I think the hardest thing to deal with at this point is coping with the memories that resurface. I still go back to that night in February when the last straw broke. I'll never understand why my then-husband Neil Zucconi and I got to the point where he wouldn't leave my house when I asked him to....why he even insisted on coming inside when I made it clear that he wasn't welcome. To get to the point where you have to call the police to have your husband removed from your home is an awful place to be. Especially when he's in law enforcement himself and regularly carries a firearm. That only adds to your overwhelming fear.
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....