Did I make a mistake in filing a protective order?
August 22, 2017 9:30 AM   Subscribe

Should I cancel my protective order, and put into place a no-tresspass instead?

Custody paperwork was about to be submitted to the court for myself having full physical custody/joint legal with visition rights for the father (never married). Things seemed to be going according to plan, I was feeling encouraged and finally relieved and knowing there was an end. It has been a year since asking him to leave, and continued instances of him texting asking me back, asking me out, asking to come over, or confessing his never ending love for me and that he would not allow another person in my life, and that this would be very difficult to explain to our daughter- I recorded them, made note, followed appropriate steps told to by my lawyer and it has always been made clear that conversations are to only be about our daughter. Well, I felt it was tapering off so again, I was starting to feel relief.

Then, he showed up intoxicated at my door at 1 am on Monday morning, knocking/banging on every door in my house (I at the time did not know it was him, it sounded as if there were two people and I immediatly baracaded myself in my daughters room and called 911). I live in a single family home with doors and windows everywhere and it was honestly the most terrifying incident... I thought someone was going to break in as the knocking/banging continiued the entire time the officers were being dispatched and I heard the door knobs on the front door as if they were attmpting to jimmy it somehow. When they arrived, I looked out the window to see my ex cuffed on the ground. Apparently he was combative and wouldn't comply even with an officer pointing a gun at him. They took him in for public intox and suggested I file for a protective order (as did my attorney). So I did, and they granted me a temporary order that gives me custody of our daughter and keeps him away until our court hearing.

My question and problem is this: I was so discouraged by the judge and the court process with obtaining a Protective Order in this county. The only way for me to legally obtain a way to feel safe is through this order which is through the domestic relations district court, office of family abuse. I made it clear that there was no actual physical threat of harm or injury to myself and my daughter but that he has continued to show extreme signs of control, manipulation, scare tactics, intimidation and has shown up at my hosue on three different occassions very intoxicated; he was combative with the officers, and it is even worse for me if I had to deal with him. But, to the court, the judge was very hesitant to grant me the temporary order and told me that I would need more evidence that he has made threats or has been violent towards my daughter and myself. My lawyer is telling me I wll be fine, and we are gathering everything as well as the officers records, but personally I am feeling so scared that this order will be denied and then he is going to use this against me as if I falsely accused him of physical violence. I almost feel like pulling my protective order in fear that the court is not going to see all of this as anything serious (because the judge said himself that it apepars as if this is a guy that was just drunk and hasn't accepted the relationship is over). But, what does it have to come to? I have no record of abuse and I don't fear that he is going to kill me, but I fear that if I do not take action that he will continue to try to control and emotinally hurt me. Should I pull this protective order, and just ask for a no tresspass and continue working with my lawyer on what we were initally going to do for custody so that I'm not met with worse by him if this is denied? I can't live in fear of when he will show up, what his itentions are or that he cannot accept the boundries I have laid- I have seen this end very badly and that in itself doesn't seem to be enough for the court, and I'm afraid of it back firing. Is being scared of having someone showing up and the potential of things escalating not enough to feel unsafe?
posted by MamaBee223 to Human Relations (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ugh. So, the answer is really: sometimes no, because our system is crazy fucking sexist and awful. You didn't make the wrong decision in filing a protective order, but the world made the wrong decision in not always taking your legitimate fears seriously, if that makes sense.
posted by corb at 9:32 AM on August 22, 2017 [15 favorites]


Keep pursuing the order for protection. Ask for a different judge. A year of harassment followed by an attempted home invasion shouldn't be dismissed as "this is a guy that was just drunk and hasn't accepted the relationship is over".
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:41 AM on August 22, 2017 [41 favorites]


I'm so mad that the judge would downplay your ex's actions. To echo corb, you haven't done anything wrong--the system is wrong.

Have you been in touch with a local women's shelter/DV org? They may have additional advice on navigating the legal aspects of dealing with a controlling, harassing, manipulative ex.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:54 AM on August 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


Trust your lawyer, who is an experienced advisor in this circumstance. ThIs is why you've hired them!
posted by spindrifter at 10:10 AM on August 22, 2017 [19 favorites]


I don't fear that he is going to kill me

I'm getting the impression that if you were afraid he was going to kill you, you'd be in a better legal situation?

I immediatly baracaded myself in my daughters room and called 911... it was honestly the most terrifying incident.

It sounds like you were afraid someone was going to kill you.

(edit: I'm not a lawyer and you should probably talk to one about the legal ramifications of this)
posted by yohko at 10:11 AM on August 22, 2017 [16 favorites]


I'm a police social worker, used to work at a women's shelter, and do a lot of domestic violence (DV) advocacy in my present position.

You are in the right. The system is set up to discourage you. Don't withdraw the order.

Is there a DV advocate at the court house? This person can assist you not only with completing the paperwork, but with knowing how to phrase things so that the judge understands the severity of the situation. I'm not saying they will help you "lie"--all the things you described ARE abuse--domestic violence--even if he's never hit you. Also, you can add pages to the part of the order where you describe why you are seeking the order. Get those records you had and make a copy of them to put with the order. Write out what happened with the home invasion, including how much it impacted you and your daughter, and why you don't feel safe. You are not restricted to the few lines on the paperwork itself. (Your lawyer, while he sounds great, may not know the ins and outs of phrasing/particulars on Orders of Protection.)

I'm not sure where you live, but can you find out if there is a police social worker at the department? This person can provide support and may even be able to go to court with you as a support person (not in the place of your lawyer--just as someone there to support you).

I recommend what someone said upthread about contacting a local DV agency. It sounds like you still don't believe that you have been a victim of domestic violence, and a group or counselor may help you with that. You don't need a lawyer recommendation, because it sounds like you already have a good one, but DV agencies offer a lot more options than just legal assistance.
posted by catwoman429 at 10:21 AM on August 22, 2017 [22 favorites]


I made it clear that there was no actual physical threat of harm or injury to myself and my daughter

Sorry, but coming to your house and behaving the way he did *is* a real threat of physical harm.

You are conscientious in trying to insist that there isn't a risk of physical violence from this guy, that the abuse is "only" mental. I understand why you take this position. I have been there.

But honey, showing up drunk and attacking your home so intently that you were terrified into barricading yourself into your daughter's room and calling the police IS physical violence, the kind of physical violence that escalates. This guy is violent and you need to be protected from him.

Don't minimize the threat that this guy poses. Stop trying to "make it clear that there was no physical threat" (i don't mean that in a legal advice way, I mean that in a mindset way. Follow your lawyer's advice of course). Understand inside yourself that you and your daughter do need to be and deserve to be protected from this guy's violent, dangerous, erratic behaviour.

Don't let them talk you out of protecting yourself.
posted by windykites at 10:23 AM on August 22, 2017 [41 favorites]


I can't speak to the legalities here, but this dude sounds fucking dangerous. Trying to invade your house at 1 in the morning? What's he going to do next? This guy has a long, well-documented history of not taking "No" for an answer, and it's escalating. He's already made you barricade yourself in the house and call the cops. What's the next level after that? Because it doesn't end there.

I understand why you are minimizing his behavior—practically all victims of abuse do it—but you will be much better off if you can shed that mindset and accept that this guy is a serious, genuine physical threat to you and your daughter. You need to start advocating for your safety on the premise that this is only going to get nastier and more dangerous until something makes him stop.

This isn't your fault and you sound like you've been doing a great job so far. You have a good lawyer and a pile of documents, and that's fantastic. But this is serious stuff that you're describing. You are in danger and need to act accordingly.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:32 AM on August 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


then he is going to use this against me as if I falsely accused him of physical violence

What do you mean when you say this?

If you mean "in the context of divorce/custody proceedings," nothing can be predicted for sure, but the judge presiding over your divorce proceedings is unlikely under the circumstances to treat the request as a stunt or ploy. The guy had to be taken in in cuffs, for heaven's sake.

If you mean "in the context of future contact with him," you have to understand that he is not ever going to be reasonable, by nature of what he is. It can be hard to believe, especially of someone you once cared for. But abusive men have replaced their souls with a pathological ideology that means they stop being human beings as we recognize them--people who can respect others, who will behave reasonably and decently, who understand that there are limits to what they can have. They don't see you as a human being, they see you as an object that they are entitled to control and destroy ("would not allow another person in your life," for heaven's sake). It doesn't matter what you do or don't do, he will try to "use it against you." So not doing things to protect yourself because they might rile him up is not going to help. He will always find something. It doesn't have to be reasonable, or fair, or true. He will find something.

I'm sorry that the judge was a dick and didn't take you seriously. They're not all like that. Society trains women to downplay men's threats of violence so that men can continue to intimidate and brutalize women as freely as they like. He tried to break into your house in the middle of the night with your young daughter there! The cops had to be called! He wasn't deterred by a gun pointed at him! He was committing physical violence! It doesn't only count when the punch actually lands or the bullet hits you.

An order of protection is not a cure-all, but it is something. Please, take care of yourself and your child. Listen to your lawyer.
posted by praemunire at 11:43 AM on August 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


I second yohko - it sounds like you legitimately feared for your safety. I think you might be confronting some cognitive dissonance from yourself thinking that you don't fear him, or that you shouldn't be afraid for your life. His actions are continuing and escalating.

Part of you wants to think your time together wasn't a horrible mistake that you did, so you're not ascribing the same threat level that you would to him as you would to j-random person who developed a crush on you, then started phoning and arguing with you when you wouldn't date them and then started showing up at your place trying to force their way in.
posted by nobeagle at 11:53 AM on August 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


he showed up intoxicated at my door at 1 am on Monday morning, knocking/banging on every door in my house (I at the time did not know it was him, it sounded as if there were two people and I immediately barricaded myself in my daughters room and called 911). I live in a single family home with doors and windows everywhere and it was honestly the most terrifying incident... I thought someone was going to break in as the knocking/banging continued the entire time the officers were being dispatched and I heard the door knobs on the front door as if they were attempting to jimmy it somehow. When they arrived, I looked out the window to see my ex cuffed on the ground. Apparently he was combative and wouldn't comply even with an officer pointing a gun at him.

This. Is. Violent.
posted by desuetude at 1:48 PM on August 22, 2017 [12 favorites]


Dear God! What's it take for you to realize you're in extreme denial about your situation and minimizing it to a misogynist judge that obviously is oblivious and is waiting till you're physically attacked or killed before he blows you off..

The man threatening to enter your home was NOT deterred by men with guns. He had to be physically restrained by trained officers with weapons from continuing to force his way into your house.

And you think he's going to stop next time he gets you alone?
posted by BlueHorse at 2:21 PM on August 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


"he would not allow another person in my life"

In addition to what everyone else says above, this scares the shit out of me. This is a violent threat.
posted by Brittanie at 2:47 PM on August 22, 2017 [13 favorites]


It sounds like the guy is an alcoholic. If so, if he ever sobers up he *might* change. Don't count on him ever getting sober.
posted by rudd135 at 5:21 PM on August 22, 2017


Absolutely talk to DV advocates. They should be able to work with you, and your lawyer.

I can't imagine a situation in which a protective order isn't appropriate here.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:44 PM on August 22, 2017


Thank you everyone. I realize that I may be just experiencing cognitive dissonence as mentioned above in trying to rationalize or justify this for whatever reason- but I also realize the threat and severity of the issue if I do not go through with this. I was just very taken aback with the judge and court process yesterday, and frankly discourage, but after speaking with an advocate and more with my attorney this seems pretty standard on how they handle protective orders when physical assault/injury is not present so I will push forward.
posted by MamaBee223 at 7:31 AM on August 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


I used to work in domestic-violence/rape-crisis advocacy/therapy work and have attended several lectures about how awful the court system is in recognizing what domestic violence and intimate partner violence really is, and how it manifests, and how much work needs to be done in educating lawyers and judges. It sounds like you have a lawyer who will push to advocate for you, and that's huge. I agree with others in suggesting you contact your local domestic violence agency (if you're in the US, you can call 1-800-799-7233 and that will connect you either to your local agency or to someone who can give you that info) just to make sure you have all your bases covered and to find out if there are any other tips they may have from experience in working in your local area.

I wish you success, and peace.
posted by lazuli at 7:12 PM on August 23, 2017


Keep the Order of Protection, I'm so sorry you got a bad judge. I would not downgrade to the No Trespass, what you need is an Order of Protection!

Good for you, for calling 911. You have some good self-protective instincts.

I'm so glad you have a lawyer, and I agree with the above that says to find a DV advocate at the courthouse. When I handed over the paperwork for my temporary Order, the clerk asked me if I wanted a DV advocate with me the day of the hearing. I hope such a person exists for you, as mentioned upthread by catwoman429.
(I was in Seattle at the time).

Call me, you have my number now. Hugs!
posted by honey badger at 6:28 AM on August 25, 2017


update: protective order was granted for ME, but they removed our daughter from it. Not sure how that is even possible but I've got to deal with whats been given. He is to stay 500 ft unless it is at drop off and pick up @ the police station which is Saturdays from 1-6pm.

He was pompous, entitled and overly aarogant (shocker) and profusely thanked the responding officer and told me that he wasn't mad because he was happy I did the right thing in calling the police, and that the police officers that night did their jobs and did everything right. But, since he did not fight or argue against the order (and wasn't represented) he only asked the judge that his daughter be removed so he can see her as he wants to maintain a relationshp with her, there was not even an opportunity for me to speak much of anything.

Now, I am protected, but my daughter is not and it feels as though it was a loss of control of some sort because I have to learn how to accept and trust that this person is going to be a part of omy life- a person who the responding officer described to me as dangerous and warned me that this will not be the last time he is in court, and to be very careful. I have to trust he will take care of her, not try to manipulate her, and put her best interest first. How do I do this, I feel he has won in a sense because he still reaps the benefits of this beautiful little girl when he is such a terrifying person.
posted by MamaBee223 at 12:35 PM on September 6, 2017


Ugh, this is unfortunately horribly common, as many assholes interpret "best interests of the child" as "well just because he's violent to his spouse, maybe he'll be a good dad."

Once again, I am sorry that our justice system is so sexist and horrible.
posted by corb at 12:39 PM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


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