The “In”Justice System – II
Last week I began describing my journey through the “injustice” system when I separated from my abusive husband. Here is the link to last week’s blog.
When it came time for “final orders” in my divorce case, a year after I received the temporary restraining order against my husband, we had already agreed to split our assets equally, and custody (parenting time) had already been decided: our children (unfortunately) were switching back and forth between our houses each week. However, I petitioned the court for a permanent restraining order, and sole decision-making for the children. I felt I needed the security of a long-term restraining order to remain safe, and I felt my husband was not capable of making appropriate decisions for the children, based upon the type of parent he had been in the past.
Our hearing took three entire days. The first day the three counselors involved spoke—mine, his, and the children’s. In addition, our Child and Family Investigator (CFI) spoke, and several people I called “the dog and pony show” came. The “dog and pony show” was several people from our old church, my sons’ coaches, and friends of my husband, who said what a kind person he was, what a great dad, and a wonderful Christian. Of course, not one of them had ever witnessed the way he treated me at home.
The second day, my husband’s lawyer grilled me for seven hours about why I felt I needed a permanent restraining order. I had almost 1,000 pages of journals covering the last five years of the marriage, as well as about 150 abusive emails he had sent me during the last year. I had compelling evidence he had emotionally abused me, and had become physically abusive as well.
On the final day, my attorney was finally able to question my husband. His attorney objected to every question my attorney asked. Almost without fail, the judge agreed with the objection, and my attorney could do nothing about it. Even with that, my attorney caught my husband lying at least once, and he had to admit he was lying. Several other times, I knew he was lying, but it was my word against his.
Because the evidence was so compellingly in my favor, I was shocked when the judge (a woman) denied my request for a permanent restraining order, and ordered we have joint decision-making in all areas dealing with the children. I simply could not believe my ears! I walked out of the room at a quick pace, and proceeded to sob my heart out in the bathroom. Both the judge and the CFI (also a woman, who had stated this outcome was “best for the children”) asked my attorney if I was “all right,” a total of six times between them. My attorney answered over and over again, “No.”
I was so angry and hurt. I have tried to figure out why I was upset to the point that I did not get to sleep that night until 4:00 a.m. I was obviously upset that I no longer had the restraining order. But what upset me most was how the judge and the CFI sat for hours listening to me describe in detail all the abusive things he’d done, and basically said to me, “We don’t believe you,” or worse, “We don’t care.”
Were Any Blessings in All of This?
The blessing in all this was I was literally thrown back into the arms of the Lord, who was my only hope and Savior. What a safe place to be. A friend, who had walked with me through all the years of abuse, sent me an email with Psalm 91 paraphrased to be speaking directly to me. I enclose it as a comfort to you as well.
“I don’t know why this has happened to you (she said), but, we do know these things:
You dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
you can find rest (only) in the shadow of the Almighty.
He is your (only) refuge and your fortress,
your God in whom I know you trust!
Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings (alone) you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the Lord, who (I know) is your refuge—
Then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent (including your children).
For He will command His angels concerning you (and your children)
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
“Because Caroline loves me”, says the Lord, “I will rescue her;
I will protect her, for she acknowledges my name.
She will call upon me, and I will answer her;
I will be with her in trouble,
I will deliver her and honor her.
With long life will I satisfy her
and show her my salvation!”
Climb up into His arms and try to sleep there! (she continued) I am praying for you. I love you,
Your sister in Christ”
As I stated last week, I know many of my readers have suffered in ways much worse than I did at the hands of the “justice” system. It makes me want to bang my head against the wall to hear some of your stories. I can’t begin to imagine the pain you have experienced at the hands of people who are supposed to “help” you. This is on top of the pain you’ve experienced at the hands of a person who was supposed to “love” you.
I would love to hear your stories, if you feel safe to leave a comment here.
I would like to encourage you in this way: no matter the outcome of your experience with the courts, God is still sovereign. You may not be vindicated in this lifetime, but God will one day demonstrate He knows the truth of what has happened to you.
As for my own story?
Many years have passed since my time with the court system. Praise God, my ex-husband has never physically harmed me, though he continued trying to control me through the children. Over time I realized he no longer had ANY control over me, unless I GAVE it to him! Once I began standing up to him, though he made many threats, he never followed through with them. I began to realize that he was like most bullies – a lot more talk than action. (Note: this is not true of all abusers – some DO follow through with their threats. Each woman should gauge the threat her abuser poses to her, with the help of a domestic violence advocate.)
What about my children?
My children survived the whole experience better than I would have ever imagined. Yes, they will have emotional issues as they go forward in life. But all of them have grown into wonderful productive adults who love and follow the Lord. For this I praise Him!
In my next blog, I will describe an idea that is being proposed in Toledo, Ohio for improving how the courts handle domestic violence cases.
Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you.