I drove to LWL not knowing if it was the right thing to do. I have been managing his abuse for seven years now. I’m exhausted. It has to end.
When I arrive at reception, I ask to speak with someone about my husband. I hope they know what I really mean. I’m asked to take a seat. Shortly after, a woman comes and we go to a private room. A cup of coffee is offered. My mind is spinning.
I start off with words getting stuck in my throat but within a few minutes, I’m explaining all of the hurtful things he does to us. He watches my phone, locks me in the bedroom, doesn’t let me sleep at night, says I’m a bad mother and he is always sorry after he kicks that one same spot on my upper leg.
The woman tells me it is not okay for these things to happen to me and explains what a protection and interim barring order are. I’m relieved to hear her say that I’m the boss and she will follow my lead in responding to the violence. I know it’s getting worse. His threats to kill me are real; that feeling in my gut says it’s coming soon.
I decide to apply for a protection order and the woman helps me to type up the story of last night’s assault to put into an application form for the court. I’m surprised to hear that she can come to court with me today. It’s all happening very fast but I’m given time to be sure about my choices. I’m scared but I need to do this.
We talk about a safety plan. I didn’t realise all those things, like sleeping with the spare car keys under my pillow, are my safety skills. I’m too scared to park my car near the courthouse so the woman organises a taxi for me and she drives in front of us. We meet again at the courthouse and she offers me a small private room that I can lock and feel safe in until the judge is ready for me.
The woman has explained what will happen in the courtroom. It’s all a bit of a blur but I kind of know what to expect now.
It’s my turn now. We walk upstairs and the courtroom is empty except for some gardaí and solicitors. The woman shows me to a seat at the top of the courtroom. I swear on the bible to tell the truth. It feels so surreal. I’m shaking and the tears are filling my eyes again. The judge is reading my information. He looks at me and says this is very serious. He asks me if it is all true and I answer yes. I am then asked to sign the application and the judge tells me he is granting the protection order.
The judge says that an interim barring order is also an option but I’m too scared to put my husband out of the house just now. At least in the house I can tell what type of mood he is in and try to plan our safety around that. I’m given my protection order and everything is explained to me. I know now if he threatens me, hurts me or stalks me, I can call the gardaí and now they have more power to intervene.
I’m overwhelmed with so many emotions. I didn’t expect to feel guilty but the woman reassures me this is normal. She says it’s hard when our hearts love the person we first met and they then become violent. It’s like grieving. I can relate to this. I also feel safer now. We talk about how he will react and make a safety plan. I will keep my phone in my pocket at all times.
My children and I are going to come back and meet with the woman again tomorrow to make a safety plan with them and talk about the violence they have been experiencing. I also have to come back next month to the court to apply for a safety order. The woman explains this is the same as a protection order - it just lasts longer.
He is invited to come to the court too and the woman reassures me she will help me contact a solicitor and prepare for court next month.
Longford Women’s Link can be contacted at 043 33 41511.
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