I was at work yesterday and a few of us were talking about what kinds of books we like to read - turns out that none of us enjoy getting into intense books that might touch on the subject of children suffering - not so surprising considering we work in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit! But it made me think...
If you have had to go to Family Court, have had to go through all those months of pre-settlement conferences, settlement conferences, then getting remanded again and again and again..if you have heard over and over: "document!document! document!...then you and I are on the same page. Now that it's all over I realize that I avoid documenting. Not only that, I realize that I try to avoid anything that reminds me of that time in my life. That approach works if it was in relation to for example a bad dental experience and I decided to find a new dentist..but it's not so easily applied to a history of abuse.
Domestic Violence is about power and control. Physical violence, intimidation, sexual assaults, financial abuse, name calling, controlling your friends, keeping you from working etc. these are all things that come out of it. An abuser is someone who manipulates someone else by using power and control. It doesn't usually start right away, rather it might be comforting for you to know that many bright, intelligent and capable people end up in abusive relationships not because there is something wrong with them but because they fell in love with someone who wasn't at all what he or she presented himself or herself to be. Anyways, the result of getting entangled in this type of relationship is that it is never as easy to extricate yourself from it as it was to get into it in the first place. The relief that you experience when you feel that you have finally achieved a comfortable distance from that individual is such that you are really not that willing to do anything that might bring you back into any proximity with them.
Here's where I'm going with this : the court days may be over but that doesn't mean that the limits aren't still being pushed. If the documents state that he or she is to bring the kids back by a certain time and they consistently come back 45 minutes later, that's possibly a reminder that you are dealing with someone who has no real intention of complying. I'm not saying that this happens in all the cases (maybe the car breaks down exactly the same time on exactly the same day each week) but I know that I have talked to enough survivors who deal with this regularly. What do you do about it? Do you document all of these late times and make an appointment to see a lawyer to see what your options are or do you a try and pretend that everything's ok and resign yourself to always having to deal with this?
Here's the kicker: what about the continued impacts of abuse on the children? How is it shaping their lives? What are they continuing to hear? What are the destructive messages being sent?
Here's the big question: As much as we would rather never "go there" again, would documenting and more legal action help our kids and ourselves or is it futile?
I struggle with this.