what does closure mean for me?
Thursday morning, February 8th- I was back in an Uber on my way to the courthouse.
This time felt different. I hadn't lost any sleep over this time. I had been so disappointed after my last court date. I quit my job, feeling like I had other no choice. Part of me wondered why I was going back again, it wasn't like I could keep fighting for my workplace to make things right. But I set my alarm, knowing it just needed to be done. I needed to show; to present that what happened is still a concern of mine. I put the pink slip of paper in my bag; the one that you could almost laugh at. Pencil writing: "3 yards."
A friend went with me. We left the Uber, and powered our phones down at the sub shop, paying the man $1 each to hold them for us. I went back through the revolving doors to the court. Back through the metal detectors, patted down by court officers. I was reminded how much I hate court. I turned my anxiety into a quiet humor, making jokes that my friend and I were there for a divorce. I jokingly would say in an annoyed voice, "I'm supposed to have the kids twice this week!" My friend would laugh, but then say "Haley, shh someone is going to think we are serious." Even he was paranoid. Pointing out the amount of high security, how each officer had handcuffs casually attached to their belt.
Every time a person walked around the corner I was afraid to look. Again, I had high doubts that He would show, but I was still nervous. "Do you think this kid will show up?" my friend asked.
"He's not a kid."
9am came, and the doors to the courtroom opened. We walked in and grabbed the same seats we were in weeks before. Names were being called, and I sat patiently pinching the skin on my hand. I glanced over to the back of the room, to the door, and my heart dropped. It was him. He had just walked in. All I saw was the gray in his hair, the scar on his cheek, and I knew it was him. I looked at my friend and whispered, "he's here." He was more than obvious, jerking his head to get a look at the guy. "I'm going to wink at him." he said with a pestering smile. "No. stop, don't even give him any attention."
I didn't move my head. I kept it straight forward, while clutching my coat. My name was called. I raised my hand. His name was called. I heard his voice, now sitting just a few rows behind me. "Here." I wasn't breathing. I just continued to say over and over again in my head "you have got to be kidding me." I was not prepared, at all.
The judge walked in and we all stood. We sat when directed to. They announced, "we are doing restraining orders first." Immediately after, my name was called, followed by his. I left my seat, handing my friend my coat. Everything was rushing through my mind. I had a sickening gut feeling, and of course, we would be the first called. I was directed to the right side, and him the left. I stood beside a chair, while he stood behind the defendant stand. We raised our right hands, said yes we'd tell the truth, and I was told to sit down. He was right across from me. I could not look at him. I kept my gaze at the judge the entire time.
I felt outside my own body. All I could think about was not looking at him, but in my head I reminded myself I was okay, and had to really focus to pick out each word of the questions that were being said to me.
I remember thinking "don't look weak, look strong, you got this. don't let him see you weak."
I honestly don't remember what came first- the questions that were asked. The worst part, was retelling the story. I had now shared the story aloud in a courtroom twice, and was about to do it again in front of the man who assaulted me in the first place. I don't know how I can ever forget each detail. I had to speak it and write it all down more times than were comfortable. I had to explain, again, in a full courtroom where this man had touched me. I had to answer every question as specific as possible, to the best of my ability, no matter how uneasy it made me.
When the judge turned to Him to say his first words, his statement was "I'm confused, I haven't contacted her since, and like, this is still a thing?" I expected the judge to ask me more questions, and I mentally prepared myself. But he didn't. Instead he asked me if I wished to extend the order for a year or less. I said I was fine with a year. When He was asked if he opposed, he replied "I mean, I'm indifferent."
he judge took that as he opposed. Right then and there, we had a hearing.
I remember this part so clearly. The "wait..is this gonna go on my record?" The judge turned to look at him. In a tone that seemed like common sense, "Yes." The judge paused for a moment, but said, "Sir, I would imagine you know this to some degree, but I am going to talk to you for a moment. Based on what Miss _ has told me, and based on the report I have in front of me, what we have here is a serious crime." I pinched my skin under the counter. It was stated that though he was alone today, he should consider getting a lawyer. "The Boston police are currently investigating this matter." He was advised to be more than careful with his words.
I was breathing so shallow. I remember thinking, in relief, "they are taking this seriously."
he judge had turned back to me. On the initial order it was stated that he was to remain away from my workplace, but the second order (by a different judge), did not state that. He asked me directly, if I wished for it to be back on the order. I thought for a minute. Part of me thought, hey, this man is going to take my word, if I say yes, I can get my job back. My higher self, the wiser part of me realized that it was not at all worth it.
"I mean, I don't work there anymore so it doesn't really affect me."
The order was put in place, and explained to the both of us. I took a deep breath of relief at the new stature. 100 yards. Thank you, God. February 2019 I would return if I wished to extend the order again. I would not need to be back, or see him for another year. I was handed my new pink order, and guided to walk in the same direction I entered the stand from. I felt like all eyes were on me. It was like I forgot how to walk. I passed through rows of other people to get to my chair. My friend handed me my coat and I followed him out, clutching the paper, now folded in my shaky hand. As I approached the door a woman slid forward in her chair. She was there representing another woman. I had seen her there weeks prior. A lawyer? A translator maybe? I wasn't sure. It doesn't really matter. But this same woman whispered to me as I walked by her,
"Good job! You're strong and brave."
I was still in shock, and my focus was on exiting the courthouse as soon as possible, but I gave her a smile.
meant that smile. Her words were such a comfort. Her words were an instant reminder at what I had just done. Looking back, I wished I had found the breath to mouth a thank you. I hope she knows how much that meant to me.
I am still in shock about how things turned out.
I had lost faith, only for it to come back to me.
Though I can breathe at the fact that I don't have to worry about the next time I go back to court, I still feel like I am running on adrenaline. I am trying to figure out what the next step is.
When I first filed the police report, I thought things would be out of my hands. In some cases, it is. In most cases, the "victim", or whatever term you'd use, can decide whether or not to press charges. I never made that decision. I got a restraining order.
I want to do everything possible, so I can sleep at night knowing I stood my ground to full capacity. At this point I have to ask myself where I'd feel most comfortable going forward. If taking that next step, knowing the process that could follow, would be worth it for me. Only I can make that decision for myself, unless the police move forward without me.
My parents have been supportive. They give me some insight, but for the most part they assure me I was the one who experienced this, and I am the only one who can know what is best for me moving forward. When I feel stuck about what decisions to make, my mom says "no matter what, be proud of yourself."
I feel like it is up to me at this point, when this all stops. I don't mean "letting it go" because I don't entirely believe in that. I mean that I can keep my adrenaline running, or I can choose to take things as they are in the present moment. I can process the "non-stop train" of these past few months. I can write, I can heal. I can decide what closure looks like for me. Have I gotten it already? What else do I need?
I continue to be asked these questions, and I continue to ask myself these questions. I don't know.
I am the type of person who likes to research, who likes to ask others what they would do, before making a big decision. I've always been this way, and I always end up in the same place. Stuck. I become stuck after absorbing the mixed views of others, and I am swayed to question my own intuition.
I wish this could all leave my head. I wish I could just enjoy things, and focus on school. I wish this never happened, but it did. My sophomore year of college has not been what I expected it to be, but I know it is somehow what it needs to be.