No one wants to hear about your domestic violence conviction. It’s better kept hidden deep inside your “Trouble Box.”

We all have a Trouble box. It’s the place deep inside our minds where we put every embarrassing and disgraceful life experience… such as your arrest and conviction for domestic violence. After living with “wife-beater” stigma for so long, you know this is one shameful secret that can never see the light of day. So you open the box and cram that painful truth inside of it, way down deep where all of your humiliation resides, then you slam the lid shut and lock it tightly. This makes for a rather heavy Trouble Box, of course, and carrying it on your shoulders will take its toll. Do you dare relieve yourself of this burden by sharing it with others?

Once you’re over the shock, pain and betrayal of being falsely accused, you’ll eventually want to start dating again. While there’s no need bare your soul right away, that domestic violence conviction might want out of the Trouble Box once things start getting serious with someone special. You want to tell her, too, because she has the right to know about your past, and honesty can be a good thing. (If only your ex would’ve been more forthright about her Borderline Personality Disorder!) But just when you’re ready to tell your new girlfriend about your past, she tells you about the pain her ex put her through. The pain of that is still fresh in her mind, and you know she’d never believe that you plead guilty to a crime you know you didn’t commit. Instead of getting the understanding you’ve been yearning for, you fold up your erstwhile confession and cram it back down inside the Trouble Box.

If anyone deserves some friends it’s you. After all, most of your old ones abandoned you after your arrest. If you’re fortunate enough to make some new friends, then good for you! Let’s just hope they don’t invite you to go hunting or target shooting. You might beg off with some lame excuse the first couple of times, but eventually you’ll have to tell them that you can no longer own, use or possess firearms or ammunition. Confessing such a thing might sound good in your private thoughts, but actually doing it is a different story. You might remember the threats you received from these so-called friends who wanted to beat you up because you hurt a woman. Or how about all those unreturned voicemails, email and text messages from those you thought would stand by you? And then there were the sideways glances you got from their wives/girlfriends who didn’t want their man hanging around a “wife-beater.”

Not wanting to go through all that again, the truth goes right back into the Trouble Box where it belongs.

Your past will really come back to haunt you when you’re trying to find a new job. Some employers ask if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, and not answering honestly will blow your chances when they get the results of the background check. The ones who don’t ask you outright do background checks too, and others ask about it during a pre-interview phone screening of potential applicants. You decide to come clean in hopes that the person on the other end of the phone – usually a woman – can overlook a 15-year-old misdemeanor. But why should anyone hire a “wife-beater” when there are hundreds of other applicants with clean backgrounds? After each missed opportunity, you’ll have plenty of anger, frustration and hopelessness will take up residence inside your Trouble Box. At least the Domestic Violence conviction will have some company.

As taxing as it can be, be glad you have your Trouble Box. Nobody wants to hear about what really happened – that you just pushed away a woman who was punching, kicking and scratching at you to keep you from leaving the house. Nobody wants to hear that the Violence Against Women Act is a gender-biased law that encourages police and prosecutors to arrest, detain and convict a man based on nothing more than the word of angry, emotionally disturbed woman.

Most of all, nobody wants to hear you say you’re innocent, not after you stood in front of a judge and proclaimed your guilt. Your little “plea bargain” traded 90 days in jail for a lifetime of suffering in silence, shame and regret. Regret for that decades-old injustice you’ll carry until the day you die.

Does this seem harsh? Tell it to your Trouble Box.

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