used a full array of power and control tactics. Economically I’ve controlled [partner’s name]’s spending on absolute necessities, such as making her decide between getting a hair cut, or buying a new pair of shoes. I’ve even put her into the position of having to ask me for money, when I should have been more than happy to share what money we had. I’ve coerced friends into lending me money, even when I knew that they were financially tight. With [partner’s name] I’ve threatened her by telling her I’d leave her if she didn’t act, or do what I wanted. I’ve intimidated [partner’s name] by driving dangerously, slamming on the brakes, peeling out, throwing things around the house, hitting the walls and telling her what I would do to her. I’ve emotionally abused [partner’s name] by telling her she was an inadequate mother, she was a bad wife. I’ve also yelled at her for crying too much, or not showing enough emotion. On the day I was arrested I had been ignoring her when she tried to talk to me about her concerns. I’ve isolated and intimidated [partner’s name] at the same time by telling her that if she didn’t “let me leave and cool off” that I would really blow my top. By doing this I made her feel like her concerns didn’t matter to me, and made her think that I would further abuse her if she didn’t let me do what I wanted by leaving. I also used this tactic at work a lot. Especially when I use to work in Customer Service. There were several times when I had told my co-workers that I needed to take a break and blow off some steam because of a particular customer, or my stress. But I’ve learned that this is not an excuse I can use. I can be stressed, frustrated, or even angry without using these feelings as an excuse to abuse or cause violence. I’ve minimized, denied and blamed everything I’ve ever done to her, or to anyone involved. For a long time I couldn’t take any feedback without trying to justify what I was hearing, or minimizing my actions. To this day, and for the rest of my life this will be a daily challenge I will struggle and overcome. This goes along with many relationships, at work, school, or with my family.
On many occasions I’ve used children as a tactic to gain power and control. I can remember the day I was arrested, I had been telling [partner’s name]that I didn’t trust her with [child’s name] alone, and that the only reason I was still with her was because I wasn’t willing to leave without him. I’ve used male privilege on a daily basis. Automatically assuming that because I’m male that I’m a safer and more qualified driver, even though my mother, older sister, and [partner’s name] have all been driving longer than I have. Even more so, I’m sure my driving record is far worse than any of these people combined. When [partner’s name] hasn’t had my dinner ready when I got home, I’ve complained and put her down as a bad wife and mother. I’ve referred to her as wife, the wife, the woman, woman, and [child’s name], [child’s name], and [child’s name] as the brood, or as mine in a sense that they belong to me, or they are objects, not human beings. Physically, I’ve done many horrible things to [partner’s name] and with other people I’ve been involved with. I’ve hit [partner’s name], I’ve hit people, pushed [partner’s name], thrown her on the ground, kicked [partner’s name], pulled her hair, and thrown food on [partner’s name]. I can remember grabbing someone and pushing him against the wall in the bathroom in high school. When I came into Solutions I swore up and down that I had never sexually abused someone. But I realize now that you don’t have to rape someone to sexually abuse. In many relationships over my life I’ve forced people to kiss me, or hug me in order to “make up” and go on. Even with my mother I’ve made her just give me a hug so I could feel better about myself. I’ve told [partner’s name] I didn’t want to have sex with her when I knew she wanted to, and made her ask specifically when she wanted to.
Permission is a big part of why I was referred to Solutions. I’ve learned about my beliefs that support my permissive attitude to abuse and control. It is okay to be offended, it is okay to be frustrated, angry, or stressed out. But using these feelings as excuses to abuse is giving myself permission to abuse and violate. In reality, there is no excuse to give myself permission to do this, any of it. Specifically, I’ve used drugs or alcohol, food, or just about anything else you can imagine to give myself permission, and use excuses with to abuse. My beliefs go hand in hand with the excuses and permission I give myself to violate. I’ve found that because of my race, the amount of money I made, my sexuality, and how I was raised all have formed beliefs that 1 have to challenge on a daily basis. Because I’m a white male I can use this to justify my violence, and to control or put someone else into a lower position from me. The amount of money I make is another way I can choose to decide whether I’m better than someone and show them how I’m better. Because I’m a heterosexual, I don’t have to worry about discrimination, and I can use homosexuality as a tactic to abuse. I was raised in a very aggressive manner. I’m the first male in my family to not become an MP in the Army, or to become a Police Officer. My father was very competitive athletically, and in just about everything he did. Because of this it was natural that he make me into a man that didn’t show emotions, always had to win, and wasn’t afraid to be physical when I didn’t get what I wanted. I’ve learned to challenge these beliefs, and that I can’t use these beliefs as excuses, give myself permission, or to use as a justification for my abuse.
When I came into Solutions, I viewed women on many different levels. I mean different levels as in levels of a threat. In general, I viewed women as inferior, weak, in need of my protection, and servants. When women in my life have tried to gain equality with me in relationships at work, the military, my family, and marriage I’ve controlled them and put them down at a level lower than me. I’ve learned that women are equal in everything they do. They are not servants, they don’t need men as protection, and they are certainly not inferior mentally or physically.
Because of my behavior in my past and present relationships, I’ve seen many affects on the individuals involved. I’ve supported the male privilege with my father on my sisters, mothers and other family members. With people I’ve been involved with I’ve seen them having a hard time trusting people, and becoming somewhat reclusive. With [partner’s name], I’ve made it almost impossible for her to trust me, or be able to open up and tell me what she may be thinking or feeling because of how I’ve acted and betrayed her securities. With our children, I know specifically that our youngest son, [child’s name], thinks it’s okay to hit or throw things when he doesn’t get what he wants. [Child’s name] has told [partner’s name] that she sometimes doesn’t like to ride in the car with me because of how I’ve driven in the past. [Child’s name] has gotten into trouble in school for being violent with other kids. I’ve heard [child’s name] talk about not letting girls play with him in sports, or saying that they would be better cheerleaders instead. That’s because of the male privilege I’ve supported with him. It may seem simple and somewhat minor, but it’s the thinking behind these actions and that I’ve shown and told him that this is okay. I believe these beliefs can very easily turn into abuse if they’re not challenged early in life.
I’ve used substance abuse as a tactic and excuse to abuse. Specifically I’ve abused [partner’s name] and justified it because I was out of cigarettes. I remember making her go to the store in the middle of the night to buy me cigarettes because I was out. I’ve used alcohol as an excuse as well. Going to parties, I’ve coerced friends in high school into letting me drink because I “needed to relax,” was “stressed out,” or wanted a drink because I just want to get away.” On the other hand, once I was intoxicated I’ve told her to not kill my buzz by complaining, or letting me have a good time. I’ve also put [partner’s name] in awkward positions at family functions. Even though nobody minded me having a beer; automatically [partner’s name] was obligated not to drink because she would have to drive us home. The important thing I’ve learned about this is that my beliefs don’t change when I’m under the influence. I still feel the same way I did before I started drinking. I just use the substance as an excuse to intimidate and justify my actions of abuse. “Oh honey, you know how I get when I drink. It doesn’t always have to be about alcohol, or other substances. I’ve done the same thing with food, or wanting to sit down after work and relax while watching TV. These excuses aren’t valid anymore.
Some of the tactics I’ve used mostly start with myself as the victim. I try and use a lot of pity on myself, and those around me. This is the most frequent starting point. When I abuse I go through my cycle pretty quickly, usually starting with a fantasy with expectations of how I’d like things to go, even though I know they generally won’t. My cycle affects my family in many different ways. Because of my fantasy, my expectations change with every scenario in order for me to gain more power or leverage. This way there is no way for my family, or others involved to truly please me. It is my way of setting them up with no way out. My abuse towards [partner’s name] has definitely affected [child’s name], [child’s name] and [child’s name]. I know that [child’s name] has seen me abusing [partner’s name] physically. Because of this I’ve neglected to show him that it’s not okay to hit, or throw things for any reason. [Child’s name] is reclusive with me at times and sometimes doesn’t want to ride with me in the car. Sometimes when I go to put my arm around him or get close to him, he flinches. [Child’s name] is very shy with people, and also hesitates to ride with me because of how I’ve driven in the past.
The power and control I use with the children include Coercion and Threats, Intimidation and Isolation. In the past I’ve gone into the kitchen and opened the drawer that has the soup ladle in it. When they hear that drawer open and slam shut they run into their rooms. I’ve never hit them with it, but the psychological threat and intimidation is just as damaging as actually hitting them with it. My driving dangerously has intimidated them on many occasions. But the most frequent form of power and control I use is Isolation. It could be as subtle as telling them to go in the other room while I’m yelling at [partner’s name], or minimizing their concerns, or issues because what I’m doing is “more important” at the time. This is very subtle, but in the long run is very damaging as well. When abusing [partner’s name] I’ve told her that the only reason I’m with her is because either I don’t trust her as a mother, or because she needs me to help raise the kids. I’ve also said that I would take kids and run away if she didn’t do this or that.
Because of all the horrible things I’ve done to the people around me, I think it is very important to have a safety plan, and know an intervention in my pattern. Here are a few ways I plan on doing this. When I feel myself fantasizing about a way to abuse someone I immediately think of all the bad things it’s done in the past. I identify with the person I’m about to attack and figure out what it is that is really bothering them instead of focusing on a way to fight back and get one up on them. To do this, I have to sit down and look at them directly and show them that I’m paying attention and thinking about what they are saying and not what to say back as a rebuttal.
I know that anger didn’t make me violent. I can be so mad I could spit tacks and not use that feeling as an excuse to abuse or focus out on someone. I have no excuse for violence, no feeling, no person, no event, nothing decides to make me abuse. I’ve used disappointment, depression, excitement, being tired, nervous, distressed, worried, lonely, scared, resentment and even when I’ve felt joyous as excuses to abuse. I’ve used these feelings as excuses and again to justify, blame, or minimize my actions.
The steps I’m taking now to address the long-term affects of my violence are all about accountability. On a daily level I have a never-ending supply of chances to show those around me that I’m safe no matter what happens. This was the hardest step, and one of the most challenging things I deal with because I want so badly to show everyone that I’m changing my beliefs, and that they should feel safe around me. I constantly have to show all of these people that I’m not going to hurt them no matter what they say or do. Because of the effects that my violence has taken on everyone, I need to show them that what I did was not okay, it was never their fault, and that they are safe around me. These things are so important to me because I am still in a relationship with [partner’s name]. I look at this opportunity to become a new person in many aspects. I’ve never been a bad person, just a person that didn’t challenge his beliefs or himself around others. It’s not about gaining power, or controlling other people, it’s about sharing an-equality with them, in a balance of safety, every moment, everyday.
I thank you for referring me into this program. Going into it I was just thankful that I wouldn’t have to do any time in jail, and saw this as an easy way out. As time progressed, I gained more feedback, was constantly being challenged by the group and in turn had to challenge myself on all kinds of levels. As the work progressively became more challenging and I had to focus on myself, and the changes I needed to make, I began thinking that jail would have been easier, and cost effective. But I stayed and decided that Solutions was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I thank you for this opportunity, and I appreciate your time.
– Chad M. Walter