Thursday, March 1, 2012
My Worst Fears
Peter had finally left the house and moved into an apartment. He was gone, at last, but one night a few weeks later he threatened that he would still “come and go into the house as he pleased, the police had told him so.” The morning after his threat, I filed an Emergency Protective Order, knowing that recent separation and impending divorce is the time in which most intimate partner homicides and homicide-suicides occur. I truly feared for my life and even had friends stay in the house with me during this time period. I filled out the paper work, the family court judge saw me, and a date was set for a hearing a week and a half later.
[I’ve written papers about this homicide-suicide intimate-partner phenomenon (am considered an expert in the field) and Peter met and continues to meet the criteria of a perpetrator of intimate partner homicide, homicide-suicide, and filicide-suicide.]
What happened on that day, a week and a half later, still sends, what feels like, electrical currents through my body. He appeared in the court room (in a new suit) with his father and two brothers, also in suits. My former therapist and an attorney were also with him. This was the therapist he required I see in 2007 and who he had seen prior to me. He and this therapist “had decided together that I needed therapy much more than Peter and he needed to begin seeing me twice a week for an hour and a half each session.” Little did I know this was the beginning of the set up: in cases of custody no records are confidential, all parties have full access to therapy records, medical records and any other records available.
In the courtroom, sitting with a social services advocate, I was served a 35 page motion and an Emergency Protective Order filed against me “protecting” my abuser AND my children from me. The motion contained every bit of information from a 20 year marriage that could humiliate me. Everything right out of the gate; he did not hold back at all. He had taken nuggets of truth, or just events with no truth attached, and had embellished to a degree that they had become a separate reality: HIS reality. He accused me of the worst mental illnesses, I’ve learned, in child custody battles, outside of schizophrenia. He accused me of alcohol abuse and of abusing all three children. My eldest (19 at the time, ironically the same age I had become pregnant with her) had signed an affidavit saying my youngest, a son (6 at the time) should not ever be left alone with me; my abuser should have sole custody.
He was seeking sole custody, my retirement, child support of $1,500 per month, most of the furniture in the house, the car, and alimony. I learned later he had secured moving trucks and had planned to move back to Canada with his family that day. As I read I realized everyone was watching me and waiting for my reaction. I realized, in that second, that everything in my life could be taken from me. My worst fears were becoming MY reality. Everything depended upon my reaction. I did not cry, I kept my face stoic, I looked forward, I did not talk to the social worker, I simply passed her the papers and I waited……
We were called up to the tables, much like the show Law and Order. His entourage sat directly behind him. I sat with my social worker, who was younger than me. His extremely aggressive attorney began and asked for the first witness to be called. They were going to begin stripping me of everything. I raised my hand and waved it a little and asked his honor if I could be heard. As his attorney continued to bellow, I stood. The Judge stopped his attorney and I said, “what is about to happen is unfair. I am asking that your honor give me time to obtain an attorney to fight these false accusations and prepare a defense.” The Judge agreed and began the discussion of foster care. He asked if there was any person Peter and I could agree to watch our 6 year old son and our 16 year old daughter. We agreed on the children’s godparents and I called. Thank goodness Susan answered the phone and agreed to take the children. I had one week to fight.
at 8:01 AM