After five weeks have passed, I’m thinking a little more down the road including finding the key to go back home. So many of my rights and liberties were taken from me or violated that I am determined to lean into every right I can, cling tightly, and keep my eyes wide open for other threats. It is a heightened sense of vigilance that I’ll probably never unlearn.
One right I have is returning to my home of 18 years and cohabitating with a formal agreement setting groundrules and boundaries that are enforced in administrative civil court. It is known as an interim consent order. I’m going to do some more writing about the PFA process and alternatives because it is important to know what you might one day need. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month so that seems a fitting time.
While I wait for the order, I’m still not able to return to my home because I can’t get a key to the changed locks. That’s a very difficult thing to reconcile. How can no one have the authority to get me back into my home? I have multiple legal rights – I lived there for 18 years, I am married to the person on the deed and we were registered domestic partners for 17 years. The PFA says I have the write to live there. Other documents say the same thing, but no one can compel a key for me.
Doesn’t that blow your mind?
It is a sad parallel experience with my childhood when my parents too often didn’t come home in time to meet us after school. This was when we were very young – 2nd and 3rd grade. It typically happened on my Dad’s days off from work. They would “go for a drive” or “take a ride” or whatever and lose track of time. That happens. But it shouldn’t happen repeatedly to your kids.
We didn’t have a key. We knew better than to ask our adult neighbors to help us. So we tried to ‘break” into the house through windows and such.
I don’t remember when I received a key, but I suspect it was when my parents got tired of us whining about this. Or maybe the year they forgot to come home for Halloween. And I have a vivid memory of when my parents bought me a pair of kanagaroo sneakers with a zipper pocket so maybe that was tied to the key?
But there was a time when we didn’t have a key and couldn’t access our home and then there was a time that we did have a key, but my parents still didn’t show up or tend to our needs. Giving us a key was a concession, not an acknowledgement that we had been wronged or a change in the overall circumstances. We were marginally safer, mostly from the elements, not the family chaos.
This isn’t about pointing fingers at people whose choices contributed to this. It is about systems. Systems failed my brother and I as kids, over and over. Family systems, school systems, church systems, and social systems. Clearly, someone should have intervened to protect us from all of this. But they never did. Just like no systems protected my parents and so forth back into the generational trauma that put us in harms way.
So now have the systems in my adult life failed me. And that’s terrifying. I have these rights and yet for some reason I can’t understand, I am not able to access them. When I was a child, I didn’t have an opportunity to ask for help. Now, I do and yet, I’m still stuck in the same place for five weeks. Thankfully, it is a safe and nice place, but still … I want to go home.
Yes, I’ve called the police. Yes, I’ve gone to court. Yes, I’ve hired a lawyer. I’ve followed the rules, listened to the experts, I have stood up for myself over and over again.
If this wasn’t happening to me, I’d not believe it could happen.
I’ll never be that naive again.
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