Douglas Howard

Trauma, by Doug Howard

In life one can experience many times of joy and pain, trauma and periods of personal victory. What I choose to share now is something I do not wish to share however for my healing to progress I have been encouraged to share this experience in a effort to progress in life while attempting to break through the dark Vail and cloud of very real traumatic experiences.
I was moved to this location on February 14 of 2018 and was placed in a cell with a man who purported to be a Christian like myself, who said he counted it a blessing to have a believer in the cell with him. I initially thought the same thing as ones cellmate can make or break ones stay in a facility and ones life can be tolerable within the confines of a prison or it can be a living Hades, a prison within a prison, if you will, depending in ones cellmate, the latter of which occured to me during the month I remained in the cell with this man.
Over the course of a month or so, I had observed some inconsistencies with my cellies life in contrast with his professed belief in Christ. Of couse no one is perfect, having been the product of the great Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, we all are works in progress. There are, however, inconistancies one may expect and then there is outright disrespect of the likes of which no one should be forced to tolerate. He smoked marijuana everyday. For those in other states where the law has changed to legalize this substance I cannot object to its use. However in the state of Virginia there has been no legalization of the substance. Even if it had been legalized, DOC doesn’t even allow the smoking of cigarettes much less the use of cannabis. There are worse things, however, which one can do in this environment but I am allergic to any form of smoke as I have been asthmatic all of my life. when I mentioned this to him, he said this was not his concern.
Another warning sign came as time progressed when he was talking about his former cellie. He maintained that his former cellmate was not very clean, that he “shed hair like a dog” and that he needed to clean the cell several times a day as a result. A day or two after that comment my cellie observed that I was “hairy” as well and that his job of cleaning the cell became even more laborious. I shared the cleaning responsibilities of course but my efforts at cleaning the cell did not meet his unresonable expectations and standards. This is when he suggested that I shave my body hair! He informed me that was something continually did himself and that if I remained in the cell that I needed to do the same. At this statement I became quite uncomfortable and my sense of potential harm was heightened.
I have a number of health issues which require medications which cause me to use the facilities more frequently than a normal healthy person. As a result during the first month here I stayed in the cell quite a lot as cell breaks are done once an hour wherein we are allowed to enter and exit our cells one hourly. My urination requirements have me using the toilet at least once every thirty minutes or even more frequently as Lasix, the fluid pill I currently take, works aggressively for the first six hours after I take a dose. I told this to my cellie at the beginning of my stay in the cell. He was fine with it, as he stated I could stay in the cell during the day as long as I needed to.
As mid March approached it was quite obvious that he had a real problem with me remaining in the cell, even when he was not there for recreation and visits from his family. On the day in question I was urinating while he was standing right outside of the cell door. As he turned to return to the cell he noticed that I was in the process if relieving myself and I heard him use an expletive, cursing because in his words, “You’re in the way!” I thought he was joking at first, thus I refrained from responding as I was concentrating on the object at hand (read: urination). When I did not respond he said to me, “you need to stay out of the cell”. Again, feeling uncomfortable I did not respond..This apparently made him very angry, thus he stood and said to me in a loud voice something like “are you ignoring me?!” To that I responded that I was concentrating on urinating and that I initially thought he was joking. To this he spun me around ripped the cross and chain from my neck, threw it to the floor and he knocked me into the wall across from the toilet. I was stunned and shocked to say the least, injuring my head and right shoulder in the process. I left the cell until 5 pm which is when we lock in our cells for count time.
During the hour or so we were in the cell for count he commenced smoking more marijuana and laid some ground rules down for me to follow. He said that I needed to stay out of the cell as long as we were not on lock down. I was to stop getting up so early to brush my teeth because I disturbed his sleep. Further, I was to stop going to bed so early (9:15-9:30 pm) as he felt guilty if I was asleep and he wanted to stay awake. I told him he did not disturb me when I was asleep, yet he wouldn’t hear of it. When count cleared he made me leave the cell for several hours. When I returned to the cell for that evenings count he reminded me that In was not to go to sleep early thus I watched TV until around 10:30 pm wherein I was too tired to watch TV but was too disconcerted to actually sleep. That was a terribly long night.
When 5:30 am arrived I chanced getting out of bed to prepare for breakfast. As quietly as I could I got up, brushed my teeth, combed my hair and then my cellmate woke up and said, “I thought we had a discussion last night about getting up so early. I’m going to have to rape you to teach you a lesson” At that he rolled over in bed. At this time the count had thankfully cleared and I was able to immediately exit the cell to get help.

Doug Howard
DOC #1051074

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