For those who have come to realize that it is okay to listen to your inner Goddess and start making plans to get the hell out of Dodge, your reality starts to quickly morph into scenes where you have to potentially plan for booby traps, angry scary pirates, mad pissy professionals and potentially corrupt law enforcement.
We had a big house. It had five bedrooms and three bathrooms. I had three refrigerators. My kitchen was massive and I could cook and brew several things at the same time. It had a mountain view out one window. Out the other was a view of our courtyard and pool. I had an induction range that cooked everything perfectly. I had a beautiful set of cast iron pots. I ran a small business out of our garage and I basically wanted nothing. My kid was a genius, woke up happy and went to bed happy every night. My life was almost magical.
In a way that was too good to be true, in a way that would perplex me even now.
When I realized I was going to have to survive (yet another) split, it did not occur to me that the world still has a fundamental problem talking about what domestic violence is. Intimate Partner Violence and Economic Abuse, they now call it, identifies all kinds of ways beyond punching and hitting and how devastating it is and especially with kids. He only has to sock you in the bank account instead of the guts to make the point. Much easier, much cleaner.
We are now describing how punching and hitting have also morphed into punching and hitting the woman’s ability to work and maintain her career, inflicting unaccountable legal and financial action, women being kept on allowance, money, savings and asset manipulation, broken promises and unanswered-for behavior. All fine descriptions and things nobody wants fuck all to do with. Especially corporate, especially military, especially any kind of person or outfit who has authoritarian, patriarchal, wonky ethical issues about women.
There is an unspoken law that gets invoked when one domestic partner does things like this to the other and the other partner reports it to the family court: the children become wards of the state and the two of you now have to fight it out. Even if it bankrupts you.
That’s just messed up.
Since I wasn’t going to back down this time and since my life was fairly quiet, I could listen to myself think. I was able to plan a few things that ultimately went in my favor. And I’m not sorry for it.
On with the show. This is what I did to survive the split:
- Organize and Clean Everything. A little every day.
- Take inventory. If you are a list maker, use that skill here. If you have a photographic memory, even better.
- Decide what the new place looks like, while you organize, clean and take inventory. Imagine where it could be. This takes daydreaming, imagination and fearlessness. Imagine what the new place looks like and what you and your kids are doing. Imagine that money and stress factors have nothing to do with the situation and all is calm, peaceful and progressing. Bills are paid, things are under control and you are all safe. Repeat.
- Decide what needs to go in it. Which items in the inventory need to be there. Or if you have to let them all go. In my case, a whole bunch of oil paintings, books and art.
- Pack what’s important. Clothes, toys, makeup, toothbrushes, electronics, pillows, towels, blankets, clothe bags and hopefully you have a car.
- Get rid of the rest – you can replace it. Don’t be attached to things as much as possible. Learn about minimalist living. Don’t be afraid to donate or minimize junk and clutter – even if its his. Since I found myself stuffing a 5’x9′ storage shed, I had to make hard decisions about two Pacific Coast feather pillows and some really nice wicker baskets.
- Disengage from bad self talk. Your time is more valuable and important than trying to live in crisis for someone else.
- If he has you on a financial leash, apply for credit and ask for cash. Ask people you know won’t give you grief. Use it to buy a storage shed and move as many things as you can, if you can. If it’s really bad, forget all the things like I did and try to figure it out later.
- Consider moving to another state or moving at least 100 miles away. It levels the playing field. Now he can’t harass you or pull any kind of stunts through email or Internet because there is a glaring and glowing trail of all subsequent movement. No more confronting him face to face, no more “child exchanges.” Leaving or trying to leave or even making plans to leave is a sure indicator of domestic violence (they know it) and why everyone tells you not to do it. Invoking domestic violence laws can immediately shut down a case or stall it. What lawyer, judge or court personnel do you know of who are motivated to shut down a case involving thousands of dollars?
- Write an Affidavit to the Court if he files anything. Even if you hire an attorney, the judge wants to hear everything. Starting with how you met, how you married, how you got pregnant and why and how and when he hit you or did other deplorable things. Map it all out. Write a story to guide the judge through your lives, without going past “he did this to me and it caused me to be fearful.” After that, drop it. Note: this was something I did, but I wrote a very weak affidavit and the judge didn’t believe a fucking word I said. You have to be firm in mapping out what he did to make you leave in a concise, frightening and believable way – otherwise they will think you’re nuts.
- Tell no one that domestic violence is happening to you and don’t try to talk to people who downplay it or make you think it’s your fault. Leave first, then talk about it to everyone who will listen.
- Leaving domestic violence tells our kids the message they need to hear: Treating mommy like punching bag a is NOT okay. Screw what everyone else says. We have the space and time right now to support each other in raising healthy, emotionally balanced kids. The Internet is protecting us and letting us speak up. Speak up.
- When you get to the state or place you are going, file an Order of Protection. Put in there every bad thing he did to make you scared and run and in detail. They likely will not grant it because he’s not in the area. Start the record anyway. Keep talking and trying to find people who will listen and understand.
- Stay on top of your health and fitness. Keep doing pilates or yoga. Avoid junk food, therapy, booze and needy people. Stand your ground.
You are beautiful.