The story so far (in chronological order):
Buffy got me through the night. Til it was Friday morning. For that, I will always be gratefully loyal to the Slayer. But I hadn’t had any sleep yet. I was still crying on and off. My face still burned every moment. The nightmare continued in the daylight, but at least there were things to do now.
K woke up, needing to get to work and left amidst hugs knowing that my sister was on the way over. I still hadn’t explained to my sis why I needed her to come, just that I really did. I think she heard it in my voice.
Andre’s ex rang me back – I told her what had happened and I discovered that he’d hit women before. We mutually discovered the lies about the sale of my car – he’d tried to rip us both off. Perhaps that was part of why he snapped? Their kids were meant to spend time with him today. She frantically tried to figure out how to get her kids away from him without him knowing that she knew. Crucially, she gave me some missing information I needed to take out an AVO (Apprehended Violence Order) on Andre.
My sis arrived and I told her what happened. She’s always been great, knowing what to do, what to say. We made plans to go to the police station. But the police sent us to the magistrates court, once again telling me there wasn’t much they could do. Thanks guys!
Shaking, always shaking. Feeling disconnected from my body. Except ofcourse the pain in my face. Everything felt surreal. All day long, every moment. I felt like I was living someone else’s life. Nothing made sense.
My sister drove us into the CBD, in the traffic, trying to find a park.
The courts were great. Helpful. They assigned a lawyer from a women’s’ domestic violence group to keep me calm company and explain the process of the courts.
There was some waiting involved. I texted some people at work and tried to give them the short version of what happened to explain why I wasn’t coming in. Texting was much easier than talking to people.
When it was my turn to sit before the magistrate, my appointed lawyer had the courtroom cleared for me, and spoke on my behalf. Bless her.
I sat there, feeling naked and dishevelled and trying to talk without crying and shaking. I couldn’t. I didn’t need to say very much before the merciful magistrate granted an emergency AVO. I did however; need to come back a week later to get the permanent order in place. We took the AVO to the police station in Andre’s local area to make sure it was served ASAP. I think the first time I physically stopped shaking was once the order was in place.
My sis decided I needed to stay at my parents’ place for the weekend. Just bundle up the cat and go. Only thing is, I hadn’t told them yet about what happened. I asked my sis to do it – I was too embarrassed and felt they would judge me, wouldn’t understand.
I might have mentioned this before, but they weren’t the best people to go to in the middle of a crisis. What they are good for is the support stuff, like giving me a place to go. But not when I’m crying and shaking. So whilst the idea of staying with them was good, it meant for me that it was time to get myself a little more under control if I could. Crying and falling apart would not compute.
So the weekend went by in a state of weirdness. I couldn’t sleep much still. My parents didn’t know what to say so they avoided the topic. I sent a few friends some texts to tell them a little about what had happened. But I wasn’t ready to talk to anyone else. To tell anyone what had happened. Mostly because I still couldn’t believe it myself.
Sunday afternoon I went home. Whilst my parents meant well, it really wasn’t the most nourishing place for me to be. So I thanked them, and Cleo and I jumped in my car and left.
Arriving home felt odd. There was the cardboard covering up the broken glass. But otherwise it was all quiet and peaceful. And sad. Invisibly stained by violence and terror.
For some reason, I felt compelled to go to work the next day. I really should have taken the next week off! But, what I really wanted was for all the pain and sadness to go away. And, I recalled that several years ago in the midst of one of the worst break ups of my life, work had been the best respite – just throwing myself into a stupid mindless job had helped. Still, it was a bad idea.
I had to cover up my black eye without looking as though the makeup was caked on too heavily. Generally my makeup style is very natural so too much would draw attention. The sensation of make up on top of the bruising was that of a big layer of foam over flesh. I thought it would be obvious to everyone, but apparently I did a pretty good job – years of practice I guess.
I pulled aside a couple of people I’m close to and told them what happened in brief, halting sentences. Every word battled against tears, against falling apart. In that air conditioned place of employment I somehow felt safer. But every meeting with other people meant another effort to hold back the dam of emotion threatening to burst at any second.
Stupidly, I also told my boss – who was a stand-in boss at the time. I think she’s one of those people who sees things like this as a weakness to be used against you. She wasn’t sympathetic in the least. A normal person might have sent me home, but not her. She made me take the day I was at court as annual leave instead of sick leave. She couldn’t have cared less. And that hurt, on a human to human level. Thanks a lot. You competitive and heartless automaton!
I worked with a huge number of people that I didn’t tell. Most of them don’t know to this day. I must have seemed odd to them, I certainly felt odd. Lucky for me the DNA in my body is good at repression, so eventually I began to see it as a sign of strength, my ability to act normally when inside I felt like screaming. I’m not entirely sure how normal I really acted either!
I did however, take advantage of a work program that provided four free psychology sessions a year. I was pretty broke, so free was good. I did my first session on the Tuesday I think. Not that four sessions was in any way sufficient however! Although it was enough to get me started…
Each night of that week was marked with fear – of people, noises, nightmares, falling apart and dread of the upcoming second day in court. My mum had agreed to come with me which was good. But I felt like a deer in headlights – was Andre going to show up for the hearing? Would he contest the AVO? I hadn’t heard from him at all, thankfully. But that didn’t mean I wouldn’t.
Every night I locked the security door as well as the normal locks, something I hadn’t done before that time.
I was sad, I was alone. And more than anything, I felt like I couldn’t ask for help.
(Next… Light on the train)