It was a Tuesday, and I was originally driving to work, on two hours of sleep after staying up all night when Mike* threatened to kill himself. I spoke to my Mom on the phone and told her that he’d hit me the week before. I told her I was on my way to work. She told me I needed to go to her house and deal with this situation.
So I altered course, and headed to my parents’ house. My heart was pounding, my head was dizzy, and I was terrified. This was it, it was over, I was leaving, right now. I was still crying from talking to my Mom on the phone. I couldn’t help but think about how hurt Mike would be when he realised what was going on.
When I got to my parents’ house Mom was there, Dad had already left for work. I needed to let work know that I wasn’t coming in. What do you say in this situation? Should I tell them I’m sick? Surely they’d need more than “I need a couple days off to….” To what? I figured I just tell them the truth.
“I’m having some issues at home and I’m not going to make it in today. My partner was recently violent, and I’ve left, but I’ll need a couple of days to sort everything out. I hope this is okay, and hopefully be back in the office on Thursday, but I’ll keep in touch. I’m so sorry about this.”
Mom made me some coffee, and I tried to eat the breakfast that I’d packed for work. I don’t think I wasn’t able to take a single bite. I couldn’t even drink the coffee. My stomach was in knots, I felt like vomiting.
Mom and I went to the police station. A woman took us to the back and asked what had happened. I told her and played the recording for her. She took notes and shook her head at some of the things Mike said. When the recording was over she asked me why I hadn’t called the police that night. I didn’t have a logical answer. She told me that I really should have called them. We were in the police station for hours, filling out the paperwork, and going through the process from here. I wanted a no contact DVO (Domestic Violence Order) which would mean that he couldn’t contact me at all. Although, we had some things to sort out still, like me getting all of my things from the house, so we put in a clause that the only contact was to be in regards to property. The officer that was helping me was very supportive, I felt like she was on my side, she made me feel like I was doing the right thing. Unlike the officer I had dealt with the last time I’d left Mike.
The paperwork was complete, and I emailed the recording to the officer so that she could submit it to the court. The mention for my case would be the following day. Mike wouldn’t be there because it would generally take a few days to notify him about what was going on and that he was required in court. Hopefully they would grant a temporary DVO the following day.
Since I left that morning with every intention of going to work, I had nothing. No toothbrush, no clothes, no clean underwear. Mom drove us to the mall so I could get what I needed. On the way, I phoned the real estate company to advise them what was happening. As soon as I started to tell the woman why I had to leave, I started crying. I felt so weak. Once I pulled myself together, I phoned the electricity company, again, I fell apart as soon as I started talking.
We got to the mall and I cleaned my face up and we went inside. Mike started phoning me, when I didn’t pick up, he started texting me. I felt terrible. I texted him that I wouldn’t be coming home that night, and to please not call me. I told him that I couldn’t handle it. My heart was pounding. I didn’t get anything that I needed at the mall. I was a zombie, following my Mom through the stores. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t even pull my mind together enough to pick out ANY underwear to buy. At one point I told my Mom that we had to leave. I was losing control and I was about to break down in the middle of the mall. My emotions were overwhelming, I couldn’t keep it together anymore, my sanity was slipping away. We went home empty handed.
Mike messaged me 9 times that day, calling me a liar, putting me down for running back to my parents, threatening to kill himself. I didn’t respond.
Both of my parents took the next day off work to support me in court. We arrived at 9am, checked in to make sure my name was on the list to be seen that day, and waited. And waited, and waited. I couldn’t leave, because if they called my name and I wasn’t there, they would hear my case without me. At about the four hour mark, my Mom spoke to the “woman with the clipboard” just to double check that we were on the list. She said that we were and that we just needed to be patient. At the six hour mark, the last group, apart from us, was called in and seen. Then they came out. Then the judge came out and left. We were the last ones there and asked someone working where the judge had just gone. Home. About 10 minutes later we found out that they’d seen my case, without calling me in (I didn’t even go to the bathroom or eat all day – not like I could have eaten if I wanted to – in case they called my name). They granted a temporary good behaviour DVO. This meant that Mike was allowed to contact me all he wanted, he just couldn’t commit acts of “Domestic Violence”.
From speaking to the police the day before, we knew the process to go back to the house to get my things. We would have to drive out to Jimboomba, the town the house was in, call the police, and put in a job to be escorted onto the property. We would then have to wait in the area until a police unit was available. On the drive out I noticed that I had a voicemail (I’d had my phone on silent in the courthouse). It was the neighbour, Barry, that Mike used to drink with. They’d had a falling out a couple months prior because Mike bought some truck tie downs from one of Barry’s friends, and then never paid for them… surprise surprise.
In the voicemail Barry said that he’d noticed a bit of commotion at the house, and was worried about the welfare of the animals. I was terrified. I didn’t have Barry’s number saved, and since he’d left a voicemail, his number didn’t come up as a missed call, so I couldn’t call him back. I called the police and put in the job for an escort and told them about the voicemail. They told me that they’d be in contact as soon as someone was ready.
My anxiety was so high. Mike didn’t know that I’d taken out a DVO, he didn’t know that I was about to show up with the cops to get my things, and I was terrified about the animals now. We waited in Jimboomba for the police for six hours. Finally they called, they were ready.
We pulled into the driveway behind the police. Mike came out and straight away, went head to head with my Dad. He didn’t want my parents in the house, and demanded that they stay outside. The police told me that I had 20 minutes to grab some things, and that I’d have to arrange to come back to get the rest of my stuff.
I went in and packed whatever I could as fast as I could. I already had a bunch of bags packed, hiding in the spare room, so I took them too. There were three cops, one stayed with my parents, one with Mike, and one with me. Mike sat on the bed, looking down at his feet. He told me that he was disappointed in me for going about this the way that I did. He told me that he wished that I was the good person that he thought I was.
I asked him what he wanted to do about the animals. We had two cats, a bird, and a dog. I knew that I wanted all of them, but I knew that I was already breaking his heart, I didn’t want to be completely ruthless. He told me to take the cats and the bird. I told him that if, for any reason, he couldn’t take care of Floyd, the dog, that I would be more than happy to have him.
My 20 minutes was up. In the driveway one of the officers asked me some questions, if Mike had hit and choked me. I said yes. With that he told me that Mike was showing all of the signs of a serial abuser (physical abuse that I told him about, and mental abuse that he’d seen – Mike sitting on the bed trying to make me feel guilty for leaving). He told me that if I ever return to him, that I’ll become a statistic, and that when I went back to get the rest of my things, he wanted me to call the police again because he “didn’t want to find my body in a dumpster”. That was the moment that I realised I wasn’t over reacting.
I’d started second guessing myself. I started thinking that going to the police was excessive. That cop solidified in my mind that this was actually a serious, dangerous situation, and that all of the precautions I was taking were completely necessary. I’m sure that cop has no idea the impact that his words had for me, but I want to thank him.
It was late by the time we got home. I got all of the animals settled, and we went to bed. Mike had messaged me several times, sad that he wouldn’t see the cats and bird again. He phoned me and cried. I felt so bad. I can’t even explain to you how bad I felt, the fact that I was hurting him, hurt me so much. But I knew that I needed to move forward, there was no going back to him.
The following day I paid the bills. I paid all of the bills for the next two weeks so that I wasn’t leaving him high and dry. I paid the rent, the electricity, his car payment, his insurance. I figured two weeks would be enough for him to get a job to pay them himself. That was a funny joke.
My parents and I went back on the weekend with a moving truck to get the rest of my stuff. We booked a police job ahead of time for 10am, they didn’t show up. Luckily Mike was civil. He didn’t allow my parents to come in the house, but his sister and Mom were there, so I wasn’t alone. He’d already packed all of my things. Even now, it’s all sitting in my parents’ shed, still packed, so I don’t know half of the stuff he packed. But since it was packed, all I had to do was load it into the moving truck.
I told Mike that I’d been to the police and filed for a DVO, and that he should expect to be served with the temporary one that was granted, and the next court date for him to attend so they could grant the full one. He took it surprisingly well. I’m sure he was on his best behaviour, trying to show me how much he’d changed. Unfortunately for him, he’d done this so many times before, I knew it was an act.
We were in contact for a while. I didn’t want to be, but he was very persistent, and I felt really bad. Let me just take a moment here to point out how fucked up that is. He went through the huge majority of our relationship hurting me and making feel like shit, and now that I was done putting up with it, I felt terrible for hurting him. He could hurt me and not blink an eye, for years, and I felt terrible for hurting him. That’s messed up. Anyway, he was telling me that he got a new job, stopped drinking, and was going to church, all of which was bullshit.
The car I was driving was in his name, but he agreed to let me keep it, considering I’d payed off half of it, and had been paying for his new car instead of getting one for myself. And just so we’re clear, the car he let me have was a 1995 Toyota Camry, that was only worth $500 because it had been written off when I was rear-ended a couple years prior. So we met at a McDonalds one day so he could give me the signed forms that I needed to change it over to my name. He told me that I also needed a letter signed by a Justice of the Peace as well, which he didn’t have. I asked him why we had bothered to meet if he didn’t have everything that I needed. He was angry and offended. I was annoyed. I felt like he was dragging everything out as much as he could. (Turns out I didn’t need that other letter either, so either someone gave him some bad advise, or he was full of shit and lying, again.)
Over the next couple of weeks his messages varied from guilt tripping, to trying to be sweet, to being angry and threatening to kill himself. Most of them were trying to make me feel guilty for leaving him. He was angry that I’d left him over “one night of mistakes”. He told me that I left him because of his depression. He told me I was only with him for money, and I left because he wasn’t working and I couldn’t take anything from him. It was exhausting and irritating and infuriating. Most of the time I ignored him. Every once in a while, when I was at my whits end, I would pick up when he called and blast him over the phone. I’d tell him that I left him because he was a terrible, abusive person. I’d tell him that I was there for him for 6 years and gave him everything that I had, and how dare he accuse me of using him.
Soon after was the actual court date. I sat in one end of the waiting area with my parents, he sat in the other end with his Mom. We didn’t speak. I knew that I wanted a no contact DVO. Everything was sorted out, we had nothing further to discuss, and he’d been harassing me. I didn’t want to hear from him anymore. Inside the courtroom, the judge said that he was going to put a Good Behaviour DVO in place. That’s not what I wanted, that’s not what I’d asked for, but I couldn’t bring myself to speak up with him in the room. I was paralysed. My Mom got the attention of the cop next to me and told her that I wanted No Contact. She relayed the message to the judge who asked me if that’s what I wanted. There it was, being held out to me on a silver platter, all I had to do was say yes. But with Mike looking at me, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I knew that it didn’t matter, that I wouldn’t have to go home with him and deal with the consequences, but it was still too hard. If he hadn’t been in the room, I wouldn’t have hesitated.
So, a Good Behaviour DVO was granted, and Mike announced in the court that he wanted Zoe, our first cat back. I agreed. Zoe loved him so much, I knew that she would be happier with him (despite how much I wanted to keep her myself), and I honestly just wanted all of this to be over. I didn’t want to give him a reason to drag this out, so I agreed. Again, I told him that if for any reason he couldn’t take care of the cat or dog, or both, that I was more than happy to have them. That I wanted them. Now I know that he’s not a good person, in fact, he’s a terrible fucking person, but I never expected him to do what he ended up doing to those animals, but I’ll talk about that in my next chapter.
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*Please note, his name has been changed, although he doesn’t deserve any sort of protection or privacy, and I’m sure that most people reading this already know who he is. It wouldn’t be difficult for those who don’t, to figure it out. Still, I have to do the right thing so this doesn’t come back and bite me in the ass.
*Other names may be changed as well to protect them from retaliation.
If you’re dealing with abuse please reach out. Your local Domestic Violence Hotline can help guide you, and you’re more than welcome to get into contact with me to talk.