The Herald Bulletin

October 27, 2012

John Davis: ‘Defined by your actions and inactions’

Elwood police officer says abusive past helped shape his life

By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin

ELWOOD, Ind. — John Davis wants his pain to make a difference.

He’s hopeful sharing what he experienced and witnessed growing up will empower someone else to leave a dangerous situation or avoid it altogether.

John, now an Elwood police officer, was in and out of more than 30 foster homes growing up, as well as several long stints in what was once known as the Bronnenberg Children’s Home.

He witnessed his mom be beaten by nearly every man she was with after his father and was a victim himself at the hands of his own mother even being sent to the hospital with severe injuries.

This abuse had a huge affect on him, as it does on many children who grow up in that kind of environment. Eighty-two percent of children growing up in an abusive home end up becoming domestic violence victims or perpetrators in their adult life.

Thankfully, John is one of the 18 percent who don’t follow that pattern. But it still affected him in several negative ways.

“I was absolutely unprepared for an adult relationship,” he said. “I was a crappy husband and father. I ruined my marriage with an awesome woman. I’m so lucky I got another shot with another amazing wife. My kids didn’t get the father they deserved when they were young though, and I am making up for that now.”

John stressed that he was never abusive. That behavior, as well as drug and alcohol consumption, were things he was so afraid of falling into as he was raised amongst it. So he avoids them altogether.

John realized he destroyed his marriage and wanted to get help. He sought therapy, began reading and took action to become the man he wanted to be.

His past helped lead him to a career path in law enforcement, and John hopes sharing his story can help those he comes in contact with as an officer. John said he talks to those arrested about his past and their own experience during the 30 minute drive between Elwood and the jail in Anderson. Many of them, like him, came from a violent background.

“I’ve come to understand that one is not defined by their parents actions or inactions,” he said. “You are, however, defined by your actions and inactions. I decided that I was not the person that my family deserved, and I began to make a change.”

As a police officer, John has responded to countless domestic violence calls, many of them with male victims.

“Males can, and are, victims too,” he said. “They are much less likely to report the crime though, often because they are embarrassed. They are raised to be strong and tough and not to reach out for help. We as a community need to do a better job making men aware of the resources out there for them and that the help out there isn’t just for women.”