She explained her murderous rage-fueled barrages of blows as an outcome of PTSD. The story was that her ex, an alcoholic felon I'll call Logan, assaulted her during a blackout in a motel room on Ocean Street in Santa Cruz. She shared with me the six-page narrative she'd written for the court.

After several days sleeping on the beach they'd discovered the shelter on River Street around the corner from Costco. She was so thrilled to have showers, but eventually they left after someone left a shit in one of the shared shower stalls. They'd panhandle, sleep on the beach until they'd accumulated money for a motel, then splurge for a warm bed and warmer water.

Logan though was a violent blackout drunk and this time, in his rage, with no-one present to witness, he chased her around the room holding a knife. She fought him, they struggled, and just as the police arrived the knife flew from his hand. Sliding beneath the refrigerator, it was never recovered. Retrieving the weapon was unnecessary, though. Neighbors had heard the commotion, as did the police themselves as they arrived outside the room. It was domestic battery and felony assault with a deadly weapon, open and shut. It sent him down for his second strike.

The state sent her to victim counseling. They gave her several weeks of individual therapy sessions with a psychologist in an office on Front Street, in the building across the parking lot from Woodstock's Pizza. I felt he did her good. She seemed more calm after her meetings with him, and he sometimes sent along pamphlets for me to read about living with crime victims who struggle to manage their PTSD. His explanation was that in assaulting me during alcoholic blackouts she was re-living and processing what had happened to her when she herself had been the victim.

I had great sympathy for her. I saw her as an addict and crime victim struggling and failing to take care of herself. It redoubled my commitment to be loyal to her, so that immediately on her release from county jail I immersed myself in study of alcoholism, addiction, PTSD, and the laws of domestic violence in California and Santa Cruz County.