Would YOU Be Quiet? A Question For Domestic Violence Victims
My heart has been heavy these past few weeks. We had a setback in court; the judge’s ruling was neutral. No change. And we need change. Desperately. So of course I looked into an appeal. I sought out one of the best appeals attorney in the state. He found things that we could bring to light and ask the judge to consider. He quoted me a price. I asked about my blogging. He advised against it. His justification? “Although we’ve come further than we have over the last 25 years, there are many judges out there who don’t like a talking victim”.
I told my friends and family about the ruling and my appeal. I told them about the money and how we were going to struggle coughing up another $5000. I talked about how I thought I should take down my blogs because God forbid one strange man or woman with a title might possibly see my words and feel prejudice against me and base their ruling on that prejudice. They might doubt me because I have never said anything about my abuse or they might doubt me because I have. Saying those things out loud made me realize how stupid the idea really was. I was going to silence my story for years because of the fear of what ONE PERSON might think. How will things ever going to change if victims are told to SPEAK UP but then BE QUIET? Now we understand a little more about why victims stay, don't we?
I have a lot of things going for me that courts find in favor of. I have a job, I have an education, and I’m remarried in a stable household. If I’m being told to be quiet…how does the jobless mother who has no extended family justify leaving her abuser? How does the low income father face his fears of his wealthy doctor wife and report her? How does the single-mom-one-income-teacher think she will fair in court against her husband who has unlimited financial resources to ruin her? Each and every one of these people are lying awake at night and asking themselves “Is it worth it?” I know I did. Eight long years pondering if I should just suck it up until my kids were teenagers or if I should leave before I was murdered and face bankruptcy from legal fees. The night I was almost murdered I decided it was worth it.
Since the ruling I have been asked, in many different ways; “Is it really worth it?” The words have been banging back and forth inside my skull for days. It wasn’t until I was asked by a family member that I lost my shit. First was the fact that the asking person has the financial ability to help my cause but has never offered more than a pessimistic opinion on every move I have ever made. Second were all the horrible, unimaginable things that this person knows that myself and my children have been through with our abuser and here she was, asking if it was worth it to get further away from him.
Her justification was “you’re just going to spend more money for nothing to happen”.
No, I’m not going to spend money for nothing to happen. I’m going to spend money because a lot has to happen. I don’t care if words on a legal document change. I care that my children see me stand up, alone, ready to take my abuser head on. I want them to know I tell my story and if no one believes me then I keep telling people until one day someone does. I’m teaching them that it IS worth it to pursue legal action against someone who has wronged you.
If your daughter or son were raped by someone who had money would you ask them “Is it worth it?” when prosecuting them even though you can’t afford it? Most parents would say no, or so I thought, until I found myself neck deep in debt in a legal case that has dragged over 3 years and gone nowhere. Now it seems to be a legitimate topic of conversation and I am appalled.
Change will not happen if we do not speak. The women abused by Harvey Weinstein knew that the odds were against them. They had no proof, only testimony. He is wealthy. He could bury them in an instant with legal fees. He could ruin their reputation and ensure they never worked in Hollywood again. So you know what they did? They SPOKE UP. They knew that if enough of their experiences matched then it would create enough evidence to take the man down. They knew that if they became stronger and louder than he was that they would be unshakeable. I’m sure their families asked them if it was worth it. And the responded with a resounding YES IT IS.
So no, I won’t be quiet. I’ll keep telling my story. And one day I will look back, years after custody agreements have fallen off due to my children’s age, and I will know that I did the right thing. If my blogging is held against me and factored into my ruling then it will be my duty to raise all hell and bang on all doors and tell enough news anchors until the right person listens. I will let it be known that courts DO silence victims and I would be a testimony to that. Judges are elected after all. Man that would be a campaign blow, wouldn’t it?
IF it comes down to this I will be ready. I was put here for a reason. I can’t quit now.
If you have been to court and have been silenced over your situation, please stand with me and post your situation in the comments below.