“It’s nothing. I must have eaten something that gave me a skin rash.” That was Tara’s reply to her Supervisor when she asked Tara why she had a gash on the right side of her mouth. It was red and swollen.
She and her Supervisor of 9 years, Sandra Joshi, had a private conversation regarding the $6,000 check Tara attempted to encash using the Company’s check. Tara was in tears as she explained the circumstances that led her to commit the crime.Tara had a stable job in a good Company, has 3 children, all going to school and a husband who had an irregular job and also an alcoholic. For years she supported her family and paid for the family expenses including her kids’ education. As the kids grew, she found it more difficult to cope with the growing expenses on her salary alone. So she started borrowing money at high interest rate to cover the increasing expenses of her family. It reached a point where she borrowed money just to pay off her loans from other creditors.
Tara continued borrowing money to pay off existing debts until one day she could no longer afford to pay even the interest. The loan shark started getting aggressive. He wasn’t getting paid and wanted his money back in full with interest. He threatened to send her to jail or harm her family. Tara became desperate. She still owed money from everyone she borrowed from. So in that moment of desperation, Tara issued a check to the loan shark to pay off her loan. Except that there was a problem. The check was from her closed account. She didn’t surrender it when her account was closed. But she thought it would buy her time to find the money she needed to pay off the loan shark.She knew her Supervisor kept a pad of the company check in her drawer during the day for their financial transactions. She took one blank check and made it payable in cash and forged the signatures of the Company’s authorized signatories. She went to the Company’s Bank where she normally goes to encash or deposit the Company checks. She gave the forged check to the Manager who usually facilitated the withdrawal from the Company account. She hoped her familiarity to the Bank Officer will not make him strictly scrutinize the signatures on the check. But her tension grew as it took longer than usual to complete the transaction. She panicked as she saw her Supervisor coming in from the main entrance. The Manager had called her Company...her crime had been discovered.
As she sat in front of Sandra crying, Tara told her how her husband would beat her up whenever he was drunk, had an argument or if she didn’t come home with any food or money. This became a routine her three children witnessed.“Everything just went blank. All I could think of was to pay off my debt and protect my family. He (the loan shark) said my children would get harmed,” she tearfully reasoned out. Her tears fell harder as her boss carefully explained the consequences of her action.
Tara was escorted to the police station for questioning and charged for theft. She posted bail through friends who helped her. Her husband beat her up when she told him what happened and blamed her. He said she was on her own. For days she tried to hide the truth from her children but she ran out of excuses why she wasn’t at work. She finally told them just before the hearing started on her case. Her 5-year old son couldn’t understand why he now has to live with his aunt or why Mommy may have to be away for a long time. Her two daughters in high school cried and felt a sense of shame at what their mother had done. They stopped going to school.After the first hearing in court, Tara disappeared. She was later found guilty and sentenced to 8 years in prison, a sentence that could have been lowered had she not gone into hiding. Her family disowned her. To Tara it was the end of the road. There was nowhere to go...no one left to turn to.
Many victims of domestic violence like Tara who are also saddled with all the responsibilities in the family can be driven to commit acts of desperation that pull them deeper into more problematic situations. It’s not easy to convince them to simply go to Help Centers especially when there are children wholly dependent on their support.There’s a need for them to realize that they can have better options and a better life, that there are programs that can help them be self-sufficient and productive to be able to support themselves and their children. It’s important that they learn to believe in themselves and their self-worth, that it’s never the end of the road with nowhere to go or turn to, but there is always hope if they want to make things better for themselves in a positive way...and they can make it happen.