This is long and involved, and really, not even complete. If you are interested in the whole adventure and have the time, I encourage you to read the whole thing. If not... the moral of the story is (I hope):
Have courage, and persist. Do not give up until your safety is assured. Reach out for all the help you can. The help does exist.
ABOVE ALL: DO NOT BE ASHAMED TO FEEL YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT THE TRAUMA YOU SUFFERED! It was a real event or series of events. You must work through all the fear to get to the other side a stronger, healthier person.
Does anyone deserve to be hit? Over and over?
In my past, many years ago, I was beaten up in the street. The woman who did it was my partner at the time, and she was drunk. She hit me over and over again, yelling at me that I will never hit her, even though I hadn't even made a move to hit her. When all was said and done, I had a bloody lip, bruised face and ended up having to have dental work done because of the blows to my mouth.
What did the cop say who came to take the report? "Well, I have enough evidence here for you to press charges for battery. BUT," then he cautioned that I would become a witness for the state, and I would have to tell my whole story, every detail, to the judge and the courtroom. There was no hiding from anything.
I wasn't out yet. Only a very small group of friends knew I was a lesbian. Tell my whole story to the judge (and was he the same judge that went to my church???) and a whole courtroom full of people?
Seeing the fear in my eyes, he offered to just 'log' the information so that if anything happened again, there would be history with the police and I would have a better case.
I opted for that route. Even though I knew that meant that I would have to get attacked again in order to have something done to protect me, that fear was less than the fear I felt about going to court and outing myself to the tiny community I lived in.
I spent the next two years with her stalking me. There were no stalking laws and there was no mandatory arrest for domestic violence for lesbian or gay couples then, so I was left on my own.... watching my back, fearful of the next corner, the next visit to the store, the next phone call....
Fast forward to now. Domestic violence laws have changed, and really for the better. But still the system lacks....
Recently, late one Friday night, my partner's ex decided to hunt her down, force her way into the house, and attack her and myself. Upon leaving she destroyed property by running into it with her car. The Sheriff's Department was called, but arrived long after our assailant left. Now there are mandatory arrest laws for domestic partners and such, but guess what? My partner didn't have enough of a 'wound' on her to qualify. The bloodied, bruised lip I had qualified for misdemeanor assault, but because it was a misdemeanor, there was no arrest possible at that time. We both signed complaints requesting charges be filed, and were strongly advised to seek a restraining order immediately come Monday morning.
So Monday we went to the courthouse, got handed a 1/2" thick stack of papers and got told to fill it out and turn it in. A list of resources for help in filling the request for a restraining order was included with the packet. We spent 45 minutes filling out the paper work, only to be told as we approached the counter "You can't possibly have that filled out right. I told you to use the resources on that sheet of paper. Do that and don't come back until you have everything filled out and copied." And yes, the tone of voice you can infer from those statements was there. So, off we went for 'help'.
Thank goodness help was indeed help. She assured us that we had done everything correctly, with one small exception. She corrected that, added some paperwork we weren't given that was required and made copies for us. So for a couple of dollars, we had what we needed and were on our way back to the courthouse to file for a temporary restraining order.
Armed with a file number, we were told to call the next day at 11am to see if the paperwork was done being handled by by the judge. 5 phone calls later, with 4 "no the judge hasn't seen it yet" 's, and a speedy drive to the courthouse before the office closed, and a Temporary Restraining Order was in hand. Time on the paperwork that the judge signed it?? 9 am.
Court date set for three weeks later, we had to have the other party served with the paperwork. We were advised that the sheriff's office would do it at no charge. The paperwork needed to be served at least 2 days before the court date and because my partner and her ex worked in the same department, and the fact that the TRO didn't provide any protection at work, we held off on getting paper work served until we were closer to the court date, out of sincere fear of violent reprisal at work.
I went to the sheriff's office one week prior to the papers needing to be served. I was met with "who are YOU?" "Are YOU included on the TRO?" And then I get told I was LUCKY that I was on the TRO because otherwise they couldn't accept any paperwork from me. And then I was told, rapid fire, how to fill out the paperwork requesting service, "and you can't put the form numbers on this, you have to put the names" and so on and so forth, harshly, even angrily. And then she said, " "I don't even see how we can do this! There is only me in here and this has to be served by Friday!! What were you thinking?"
As I took the paperwork and fairly well crawled to the chairs in the room, I couldn't help feeling horribly defeated before I started. I also thought that if I were a woman who had been horribly beaten up time after time who had finally gotten the courage to do something to help myself, I would have just gone home and crawled into a closet and waited to die because it would be easier than the process I had already gone through, especially knowing it wasn't over yet.
Even though we requested service, the Sheriff's Office couldn't make it happen. So she didn't get served and we had to appear in court on the appointed day and ask for a reissuance of the TRO and a new court date. That process took 4 hours and a lot of collective sighs and antsy waiting for a clerk in a court room who clearly hated her job. When handed the paperwork for her stamp and date, she said, loud enough for the entire, filled, courtroom to hear, "I will get to it when I can" and she literally threw it on the floor and got up and left the courtroom.
We thought filing the police report with the application for a permanent restraining order would help in getting the permanent restraining order. So another adventure was had. Getting the police report was interesting. While those clerks were very nice and very helpful, because the assault is an ongoing investigation, the clerk had to black out every involved party except the person picking up the report - so the judge will get a report with the facts of the case, but next to no names to go with it! And it cost $17.
Then filing the report with the application! Back to the courthouse and the generally unhelpful customer service agents at the counter. The police report was a controlled document so no copies could be made. Good money was paid for this set of papers with a bunch of black lines on it! Give it up?? I don't Think so!! This time the gal behind the counter came close to being nice by encouraging that the original report be filed with the application, and that it would be helpful for the judge to see. In the next breath she is saying she can't give advice. So the original went with the application
I guess we'll see where it goes.... court is in one week... another day of waiting for someone else to decide how to make us safe....