Wednesday, February 8, 2012

At Last, Peace

I have suffered in silence for a month now, biting my tongue, afraid that anything I said might be somehow twisted and used against me. At last, I can speak freely.

This morning, I had a court date. A month ago, I had to take out my second Temporary Protective Order against a man I used to trust who became emotionally and sexually abusive. The first TPO was for stalking and the abuse, and the second was for harassment when he posted a brazenly defamatory profile about me on a website. As many of you read, I started carrying pepper spray with me to feel more protected. I was afraid every time someone knocked at my door.

For a month, I have dreaded the court date. I was terrified of what lies he might tell about me, how seeing him might affect my emotional strength and fortitude, and whether or not I had the guts to stand up to him in front of a judge and insist that yes, I needed the Protective Order extended a year so that I could feel safe again.

This morning, when I got to the court house, I scanned the parking lot, terrified of seeing his car. I didn't spot it anywhere. I walked inside and checked in with the court clerk, and there was no sign of him in the hallway. They sent me upstairs to wait with the Domestic Abuse Advocates, who would be representing me in court, and he wasn't up there, either. My spirits began to lift.

When they called me into the court room, I was overjoyed. He wasn't there! As I waited for the case before mine to conclude, I couldn't quite breathe easily, afraid he might saunter in at any moment, but he never did. When I was called up to speak to the judge, he wasn't there to defend himself against an extension.

The judge called it a "no-brainer," and said that he would gladly extend the protective order. He encouraged me emphatically to call the police if my abuser did anything at all to violate the order. He also told me that this person had been in jail for a felony criminal charge most of the duration of the TPO and was out on bail now, but that he's wearing a GPS tracker, so any violation of the restraining order will be well documented and supported by GPS data. This was very reassuring for me, knowing that they'd have evidence of it if he came by my house or by my daughter's school, and knowing that he can't skip out on bail, which he told me before his arrest he intended to do.

Because of the gravity of my sworn claims against him, and because he wasn't there to argue the motion, the TPO was extended for a full year. For the first time in months, I can breathe easily. I can't even begin to describe how much SAFER I feel, how much more comfortable in my own home. I celebrated the victory by taking a drive out to Lake Tahoe to snap some photographs and breathe in the fresh air. I feel like a new woman.

Cave Rock State Park, Lake Tahoe, Nevada. February 8, 2012

In much lighter news, I got some blue-tinted cosmetic contact lenses, so I currently have blonde hair and blue eyes. For a brown/hazel gal, it's quite the novel change! I got some green lenses, too, but right now, I'm having too much fun with the blonde/blue combination. It feels like I'm wearing someone else's skin! Talk about feeling like a new woman... ;)

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