This will be the final piece of my experience with domestic violence. The first two were written as a story, however this one will be written from my direct perspective in an attempt to wrap the story up. To catch up you can read part 1 here and part 2 here . This one is kind of long as I didn’t realize how much more I had to say.
The day after he was arrested a temporary protective order was put in place until we went to court. That was approximately 3 weeks. His grandmother used to watch my son while I worked during the day but after this happened she told me she wouldn’t be watching him for the week. Thankfully my mom closed her business that entire week and stayed at my house and watched my son for me. I didn’t really go into specifics with her about what happened. I only told her that he was arrested and that his family did not want to watch the baby that week. My mom never really asked questions. She just showed up for me in that moment when I needed her. That meant so much to me. It still does. I hope one day I will be able to tell her everything that I went through without feeling shame.
On Wednesday that same week, I received a call from child protective services while I was at work. They told me that they needed to interview me and see my house and my son right away. I was treated very horribly by this woman. As if I had done something to my child. I understand that my child was present during a domestic dispute and his safety was a concern. This is likely how they were notified but I was treated as if I were guilty of causing the situation as well. I left work and went to my house where my mom was watching my son. The social worker arrived and looked at my son and made sure there was no harm and looked around my house to make sure that it was also safe for my child. She then asked me about that night and about my son’s father’s temper and anger problems. For some reason, I defended him as a person and told her that he wasn’t bad. I don’t know why I did that. Why did I protect the very person that put me in this situation? Everything was fine at this time and she said she would be following up with him and his grandmother and would contact me again after we went to court.
The weeks leading up to court were miserable. His family was treating me differently, I was upset everyday wondering if I was wrong. I felt like I was the horrible person in the situation and that all of it was my fault. I was very sad the entire time as well. I did not recognize me. How did I get to this point in my life? All the stereotypes of women in abusive relationships were not who I was. I refused to relate at this moment. Still, no one that I was close to really knew what was going on. I was embarrassed.
We have a magazine that is sold at gas stations here called “Crime Times”. Everyone who gets arrested and has a mug shot gets their picture and charges put into the magazine and it is sold for $1. I know lots of people who read them and I was just hoping that no one saw it. One of my closest friends called me; she saw his picture and the charges for domestic violence. I lied to her. I told her that I didn’t know he was arrested and told her I would call her back after I talked to him. The truth was, I didn’t know what to say. She was upset at him, she cared about me and was very protective. I also did not want anyone to worry about me or to think that I was weak. When I called her back I told her it was something involving his family. I lied to one of my best friends because of him. She believed me. Understandably so, I was this really strong, take no crap from anyone type of woman in all situations. I always used to talk about being independent and not allowing a man to dictate my life. I was living two different lives. (To be clear, being in an abusive relationship does NOT make you weak.)
When our court date arrived I was terrified. I was subpoenaed as a witness for the court and I had to appear. When I arrived I waited outside of the courtroom with dozens of other people who were there for various crimes. I saw him walk in with his lawyer, his mom, and his stepfather and I was alone. No one knew, so no one could come support me. I did not want to see him. I did not want to look at him. I just wanted to run away. The courtroom opened and I was sitting waiting.
His mother had been texting me asking me if I would help keep him out of trouble. When he was in jail for that night he learned his lesson and wanted to change everything to be a better parent. I was confused.
They called me to go out in the hallway. The prosecutor took me into a separate room. In the room was another prosecutor, and one of the officers that was present during his arrest. When I sat down she asked me what happened. I told her in very few words because it hurt to talk about it and I did not want to overshare. After I spoke with them, she went and talked to his attorney and then they both came back to talk to me. They told me that they were going to drop his charges down to Harassment with Physical Contact and put him on a 12-month deferral program. If he didn’t get arrested for anything else then it would fall off of his record. I should have been more upfront and spoke up but I was afraid.
We walked up before the judge in a courtroom full of people. They read aloud what happened in front of at least 50 strangers. I was mortified. They read the plea agreement. The judge told him that there would be a ‘no unlawful contact order’ put into place, meaning that he can’t even argue with me. He had to go to counseling and pay for that. I was hopeful that we could co-parent.
I didn’t know how to feel. Immediately after court he and his family came up to talk to me. I didn’t have any words to say. I was confused. I figured that this was probably how things were supposed to be and hoped that this would be the push he needed to change for his son. I did not want to be with him, I just wanted him to be a dad to his son, nothing more or less.
The months following would be just as tough as they had always been but in a different way. His strategies were different. It was more of a mental game at this point. Constant mind games and using the baby as an excuse to try to see me. He would ask to see the baby right before he went to sleep and show up and then hang around long after the baby had gone to sleep. Just sitting on my couch, not saying a word.
Spring time came and it happened again. He came to my house angry that we were not together. I had the baby and ran outside, my neighbors were grilling out that day and I knew that if people could see u,s he would not really do anything. He took my phone and threw my keys in my car then returned to my house. I noticed that the passenger side door was unlocked so I quickly climbed in through the passenger side and into the driver seat. Escaping in a rush, I was holding the baby so I didn’t want to go far without putting him in the car seat. I just wanted to get away. I drove about 4 blocks through my neighborhood and behind a building. I got out (no shoes on) and put my son in his car seat. I didn’t have anything with me. No money, no phone, nothing for the baby and hardly any gas in the car.
I waited for a little while and drove back around my house to see if his car was gone. I didn’t see it so I pulled into my detached garage so that if he drove by he would not see my car. I took my son out of the car, went into the house to get his diaper bag and his dad was laying in the middle of my living room floor with a grocery bag on his head with a whole ripped in it. When I spoke he jumped up and started yelling at me that I don’t care about him. I just asked for my phone and said that we need to calm down and try to talk later. He wanted no part of it. I walked out on the porch. He didn’t see my car outside so I assume he didn’t know what I was doing. I rushed into the garage and once he saw my car in there he started to run toward it. I rushed out so quickly that I broke my passenger side mirror on the garage.
Still without a phone I tried to use a payphone but it didn’t work. I didn’t really know anyone’s phone number anyway. A friend of mine manages a restaurant close by. I went there and had her employees call her for me because I didn’t know her phone number. She could hear how upset I was. She came there and gave me her cell phone to use. She didn’t ask any questions. She said she would get it from me later by calling from her sisters phone. I called his mom and asked that she get him to give me my phone back. His mom said he would meet me at my house and give it to me. My friend met me there so that I would not be alone. He gave me the phone, said he was sorry and left.
After this it was a few weeks until I heard from him at all. The baby was now in daycare and he called and asked to see him. I agreed. On this day he said that he wanted us to go to the store so he could buy the baby some diapers and other essentials. He had not really been doing anything to help and I was struggling to pay for everything so I agreed. I don’t know why he got mad when we were about to leave but I decided that we should not go. I put the baby in the car seat and locked all doors except the driver side so I could get in. As I was trying to get in he grabbed the door. I started the car as he reached in and unlocked the back door. As he tried to get into the car I hit the gas hoping that he would not be able to get in. He did. I was unsuccessful. As we drove down the street he was yelling at me while the baby was crying. I was driving so erratically that I almost hit another car. That car started yelling so he opened the back door and stood up to yell back. As he did this I tried to drive off. He got back in the car. This time he put his hands around my throat and I stopped. I couldn’t breathe. I was afraid that this would be the end of my life. He let go as I started to gasp as scratch at his hands. I started to drive to the police station and he took the baby out of the car seat. I panicked and begged him to put the baby back. He said to drive to the store and he would. I did what he said. When we got to the parking lot of the store I guess he realized what he had done and he said to just take him home.
After this incident I stopped responding to him. I didn’t say anything or even reply to the attempts to see the baby. I told his mom that if he wanted to see the baby that I would bring him there. He called me one day when I was leaving work, I answered and he got upset that I would not tell him that I loved him. I could hear a loud sound of glass breaking and him screaming very loudly. I tried to ask what happened but he just kept yelling that his head was bleeding. I hung up and called his mom. He kept calling my phone over and over. I answered and he was still yelling. Then all of a sudden he calmed down as if nothing has happened. The police had arrived. I hung up the phone again. Later that night his mom told me that he would be staying in the hospital on suicide watch.
Several weeks later, he called again. I kept telling him that he needed to get help. He said that I could help. I told him that he needed help that I could not provide. He said he would but he wanted to see the baby first. I told him I would take the baby to his mom’s house. He argued back that he wanted to see him at my house. I told him no, we don’t need to be around each other. He said he would be at my house when I got off work that night waiting. I left work early that day and did not tell him. I called his mom and she headed to my house. She got to my house and I locked all of the doors. He was on his way. He pounded on the door so angrily. I told her not to open the door. She did it anyway. I stood in the doorway blocking the baby (he was sitting with his great-grandmother). I could see the anger in his eyes and I didn’t want him to hurt the baby. He dropped to his knees and wrapped his arms around my legs so tight. He was yelling at me but I could not understand what he was saying. I began to cry and told his mom to help get him off of me. I was scared. He started to tell me that I he needed me to say that I loved him. I said no. His mom told me to just say it so he would stop. I said that I was not going to lie to him and enable him.
His grandmother called his uncle to come over and as soon as he walked in the door the furry began. They were trying to get him to leave and he kept trying to get to me. I ran outside, knowing that he would follow me and once he did I tried to shut the door and lock it. His mom blocked me. He was in a physical struggle with his uncle. The were knocking things over in the kitchen as they struggled with one another. My phone was missing again. I ran into my room where his grandmother was sitting with the baby. I told her to call the police and she just looked at me. I grabbed my old Blackberry that did not have service, already knowing that you can still call 911 from those phones. As I was on the phone with the operator he was right outside my bedroom door. He was kicking it as his uncle was trying to hold him back. His grandmother told him I called the cops and he ran off. On his way out he broke my gate latch to the back yard and kicked my car. When the cops arrived they said that they could not do anything since he left. His family was actually taking my side this time. The police told me that since there was no custody agreement that he could take the baby and run off and I could not do anything since he was the father. They said that I needed to get a better protective order than the one I have from the previous case and get full custody. His family was in agreement at this moment. I sent my brother a text to come stay at my house that night since I had to wait until the courthouse opened in the morning and I was worried that he would come back.
The next day, I filed for the order. His mom knew the entire time, she was being supportive of me. I was embarrassed and nervous. I had to meet with a stranger and tell them everything. The Emergency protective order was approved and a court date would be set after he was served the order. This time the case would be in family court.
In July of 2012 we had our court date. I was terrified. I sat outside of the court room waiting. As he walked in I was completely caught off guard that he showed up with a lawyer and his mom by his side. How could she be supportive of me but show up with him? I was so afraid that this would get reduced or dropped just like the last time. There was a member from the Center of Women and Children that met with me. She was very kind and said that she would sit with me in the court room In family court, no one can go in except the involved parties and someone from the Center.
When our case was called we went in. I had to explain the events and I sobbed the entire time. This felt like the first time I was saying out loud all of the things that were happening and actually felt like it happened to me. I was accepting what I had been through for the past year and half for the first time. It all hit me at once, this was my life.
His lawyer was given the opportunity to ask me questions. He talked to me like what happened was not that bad. The questions he asked were rude and unnecessary. I expected the worst outcome.
I was caught off guard when the judge granted me a 3 year protective order and gave supervised visitation, which was what I wanted. I never even had to say that is what I wanted, they just gave it to me. I prayed so much leading up to that day. I am so thankful for the result of that day. The lord was truly watching over my son and I, protecting us.
Domestic violence stories like mine do not end there. You live with it everyday for the rest of your life. Since I have a child with my abuser I still have had to deal with it. With the order set to expire in 2015 I am now having to make decisions about what I will do at that point. He is currently set to go to trial in July 2015 for another domestic violence cause with another woman. If you have been a victim it is important to know that you are not alone. You are not weak. You need to tell someone close to you that you can trust. If you do not feel that you have that then look for Centers in your area that are set up to help you. You can get out, you can move forward and live again. Life feels like it stops during times like that. It is important to have a plan in place when you are getting out since the abusers can be unpredictable.