Law & Order: Special Victims Unit!
Domestic Abuse Is Also EMOTIONAL ABUSE!
I am the survivor of many years of documented domestic abuse and recently filed for a divorce. Unfortunately, the court system is stacked against the victim/survivor because we often lack the resources necessary to hire competent representation and if we can, the attorney’s lack of sensitivity toward their clients. This can make it very uncomfortable for both, because the attorneys client is dealing with issues they know nothing about, which causing more trauma and many times victim-shaming by the person who is supposed to be protecting them, without them even realizing it. This often causes a PTSD response from the victim/survivor making the attorney think their client is literally out of their mind half the time and making the victim/survivor not trust the attorney to know what is best for them.
Everything started when I said NO to any more abuse, all my ex heard was I was not coming home, which could not be further from the truth. I asked him to please wait so we could sit down like 2 adults and discuss what we needed to do with children involved and family pets. He told me, “You are not my friend!” and promptly hung up on me while I was speaking to him from my son's cell phone. He had already shut my cell phone off causing major problems since cell phones are linked to EVERYTHING. Then he closed bank accounts, and any other means of financial support for myself and our children. Thankfully a good friend loaned me the money to get off to a good start because I thought for sure, by my court date the judge would be merciful and grant me some type of relief. Sadly, I was involved in a motor vehicle accident totaling my car the day before I was due in court for a domestic abuse injunction that became a no-contact order, since I could not make it to court the day after my accident.
The good news is the community I was living in came together to help me pay utilities, groceries, make a down payment on another vehicle and offer emotional support. Three weeks after I totaled my car my younger brother passed away, and I was completely isolated exactly the way my ex wanted me to be. Since many attorneys were not trained on how to deal with abuse survivors, victims/survivors come across as urgent, desperate and needy!! A well-trained attorney realizes while they are not their client's therapist, being able to calm the client and diffuse the situation is a skill easily acquired through sensitivity training.
This makes both the attorney and victim/survivor feel safe like they are finally regaining control over their lives, after years of having no control. Then the victim/survivor can and will trust their attorney to do what is in their best interest. If the attorney misleads or lies to the survivor, this causes a disconnect not easily fixed. Why, because we most survivors are afraid, alone and many times have no family to rely on. My fees racked up quickly and I could no longer maintain the services of the firm I initially hired, and since I had no spousal or child support, how could I continue to pay? There were also some miscommunications that as a victim/survivor made it difficult to trust my instincts or anyone else.
So I found myself scrambling to find a new attorney 2 weeks before trial and it was difficult, stressful, terrifying and you wonder, why is it so hard? I will tell you why, when you don’t have a retainer, in some cases between $3,000-$10,000, the door is shut in your face over and over again leaving you to ask, where are the good Pro-Bono lawyers that live for a good challenge and enjoy a victory lap when recognized for a job well done by their peers and community? The client's undying adoration and joy is not enough anymore, just the almighty dollar and forget about stopping the cycle of abuse by giving someone in need a hand up and NOT a handout. ABA-Backed Legislation.....
Many women wind up staying in or sadly returning to the abusive relationship because they may have been the primary caregiver of the children like I was, disabled and dealing with PTSD from the many years of emotional abuse, chronic pain, and other losses. What people don't know is, many of us tried to leave several times only to be threatened and told by our exes that they would never pay spousal or child support which I actually have documented in one of my diary posts August of 2009.
I had no idea; our family dog of 17 years would suffer along with the children and me by being allowed to go to a shelter where I will never know what happened to him. I still lay awake at night crying and wondering if he is gone, or looking for me, waiting for me to return and give him his favorite dog bone, or is he also feeling alone, abandoned and sad. When people act in anger, they do not think about the long-term consequences of that anger at that moment, all they can see is red, betrayal, lies or whatever it is that sets them off to discard everyone. So, the house was allowed to go into foreclosure and my ex decided to file bankruptcy to get out of paying support amongst all the other terrible things he would and will probably continue to do.
Thankfully, the first attorney I had was able to put a stay on the bankruptcy, meaning he would still be responsible for spousal and child support before any of his other bills are paid, several of which he fabricated to make his story seem more appealing to his fan club. He needs people to continue to feel sorry for him, while the victim/survivor goes through worse. How? By the abuser lying to friends and family telling them he was sick, I had abandoned him, the house, I took the kids away and he was too sick to work anymore because he could barely move.
All of this to make his paycheck appear smaller and smaller, so by the time we get to court, I would get the bare minimum if anything, causing "financial abuse," not giving the victim/survivor any funds to survive on and leaving us at the mercy of anything and anyone. With no remorse and all the while taking great pleasure in our distress.
People are always telling me go find a job; I have tried, I wish I could find a regular job, start my own business and take care of myself! Recovering from years of trauma, surgeries, migraines, chronic pain and neglect have made it impossible to sit for extended periods of time and focus. I have to write and re-write and edit, and then after posting when I find more errors it is so frustrating and self-defeating, I want to just give up. Who'd hire someone that takes days to write one post?
Just an FYI for you, Legal Aid is there with resources and advice but DOES NOT, I repeat DOES NOT, always guarantee you an attorney to represent you in court.
Where have all the good Pro-Bono Lawyers gone? In our fast-paced world where people often find it difficult to look up from their cellular device, laptop or tablet to make eye contact, it is sad but true, if you do not have, you do not matter anymore. Only high-profile clients get the attention because there is more money there to win and play with, but at what cost? One good lawyer could make a difference in someone's life and start a movement making it possible for ALL domestic abuse survivors male and female to get the representation they desperately need. An attorney that is trained to handle the abuse survivor, to help them become a thriver..... no longer a victim, but a victor with, hope... will let them have control over their life again.
To give someone with so many issues the time of day, without the proper funding, has become a laughable offense between lawyers. How dare they come to me with no money, or not enough assets to make this case worth my time. I even recently heard an attorney tell his client, "You don't want to pay," which could not be further from the truth. I'm sure the victim/survivor would love to pay as soon as they have the funds you could assist them in recovering. They would with everlasting joy and gratitude pay you if you would only be patient and help!
With all of the federal funding out there, I am surprised that a non-profit organization does not exist to offer support and services to allow clients that are being laughed about in the back room in the court house, or at an attorney's office. All any of us want is a fair chance in court, with more support services than just a hotline to call with more invasive services making us feel victimized again, and again.
I am saying all of this because I am asking you to help me get the proper legal representation I need to survive, heal and thrive. The attorney I need is skilled at handling domestic abuse cases and thorough, why I did not find her first is unknown, but I could really use her help now. I am asking you to donate to stop my continued domestic abuse and show the world, that YES WE CAN do something about it; not just for me, but for everyone in a situation where they feel they have no hope. That YES WE CAN make a difference and that YES WE CAN help one another in our communities by working, together.
Take a moment to donate to FUNDS FOR FREEDOM! You do want to see things change, don't you? It can begin here and a new platform for justice for the abused will have one more voice shouting out...."Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last!" (MLK, Jr.)