Connie: Calling the Police and Filing an Order for Protection

When Naomi finally arrived at Connie and Dan’s home, she was homeless, unkempt, smelled, and had not eaten. Connie said she could stay that night but told Naomi she would have to take a shower and needed to sleep. When Connie got up in the middle of the night, she realized Naomi was not in her room.

I come downstairs and the basement is lit up like a Christmas tree and she’s up. She has taken every family picture and frame and albums and stabbed out her sister’s eyes and has ripped photos in half, ripping out her sister’s face. She has pulled out all of our tax records, our wills, everything. Papers are everywhere. This is really early in the morning, four a.m. I said, “Naomi, you need to stop.” She started throwing things at me. She threw a wooden box at me. She tried to set our house on fire. She built a pyre out of the pictures and family albums and paper. She had been setting fires at her dad’s house the week before she ended up at my house, so I called the police.

It took three officers to hold down Naomi. They called an ambulance. At the hospital, Naomi was placed on a 72-hour hold and received a civil commitment for the third time. When Naomi did not agree to the commitment, Connie testified at mental health court.

Note: A 72-hour hold is an emergency hold used to keep a person hospitalized who is believed to have a mental illness that places them at risk for harming self or others. Depending on state laws the person may be admitted to the hospital for a minimum of 72 hours for evaluation.

Naomi is reaching out and trying to hit me during the hearing. I’m crying. While she was in the hospital I had her served with an order for protection. Every other commitment, they just sent her home. Because they could.

In reflecting about the police response and the civil commitment process, Connie pointed out positive experiences. The ambulance driver who came to their home clearly was a lesbian and the judge at the commitment hearing was the one black judge in mental health court, which meant Naomi had less cause for complaining about a racist system. Following hospitalization and her commitment, Naomi was assigned to a county mental health caseworker, who helped find supportive resources for Naomi.

More of the Story: Becoming an Advocate