OOP Survivor Blog
Monday, June 28, 2010
Until that night, it hadn't occurred to me to get an Order of Protection. I didn't even know what one was -- all I knew was that I wanted things to end between my husband and myself. I wanted us to divorce and to go our separate ways in peace. That's it. But, of course, that didn't exactly happen.
I've written some over the past few weeks about what happened during the course of my Order of Protection case. There's still a lot more I plan to write. It wasn't just a matter of filing the order and then going about my life. There was a lot to deal with, both emotionally and legally. One thing that I wasn't prepared for was the fact that I ended up having to hire an attorney. I had thought that I could simply lean on my local police department's Victim Services program. It's a wonderful resource, and I'm indebted to the program staff who helped me tremendously. However, when the defendant in an Order of Protection case requests a court hearing, you never know what to expect. I learned that the hard way.
Unfortunately, in our case, we ended up with a judge who was apparently inexperienced with Order of Protection cases. I think that the advice I'd give anyone who is dealing with going to court to have their Order of Protection upheld is to get the very best representation in place beforehand, even if you have to pay through the teeth for an expensive attorney, because you never know what kind of judge will preside over your case. Don't just assume it will be an easy win and that you can do it without an attorney, even if you have solid testimony and evidence. I did have an amazing Victim Services advocate with me from my local police department, however she wasn't allowed to accompany me when the judge abruptly stopped the hearing and pulled us into her chambers. If I'd had an attorney who was experienced with Orders of Protection in that room with me to help educate the judge, things may have ended differently that day.
Fortunately in my case, although I eventually had to resort to hiring an attorney who specializes in Orders of Protection, I was able to have my ex-husband pay for the fees through our settlement agreement. So I didn't have to pay a dime.
More of my story to come....
Sunday, June 27, 2010
The Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence is among organizations that are joining together to support a lawsuit against SB 1070.
Sadly, immigrant women who are experiencing abuse and are too scared to report it are giving their abusers even more power than they already have over them. It's really tragic. And I imagine that most are unaware that they can apply for a special visa that protects victims of domestic violence.
I just thought I'd help spread awareness to this issue because once SB 1070 goes into effect, unreported incidences of domestic violence will only increase among this population.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
One of the site's articles that I think every woman who's dating should have is the following....
10 Signs that you’re dating a sociopath
If your new romantic interest exhibits all or most of the following behaviors, be careful.
He or she might be a sociopath.
1. Charisma and charm. They’re smooth talkers, always have an answer, never miss a beat. They seem to be very exciting.
2. Enormous ego. They act like the smartest, richest or most successful people around. They may actually come out and tell you that.
3. Overly attentive. They call, text and e-mail constantly. They want to be with you
every moment. They resent time you spend with your family and friends.
4. Jekyll and Hyde personality. One minute they love you; the next minute they hate
you. Their personality changes like flipping a switch.
5. Blame others. Nothing is ever their fault. They always have an excuse. Someone else causes their problems.
6. Lies and gaps in the story. You ask questions, and the answers are vague. They tell stupid lies. They tell outrageous lies. They lie when they’d make out better telling the truth.
7. Intense eye contact. Call it the predatory stare. If you get a chill down your spine when they look at you, pay attention.
8. Move fast. They quickly proclaim that you’re their true love and soul mate. They want to move in together or get married quickly.
9. Pity play. They appeal to your sympathy. They want you to feel sorry for their abusive childhood, psychotic ex, incurable disease or financial setbacks.
10. Sexual magnetism. If you feel intense attraction, if your physical relationship is
unbelievable, it may be their excess testosterone.
For more information, visit Lovefraud.com. The site was created by freelance writer and book author Donna Andersen, after her own experience being married to a sociopath.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
What I wasn't prepared for was how hard it was emotionally to have to see Neil again. That was the last thing I wanted to do, and was basically the main reason I got the Order of Protection in the first place -- so that I'd never have to see him or talk to him again. Just being in the same room with him, to see him there with an attorney representing him, was so incredibly difficult. I honestly couldn't believe I'd married a man who would bring us to this point. This horrible place where we had to face each other and testify against each other in court. It's so brutal. And unbelievable to think that I ever loved him. Now, looking back, I can't even remember loving him. It's like those memories just died and disintegrated.
Somehow I got through my part of the court hearing. As my advocate had told me ahead of time, I was asked by the judge to give my testimony and evidence in the very beginning. I was so glad to get it over with, as it was excruciating to go through. As every word came out of my mouth, I felt like I was reliving the nightmare that I'd experienced. It was so hard to keep my composure.
Oddly enough, the judge stopped our hearing immediately after my testimony. She called us back to her chambers, and let us know that she didn't want our conversation to be recorded in court. I asked if I could bring my advocate to her chambers with me, but the judge's assistant told me no, that we "didn't have enough time." So there I was alone without my advocate, in a small cramped office with the judge, Neil and his attorney. The situation seemed very underhanded on the part of the judge, and I was frustrated when, in the beginning, she only talked directly to Neil and not to me. She said that she was concerned about his job being impacted by the hearing since he's in law enforcement. I was stunned by this. Legally, the defendant's job has nothing to do with whether or not the Order of Protection should be upheld. The more the judge talked, the more it became obvious that she was inexperienced in Orders of Protection hearings. I found out later that she was brand new in her position and had previously been a defense attorney.
After the impromptu, behind-closed-doors meeting, and we went back into the courtroom, the judge granted Neil a continuance, and she scheduled another hearing for 35 days later. Again, I was stunned. I turned to my advocate, confused, and she whispered, "You've just been screwed by this judge."
Normally, a judge or commissioner will make a decision at the hearing, without granting a continuance. What happened was unbelievable. So I left the court knowing that I'd given up all of my testimony and evidence, and that Neil and his attorney could play around with it for the next 35 days until the next hearing. And at the next hearing, I wouldn't be given an opportunity to speak at all. I really couldn't believe this was happening. I counted on the fact that I'd have a decision from the judge that day, and that I'd be able to move on with my life, whatever the decision. And I would never have to see Neil again. But, the judge completely pulled the rug from under me. Now I would have to face him yet again.....and this time I'd have to hire an attorney since the judge displayed such an appalling lack of knowledge and experience.
More on this later....
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The following are some red flags that you may be in an abusive relationship, courtesy of Helpguide.org's domestic violence resources, as well as The Red Flag Campaign, a project of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance which is funded by the Verizon Foundation.
- tells you how to dress or act
- accuses you of flirting or "coming on" to others
- makes vulgar or disparaging comments about others in your presence
- blames arguments and problems on you
- lies to you
- yells at or humiliates you
- threatens to hurt you if you break up with him/her
- calls you names
- constantly checks up on you
- experiences extreme mood swings; says you're the best one minute and rips you apart the next
- doesn't listen to you; things always have to be done his/her way
- blames you for how he/she treats you
(Gee, does this list bring back memories....)
And you, in turn, feel the following:
- afraid to break up with him/her
- tied down, like you have to check in all the time with that person
- afraid to make decisions
- afraid your partner will cut you down
- overwhelming sadness and often depression
- worried and obsessed over how to make your partner happy
- that the abuse is getting worse over time
- overly emotional
- that if you only loved him/her more then the abuse will stop
- embarrassed and ashamed
- trapped and desperate
- confused; one minute you desperately want to break free, and the next minute you think he/she will change enough for the relationship to hang on
A person emotionally abuses their partner in order to strip away their independence and feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. It's an insidious form of abuse, causing deep, long-lasting internal scars. Unless you've been on the receiving end, it's really hard to understand how debilitating emotional and verbal abuse is.
It is important to remember than an abuser CAN control his/her behavior. They choose very carefully when and where to abuse their partner, which often makes the abuse victim feel like they're going crazy. If you're being abused, it is absolutely NOT your fault for being mistreated. Remember that the only thing that you should focus on is being safe. You may not necessarily be safe if you decide to get a restraining order, but it is an option to consider. To learn more about restraining orders in your area, call 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
Monday, June 7, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
To get to the point where you have to call 911 to have the police remove your husband from your home is an awful place to be. I never saw it coming, that terrifying night in February when I found myself curled up in a ball, trembling and sobbing on my front patio, looking up into the faces of two police officers peering over me. When one officer suggested that I go straight to the county superior court the next morning to file an Order of Protection against my husband, I didn't even know what that was.
How could this be me? I wasn't one of "those" women who ends up a victim of abuse. I'm an Ivy League-educated, 40-something mom of three, busy executive of a health care organization, and supposedly fairly intelligent. Domestic Violence wasn't supposed to be part of my life in any way, shape or form, other than the remote articles I occasionally glanced at in the newspaper of some silly woman getting beat up by her boyfriend.
But this is me. I'm right alongside the silly women getting beat up. I'm here, in this realm -- one that I know aboslutely nothing of. There's no instruction manual for this kind of situation. I'd never ever called 911 before in my life, and yet here I was, my teeth chattering and hands shaking with fear, staring at my wide open front door that completely exposed my home while police officers carefully walked inside to approach my angry husband. The inside of my house would never look the same after this. The warm oriental rugs and cozy furniture would now only remind me of this night of overwhelming fear and panic. And violation and humiliation. Things would never be the same.
Days later, after peeling myself off the floor and spending hours and hours talking with my newly found friend and advocate at the local police department's victim services program, I made it all the way to court and sat before a judge to file an Order of Protection against my husband. I had thought that act would mark an end. I had already filed for divorce, ending our brief 10-month marriage as quickly as I could, and I figured that the Order of Protection would add an additional seal to the closure -- ensuring that I'd never have to live through another terrifying night again.
But, it turned out that simply filing the Order of Protection was merely the beginning of yet another ordeal, continuing with the actual serving of the order and a subsequent very stressful court hearing. You see it's not so easy filing an Order of Protection against a federal agent.
But that's another story yet to be shared.