Facing Evil

Today was a wonderful day! I was super tired and it was kind of hard to get going this morning because I felt anxious and took my medication to sleep last night. I try not to, because it makes me feel so groggy the next day. I worked through the day at school and had so much fun. The best part of my day was receiving hugs from my pre-k kiddos! I love them so much!

Work doesn’t feel like work, and that’s how I know I’m doing what I’m meant to do. After work, I left for Athens, Georgia to go to the Family Protection Center to complete my LAST Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) assessment. I arrived about 30 minutes early, but was taken back almost immediately. This session lasted a little bit over 2 hours. It was very lengthy, and unlike the last two assessments, this one was ALL about my abuser. From the time we met when I was 14-15 years-old, to the present.

The first assessment was more or less about the bigger picture (my childhood). The second assessment covered all of my intimate relationships. The last one, was probably the most difficult for me. There were so many traumas involved that I had to tell about, re-live.

I will say, that I am happy that it’s over. I celebrated with my friend and ate dinner out at Chic-fil-a!

Today is “Friday Eve”, so I’m excited that the weekend is near! I will be getting a call from the counselor who has worked with me this past month as she ties everything together, and writes my IPV report which will then become property of DFCS. As before, I did not hold back, so there is a lot of information.

I didn’t realize it until tonight, but the counselor was the same one who I met for the first time over a year ago when I initially left my abuser. She mentioned the possibility of me coming to their domestic violence support groups, and having me be a speaker, sharing my story with others. I always thought that after I received my teaching degree, my life would be good. But through everything, my passion has become stronger. I want to help domestic violence survivors, too.

This is an exciting opportunity for me!

On my way home, I reminisced about the constant chaos I lived in. My abuser tried to show the courts that he was in fact, stable and kept us up in nice houses. Well, that is a half truth. For the most part, we survived because of loans. We survived because of frivolous lawsuits he would initiate to get “free money”. My abuser was paid nearly 2,000 for falling through a seat at a movie theatre one time.

After that, he was involved in a minor car accident and received 20,000. I mean, I guess there’s just people out there like that. I remember how he would call restaurants, making complaints just to receive free food. He learned that from his mother.

I spoke a little bit to the counselor about his mother. She’s something else. She would not let me name my own child. She was in the delivery room, and I still have messages where she talked about how “gross” I was and all the hateful and mean things she wrote. In the beginning of our relationship, I think his family was one of the biggest perks. Coming from an unstable one, I thought finally- a big family. And his mom acted at first like she loved me.

I did her homework for her when she went to college. She took my money, although I didn’t have much.

She instigated and created chaos in her home, extending out to us. She was my “monster-in-law”. Adopted by a pastor and his wife at the tender age of 1 (I believe); her mother had abandoned her and her sister who was 3 (not sure if the ages are correct) at the time. They were abandoned in a house with soaked diapers, and the only reason she even survived was because her older sister got a chair to retrieve frozen fish sticks out of the freezer for them to eat.

Her adopted father, my abuser’s grandfather, was a wonderful man. I always loved him and still do. He passed away this year.

He raised my abuser until he was about 9-years-old, off and on. But after my abuser went to live with his mother, things took a turn for the worse. I never understood her. I don’t think I want to. It’s just the ugly cycle. The cycle that I’m breaking free of.

My abuser’s mother looked younger, she was pretty, but she acted younger than she was too. When she went out in public, there were times when she would pretend like her oldest son, my abuser, was her boyfriend. They did drugs together, and partied together.

I honestly believe, there was something more sinister going on too. I can’t say for a fact, but I’m about 99.9% sure that there was a sexual intimacy shared by the two of them, and possibly her other son as well.

How a mother could… I mean, I don’t know. I’m just going to leave it at that. I just don’t understand how people can be so cruel. I don’t understand how people can hurt other people. This is a common theme within my abusers family. I didn’t come from any better. But I was given CHOICES in life. And I decided to be different. And for that, I am changing lives.

The assessments (and therapy) have helped me discover the unhealthy patterns of behavior that I would engage in, when choosing my partners. Specifically, as many times as I went back and forth to my abuser.

I have talked in great lengths about the peace and comfort I found. My abuser would not allow me or my children to attend church. He declared himself a “Wiccan”. I have always believed in God, and yes, I am a Christian.

Since letting him go, my intuition speaks louder. It’s stronger.

I can make decisions again. I can go out on a school night. If I feel like a situation is dangerous, I can trust myself to know that it is dangerous.

I’m in the beginning phase I guess, of my journey, and well- I’d like to think I’m a little further than the beginning. But I just KNOW that I am here to serve a big purpose.  It’s going to take a lot of healing. So far, so good.

I think it’s going to be difficult, with the holidays coming up. I won’t have my babies with me. I won’t have that “family unit” that I worked SO desperately hard for- for so many years. But looking back, I never really had that. It was what I wanted to BELIEVE I had, but I didn’t.

I was drove to near insanity. And I acted it too, I kept doing what was comfortable for me, not what was right. I kept going back, expecting different results. But that never happened. It just got worse.

I guess I’ll never be able to understand why people hurt people. I always try and see the good in others. Trust is something that will take me a long time to repair. First and foremost, I’m learning to trust myself.

This week, I messaged my DFCS caseworker and asked for them to begin to consider unsupervised visitations. I would like to ask for extra prayers on this!

I will never be the same. I will be so, so much better. I am not defined by my past. For everything that I have went through has taught me important lessons.

I don’t have to ask permission anymore, to be myself. I don’t have to walk on eggshells. I don’t have to settle. I don’t have to beg and plead to “just let me sleep”.

I can be, Jennifer. I can be, myself. I can be, what God intended for me to be, which is something incredible.

It was tough, going back through the past seven years. It was hard, because there were good times too. Those good times are what I held onto each time I went back. But the bad times outweighed the good times.

The girlfriend, the basement, the bondage. The chaos. The screaming and shouting. Getting kicked, slapped, beaten with belts and whatever else was convenient at the time. The choking, put-downs, being spit in the face. My hair pulled, my things destroyed. I was his property. I was his slave. I never thought I would get out. I didn’t see a way. I guess for awhile, I didn’t want to see a way. I was SO beat down and hard on myself, I believed his lies. I believed that I wasn’t good enough. Maybe he’s right, maybe I’m sick. Maybe it’s just my “mental illness”. Excuse after excuse. I was in so much denial.

I was told that “no one understands you the way that I do”. I was told that “you can’t do this on your own”. He would say, “you need me” and “I can’t live without you”. him- And the last night I laid in the bed with him before I officially made up my mind to leave for once and for all. As he rubbed my forehead and stroked my hair, I was told, “I love you, and I’m sorry. But you will NEVER take my boys from me. I will kill you, before ever letting that happen.”

I believed him. And I told everyone. My friends, my co-workers, the police, the advocates- anyone and everyone who would listen to me. They all knew- that if anything ever happened to me, who was to be held responsible.

At the same time, and as fate would have it, I also BELIEVED that I was capable of MORE. My children and I deserved more. I just wanted to be safe. I wanted to be free.

I believed I could, and so I did.

I escaped domestic violence. I broke the cycle of abuse, the chains that bounded me for so many years.

I faced evil. I believed I could, and so I did.

 

 

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Acceptance

Happy Solar Eclipse Day! I spent the day at our “Black Out Party” at work with my Pre-K babies! The hallways were decorated with planets (The Solar System) hanging from the ceilings. We used black lights to replace the bulbs that are outside each classroom. This looked really neat! Teachers and students dressed in all black. Our day was extended by an hour. We streamed the Eclipse live for our students to watch on TV, and teachers took turns using the protective glasses to go outside and view the Eclipse in person.

We had tons of fun! We ate the notorious “Krispy Kreme Eclipse Doughnuts” and had a potluck that everyone contributed to.

After work, my therapist came to check on me. She wants me to work on my self-esteem. I noticed that I have this bad habit of trying to seek out reassurance about EVERYTHING. I am doing much better with this, but if I don’t hear something positive from someone, I start second guessing myself. Just a little something for me to work on.

I told her about my encounter with my dad, and she was very proud of me for standing my ground and removing toxicity from my life.

Every now and then I enjoy walking home from work. Not only is it great exercise, but its calming for me. Today, my walk seemed so much quicker than normal. I’m looking forward to the weather cooling off some this fall so that I can do more of that.

For a Monday, today was productive! I think when you go into work and it doesn’t feel like “work”, that’s when you kind of know it’s where your supposed to be. That’s how it is for me.

As far as court dates go, things seem to be quiet. The last court date that I was told of isn’t until October 5th, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. This will be for Juvenile Court, which I believe they are actually trying to get transferred from Athens, Georgia to my county.

Acceptance. I think I struggle with this. I want people to “accept” me. I want to be accepted with no strings attached. Do you know what I mean? This has always been such a struggle of mine.

I think growing up with a twin sister, I really didn’t begin to form my own identity until later in life. Heck, I’m still trying to figure myself out. But that’s okay! What I know about my heart, specifically, I love. I know I have a caring heart. I will never let any circumstance or situation ruin that for me.

My experiences through my journey are incredible. It’s very humbling. I thought I had lost everything. But in reality, I gained so much more.

We all have decisions to make. From the time we get up in the morning, until the time we go to bed at night.

Our decisions play a significant role in what our life is or will look like. I wish I knew what I know now- several years ago. But I can’t go back in time. I can only learn.

I’ve learned so much. About myself, being a mother, relationships. My faith is restored and my relationship with God is so much stronger. I would like to find a bible study group to start going to. I wish I could give out all the peace I feel inside of me to others.

Another thing. Attitude and mindset. It will break you, or it will make you.

If you don’t like how your life is going, the only way out of your situation is to CHANGE it.

It took me so long to accept this. I’m not perfect, I’ve never claimed to be. I’ve said that before. I’m far from it.

But I work hard. I’m committed, dedicated, and I never stay down for long.

Tonight, I must say… I am proud of myself. I am proud of my choices that I have made to lead me to where I’m at, and look forward to where I’m going in life.

I’ve never been excited to wake up in the mornings like I am now. When your personal freedoms, rights and everything have been taken from you, it’s hard not to live through a different lens.

I appreciate and value my life. I really do.

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of August. By next month, I plan to have a vehicle. After that, I will start saving for a new place for the boys and I to live. A new home. A fresh start. Everything, done right.

Within the past couple of days, I felt God lay something heavy down on my heart, that I can’t stop thinking about.

I’ve been told that I’m a good writer. I love to write, but for the most part I love to help others. I know there are people like me out there in the world, and I know the hurt they have gone through. I’ve also taken the road less traveled, made different choices, been given a new opportunity, a new chance- new attitude and mindset. 

The inner peace I feel is powerful. I enjoy writing because it helps me to transition and reflect upon my traumas.

I used to be that person that would just about agree with you on everything you said, whether I did or not. I just wanted to maintain peace, and be loved. That was all.

But things are different now. I’m learning to stand up for myself. To people I never IMAGINED would be possible.

Words are powerful. I believe with all of my heart that I have survived my struggles because I was MEANT to survive. And by that, I mean God has laid it on my heart to let my voice be heard. But in a way that GLORIFIES him. He is what got me through each day. Without Him, I wouldn’t be here right now.

I remember on that mountain, praying- “God, please- just this one last time. I need help.” I asked, He heard me, and answered.

I feel like I’ve been praying the same thing ALL of my life. There are so many factors to consider when looking at the bigger picture of how I became bounded in chains of abuse, after abuse. Learned helplessness. I didn’t want to, and felt like I couldn’t do anything on my own.

Co-dependency. That’s another topic for a different day. But I’ll just say- it’s real.

I’m 30-years-old now. I feel like I’ve lost a lot of time. In a way, I guess I have. At the same time, I am reborn again.

I am going to keep moving forward and never look back.

I’m letting my “broken heart beat again”. This is a new season, my new beginning.

As Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood; and I- I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Giving up is lazy. Life was never guaranteed to be easy- cause it’s not. It’s not easy. But it’s WORTH every second. I am after all, a lifelong learner. I will accept that I was abused, I will eventually learn to forgive it. But I will never- ever, forget it. I will never forget it because through this process, I have learned WHO I AM.

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Isolated

My first week in Pre-K is going wonderful. I love the school that I’m teaching at, my co-workers, and of course my students. I am keeping busy with ongoing court hearings, therapy appointments, and am in the beginning phase of completing required evaluations. I will also continue my Monday evening group meetings for “Celebrate Recovery”, at my church. I am now able to visit with my boys twice a week for four hours each day. They are both happy and healthy, and doing wonderful in their new schools.

According to my case plan, my goal is to have successfully moved into my own, safe and stable home by January 2018. I’m ecstatic and can’t wait!

I never thought I could live on my own, or would ever really want to. But I feel ready now. I think being around my solid support team is key. I have so much to look forward to.

I know that I can do this, and I will.

As most know, I received news a few days ago that my motion for a “Permanent Protective Order” for me AND my CHILDREN was GRANTED. Before hearing this, I just knew it. I knew that the judge would grant this.

This is the first experience I’ve actually had where I’m involved in the most uncomfortable of situations- without fear or anxiety. I just KNOW that everything is going to work out. Whether its the courts, DFCS, whoever- I have faith.

Today, I began the “Intake” process for the Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) evaluation. These sessions last approximately 90 minutes each, and more than likely I will have 2-3 appointments.

I didn’t really know exactly what an IPV assessment was, but basically it is an in-depth look from the very beginning (childhood) to now. As expected, it was uncomfortable to travel back in time. It’s almost like being in therapy, but the goal is more or less to get the bigger picture.

I’ve been able to reflect and research- gaining more knowledge of past toxic relationships and patterns that have brought me to where I’m at today. Doing this allows me to go forward, and changing things so that I can be safe and not fall into the trap of violence again.

I notice myself trying to dissociate every time I have to talk about my past. I have to force myself (like when I was on the stand, being cross-examined by my abuser) to stay in the MOMENT.

It’s very difficult.

I received an e-mail from my attorney saying that my next court hearing for Juvenile Court in Athens would be October 5th, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.

As I rode home today, I stared out the car window. I began to have flashbacks on events that occurred last summer. (Probably because I had just had my first IPV assessment).

We were living in Almond, North Carolina. My abuser had gotten a job working on a farm. He would leave me and the boys at our campsite where we lived while he went to work. We had a big van with a bed in it. It was packed full of stuff- essentially 7-years worth of our “stuff”. We had a tent and were near a river. I would wake up early in the morning. I would try and gather food to feed the boys, but it was scarce.

I would have to wait until the middle of the afternoon, or the hottest part of the day to walk the boys down the hill to bathe them in the river. The water was ice-cold, but you got used to it after awhile. I would drag my red backpack down with me and set our soap, washcloths, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste (hygiene) down on the large rocks. Living in the wilderness, I had to learn to be creative.

It would take me a REALLY long time to “bathe”. But I do have to admit, I felt cleaner doing that than in any regular shower any day!

I had to stay constantly alert at all times.

I would boil water by gathering leaves and sticks- starting a fire. We lived there for approximately two months.

This was our way of living. I remember as the boys napped, I would read my book, “Escape” by Carolyn Jessup. She had escaped a polygamist marriage through the FLDS. It’s weird, but I could relate a lot to her in that book. It could have been that I understood her feelings. Because I felt “trapped” in a dysfunctional way of living, where I was expected, if not DEMANDED to be okay with another woman living in my home.

There was also similarities in the abuse that took place.

I would sit and stare. I would lay down and think to myself, “What am I doing? How did I end up like this?”

I did choose to try and make my marriage work. I drove myself and my children up to North Carolina during that time on my own free will. I was not kidnapped or coerced. I did it because I loved my abuser. I loved him and I wanted more than anything to salvage what I could of our marriage.

We were married up there. I love the mountains. It will always hold a special place in my heart, but I will never return to “those mountains”.

I remember laying on the bed, starving.

The only way I knew my abuser was probably close to being back at the campsite was when the sun had almost gone down. That’s how we kept up with the time.

Sometimes, it would be pitch black outside before I would eventually see the headlights to my car, pull up.

I would open the small windows to let fresh air in. I could hear wild animals all around us.

When I arrived up there, I found out I had once again, been lied to. I was met with my abuser and his girlfriend. The same girlfriend that drove me to being hospitalized.

She was upset that I came up.

She barely spoke to me. My abuser was charming- no less. He treated her bad. I think he really wanted to rekindle our relationship. It was almost like the tables had turned. Once there, he ordered me to hand over my car keys. They were both supposed to appear in the Superior Court for Temporary Protective Order hearings in Athens. By not showing, the hearing would be dismissed, and it was.

The girlfriend didn’t last long. She told me she understood how I had felt. She tried to get me to leave before that though. My abuser waited until the 11-year anniversary of my mother’s death to tell me that his girlfriend was pregnant with his baby.

I cried.

I felt like I was being tortured. Emotionally, I was. I was lied to. She wasn’t even supposed to be up there, you know? He told me he was through with her, that part of his life was over…

During the night, I had to use the bathroom really bad. I got up with my flashlight and stood in the bushes. She jumped out and sat by the campfire next to me. She rubbed her stomach. She talked about how she was definitely having this baby, and how excited she was. She was trying to drive me to the point of no return. But it didn’t work. I didn’t let this bother me. I took everything in, but said nothing.

I questioned if she was being honest about this. I thought it was too much of a coincidence. And last I heard, her baby “did not survive”, so I still to this day do not know if that was a made up story or the truth. No tests or appointments were given or shown.

A few days later, my abuser was at work and I was there with her. She was starting to get antsy, wanting to go back home to Georgia.

I tried to avoid her the best that I could, I still feared her.

I’ll never forget when she was using a military knife to open up a can of vegetables, and she sliced her hand wide open. Her hand wouldn’t stop bleeding. The most disturbing part, was right after it happened, she looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “I missed”, just as calm as could be.

I said, “you missed?” And she said, “YES. I missed”, showing me her injury. Naturally, I freaked out. I offered to take her to the hospital. She dismissed that, and said she would be fine. I said, “well I hope you don’t loose your hand- like I hope it won’t get infected”. She waited until my abuser returned and tried to get him to take her to the hospital.

I knew then, that she was playing games.

He flipped the switch, and was hateful. She insisted that the boys and I stay at the campsite. My abuser refused. He said he was not about to leave us in the dark alone. (Although he had, several times).

He wouldn’t even walk her in the hospital. She ended up getting stiches. Pretty much that night sealed the deal, and by the next day, we were all on our way back to Georgia to drop her off with her brother. She texted me the entire ride, telling me how sorry she was.

She hoped that I would be okay.

My gut told me that after she was gone, I would once again be the scapegoat again. Everything would be my fault. I prayed that I was wrong. I hoped that things would be different this time. And the time after that, and the time after the last time.

But as history will show, that wasn’t the case. And this time, I was miles away from home. I was literally cut off of every single support I had. It actually crossed my mind: Will I ever see my daughters again? My family and friends?

I was at the mercy, of my abuser.

Isolated.

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Facing My Abuser in Court

Last night, I started feeling a bit anxious. No one likes courtrooms, well… I know I don’t. Beyond that, I knew that my abuser would be in court. I woke up this morning around 6:30 a.m. I laid in my bed for a good 15 minutes talking to God. Praying for the strength that I would need, especially for today.

As most of you know, I’m slowly but surely learning how to get my self-confidence back. Over the course of seven years of being belittled, battered, and abused, I had lost my confidence, self-worth, even my own identity at one point. I would constantly second guess myself, I was indecisive, and I was unable to cope. I did not trust myself, even though I ended up being right about almost everything my gut would try and tell me- over, and over again.

I decided to put on my new maroon dress and brown boots. I left my hair down, and dressed for success. I wore my sea green dangled earrings and my dad arrived to pick me up at 7:50 a.m.

We drove for what seemed like an eternity and I was let out in front of my attorney’s office. We arrived around 8:50 a.m. At 9:00 a.m., I waked up the narrow stairs to the office.

My attorney was already there, sitting in her chair, organizing our paperwork. She is wonderful. I can tell that she is really passionate about helping survivors of abuse, and she really has my best interest at heart.

We talked briefly as we walked down the street. I felt safe, but I couldn’t help but to keep looking all around me. Hypervigilance- is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviors whose purpose is to detect activity. Hypervigilance may bring about a state of increased anxiety which can cause exhaustion. This can be brought on by Complex PTSD, which I have been diagnosed with.

I’m constantly looking for danger. Sometimes, I don’t know if I’m being paranoid, or what. But as my lawyer told me earlier this week- “You’re not crazy, and you’re not being overly paranoid. There are circumstances in your case that cause great concern. We have a lot of cases. We wouldn’t waste our time if we didn’t believe your in danger.”

We made our way into the building and stopped at the Sheriff’s Office located inside the courthouse. We asked if my abuser had been served a copy of our hearing for this morning. He hadn’t, but I knew he would be there anyway.

As we walked up the stairs, my attorney was preparing me for the possibility that he may already be there, sitting in the hallway. I hit the last step and BAM. There he was. At first, I glanced and kept walking. We walked straight into the courtroom and sat down. The baliff asked us if we could sit on the other side of the benches because of the incarcerated individuals that were nearby. My attorney explained that my abuser had several convictions and was more dangerous to me, than the criminals in jumpsuits. She pleaded for him to allow me to sit on the other side. He agreed.

The door to the courtroom remained open, and I couldn’t help but to keep looking over. My lawyer asked, who is that girl he’s with? I had no idea. Not at first.

From what I could tell, she had blonde hair, probably around my age. She wore a dress which revealed her tattooed covered legs, arms, and chest.

I kept looking out there. I know her from somewhere. Where?

Then, it hit me.

She was the same girl who had threatened me over the summer. What was she doing here? And why? She barely knew me, much less our children. She was never around…

I became antsy and my lawyer asked if I would feel more comfortable going upstairs until it was time for court to the District Attorney’s Office. We made our way out, and went up to the 5th floor.

We sat and talked and I showed her the messages she had sent. My lawyer took notes. We waited for the Victim Advocate, but she was in a meeting. At about 9:29 a.m., one minute before court was to be in session, we jumped up and headed back down. I was met by the Children’s Advocate from Project Safe. I love her! She has worked with my children and I for so long now, and she too, is very passionate about working with survivors of domestic violence.

I briefly caught her up to date with everything. She told me that she would help me with a few things I inquired about after court. As I walked in, I sat on the end of the bench, next to the Children’s Advocate, and then my lawyer was next to her. We sat on the front row.

Not too much longer after that, the Victim Advocate from the D.A.’s office made her way down with a big smile on her face! I waved and smiled, and gave her a hug! I was so happy to see her. She really is, amazing. She told me that everyone at the District Attorney’s Office, knew me and told her about my hearing- including the Assistant District Attorney, himself. She said, really, you have so much support.

My abuser and the girl he was with sat on the opposite side in the back. I noticed DFCS workers coming in- my caseworker, the investigator, and the attorney who represents DFCS.

There was a motion to “Quash” the subpoenas that we had served them with, but I was told that is standard practice. The judge denied that motion.

At first, we were one of the first cases called. But my abuser told the court that he had special witnesses that were on their way. I don’t believe that for a minute.

The judge denied his motion for a continuance and told him that we would wait a few minutes longer. The judge went ahead and let the other cases go before ours, which is good considering I was in court from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. just on a PPO Hearing.

It kind of makes me wonder what my divorce proceeding will look like.

Of course there were no more witnesses, so we went ahead. My abuser represented himself. I knew this would be interesting, because talking is his forte.

He does a lot of it.

I sat and listened to opening statements by both my abuser and my attorney. My abuser tried to immediately enter in evidence, which was shot down immediately. (This is probably why he should have been represented). You can’t enter in evidence during the opening statement.

The piece of evidence he ended up admitting later on in court was a signed and notarized letter from his grandmother, who in his own words “dislikes children”. She stated what a good father my abuser was, and how at the least he should deserve visitation.

The thing is, that’s really not what this court hearing was about. I have a TPO (Temporary Protective Order) that is set to expire October of this year. I know I still have time, but I decided to file the motion when I knew he could be served in the Athens-Clarke County Jail last month- and he would be in the Clarke County Jurisdiction. We were asking the courts to rule in favor of a PPO (Permanent Protective Order).

My abuser stated that he acknowledged that our marriage was irrevocably broken, and was not contesting a PPO between me and him. He did, however, say that he would only ask that the PPO be able to be modified in the future because we did share children together.

In other words, he still doesn’t want to let me go. He was contesting the PPO in terms of our children. In fact, he filed a motion at 9:05 that morning to “Modify the Protective Order”. It’s really confusing, but basically, we were in court today to argue for a PPO for both the children and me. My abuser was there to ask for visitation, a modification of our TPO.

But DFCS was there. My caseworker was the first witness called to the stand. He testified that through experts, the boys HAD been exposed to EMOTIONAL ABUSE at the hands of their father.

He testified that he had met with my abuser twice and that he seemed genuine in trying to work towards the goals on his case plan. He also testified that my abuser had not completed court-ordered Family Violence Intervention Classes, and only registered after a hearing had been scheduled for Non-Compliance.

This was back in February of 2017.

My case manager testified that he had met with me on numerous occasions and that I had actually been working on my goals.

My abuser just doesn’t get it. He thinks that if he throws stones at me, it will make him look better. He should be focused on himself. But he isn’t. His focus is all on me and how everyone else had done him wrong. There is NO remorse for what he did to his family.

None.

He told the court that I was “ill”, and that he “prayed for me daily”. I really wish he wouldn’t, just being honest.

I was called to testify on the stand and I answered questions about our children. I told the court that for the first time in their lives, they were happy, healthy, and flourishing. I couldn’t help but to smile, because I really am SO proud of my boys. They are doing wonderful. That was my intent- for getting myself help- I knew this is what would need to happen. And after visiting with my children, I knew I had made the right choice.

My abuser babbled on about how he was a good father and yada yada yada. Words don’t mean a thing- ACTIONS, do.

I’m not contesting that he doesn’t “love” our boys, or care about them. But he is in denial about abusing them. He is in denial about his relationship with them. It was toxic.

I am proud of myself, because I had no idea that today- I would for the first time be placed under oath having to be CROSSED EXAMINED by my abuser- not his lawyer, MY ABUSER HIMSELF.

At times, it was hard for me to understand his thought process on his lines of questioning, but I did the best that I could.

He tried to convey to the courts that within the seven years of marriage, we had been in fact- stable. Wrong. I told him there were “times” that we lived in a nice home, or “seemed stable”, but we never really were. We had lived in 9 counties in Georgia, including out of state in Almond, North Carolina in a tent in the wilderness.

Boy- he took that and ran with it. “Mrs. Sheerer, did I force you to come up to the mountains?” “No.”, I responded. “In fact, wasn’t I already established up there, before you decided to come at your own free will?” “Yes”, I responded.

He asked, “And what was the reason for having to leave North Carolina and de-stabilize?” (He was trying to get me to say it was because Athens-Clarke County took out a fugitive warrant, where he was extradited back to Georgia.

I said, “Our life in North Carolina collapsed because I got a phone call the day before our oldest son, Anthony, started Pre-K last year, saying that you were being placed under arrest from a drug deal.” “Oh, so are you saying that I caught a drug charge there?” “No, but they wanted to. You ended up only being arrested for the felony fugitive warrant.”

“But that’s how you got caught, drugs.”, I stated. My abuser looked coldly into my eyes. I didn’t flinch. I stared straight back at him.

“And can you recall where I was when arrested, I wasn’t working at the hotel doing carpet cleaning?”

“No, I responded.” “You were actually across the street with the guy who you bought drugs from.”

He stared at me.

He went on and on, I felt like I had been up there forever. I had to ask him to repeat his questions several times.

I had to force myself NOT to dissociate. That was common for me, especially when placed under severe stressed. I’m proud of myself for staying in the moment, and facing everything I needed to- comfortable or not.

I did it.

I did it successfully.

But that’s not the best part. The girl who had threatened me was called as his next witness. She told all kinds of lies. She originally said that we went to high school together.

That was a lie.

We did not.

She knew my twin sister, but rarely knew anything about me. She claimed that she had seen his interaction as a father to the children- another lie.

She claimed, “It’s just not fair, you know. She’s over here with all these people and stuff, and he doesn’t have anything.”

Well, sweetheart- did you ever wonder why that might be?

My attorney was able to cross examine her. By the time she was done with that witness- she was READY to get off the stand. My attorney told me to get my phone “fire up that message she sent you.” My attorney asked if she had sent me a Facebook message saying, “Jen, I better not see you in the street.” She smiled. She said she was just having a bad day. My attorney said, “so to make this clear, she has a lot of support and so that justifies threatening her?”

The judge looked up, bewildered. I thought to myself, “girl, you just need to stop.” She admitted to sending me those messages and actually asked if they were threatening. My attorney said, “Yes, I would say they are.” She stared at me and said, “Oh, well- sorry, Jenn.”

I stared straight at her, smiling. I remember hearing my abuser use her as a tool. She was a woman to be feared. She has a pretty extensive criminal history herself.

She’s threatened my twin sister in the past, now me.

She used to use methamphetamine and heroin. That’s the kind of person my abuser drug in to testify about his parenting skills. I’m baffled.

When all was said and done, the judge took our proposed order of the PPO, and said that he wanted to read through it and take some notes. This was at about 11:30 a.m. I did not get a clear answer in court today, but it seems as though my motion will be accepted and the judge may add, take-out, or modify our proposed plan how he sees fit.

Either way, DFCS has testified that my abuser is not allowed visitation until a series of evaluations and other items have been completed. My abuser thought that if he could go into Superior Court (which overrides all courts) that he could talk his way into modifying the order.

I am deeply concerned for my safety and my children’s. I’m not so much concerned with the children, because I know they are safe and I know the foster family will KEEP my babies safe.

However, it was established today in court that the address provided was not accurate- in fact, my abuser was unable to tell the court what his address was. He was “moving on Monday or Tuesday”, he would be staying in some woman’s basement that he barely knew. He didn’t even know her last name.

But, he’s stable, yall. I mean just as much as my hair is the color purple- he is stable.

Shame on me. That wasn’t very nice. But you know what? The past seven years weren’t very nice for me. At all. Low and behold- he was exactly where I thought he would be. He had stayed overnight in Gwinnett County, Georgia at the girl who testified on his behalf for him.

My gut never fails me.

Now, we are provided a Loganville, Georgia address. So who knows?

I’m going to keep doing me. That’s all I can do.

He kept on and on about my “previous statements”. Well, yes. I loved that man. I really did, whole-heartedly. I would have and did- everything I could to show and give him that love. But you know, there were times- a lot of times, where I would say what I had to in order to survive.

I told him things because I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to be slapped across the face, punched in the head to the point of seeing stars. I didn’t want to be kicked, spit on. I didn’t want anymore black eyes. So yeah, I said a lot of things. But I was in survival mode. For me- it was life or death.

At this juncture in my life, I am focused on myself and my children- their needs. I am beyond ecstatic to see them on our next visit this weekend.

If it weren’t for them, I’m not sure that I would have had the strength to leave my violent marriage. I really don’t. As a teacher, I saw how much they were being affected. Especially- the older they got. I knew. I knew things were bad, I knew they were abnormal. And I knew I had to get us help.

Honestly, I’m not worried. I’m really not. My children are happy, healthy, and safe. I’m working hard and feel like the for the first time ever, and I mean- EVER- the boys and myself are flourishing.

I may have missed a few things, but overall it was an excellent day. I’m worn out. I will sleep good tonight.

I deserve it. And once I am refreshed, you can continue reading my posts that I will do my best to frequently update. For now- I’m taking some much needed “me” time, tonight.

After court, I was able to meet my parents and students- we are going to have a phenomenal school year!

I want to thank everyone for your continued thoughts and prayers! Thank you for those who reach out to me and continue to support me on my incredible journey.

I’m moving forward. Baby steps are getting me there.

I think my abuser finally met his match. The good Lord knows of all people, even I wouldn’t have expected to stand so brave and advocate for myself the way that I do now. Abuse is not okay. I started out on my journey acknowledging that if not for me, I would do this for the children.

I am doing this for the children.

But I’m also doing this for me.

I am enough.

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