Two police officers respond to a domestic violence complaint at a house. This isn't the first time they have responded to such a complaint, they have come to this house at least half a dozen times before. However, Joyce, the abused, was never willing to file a complaint when they arrived, preventing them from doing anything no matter how much they would like to.

They expected another fruitless visit, but this one is different. The moment the door is opened they can see Joyce's face looks horribly bruised, far worse than any previous visit. Unlike in the past, no excuse about falling down steps or accidental collisions with walls is made. Joyce clearly tells the police what happened, says that it's getting worse, and begs the officers for their protection.

However, the police do not arrest the husband, or even warn him. They don't take any action to protect his wife from him either, not even suggesting a domestic abuse shelter or other resources to her. In fact, they act as if they have little sympathy for her or her situation at all.

Why aren't they helping the woman?

Some hints to narrow down possibilities. I think this puzzle could likely be solved without them though.

  • The abuse really happened, an the police believe Joyce about it.

  • The police aren't afraid of provoking the abuser or making things worse on Joyce by acting.

  • The police have the authority to act on the charges.

  • The Abuser is Joyce's spouse, not some third party.

  • the Police are sympathetic to Joyce and want to help.

  • the police ultimately manage to protect Joyce


closed as off-topic by Aza Aug 12 '16 at 17:29

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  • $\begingroup$ Hey @dsollen, did the edit by IAmInPLS change the meaning of this puzzle? Because I think it did. $\endgroup$ – Daphne B Aug 12 '16 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ @KateGregory I agree with you, and find it ironic. I reverted two edits, both making a presumption about gender I didn't want. Ironic when I was partially motivated to write this puzzle to make people think about their gender presumptions. I don't know rather that's a win or a fail on the puzzles part to show further presumptions lol. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 12 '16 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ Gosh, I am truly sorry ^^. Won't edit as soon as posted next time... $\endgroup$ – IAmInPLS Aug 12 '16 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ @IAmInPLS oh I hope I didn't offend or anything. It's unfortunate that it messed up this puzzle, but a very understandable mistake; after all I wrote everything within the puzzle explicitly with the intent of leading you to make the presumption made. I find the policeman change more interesting, but again I'm not complaining, it amuses me considering the topic of the puzzle that the otherwise minor change would happen here. I appreciate your editing. Though, considering the tricky wording of lateral-thinking puzzles and riddles I imagine edits need to be made very cautiously here. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 12 '16 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ It looks like the body of the question may be too broad and invite situationally speculative answers. As a result, I've put this question on hold for the time being. If you can find a way to edit the body of the question (note: hints don't count here) to narrow down the possible range of answers, and provide objectively verifiable criteria for correctness, that would be great! Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Aza Aug 12 '16 at 17:30

I was thinking maybe

Joyce is married to a woman

but if that's the case then the references to

"the husband" and "his wife" don't make any sense to me, and would be actively misleading.

My only solution is:

Joyce is a transgender man. Earlier when he was living as a woman, his wife was abusing him, hence he was "Joyce, the abused woman". Now he has transitioned to living as a man, hence he is "the husband" who is not harmed by the police. His wife is the abuser and hence the police have no sympathy for her.

Actually I have a new solution which is: the original meaning of the question was ruined by the edit, so

Joyce was never a woman and always the husband

  • $\begingroup$ You are correct, and with extra credit because you solved it even after someone's edit screwed up the intent of the original puzzle! The last answer is correct. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 12 '16 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ Nice spot on the edits! $\endgroup$ – Arth Aug 12 '16 at 15:33


Joyce's husband is now dead, as a result of self-defense on the part of Joyce or from over-exertion or accident. The police manage to protect Joyce from any charges of her own by correctly reporting his death as self-defense/accident. Their professional handling of a death and rigorous questioning comes across as unsympathetic - since at first they can't rule out her having murdered him.


Both the husband and wife are called Joyce (perhaps Joyce is their surname). The Joyce with the battered face, that cooperates fully is the husband, but the previous evasive victim is the wife.

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    $\begingroup$ No. It says the police protect Joyce. Perhaps the help hide the body $\endgroup$ – Clint Eastwood Aug 12 '16 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ Ah yes, I forgot about that last point.. $\endgroup$ – Arth Aug 12 '16 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ @ClintEastwood Have updated the explanation $\endgroup$ – Arth Aug 12 '16 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ I really like this answer, but no it is not what I had in mind. The police would have sympathy for a women even in this case I hope, and should still provide resource for counseling. Still, upvoted because it is a pretty good answer. Believe it or not the real answer is even simpler, and yet people will keep missing it for awhile ;) $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 12 '16 at 14:33

Now that I read the spoilers...

The police pretend to be unsympathetic so they can wait quietly outside. The husband will likely start beating Joyce again, giving the police an excuse for coming in without a warrant and shooting him dead, claiming later that Joyce was in imminent mortal danger.

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    $\begingroup$ But before they shoot, they say "ask yourself, do you feel lucky?" $\endgroup$ – Max Vernon Aug 12 '16 at 14:52


lives with her husband and her father. It is her father who is beating her so they arrest the father, not the husband.

They have no sympathy because :

her evil father is severely disabled and can only beat her when she she leans her head over HiM and holds still. They arrest him because his assault is technically a crime and they don't want to come here any more.

Now I shall read the spoilers.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 That was my assumption too, unfortunately the hints rule it out. $\endgroup$ – Arth Aug 12 '16 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ Most definitely not! No matter who abuses someone it is harmful. Yes In many situations an abused person has means they could theoretically take to get away from abuse, such as reporting the crime or leaving the house or not coming closer when the father you feared and obeyed all your life demands you do it, but psychologically they are trapped and don't know what to do or believe themselves capable of acting. They may believe they love their abuser for instance. They are still being hurt and still deserving of sympathy, and I really would be upset with police officers that didn't give it. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 12 '16 at 14:29

It's an odd even day of the week, so they've not been paid enough to care.

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    $\begingroup$ Ha, possibly, but I think you mean even. $\endgroup$ – Arth Aug 12 '16 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Arth yep he forgot to say even, so clearly I can't give him credit. I mean obviously if he had said even that would be the answer. How did I forget to spoiler the title!? :P $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 12 '16 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ @dsollen, Really? That's the answer!? It clearly says 'the Police are sympathetic to Joyce and want to help'.. The police are creating way more work for themselves in the future by not helping straight away and are endangering a life. Normally when someone says I'm not paid enough to care, this doesn't mean they cannot care or will not act even in their own best interest. It may seem like a fun trick/twist, but it doesn't fit the narrative at all, doesn't seem well thought out and is ultimately unsatisfying. $\endgroup$ – Arth Aug 12 '16 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Arth no it's not the answer lol, sorry ;) $\endgroup$ – dsollen Aug 12 '16 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ @dsollen, Haha, oops, now it's my turn to apologise! I must have misinterpreted your comment.. I'm really glad it isn't the answer. :) $\endgroup$ – Arth Aug 12 '16 at 14:58

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