In the meantime, the police had asked the neighbors about us, anyway, everyone knew of his addiction, and that he sometimes slept on other people’s cars, the knew more than me. But no one was telling, because they thought it is a personal problem, to be solved in private. And they were grateful when we left, we were a dysfunctional family, that creates discomfort for everyone and that’s it, this is the approach. But the police weren’t supportive, they were drinking with my husband in the neighborhood. I hadn’t expected to be considered guilty of all this, but the police, the husband and his family all thought I was the guilty one, because I hadn’t put up with it, I could have put up with it longer. I don’t think it is ok to blame a women for going to the police for help. (…) Such attitude is discouraging, I was discouraged, disappointed and afraid. Only after several months did I find a very nice policeman, he was calling me and talking to me in a very polite way, as I had to go down to the police station several times to enforce my statement.
After that night following the New Year’s, my husband also filed a complaint at the police station, stating that I had run away from home with his things. And then, I was called down at the station, about this complaint, and they made me go and get a declaration from the neighbors saying that he was violent and so on, so I gathered all the papers myself. I was told about the restriction order, but I had to get that one by myself as well, of course with the help of a lawyer that I had to pay, and by means of a legal action. You need numerous forensic certificates, countless complaints filed, so it is a very serious action, it lasts for quite a long time and it is not something that protects you. The only real option is to leave the moment he first becomes violent, because nothing helps, you just have to get out of there. But women and mothers primarily think of their children and I think that most women accept it mainly because of that, because they have nowhere to go and nobody helps them the moment they need help, and not five months later.
I was lucky, or maybe I was insistent, I don’t know, the thing is I didn’t want to leave home, I simply didn’t want to. The girls from the foundation persuaded me. What can I say, I haven’t given it a thought in a long time, I am really trying to forget how it was… I looked on the Internet for the therapist, I found the center, I made an appointment, the process was slow, these things take time, and he was trying to intimidate me, he was saying: “Where do you think you’re going? You will only get rid of me when you will be dead.”, that sort of thing. When I realised the conflict was growing and I had come to a point when I couldn’t sleep at night, I couldn’t go to work anymore, I understood the situation was really serious. Simona from the foundation was constantly telling me I should get out of there, I still didn’t want to leave my home and she taught me what to do, what were the steps, how to protect myself and what were the steps I had to take so that we would be safe and manage to be included in their program. I am not really good at recounting, it seems to me I am being incoherent, I don’t really remember the events in their chronological sequence because I am constantly trying to wipe out and forget this part of my life. There was a time I couldn’t even speak about it, nor remember facts, believe me that even now, it is still very painful.
I was going to therapy once a week, once every two weeks, because I was down, I had been mentally torn for a long time, because he had dragged me into a psychological war long before the violence had begun. To burst into a room where someone sleeps and slam the door, when you know the child is sleeping, the violence of this act can only be understood by one who has gone through this. I simply didn’t know where to go, I simply felt like I was living in a cage. I was living in a sealed concrete cube, there was no way out. Even though I am an intelligent woman, I simply didn’t see the way out, I didn’t know how to proceed, I had to ask for help from someone else. Until Simona managed to make me speak, to make me open my heart, it took a while, and then she showed me the exact steps, what I had to do, how to protect myself.
What were these steps?
Keep your papers in a safe place, save some money, just in case, and some clothes into a bag ready, the keys within reach. At any time, the situation can get worse, until you manage to move away. Because you cannot move out of the blue, after you had a fight, after he beat you – you cannot just grab your bag and go, you simply can’t. I don’t even have relatives in Bucharest, I only had a few friends, and all of them had families, children, you cannot move in bringing the scandal into their homes, they were friends with both of us, you risk to bring his aggressive behavior upon them. I couldn’t endanger them, you have to go somewhere where he cannot find you, where he doesn’t have access, because people like that become even more irrational, even more nervous, because they loose control in a way.
The psychological war means that he keeps you enslaved, under his control, so that you cannot escape: having no money, no freedom, having all the responsibilities upon yourself, not having time for anything else. I began reading a lot of psychology books to figure out how the human mind works and how was it that I got into this situation, being educated and all – was it just love that got me blind? No, there are things that all alcoholics do, things that you don’t spot unless you have gone through something like that. At the foundation I learned in a professional fashion what I had to do, what I had to pay attention to, for example never to be in the most remote area of the house – they actually teach you how to react.
They gave me a list, but you can’t really keep everything in mind when it happens: first, the papers, keeping them in a safe place, maybe at some friend’s house, the marriage certificate, without which you cannot file for divorce, your ID, the child’s birth certificate, some money, the house papers, important documents, that you have to prepare for the moment you are ready to run. If you cannot take the original, because he is watching everything closely, then legalized copies, a little bag with some clothes hidden somewhere near the door or, better, some clothes kept by a friend or at work, so somewhere you alone have access. Not like I did that night when I ran away wearing slippers and with no papers, no clothes, no keys, I just found myself in the streets with nothing, I really had nowhere to go, what was I supposed to do – knock on people’s doors in the middle of the night and scare them? You realize you cannot just rely on your friends and relatives, unless it is someone really, really close to you, but in that case very probably he knows them, too, and he will come for you, it’s not a good idea to go somewhere where he might find you.
(Please find the first part of this interview here: http://artapolitica.ro/en/2016/09/22/i-was-living-in-a-sealed-concrete-cube-there-was-no-way-out-interview-with-a-domestic-violence-survivor-part-i/
And the Romanian version here: http://artapolitica.ro/2016/01/26/am-locuit-intr-un-cub-de-beton-inchis-perfect-fara-iesire/)