Originally published on Bernnews.com.
It is 4am, you’re returning from the bathroom to get back into bed for a few more minutes of shut eye.
Until, you hear the front door open and slammed closed.
You quickly pretend to be asleep, however, your partner decides that you are going to “wake up” and attend to their needs.
It soon turns into a shouting and punching match, as you explain your need to rest and be up in time for work in a few hours.
This is just the beginning.
It soon turns into a bloody match with a threatening, punching, kicking and verbal debate.
You are now faced with having to defend yourself from being beat, tortured, choked, spat on, and called obscene names for the next few hours.
In some instances, you are forced to leave the home, being locked out of your shared accommodations until your partner decides to let you return.
Imagine having to deal with this lifestyle on a daily or weekly basis… until that one day, when you decide that enough is enough. You finally garner up enough courage to call the police and follow through with the legal process and pressing the necessary charges.
You’ve kept the abuse a secret from your friends and family for the past few years. Now you’re answering the most personal questions, having pictures taken of your bruises and living environment, being assessed by a nurse at the hospital, talking to a lawyer or agency, and are giving an expectant date and time for your court appearance.
After you’ve returned to your safe space, your partner removed from your shared accommodations and served the Domestic Violence Order [DVO], you are back to your daily regime.
But now what?
October is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. Under Konstruction is an independent agency providing education and therapeutic support for those looking to take the first brave steps out of an abusive relationship.
As a human services professional, and with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, masters in criminology, and the various domestic violence trainings, I assist women who are currently in, recently out off, or continue to cope with the ill effects of an abusive relationship.
Going to court can be a trying process for most survivors. In their weeks leading up to their appearance before a judge they start to rethink the abuse, their visit with police, attending the hospital, how they answered every question pertaining to the relationship etc.
In some instances they have to relocate to a new neighborhood or country and request to have a DVO processed for their safety. They may be afraid to leave their home or work to attend social events; and may be still nursing and covering up bruises from the physical violence.
They are trying to make sense of the entire experience.
Wondering what could have been done differently. Is my partner going to prison? Will they make him or I look bad in court? What will I say when I see my partner? Will I be in a courtroom full of strangers? Will I have to take the stand? Will there be a reporter documenting the information?
As usual, those abused seldom think about their own physical and emotional needs prior to attending court.
Two weeks leading up to their court appearance, individuals find themselves suffering with insomnia, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, nervousness, and bouts of crying spells.
By attending court alongside a domestic abuse victim, they are reminded they are not alone.
A Court Advocate can assist with the following: Attend court hearings, inform of processes and procedures, help process the outcome, develop a safety plan, assist with filing necessary documents, individual and group support, education and therapeutic intervention. For more information, e-mail ti**@un***************.org.