But of course I knew I'd have to have Neil served with the Order of Protection before it would be valid and enforceable. That part literally made me sick to my stomach. And it turned out to be tricky and more time consuming than I'd anticipated. I first hired a private process server, which typically costs around $100. The process server made two attempts to serve him, but unfortunately Neil had caught wind of the fact that I'd filed the Order of Protection and dodged the service attempts by leaving the state.
At that point, I looked into having the county sheriff's department closest to where Neil lives handle the service process, but since I live in a different state, it would have cost about three times what I'd paid the private process server. That didn't seem fair. So instead I turned to my local police department's victim services program. They assured me that they could easily handle having him served and it wouldn't cost me a dime.
The police victim services staff are amazingly dedicated, and my advocate in particular worked incredibly hard in conjunction with all kinds of authorities over in California throughout the process, from the National Guard and Homeland Security to the police, the sheriff in two different counties and even the airport police. It took about a month, but they finally tracked him down and had him served.
There was absolutely nothing fun about any of this. I don't remember really sleeping much at all throughout that month. The fact that I had to do this to protect myself and my children was so depressing and stressful. I imagine that every hour countless people are filing Orders of Protection against other people all over the country. As if it's no big deal.
But it is a big deal. It's horrifying to think that you'd have to go to this extreme measure to keep yourself safe. Especially when you're trying to keep yourself safe from someone who you thought had only your best interests at heart. Someone you trusted and opened your entire life to. Someone who you thought truly loved you. Someone you believed in. To have to cope with the fact that the person never really loved you at the exact same time when you're also dealing with having to file a restraining order against him is beyond devastating. It's also an extremely lonely place to be.