DO NOT CALL ME A VICTIM! If you saw me with my designer bag and beautiful clothes and didn’t know me or my story, you would never think I was a victim of domestic violence. How could she be a victim? So many people, more than many, have a view of what a victim of domestic violence looks like. That thought or that view is skewed by ignorance. Victims are not only women and children. As I sat this week in the Domestic Violence Office of my local courthouse, I learned that women are not the only ones in danger of being abused, hurt, victimized, terrorized or any of the other acts that fall under what we all believe is “Domestic Violence”. I was the only woman there. There were five men there to file a restraining a order. FIVE!!! So, I am writing this for any person that has been afraid or is still afraid. Oh, and by the way, I will never refer to myself as a “victim”, I was never a victim. A victim is someone that didn’t see the crime coming at them. I saw very clearly what was coming at me. I am pretty sure the other people that are being criminalized, saw it too. So, for the purpose of my story and anything else I write regarding Domestic Abuse, victim is being replaced by “Abusee”. I walked out of the Courthouse. My gut told me it was wrong, something was wrong about this, I just didn’t know what it was. The very nice woman I met with at the Domestic Violence office, the one who took my story as a report, handed me piece of paper with phone numbers of two places I could call. They would help me either get over the fear of filing the restraining order or educate me on the rules and laws that apply to Domestic Violence. I called, got an appointment immediately. I think they heard the urgency in my voice. I still had that weird feeling in my gut and it was not because I was hungry. For starters, here is the list that my advocate gave me as to what “qualifies” by law as Domestic Violence: Homicide – clearly domestic violence gone wrong. Assault, Terroristic Threats, Kidnapping, Criminal Restraint, False Imprisonment, Sexual Assault, Criminal Sexual Contact, Lewdness, Criminal Mischief, Burglary, Criminal Trespass (when is trespassing not a crime??), Harassment and last Stalking. A pretty good list, but certainly not a complete list. Where was Intimidation? That alone can scare the crap out of someone because the person who is being intimidated starts making up stories in their head as to what is going to happen and when. I used to do that to the point where I got to yesterday, when I clearly knew I was losing my mind. I want to learn about the consequences of violating a Restraining Order. Does the abuser go to jail? What happens if you have a Custody Agreement or Divorce Agreement in place? Will you come with me to court and hold my hand? The answer to these questions infuriated me the point that I snapped completely out of my mind. First, if you have a Custody Agreement or Divorce Agreement, that supersedes the Restraining Order. So your abuser still has to pay you if that is how yours is AND your children under the age of 18, have to abide by the Custody Agreement. Your child or children, the people you swore you would protect until your dying day, still have to see the other parent in the same manner as in the Agreement. You can’t protect them. My knees buckled when I heard this. They were actually telling me, that I had to hand over my child as stated in the Agreement, to my abuser. The abuser that my child watched and heard trying to destroy me, gets to see my kid. No changing allowed. I am sure you can imagine what I was thinking and feeling. MY ABUSER IS RIGHT!!!!!!!!! Rules and Laws do not apply to him. There are no consequences to speak of for an abuser’s actions. I refuse to get a Restraining Order because it will incite my abuser, he will come after me and then, guess what??? He gets arrested, fingerprinted and sent home!!!! It does go from a civil to a criminal matter, but BIG THE FUCK DEAL!!. The abuser can do this over and over with the same result. It does not matter if you have filed complaints in your local police department, gone to the Domestic Violence Office at your courthouse, took a full page ad out in the New York Times describing your horror, THEY GO HOME!!! Only until the abuser actually murders you, your child, your dog, anyone you love or is in your life, is the abuser actually arrested and your dream of that abuser being tortured in jail comes true. The kicker – if you defend yourself, and you happen to hurt your abuser or kill them, YOU GO TO JAIL FOR ASSAULT!!! How’s that?? New Jersey has the best Domestic Violence Laws?? If Jersey is the best, I can’t imagine what the other states are like. There are no words to describe what was going through my mind and body at that moment. Your 5 thousand complaints, your cherished Restraining Orders, do not matter. Almost every murder that takes place by someone who was abusing the now dead person, had a Restraining Order. YOU, the criminalized person, go to jail for defending yourself. Come again?? I’m sorry the advocate said to me. Have a safety plan in place for you and your daughter. Change your cell phone number, sleep in a different room or different place a few times a month. ARE YOU KIDDING???? That’s what I should do??? For real, that’s what I should do?? And that was the moment I lost my mind, or actually found my mind – either way, my outcome is the same. I ran to the parking garage, smoked a cigarette, because that was my crutch. Disgusting, I know, but it stopped me for a minute to think. As a side note, halfway thru smoking that thing, I threw it down – and decided, if I am fighting so hard to protect my life and my daughter’s life, why the hell am I killing myself? BEYOND STUPID!! I immediately called my support system, my family. They will comfort me, they will help me figure out what to do. And sure as Oreo’s go with milk, they did just that. They confirmed that I needed to protect myself, get out of dodge, maybe even go to a safe house. All beautiful, wonderful, caring, WRONG advice. Before I even left the parking garage, I was on the internet looking up how to get a gun license in the State of New Jersey. So fucking easy!! I can’t get gun permit!! The police in my town know me. I have filed three reports against my abuser. It would be too suspicious.. Writing this and re-reading it, I cannot believe how crazy I was, how crazy I let this make me. Holy Shit!!! I Called my family again. I needed more comfort. Those were two out of three best phone calls I ever made, ever!. Supportive like crazy and so suffocating that, at that exact moment, I snapped back to reality. What in the fuck was I doing??? I have literally lost my mind all because I was being suffocated with love and intimidated by an abuser (see how intimidation needs to be added to the list?). I let my family have the power to guide me. I gave up MY control and MY voice (which has been scratchy for a month). I put my life in their hands. NOOOOOO!!! I lived and escaped my horror, using my instincts. How dare I jeopardize my daughter’s life. In that moment, I got my power back, I got my voice back. If my dumbass abuser is stupid enough to come after me, I will defend myself. He can say whatever he wants to intimidate me. Remember the rhyme when you were a kid.....sticks and stones blah blah...... so very true!. He no longer has power over me in any way. Really the only protection I need from my abuser is to trust my instincts. If I feel I am in danger, I will call the police. Anyone reading this or, who knows someone or is someone that is dealing with Domestic Violence, do whatever you feel is necessary to protect yourself and the people you love, but DO NOT GIVE IN!! Don’t fight crazy with crazy – you will never win. They have way more experience at being a nutcase than you. Trust yourself! So, the reason for my long winded saga, is that I cannot be silent about Domestic Violence Laws. It is my mission to change this stupidity. I am not sure how, but I have my mind back so I will figure it out. It simply cannot be that Rules and Laws do not apply to abusers, male or female. There have to be consequences for their actions. A quick trip the police station is not enough. It is just not equitable or right that the abusee has to live in fear, equipped with a safety plan in place, and the abuser gets to continue doing what they do best. NOPE!!! The sweet advocate said to me as I was leaving that I should sign the petition to amend the law and maybe that will add another thing to be classified as Domestic Violence. Awesome! I am a true royal pain in the ass when I know I am right. I am definitely right here. ALL laws regarding Domestic Violence of any kind must be changed. I don’t like to ask for help. Ask anyone who knows me. But in this instance, I need help and lots of it. I know where to start but it would be so much more effective if we could divide and conquer. You can private message on Facebook through The Lavender Lemon. If you actually got to the end of my story, I thank you for reading it. A portion of every sale will go to awakening and changing the the laws of domestic violence!