The first time I went to court, to try to get a restraining order against my husband at the time, I didn’t have much evidence except my testimony and a report written up by an organization that had documented when I went in seeking help.
Over the course of the abusive marriage, my ex-husband had broken two of my computers and countless phones. Sometimes when I called for help, he would take away the phone or threaten to break it if I didn’t submit. He knew the law well enough to toe the line, and knew how to twist the story when he didn’t.
He was trying to help. I was crazy. It was my fault. I deserved it.
There was enough twisting to turn my perception of truth into a lie, and his lie into truth. The deception was so strong it could change my reality. I was so brainwashed when I first started going to therapy that I fought with my therapist when she told me I was being abused.
When I came home, he would make me tell him everything I’d done and said during the day. If I told him that she said I was abused, he would let me have it until I changed my mind to agree that she was the abuser, not him. He loved me.
And so to avoid more abuse, I fought the therapist whose professional opinion said that I was experiencing mental health decline because of my husband’s emotional abuse.
The last time the came to the house to get his stuff, he wouldn’t leave. He was trying to get me to agree with something I knew wasn’t true. He had been headed out the door, and when I resisted the lie, he turned around, sat in a chair and set his hat on the desk to make himself comfortable. He wasn’t going anywhere until he dominated me.
By this time, I was already resolved to divorce him. He was already living with another woman. And yet here he was, making sure he still had control of my mind. Making sure I still lived in fear of him. Making sure I still submitted to his will.
Somewhere between the therapist and the restraining order I realized that I had been feasting on lies fed to me by the person who should have loved me most in the world.
The gaslighting and deception and manipulation was so severe that often times my version of reality and the truth he forced on me were complete opposites.
He lied. He lied. He lied. And he abused until I believed the lie. And he isolated me so I didn’t have access to truth. I lost relationships with friends and family because he created a mindset of paranoia and distrust against anyone but him.
Truth became such a valuable commodity to me, because it was the only thing that kept me grounded and gave me the strength to move on an. And I could only get small shreds of truth from people when I mustered the courage to share bits and pieces of what was happening at home. I was terrified of the consequences of sharing my story.
So imagine my shock, that as a victim of abuse the truth hadn’t been enough. I was so broken I wept uncontrollably through my testimony, having a panic attack as I recounted some of the situations. It was torture to relive it, and I was afraid for my life after the case for speaking up.
The lawyer had been hired last minute and wouldn’t listen to me as the case went on. After my testimony, he wouldn’t let me speak. He silenced me in the moment it mattered most – when the judge asked for evidence. I had evidence in my binder that he never showed to the judge. He was nonchalant after the case as he told me that my crying made my character seem unreliable.
My abuser made it almost impossible to gather evidence. He was constantly checking my phone and computer. And what was I supposed to do when the abuse became severe? Tell him, “Hold on a second, let me pull out my phone while you are abusing me so I can document this?”
I had been too busy trying to stay alive, or trying to run out of the house, or I was in the throws of a panic attack.
The day of court, it was his testimony against mine. The judge said he’s never heard two more opposing stories.
They were so different that it was impossible for both to be true.
My testimony was convincing enough to extend the temporary restraining order for 30 days. But without solid evidence, he wasn’t able to issue a permanent restraining order. Afterward, the domestic violence victim advocate said he’s never seen an extension before.
I was repulsed at how easily my abuser had lied under oath. I was repulsed that my lawyer cared so little about my life – my safety and well-being – that he didn’t even listen to me. He was representing me! How could he do that if he wasn’t even listening?
And how could a court system that was supposed to be a place of justice not be better equipped to help victims?
One of the first spiritual gifts I received after I got saved was the gift of discernment. I could suddenly discern the motives of people that I had previously trust. I could discern lies. I had a spiritual way that I could protect myself.
How much more effective would judges be if they could operate this gift? Righteous judges with the fear of the Lord in their hearts, who make judgements to protect victims, not to hurt them.
The people within the justice system that should have helped me escape my hell didn’t. What kind of world do we live in, where the truth in a court of law isn’t enough?
Since getting saved, I feasted on Truth. I poured over the Bible, and ever word was like a drop of living water. Scriptures had the power to shatter through the darkness and bring light to the things killed by the abuse.
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”