Freedom Began with a Restraining Order

Sign in at the front desk.

Was I really doing this?…


She tells me to wait.

I will be called.


Little blue brochures flutter in the A/C.

“Are You a Victim?”

24 questions.

“If you answer yes to any of these, you may be in an abusive relationship.”

23 for 24.

Hot tears sting my exhausted cheeks.

Really?? Really???

How the fuck did this become me, my life??

I don’t have tissues.

Snot is leaking from my nose.


This really is my life.

Waiting room is staring at me.

I am the sniveling white girl.


Short middle aged, curly haired woman calls my name,

guides me through mazed hallways to her desk.

Takes my statement robotically, without emotion.

Tells me the DA will call in three days and let me know if I am being granted a temporary Restraining Order.

Adds my statement to a stack on her desk threatening to topple like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.


Growing up as the daughter of a paralegal, I had an oblivious trust in the justice system.

The court, police, are your allies.

If I simply followed the proper steps,

proper justice would be served.

The constant, chaotic terror would end.

We would be safe.

I wouldn’t have to look over my shoulder each time I left the house.

I wouldn’t have to navigate endless calls, texts, swinging from one emotion and threat to another.

I wouldn’t wake in paralyzing fear at night with every unknown noise.

No one tells you though that just because you take the proper steps,

things may not work out properly.


My own biological mother, the narcissitic paralegal, refused to share any knowledge about domestic abuse and the law.

“Oh, I don’t know family law in your state.”

She tells me to suck it up and work it out.

“He is the father afterall, and you cannot raise a child without a father. And, let’s not forget that you’re the one who had a baby unmarried, by a man you barely knew.”


“So, I should allow your grandson to grow up witnessing and believing that to rape and hit your partner is ok, because to be without a father is far worse…?”


“Well, you heard me.”


If I had a dime for everytime I heard her…


I find out he is served the Restraining Order not from the police, but directly from him.

He calls me 5 minutes after being served.

Violates it six time in the next five days.

It takes six violations, five full days, nine police officers taking reports, five trips to the station, twelve pages of written statements, before he is actually arrested.


Arrested, my ex sat in jail until his mother bailed him out.

No one called to tell me he was out.

Content, falsely safe and secure, I sat at home enjoying bright mornings with my infant son.


Two months later, a District Attorney I will never meet calls:

“Did you know he was released and rearrested?

Did you know he broke his ankle monitor off and we rearrested him when he was enroute to your house?

Do you own a gun?

Do you have a conceal and carry? Please carry it with you at all times.

Remember, it is within your right to shoot him if he comes within 150 yards of you, or your son.”


My right,

to shoot my son’s father.


I could see blood splattering everywhere as I had in Iraq.

Sticky, warm, that sweet smell…

Only this time, on my infant son.


My heart palpitated so fast, I was choking on it.

I didn’t know.

Any of it.

“Don’t worry. I am seeking to lock him up at the maxiumum of two years and I believe we will get the max. He won’t be released until the end of his sentence and this time, you will receive notification prior to release.”

It was August.


October, I arrive at his trial to testify emboldened by a few months of calm freedom and a new attorney.

The clerk informs me my testimony is no longer needed.

I won’t be allowed into the trial.

I should call back later that day to find out the verdict.


I call.

He pleaded guilty.

“He already served 120 days therefore, the judge set his release for time served for four days from now.”

I begin to violently shake.

This couldn’t be happening.




Rush to my attorney’s office, what do I do…??

“You get the fuck out of state immediately like I told you a couple months ago, and move somewhere pro-mom-

Somewhere, like New York… I never want to see your face again. You understand?




Four days to pack up two lives.

I have one friend who happens to live in NYC.

She says, “Come, we will figure this out.”

I have never been to New York.

Traveled the world, yes.

But somehow, always missed NYC…


The plane circles intimidating skyscrapers lighting the black sky neon white.

She gleams and glitters in seductive darkness.

I can’t find an ounce of excitement in me.

Only fear.

Anxiety, a new partner clenching my heart tight…


My 13 month old son sits quietly on my lap as we land.

Freedom Tower taunts us from below with her confidence,

impresses with her courage,

stands alone in her intrepidity,

singing out into the night,

You were born free…You were born free…



From him, yes.


From my failures, weaknesses?

Far from free…



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