I had this lawyer once.
He was trying to map out the abuse by my X to build a case. All that he was concerned about was the physical evidence of physical abuse. I told him a story about how my X buried our family dog alive. We watched crying and pleading with him, and only when I screamed his name did he stop. My lawyer asked excitedly if the dog died. I told him no, that he’d escaped. These were the lawyer’s words: too bad. If the dog had died it would have looked good in court. There would have been proof. But it was my word against my X’s.
My lawyer wanted to know if I had stab wounds or bullet holes or bruises or burn marks or broken bones or chipped teeth or black eyes. And I didn’t. I’d left with my baby the first time my X put his hands on us. What he didn’t ask was about the verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse I’d experienced. How could I prove any of it? I couldn’t.
Substantiate. Validate. Corroborate. Proof. Evidence. All of these words used in court rooms aim for the same goal – truth. And guess what? The judge decides what they think is true. Based on what? This is where it gets tricky. If you have no physical evidence like wounds on your body or photographs of the incident or witnesses or a police report, then everything is hearsay. As far as I could tell with my judge, he was either using his intuition, psychic abilities, or taking a wild guess. And then he made a decision. He deemed there was no evidence of abuse.
What I said in court did not hold weight. The judge did not err on the side of caution, after what he’d heard, when protecting my child. And for me? There was zero consideration. How do you cope when the suffering you and your daughter lived through has been invalidated? I just kept wondering this – should I have stayed long enough to get the right evidence for the judge, so he could guarantee the safety of my child? Or the safety of myself – a woman?
The fact is, I left before becoming a statistic.
Do you have a similar story? Write to me @firstname.lastname@example.org