- Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Monica has been involved with the justice system for almost 2 years. Battered Women’s Shelter Court Advocates spent a whole day helping her fill out the original petition for a civil protection order, which she subsequently had dismissed when she returned to the abuser. A few months later, she asked to file for a civil protection order again. She was very hesitant and insecure, and greatly swayed by the abuser’s control and manipulation tactics. She would leave him for a few days and then return, leave and return again. This pattern when on for almost 18 months. Finally one evening the violence was so severe that Monica needed medical treatment. Shortly thereafter, the abuser was arrested for DV and found guilty. By the time he was sentenced, she had found the courage and strength to read her victim impact statement in front of the courtroom, the perpetrator and the news media. Monica is now in the final steps of obtaining a divorce and attends support groups and counseling. She is taking steps to heal from the abuse and has begun to socialize with friends and enjoy life again. She has overcome the abuse and has become strong and empowered.
Rachel experienced 2 years of escalating verbal, physical and emotional abuse in her marriage, as she struggled to raise a daughter and complete her doctorate. She believed that her husband’s rage was due to his abuse as a child and she wanted very much for him to get help. All her requests to him fell on deaf ears. Rachel met with Battered Women’s Shelter legal advocates three times to discuss her court options before deciding to file a Civil Protection Order against her spouse. The abuse began to impact her work and her career. The final straw came when the abuser turned his rage toward their infant daughter. After the abuser’s attorney requested numerous continuances, a Civil Protection Order was finally granted and Rachel was awarded a divorce and custody of the child. The abuser was given supervised visitation. Rachel has since remarried, built a career and rebuilt her life. There are ongoing court issues, but Rachel is determined to take the steps needed to keep her daughter safe.
Domestic violence can happen to men. I am a gay man. I have always been gay and I’m proud of who I am. But I am not proud of who I have become. In the past seven years I have totally given myself to someone that I thought would be with me forever. I believe in monogamy and in family. I wanted a nice home and picket fence. Everything appeared to be going as planned, until our relationship hit some rocky times. Somehow I became the bad guy. I was blamed when he lost his job and I was blamed again when someone took his identity, causing severe money problems. I was called every name in the book. It got physically abusive on many occasions but I guess I just kept hoping for that picket fence. I believed that once the job and money problems were over that things would go back to normal. My family knew right away because I stopped seeing them. We had always been close but Mr. X cut me off from my sisters and my parents. I really did not want to tell them, because I was hoping that the abuse would stop and that we could make it all work. Anyways, in the end the abuse became frightening. I had to leave. But who helps a gay man? Who would even believe my story? I found support and acceptance at the Battered Women’s Shelter. One staff member told me that abuse was abuse no matter who the victim is. They provided me with a hotel room and a person to talk with every day and every night until I had a plan and a way to pull myself up. The gay community is small and I was not sure if I would ever find someone to talk with. It was a blessing to have my friends at the Shelter and I will always be grateful to them.
Court is a nightmare. There are judges and magistrates, court reports and protection orders. I had no idea where to turn or what to do when I went to the courthouse earlier this spring. I was lucky that someone told me the name of a court advocate. It was a man, which surprised me, but he was able to help me understand all the paperwork and all the things that I needed to do. I think the most important thing that I learned from talking with the court advocates was that I needed a safety plan. I needed to know what I was going to do if this guy showed up at my house. I needed to protect myself by thinking ahead, letting my friends know about the situation, telling my neighbors what was going on. I would have kept everything a secret if the court advocate had not talked me through the safety plan and the thinking of an abuser. I believe I’m safe now, I have a protection order and I have attended some classes. I am thankful for the Battered Women’s Shelter Court Advocacy Program.
After 14 years of abuse, Sally left her husband, her hometown of Jackson and her home. Prior to this, she was not permitted to work outside of the home or do anything independent of her husband. Each day when her husband left for work, he recorded the odometer reading on the car and took the phone with him. It had taken years to get this bad, but when Sally saw an Oprah show on domestic violence, she knew that it was time to leave. Sally left everything behind except what could fit in her car. She took her three kids and drove directly to a pay phone where she called the Battered Women’s Shelter Hotline. This was a pre-planned escape. She was able to take a week preparing to leave, gathering her important papers, the kids medical records, the bank and insurance information and her personal keepsakes of her childhood. Sally knew that she was not going back. The controlling behavior had gotten so bad that over time he had started to dish out her food portions, telling her that she needed to loose weight. After talking to Battered Women’s Shelter staff on the hotline, she came into shelter. Soon she filed for a protection order and began the process of ending the relationship. Sally received a Domestic Violence Civil Protection order that same week. She terms it her “anniversary” date. Three years have passed and Sally is divorced and has a 5 year Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order. Sally takes care of herself and her children, she drives her own car and has a great job as a Manager of a retail store. She lives in a violence-free home and makes her own decisions. She has shown her children that she is strong and she can make it on her own.