I went home after apologizing for something I did not do, just to keep the peace, and tried to act as normal as possible, but I knew the next day I was going to call my lawyer and file for divorce. I went in to work the next morning, which was a Tuesday, and called the lawyer’s office as soon as it was open. They agreed to see me around lunch time. We discussed options and decided it was best to bring out the ‘big guns’ and get a protective order and have him forcibly removed from the house. I just did not think I could live somewhere else for weeks, or that he would ever leave gracefully if we tried just filing for divorce without the protective order. I could not take the risk of what he might do, after all of his threats. So I filled out some paperwork and they started the wheels in motion; we might have him out as soon as the next day. They asked me to create list of the worst abusive events. It was not difficult at all, since I had my journals. I cannot stress enough how helpful it was to have them. Not only did it validate that I was doing the right thing as I was reading through, but it gave me specifics to use as ammunition. I also forwarded them the pictures I had taken on my phone of the bruises on my arms.
I talked to my friend Anna and told her what I was doing, I told my friend Kimberly at work what I was doing. They were both very supportive and offered any help necessary. Kimberly said I could stay with her, if need be, but I thought I would be ok in the house, since Brad would be gone. I did not dare tell anyone in my family in case Brad called them. It would be extremely awkward and I thought he might catch on something was wrong.
That evening on Tuesday I left work a little early and went to get another cell phone. I planned to turn mine off as soon as the papers were served to Brad. I kept the new phone in a slightly hidden compartment in the trunk of my car, but I was still a little anxious he might find it and start asking questions. Again, I went home that evening trying to act normal, which was very difficult. It was like being in the twilight zone, talking about what we might do over the weekend, soccer games, birthday parties, etc. It was torture.
Wednesday I went in to work and again had to go back to the lawyers at lunchtime to sign my affidavit of abuse that was created from my journal entries. I was worried Brad might see me, the lawyer was close to our neighborhood, not close to my work. I would have no good explanation if he happened to see my car, but I tried not to worry about that and did what had to be done. At that point they were still deciding when we’d have the paperwork done and get him out, it might have even been Wednesday evening . I had been on pins and needles since Tuesday, not know exactly when we’d get it done. I could barely concentrate at work and was just going through the motions.
It was finally decided we’d go to court first thing Thursday morning with the affidavit and the temporary protective order and have what’s called an ex parte hearing where I would talk to the judge and he would sign an order preventing Brad from contacting me or the children until another hearing could be held with Brad in attendance in a few weeks. He was also going to be ordered to vacate the house. So everything was in order, we’d go to court Thursday morning, the judge would hopefully agree to the protective order and Brad would be out Thursday night. As I drove home that Wednesday evening, knowing I was spending my last night in this horrible situation, I started having chest pains due to anxiety. I knew I had to act like nothing was wrong, I knew I was going against his wishes by having him kicked out and a protective order enforced, I knew nothing would ever be the same again. I was scared, but I never wavered because I knew I could not live like this anymore.
Thursday morning I got up and got dressed for work and said goodbye to the kids and Brad, knowing this was the last time I would seem him until the hearing in a few weeks. I was very nervous driving to the court; I went the long way to get on the highway just in case he saw me and wondered why I did not appear to be headed to work. He usually left right after I did to take the kids to school. I met my lawyer at the courthouse and we found a judge to hear my case.
I was worried the judge would look at the affidavit of abuse and ask me why I had not left sooner; it did look pretty horrible from an objective point of view. When we went before the judge, he asked me if everything in the affidavit was true and to state any incidents that were particularly bad. I, of course, mentioned this one. I was crying as I explained it. He asked me if Brad had access to money and a place to stay. I stated that he had an AMEX card in his name and a bankcard in my name. I told him that Brad did not really have any friends in town, but could go to a hotel. The judge agreed to the protective order and the first hurdle was out of the way. I went in to work and tried to get some work done.
Next we had to wait on finding someone to serve the paperwork. While that was going on, I updated the facilities manager at my office building because Brad was not to come to my work, or to the children’s school due to the protective order. I was worried he might come to confront me at work or damage my car in the parking lot. I cried in front of the facilities manager, she was the first ‘outsider’ I had talked to about it and I was very emotional. The facilities manager agreed to let me park in a closer spot and alerted her security staff to the situation. They asked for a photo and description of Brad. It was surreal, telling these relative strangers personal details of my life, but I had to so I could feel somewhat safe.
I got a call from a county constable. He was going to serve the papers to Brad today. Again, this was so surreal. He asked “Are there any weapons in the house?” “How do you think he will act, will he be aggressive?” And I had to provide another description and another photo to the constable. It was all so out of the realm of anything I’d ever had to deal with before, I had no idea what to expect. The constable recommended I not spend the night at home, so I told Kimberly I’d take her up on the offer of staying with her for a few nights, but now I’d have to pack a bag. The constable said I could do that after Brad had left. Somewhere in this time frame Brad called to ask what I wanted for dinner, not unusual at all, but it was so hard to act normal. I was a nervous wreck. I wanted to say “you won’t be home for dinner, so it doesn’t matter”, but I didn’t.
The constable and I had arranged that I’d pick up the kids early and then meet him and a deputy around the corner from my house. I’d lead him there and verify Brad’s car was home, and then drive away. He’d knock on the door and serve the papers, giving Brad 15 minutes to pack a bag. That was the plan, but of course, plans often go awry.
I went to get the kids at about 4pm and told the director of the daycare the situation, because Brad was not to come back there at all while the protective order was in force. Again, I cried when I explained it to the director and to the kids’ teachers. My emotions were so raw. I pulled myself together and took the kids to Wal-Mart to by some new DVD’s while I waited for it to be time to meet the constable. Anna’s husband was on alert, too. He was going to be hanging out in the neighborhood in case I needed anything.
In the parking lot of Wal-Mart, my phone lit up. Brad was repeatedly calling. I finally answered and he sort of frantically asked “do you have the kids?” He had uncharacteristically gone to pick them up at daycare and found they were not there. I guess he vaguely thought maybe they’d been kidnapped? When I said I did have them, he said “Does this mean we are getting divorced?” Very astute of him, actually. I said “Yes”, and I told him to go to the house. He was supposed to be at home, he was always, always at home at this time. We could not serve the papers if we did not know where he was. I called the constable in a panic and tried to explain what had happened, I was obviously distraught and not communicating clearly. He had to ask “Who has the kids?” When I said I did, he assured me it would be fine and we’d figure it out. So I went to the neighborhood to meet him and the deputy and formulate another plan.
I met the constable and the deputy and it was decided I would drive by the house and see if Brad’s car was there. It was not. I had turned my old phone off and was only communicating on the new one, so I had no idea if Brad had called. We went to the house together and I let them in so they could search the house to see if he was actually there or not. I waited out front for what seemed like and interminable amount of time as they searched. I was trying to answer the kids’ questions as vaguely as possible. “The policemen are helping mommy.” They were gone so long, I started thinking they had found him and had him cornered somewhere, threatening suicide or something. It was not out of the question, he had threatened suicide at least three times before. Finally, they emerged with nothing to report. The house was ‘clear’. As we were discussing what to do next, I saw Brad’s car come around the corner. I told the constable that it was him and he told me to get into my car quickly and drive away. So I did.
I went around the corner, waiting. Again trying to be vague with the children about why we were just sitting on a residential street doing nothing. After what seemed like a really long time, the constable called and told me that a workman was there at the house for a check. He had done some work that morning and Brad had not paid him. How bizarre is this? So I told the constable to have the workman meet me at the bottom of the hill. I gave him a check, got his number and told him he’d be dealing with me from now on. Another long wait. Finally the constable called and told me Brad had packed a bag and left. The deputy had followed just to make sure he’d gotten out of the neighborhood. I went back to the house and brought the kids in while I packed a bag. I thanked the constable, locked the door, and left.
Just a little over 72 hours since I made the decision and it was done. I was relieved, nauseous and scared all at the same time.