Domestic Violence at Home and in Court –
There Are No Bad Choices
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
People ask the most personal questions from the audience when they see you letting your hair down about the abuse that you endured.
For years, individuals asked me, “Are you sorry you didn’t leave after he hit you the first time?” “Knowing what can happen in family court, do you wish you had stayed?” “Did you ever consider running with your kids and living in hiding?”
Each time I answered these questions, I came closer to reconciling my choices. But now ten years later and ten years wiser, I’m confident that what happened was good timing under the circumstances.
Looking at the answer to each of these questions sheds light on life in an abusive relationship. My hope is to inspire your own insight regarding your choices or the choices of a loved one.
Question One: “Are you sorry you didn’t leave after he hit you the first time?”
NO. If I had left after he hit me the first time, there would be no third son. I was pregnant with my second son when the abuse became physical.
Since reuniting with my youngest sons, I’m ever so clear that the 13 years I had with them were years I will always cherish. They are both amazing human beings and fabulous young men. So, I can’t even consider not having the chapter in which they arrived and, of course, the chapter in which I was blessed with raising them.
Question Two: “Knowing what can happen in family court, do you wish you had stayed?”
Hell NO. I was dying a slow psychologically painful death. While from the outside looking in one may have seen a family with it all, I knew we had nothing to hold our heads up about, except our children.
Everyday I was dodging the impact or effects of verbal, emotional and/or physical abuse. I was either recovering from a blow, in a blow or avoiding a blow to myself and to our children.
The days between the blows were certainly longer in our earlier years as they are in most abusive relationships. But after a while, it becomes the wallpaper of your life. It’s your chronic condition.
Since leaving that relationship and removing that wallpaper, I have cultivated a connection with myself that is the richest part of my life. I’ve discovered where happiness resides.
Question Three: “Did you ever consider running with your kids and living in hiding?”
YES and NO. While that fantasy did run through my mind, I knew it was not something I would do.
Remember I had three boys and my youngest two became protected parties from their older brother as well as from their father. The intergenerational dynamics made that out of the question. And I knew the importance of the school and neighborhood stability for my other sons (ages 10 and 13 at that time).
Moreover, I didn’t fully awaken to the fact that our case had utterly spun out of control until my oldest son was nearly 15 years old. At that point, it was apparent to me that time was on my side. It was only a matter of years until each one came of age.
And most importantly, the “system failures” prevented me from seeing my children anyway. (I’ll never forget when the custody evaluator said if my ex hits my oldest son, he’d just hit him back.) It was clear that he was as capable as his father in that way.
After fighting against abuse for 14 years (10 at home and 4 in court), I realized that removing myself from the jurisdiction of Illinois divorce court was/is what would provide for my long-term well-being and likelihood of having options and rights of non-abused people.
I knew I needed to get out of the line of fire…step off the railroad tracks and remove myself from the promise to destroy me. I felt this was necessary to my being whole when my sons could be free to make their own choices. Essentially, I took away the last club my ex had—and was using—to batter me.
As I look back, I recognize that I left at the nick of time just before the curtain of judicial and/or psychiatric confinement was at my door. So fortunately, I didn’t lose my marbles and personal liberties staying at battle when the war was really over.
The decisions one makes while in and on one’s way out of an abusive relationship are very personal and unique to one’s circumstances. Whatever choices you make, recognize the blessings that unfold and the doors that open for your well-being to find you again.
If you are at war with abuse in your home or in court, you may want to benefit from the insights compiled in these domestic abuse resources. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse at home and in court.
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© Copyright 2009 Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. PreventAbusiveRelationships
Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.