The Day I Filed A Restraining Order Was The Day I Learned To Stand Up For Myself

DV. Two letters, I never thought would apply to me.

As a victim, I blacked it all out. The times I should have left, the red flags I missed. Overlooking blindly the way out, under the guise, “I love you.”

I sit in a courthouse, under-dressed, alone. Having proofread a declaration, my declaration. This all happened to me. It’s hard to believe this all happened to me.

I hear in other cubicles snippets of other cases. I’m feeling understated, is my case even severe enough to be here?

In my gut, I feel all I can do is try. What more do I have to lose? What do I have to gain?

I take a breath in before I step through the door. Sign my name on the sign-in sheet. Take another breath. They look at me, greet me habitually, they’ve made their judgment already, but they ask, just in case.

“How old are you?” 25.

“Who are you filing against?” My ex-boyfriend.

I see the other options on the sheet, but they already know which room to send me to. They needn’t say it, they didn’t even have to circle it.

“Go to Room 235, they will help you from there and you’ll be sent back here when you’re done.” Okay, thank you.

Other survivors know. We’ll remember the pink slips. We’ll remember the yellow paper. We’ll remember being told to go from room to room. We’ll remember the proofreading of recent abuse and past abuse.

“Can you tell me what happened?” I try not to break as I go through a timeline in my head. Shivers down my spine, I relive what I remember, if I remember. Voice shaking, trembling on the inside. My cries for help translated into a statement for a stranger to judge. Keys clacking my experience on paper.

“Is there anything you want to add that you feel would help a stranger know you better?” I wish I could say, that I’ve been a victim of sexual assault, rape, and abuse. That this isn’t my first time going through hardship. That I’ve had five traumas in my life, five men who’ve used and abused me, but this is my first time speaking up. Can you see I’m still standing? I want to just say, “Please help me.” I want to just say, “Someone listen to me”.

I read the purpose for the restraining order, it was summed up nicely. And all I can do is pray that by taking a step forward towards protecting myself, by finally speaking out regardless of the traumas that were being relived every step of the way to the courthouse, this is how we stand. This is how we say no.

It seems extravagant to go the extra length. But I think of the alternative of doing nothing and living in fear. Fear can be a good thing, though – a driving point to better things, if we allow it, or it will drown us, suffocate our desires, strip us of our dreams; and we become no one. 

Don’t be that no one. Stand up for yourself with your own two feet. It’s worth a try, for good things come to good people.

Good things come to good people.

About the author

I've learnt hiding from our traumas doesn't free us, we must share.

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