On the night that I left my husband’s house, and after all my belongings had been safely placed inside my parents home, I returned outside to thank the police for helping me, not only because my Amber’s husband’s vehicle had run out of space which left me no choice but to put my remaining items in their pick-up but also I knew their presence kept the peace and kept me safe. I was grateful but also tired. I think that sometimes emotional tiredness outweighs physical tiredness. I didn’t know if I would fall asleep, but I knew I needed to rest. As I turned from the police vehicle to go inside my parent’s home, the officer stopped me.
“Tomorrow morning without fail, find yourself at the magistrates court and file a restraining order. This man is known to us.” I stared at him wide-eyed. The warning rendered me speechless. I nodded. “Now I need to see you walk into your parent’s property so that I know you are safely inside. He has been parked over the road all this time watching you unload your personal effects. Remember now, first thing tomorrow morning.”
It was a hard pill to swallow. I put it to the back of my mind. There was enough on my emotional plate, I couldn’t add any more. Inside I thanked Amber and her husband. I hugged her tightly holding back my tears which threatened to fall. I didn’t know if I would see her again. I don’t know what aggrieved me more; omitting the fact that I was leaving (effectively lying), not being able to say goodbye or not knowing when I would see her and many others again. I knew I was leaving my island home, but I had decided that it was best if only my immediate family knew that I was travelling back to the UK.
The next morning, Neriah and I took the bus to town and headed to the magistrates office. I rang the bell on the counter and heard a familiar voice say “Coming!” I felt a bit sick. The only reason the voice could be familiar was because it was someone I knew. The dread was quickly replaced by embarrassment. I almost didn’t want the voice to identify itself. Sigh. I was relieved when I saw Sister Taylor from my church.
“Sister Taylor, I didn’t know you worked here”. I had never had a reason to be there, so why would I?
“Morning Byooti. Yes this is where I work.”
“This is my friend Neriah. Neriah this is Sister Taylor.” They greeted each other with warm smiles.
“So why are you here?”
I just stood looking at her. How was I going to explain this? “I need to get a restraining order against my husband.” The rest of the information all fell out in a jumble of words. And then I took a deep breath and exhaled. There. It was done. Outside of my immediate family, she was the first to know about my abuse. It felt odd making the brief confession. An abusive relationship is such an impassioned experience, but my brief confession was a mere factual précis.
“I’m so sorry to hear that. I thought that things were going well between you. Anyway you are doing the right thing. Court is full today, but I will make sure you are seen today.”
She handed me a form and talked me through how to fill it in. Then she briefed me about what would happen next. I would have to stand before the judge and explain why I felt I needed a restraining order. Since my case was sensitive, I would only be heard after all the other cases were heard and the courtroom was empty. I remember my hand not being steady as I filled in the form. My chest felt tight, my head was light. After I had filled the form, I handed it back to Sister Taylor. Neriah and I went through to the court and sat and waited my turn.
When the courtroom was empty, the judge asked me to come forward to the stand. What I wanted to do was run. What would she ask? Would I need proof? Witnesses? How long was I going to be there? And after all I would say, would I actually be granted a restraining order? My heartbeat was truly making it’s presence felt.
I recounted the first incident that came to my mind in as much detail as I could. I felt sick as I spoke. I didn’t want to be there. Just like before, it felt like I was reading a documentary script about someone else’s life. I felt horrified that I had lived through the incident. Neriah didn’t know about the incident. What was she thinking? Again I took a deep breath and exhaled. The judge looked at me, I was hoping that she didn’t want more information. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I wanted to cry. The judge granted me the order much to my relief.
I have been speaking publicly since I was eleven years old. Speaking to a new audience can be unnerving, but my jitters don’t last long. Standing before the judge, just one woman is the most terrifying audience I have ever had. I guess when I break it down it was probably because I didn’t know what the outcome would be. After having to explain such a humiliating episode, would I be given what I needed? Would it all be for nothing?
There is another day in the future which will be similar to that awful nerve wrecking day. The bible says;
Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5: 9 & 10The Message Bible
We will all stand before The Almighty Judge one day to account for the life He has gifted us. The difference is we won’t have to worry about His judgement because God is a righteous judge. His findings and verdict will be just and fair. We have no reason to believe otherwise. When He has deliberated each of our cases, and gives His verdict, they will be final and binding. They will be well deserved.