The Real Cost of Domestic Violence
A couple of months ago my kids father attacked me at home, in front of our 6 and 3.5 year old sons.
He was angry. And that’s OK. It’s OK to be angry. It’s just not OK to attack another person.
It’s also, I have recently learned, not OK to intimidate or scare people. This is called emotional abuse. Well, who knew? So, it turns out that the violence was happening well before the actual attack. In fact, I’ve been subjected to his kind of violence for as many years as we’ve known each other.
Trying to unravel the complexities of normal conflict in relationships and abuse is hard. You’ve got to be ready to look deep into your mirror. And you’ve got to be ready to pay all costs of damages. There’s no debt relief order available for karma. That’ll be the cost of therapy: time, money, emotional expenditure. I’ve been in therapy since 2009, off and mostly on.
It’s the practical expense that one may think of: lawyers charge £300 per hour. And they work tirelessly for the money. My lawyer is a leading advocate against DV. That’s how we met. I called the helpline, one thing led to another and I was straight in to see the BOSS. And she is. The statement she wrote from my evidence was brutal. I immediately re-wrote it all with compassion and empathy for my kids dad. She called me in to the office and let me know that she had 5 minutes with the judge and that we were going with the statement she wrote. I struggled, omitted several words and signed.
I didn’t sleep for weeks. Disrupted sleep, sometimes. I shivered. I cried a lot. I went numb. Every noise in the house was amplified.
I didn’t want to play this game. I never wanted to call the police or apply for Legal Aid. Sadly, I needed help to get out. I wasn’t getting out on my own to the detriment of my own self worth and my children.
Our children. Two beautiful boys who sadly witnessed their daddy smacking my phone from my hand across the room, then pushing me with both hands and somehow in a surreal slow-motion way throw me over the sofa. I scamperd to my feet like a dog and ran outside screaming for help. He followed me yelling into my face: how dare you, how dare you, how dare you pull a knife on me. I looked into his blood red eyes — he let me know very clearly that he would never acknowledge or admit his actions. He was taking it to his grave. And possibly mine. The fear I felt at that moment, when the gaslighting was on full and his tirade continued was beyond any fear I had felt before. I died in that moment. This person, a man I made babies with, a man I loved and rooted for was angry enough to kill me.
He picked up the youngest and told him how it was all mummys fault and that I didn’t want daddy to see him. He was scary and confusing all at once and poor little boy was terrified of holding on or letting go. He phoned his parents and told them I had called the police. He failed to tell them the details of the event and it’s quite possible that only he, I and the boys know for certain what happened that day. I’m sure the police believed me, just like my neighbour who came to the rescue could see the terror in my eyes, but she just wasn’t a witness.
Our eldest stayed very quiet. He hid in his room until daddy was outside, then he came downstairs and paced. I stood in the doorway to prevent daddy from coming inside, but feared for our youngest whom daddy refused to put down. Eventually, he did put him down and got on his bike, stood two feet away from me as I was shaking and silent he looked at me with pure hatred and said “look at what you have done” and rode off.
My neighbour invited the boys and I into her house where we waited for police. When they arrived the kids stayed with my neighbour while I met the officers outside. We went through the motions and they contacted daddy from my mobile. He denied his actions but agreed to go into the police station with a lawyer which he did four days later.
Everyone loses here. There is no victor. Maybe the lawyer, although I think it’s a pretty tough job and paid appropriately if she has to listen to cases like mine or worse all day. I imagine with her knowledge it would be hard just living in the world personally knowing the 1 in 4 women that are abused in relationships and the perpetraitors on the loose. How could you trust anyone?
10 weeks on and things are getting better before they get worse. We haven’t seen daddy and I am the calmest I have been in years. Even the boys are unpacking their emotional back packs, letting out all of the hurt, anger and fear that they’ve been holding on to from not only witnessing the DV, but the rocky relationship of mum and dad.
In a few days the boys will start therapy. I hope mine will too. I’ve stopped working. I find it virtually impossible to go through the motions of teaching yoga when I am in a state of turmoil. I feel small. I feel timid. I feel a fraud. I can see how sitting with these feelings will eventually release me from them and so I will continue, but it certainly isn’t easy to do.
I have to appear in court in relation to the Non Molestaion Order I was awarded post DV. Daddy has refuted my statement and now the judge will see us both. I’m not looking forward to the process. Especially as I recieved a letter from Legal Aid stating that I must pay £733.38 per month for legal fees. I guess that is a reduced amount? I’m not too sure, but considering we live on less than that we will have to stop eating and sell all of our possessions to make the payments. Or I will have to represent myself while lone parenting. Without the boss on my side my representation, I could inadvertently put the boys safety at risk.
At some point there will be a court case about child contact. Daddy will be missing the boys. Sadly, the eldest does not want to see his dad at all. The youngest is a bit more confused. He misses his daddy, but is very protective of me. It was actually he who disclosed to me that he and his brother were witnesses. I had thought (hoped) the boys were upstairs in their room, but I’ve been informed by them that they were both watching with vantage from the stairs. Either way, I’m keeping it open. I’ve told the boys that they will see daddy again, but I am not sure when. I tell them how much daddy loves them and misses them. I don’t do this for daddy, I do it for our sons. It hurts me to say it sometimes, but I know what its like to have a deadbeat dad and how important it is for the children to feel loved, so I rise up. It’s heartwrenching when the youngest calls for his daddy. I am sad for all of us in those moments.
I’ve been awake in the middle of the night every night for months. I’d like to say it’s when I do my best work. But really, it’s when I am alone to think. And I think think think about it everyday. What a luxury it would be to let it go.
So far DV has cost me and my children big. I just hope hope hope that this is karmic debt paid and that our boys can gain something positive from the ashes. I’m going to give it my all. I’m going to do my personal best.