I remember the first time I went to apply for a Protection Order. I was too scared and embarrassed to go to an Attorney and tell them my sad story so I decided to get it myself. It sounds silly now, but fear and terror overwhelmed me even as I spoke to one of the Clerks of the Court to get the forms. I went to a counter to complete them and discovered I couldn’t stand up because my nerves had gotten the better of me. When it’s like that you think everyone is staring at you and laughing. Of course they aren’t; but you don’t realise that no-one has even noticed you. Naturally I left and drove back to work.
My marketing job is great and it means I’m in daily contact with different members of the public. It pays the bills and keeps a roof over me and my children’s’ heads – while my worthless bully of a husband drinks away all his salary. I love my job – it keeps me feeling worthwhile and gives me a feeling of self esteem my marriage does not provide.
At home I gave myself a good talking to. I had to do it for my kids’ sake if not for mine. I’ve never been a quitter, so the next day found me back in that daunting Court, getting my documents in a businesslike fashion and completing them. There were a few things on the form that I didn’t understand so I went into one of the Clerks’ offices for assistance and as I walked towards the first desk the floor seemed to rise up towards me. The next thing I knew a few people were standing over me, trying to help me stand up and suggesting I go and sit down somewhere till I felt better. I’d fainted from fear and stress I suppose.
That evening, after putting the kids to bed, I watched my late, tipsy, fist happy husband eat the supper I’d earlier cooked for him, and felt terrible anger and resentment towards him. With every bite he took I wished he would choke on it – that’s how bad things were. After ten years of marriage – I had my first child just before we got married – I thought Hell itself might be easier to put up with than my present life. My kids and my job kept my going and gave me something to hold on to and to plan for. Close friends had talked to me about seeing Divorce Attorneys and I’d agreed with them I should make that move but I was too damned scared of him.
This particular night I decided to make up for my cowardice of the last few days so I started talking to him. I said it would be better if he moved out as I was serious about a divorce. My speech contained a section about me and the kids living in fear of him and, as he’d had a bad day at work, it pushed him over the edge and he just took it all out on me.
Never staying long with the same Doctor just in case they got suspicious of all my burns, bruises, cuts, fractures, etc; I found a Doctor and said I’d been mugged. I’d stopped caring if they believed me; I only ever went when my injuries were too serious to deal with by self medication. This time I decided that I had no option – I had to put a stop to this.
I remember phoning the Attorneys and telling them that if they didn’t see me in a hurry I might lose my nerve and not keep the appointment. I chose carefully making sure they were Specialist Divorce Attorneys with a good reputation. I couldn’t easily afford them but I was prepared to pay whatever it cost to get me and my kids a safer life.
They were so helpful and pleasant to me and understanding of my situation that I was pleasantly surprised and found myself wishing I’d gone to them years ago. I cried up a river of tears, and a box of tissues was brought to me. They even rescued my false eyelashes from my cup of tea (without blinking theirs) and I found myself laughing and crying and feeling so much better.
Things were fine until they mentioned the P word – as in Protection Order - and I froze up remembering my own unsuccessful attempts and my panic attacks. I told them ‘No’ and although they voiced their concerns and made a point of saying I should seriously consider it, they didn’t push, and continued about my launching Divorce action against my Spouse and discussing the details of my Particulars of Claim.
When my husband realised I might be going forward with the divorce he moved into his brother’s place for a while, saying he would give me a few weeks to ‘come to my senses’. Naturally I had the Summons served on him at his brother’s house.
With all this going on in my life I had fallen behind with the admin side of my work and I was putting in for a promotion so I couldn’t afford any lapses in my performance rating. That Friday night, I arranged for the kids to overnight at my Mother’s place – they loved going there and she doted on them so they were in for a night of fun. She usually organised popcorn and Disney movies, so I knew all would be OK.
I booted up my laptop, carefully separated my various documents in neat batches spread across my dining table, and with a peaceful night ahead of me, started working. After a couple of hours the front door burst open and my drunken, out of control husband, launched himself through it like a missile and I could see the rage in him.
Drinking makes a person unsteady on their feet. As he came at me from one side of the table, I didn’t stop to think, I just picked up my bag and ran out the front door he’d so kindly kicked open. My car was still in the driveway and I reversed out of the gate like a bat out of Hell.
I remember driving and wondering where I was going to. I saw light behind me and just knew my furious husband was following me. Therefore I didn’t have much time and I didn’t have options because I thought that wherever I went I would be taking trouble with me. I reached into my bag and the first business card I pulled out was one my Attorneys had given me. It was after ten at night but I was desperate. I crossed my fingers as I phoned the cell number.
Not only was I answered, they directed me to the nearest Police Station. They stayed on the phone with me until I got inside. It was only then that I realised the car behind me was not my husband’s. Still on the phone, they even spoke with the Station Commander and organised for the Police to return home with me to ensure my safety. Once inside we found my husband was there destroying things. They soon put a stop to that and marched him off the premises.
I remember the following Monday my telling my Attorneys they could go ahead with the Protection Order. I also remember the relief I felt when I got it; the way my husband never returned and never threatened me again. I remember the divorce going through so easily after that: and I remember the complete trust I had in my Divorce Attorneys and the gratitude I felt for them. After years of abuse, fear and panic attacks, suddenly it all went away and I was free.