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Domestic Violence: Some Things Have to be SaidAmanda Leduc Salem-News.com
A member of our team struggles against Domestic Violence, and a system that sometimes caters to it.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Recently it seems the media has taken a great interest in Domestic Violence. Although violence and abuse between family members has been a reality since the beginning of mankind, it is still wrong.
Many members of the public often question why an abused person would allow themselves to be abused. Naively asking the question, “Why don’t they just leave?”. I have lived through the shame of being abused, and have found my way out into the world of self respect.
I would like to share my story.
I have two children, and if it weren’t for them, I would have never left my abusive relationship. It began as young “love”. Two crazy, passionate people running around town causing mischief and having the time of our lives! There were many warning signs in the beginning that friends and family alerted me to, but I was blind to any unhealthy patterns.
It wasn’t long before behaviors that I had previously seen as protective and sweet evolved into intimidation, control and abuse.
By the time I accepted that things were not right I was pregnant with my first child. I retreated to the safety and comfort of my parents' home, but never gave up hope that our “family” could work out. When my daughter was born, everything went back to being bliss. We were a happy little family. He worked, I stayed home and took care of our tiny pink infant. Then, slowly but surely, the abuse began to re-appear.
I coped with being humiliated, intimidated, threatened, hit and basically made a prisoner in my own home. Somehow I had convinced myself that it was important for me to just try and avoid any conflict, so long as my family could stay together. I secluded myself from friends and family and had little memory of the person I'd been, who was now hidden deep inside of me.
Two years down the road, and there is another baby on the way. Again I returned to my parents' home. Most people would think after twice leaving, there would be no going back. For me, the guilt of “breaking up” my family was overwhelming. A month before my second child was born, we got an apartment together. “Finally!”, I thought, “Things are going to be different this time.” But they weren’t. They were much, much worse.
We couldn’t pay the bills. We fought all the time. Our children were suffering in the middle of our unhealthy relationship. I decided enough was enough. Thanks to my ever-supportive family, I had a safe place to return to. We filed custody and parenting orders with the courts and I thought that I could move on with my life. My children were dealing with the separation well, and my ex and I were communicating as mutually respectful parents.
I had no idea that the abuse had not been broken. I began getting stalked. Receiving text messages and phone calls about where I was going, and with whom. The group of new-found friends who honestly cared for me dearly began to be harassed, even to the point of one person being beat up for hanging out with me.
I was scared.
I filed a restraining order with the courts. I was under the impression that I was safe now. Not nearly. My ex appealed the parenting time order in the restraining order (which prohibited him from seeing or contacting the children).
We went to court. The judge concluded that he was a threat to me, but not to his children. He lifted the hold on the parenting time, essentially putting our parenting plan back in order. He kept the restraining order so that my ex could have no contact with me. This makes no sense at all, because in our parenting plan it states that we are to drop the children off with the other parent at their home. There was no way to do that without contacting each other, and he cannot contact me through a third party.
All through the trial the judge treated the case as if it were a joke. He hadn’t read the restraining order before he entered the courtroom. His attitude was casual and unconcerned. When I expressed concern as to how we were going to work this out, he smuggly replied, “Well, he is going to have to follow the restraining order, which means he can’t contact you himself or through a third party. As to exchanging the children, he is going to have to figure that out.” And that was that. This has caused serious problems for me!
Of course he has contacted me several times since the trial, but the police are so confused about the ruling that they haven’t done anything. He even sent a person over to my house and they (the police) did not do anything. The officers I have dealt with have been rude and impatient. They have treated me as if I’m some white trash person off of the Jerry Springer show. Like I am wasting their time. They do not seem to take the situation as a threat to me at all!
On top of all of this, DHS put a hold on the child support case. This means they are stopping any action to collect child support, as they believe this will cause me greater threat. So now I am out here on my own, two little children to care for, no income and no way to care for us. There have been organizations that have helped, but in my experience, they make you jump through rings of fire in order to get it! This has not been a pleasant experience for me, and if it weren’t for knowing that my children are in a better position now, I would probably never have taken the steps to get out of the relationship.
So I know it is hard for a lot of people to understand why somebody would stay in an abusive situation, but please understand: it is not something that is easy to walk away from. You have to deal with the shame of admitting to friends, family and complete strangers that you have let yourself be treated that way, and be humble enough to ask for help. You have to deal with dirty looks and rude attitudes. You have to believe in yourself so much that you don’t care what other people think of you. I don’t know many people who can do that.
When all of your wishes come true, many of your dreams will be lost.
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