I lay in the fetal position in the middle of the aftermath of an explosion. I had lived through a small tornado when I was a little girl, but this was more terrifying. My favorite photos were not visible through the green spray paint that now covered the frame that lay on the kitchen floor. One phone lay by my head, the other smashed in the living room wall. I was very weak and my life was out of control.
I had to move, there was so much to do, and so little free time left before the police had to release my drunken husband. I stepped over the shattered dishes and poured a glass of tap water. I had been up for 24-hours and the lack of food and rest increased my anxiety. I tried to remember the night before, but it still seemed a dream. My son and I fled in the middle of the night, like thieves. My heart had never raced so fast, not that I had not been afraid before, but I was actually running away this time.
Fear consumed me as I walked up the steps of the courthouse. My husband would be very angry with me and I was certain he would take my life. The daily fear of dying in front of my son became so compelling, so definite; I had to do what I could to stop it this time. The memory of being held hostage at my kitchen table while our son, barely three, was placed on the table to watch, forced me to be strong. I could not wake another day, praying and pretending it away.
No one knew how I lived; I had so many secrets, and felt naked, with everyone staring at the women who looked like she had slept in her car. Dirty tears trickled down my face as I tried to compose myself.
“Did he threaten you?” asked the judge.
“Yes,” I whispered.
“You must speak up, no one is going to hurt you.”
“Yes, he threatened me.”
“He held a knife to my throat; he told me I was going to die.”
I was relieved there were no more questions. Grateful, I squeezed my Rosary already imbedded in the palm of my hand. I had been sleeping with it for years, so if I died, God would be with me.
The judge granted the restraining order, and told me I could step down. I waited on a bench in the hall where a woman brought me my copy of the order. It should have been over, but it was not. She asked me where they would serve him the papers, and I reminded her police had taken him the night before. He was released and would be waiting for me at home. The police followed me to my apartment. This was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I had to do it to save my life.
One of the officers told me to enter the house and then let them in. My fear showed for I could barely get my key in the front door lock. The front screen lay on the ground; my husband had climbed in through the front window. My husband looked confused when he saw me, I am sure he thought he had frightened me enough not to return this time.
“What the hell do you want?” he hollered at me.
Just then, the two large police officers entered the apartment. He lay half-dressed on the couch he had been sleeping on for years. One officer told him to put on his shoes, take nothing else and leave. It hurt to see the father of my child, walk off into the streets, with nothing but the shirt on his back. It hurt that it had come to this day but I was so thankful it had finally come.
When I went to pick up my son I felt compelled as I drove past the church where had been christened to go in. I sat in the back and clutched my rosary so tight it caused a familiar indent in my hand. Two women appeared on either side of me. They rubbed my back and tried to console me then they were gone. It felt surreal. Calmness came over me like I had never felt before. As afraid as I had been, I had done it. I had finally had the strength to make him stay away. I did not have to live with him hurting me. Life was still a struggle, but I was no longer living with the invisible fear on a daily basis.
Love & Peace,