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I left the courthouse that day with a temporary injunction. We’d be headed to court for sure, I could not even go there in my mind.
The process to file an injunction for protection is not meant to be an easy one–but it also isn’t prohibitively difficult either. This was my second go round, and I had the same friend by my side as we navigated our little county court house. In the state of Florida, there are thresholds that have to be met for even a temporary injunction to be granted. They take into account length of the relationship, frequency of violence and the legitimacy of the threat. That part is crazy to me, but I suppose it is a free country and even violent people have rights.
Last time this happened, I was so stunned I did not get an attorney. In fact, it was by the urging of many friends that made me file the first time anyway. Get you some of those friends, again, you can’t be expected to think logically for yourself.
I met my attorney 3 days before court. I loved him, but I sat across the conference table stunned at my state’s definition of “violence, threats or need for protection”. He told me that he would essentially, in open court, ask me questions about the decade of abuse and mixed with the laws of my state, we could hope the judge would see the need, and protect me.
The day before the court date, I got a call from the court house that said that he had requested a dismissal (due to lack of facts) or a continuance because he could not travel. My attorney told me this is common with abusers, they want to avoid going to court at all costs and will try anything. When I got that call I was almost promised we would not be going to court on Friday. I felt my lungs fill with air again, for the first time in days and even could finally eat. Until an hour later when my attorney called me and told me we were definitely going to court.
So, my lungs emptied again and I found it difficult to catch my breath. Food was no longer an option and I stood in somebody else’s closet (since I wasn’t staying at home) to find something to wear. I had only been to court 2 times before this, once for jury duty and the other time for this same thing. I am intimidated by them. With the exception of a lead foot, I tend to obey the law, I don’t like the police! I was, in a word, petrified, just 8 hours before court.
I had a team of people who wanted to be there but I figured rolling into court with 30 or so people may have been over-kill. So, I had my brother from another mother Keith (who I knew in the Children’s Home) his wife Rebecca and Robyn from my church.
I showed up before any of them, even before the attorney. I sat in the hallway where all these people at odds with each other sit, with an 85 year old deputy there to keep them apart. True story.
I was pretty sure he would not be there, but sitting there alone, even for a few minutes, allowed the pain of this to all set in. I sat quietly and cried as I replayed scenes from that part of my life over and over in my head.
Finally, my attorney came, pulled me into a room and asked me what I will call the most difficult 25 questions of my life. They were brutal, the answers needed to be descriptive, it was awful. But it was necessary.
Robyn was waiting for me when I walked out of the room. All she did was rub my back in a clockwise motion and with each strike of 12 my heart calmed down a little. Until the 86 year old deputy (I think he had a birthday while I was there) called “all parties for Watson”. My feet felt like 1,000 pounds, but I stood up, walked into that court room and was ready to do business.
He requested to be at the hearing by phone and as the judge dialed his number and his voice came over her speaker phone I thought I was going to throw up–he didn’t answer. So, my attorney began to “profer” for me–which is a fancy way of making an opening statement on my behalf. The judge listened patiently, and then indicated she was going to try him one more time. This time I literally plugged my ears like a kid because the sound of his voice sent chills down my spine. I did hear the judge say ” you asked for this and I agreed to call you, but this is the second time you didn’t answer so I am going to hear the case”. I think I started to lose the bluish color I had accomplished and again, could feel air in my lungs again.
Then it came time for the hard questions. My attorney asked if she wanted him to read the emails, she indicated they were not suitable for open court and that she had, in fact read them. Even she couldn’t abide the evil that was meant for me.
When I heard the judge ask my attorney “I am going to grant the order for protection, how long are you seeking”. I think my attorney was as stunned by that as she was asking it. He told her for as long as she would. Then, just like the Lord does, He made sure we knew He was in the room. She said “I never do this, but I am granting the order of protection indefinitely, until I say so.
It was difficult not to fist pump my attorney as the deputy in the court room (that is where they keep the young ones) brought the form over for me to sign. I felt like a million pounds had been lifted from my shoulders. I waited for my copies then took some of my entourage to lunch.
Very much like the judge needed to speak for me, I was reminded that this is the place of God in our lives, especially the Holy Spirt, who stands in gaps and speaks for us. I walked in there with the prayer (from one of my favorite Bible stories in I Kings 21) “the Kings heart is in the hand of the Lord”.
Here is the thing, the order of protection is a piece of paper that (as many deputies told me) “a bullet could penetrate”, but as Crissy says “it is a very VALUABLE piece of paper. But, should things gone differently for me that day, I would have been disappointed, but I would to have landed in the same place I did anyway. Grateful to a God who has my back no matter what.
Driving home, I played over and over the Shane & Shane Song “Though you slay me” the words go like this:
“Though You slay me, I will bless your name. Though you take from me I will give you praise, though you ruin me, still I will worship sing a song to the One Who is all I need”.
There have been times during this process and there will be times again, when I feel ruined. Though relieved after that decision, it still didn’t take away the bone grinding sadness that domestic violence brings.
I still had to somehow figure out how to live a life worthy of redemption. Going to court that day was just one step in the right direction. It was a step in understanding that I deserved better and that my value as a human being had nothing to do with him. This was just the very first step in trying really believe my value. I didn’t know that step would be a long, arduous process, and that he wasn’t done at all.