The Risk of Speaking Out : Part 4

Link to the previous part :

https://allaboutblogdotlife.wordpress.com/2020/04/18/the-risk-of-speaking-out-part-3/

Riya

19th September 2012, Wednesday.

Gaurav and I were married young. Predictably, we also divorced young.

We were in our late teens when we said our vows, and we were in our early twenties when we broke those vows for good. Our marriage was a volatile and violent one. Although I had at least a dozen good reasons for leaving, I finally left him for another man. That was a mistake of its own.

However, despite my reason for leaving — the final straw — having nothing to do with my husband’s violent temper and abusive nature, filing for divorce was one of the best decisions of my life.

While some women might peruse pictures of their exes lounging on sandy beaches or scaling mountains, I pored over arrest and court records.

To my surprise, I learned something about my husband that I didn’t expect. Our marriage may have ended, but his history of domestic violence had not. If his public criminal record was correct, my abusive husband allegedly abused his partners after we divorced. The more things change — as they say — the more they stay the same.

I started my deep dive into my husband’s records with the court dates and criminal cases in which I was the victim. The five years of my marriage were laid out online in arrests and court cases and subsequent dismissals.

Eventually, I learned through my online research that my husband’s violence toward his partners didn’t end with me. I began checking his arrests less and less often, but there always seemed to be something new when I logged onto the system — a drunk driving arrest here, a domestic assault there.

Not every state gives the public easy access to criminal records as my state does. However, I don’t know if I would recommend using these online resources to other ex-wives or former girlfriends or anyone else who’s been in an abusive relationship.

Learning that your husband brought his old habits into his new relationships does not bring closure.

AsI scanned the information online, I remembered the time when our neighbors had phoned the cops after hearing my screams coming from the home we shared. My husband fled out the back door as the police stomped up the front steps only to be arrested twelve hours later when he returned to the house.

After his arrest, he was refused a public defender after telling the judge that his wife had a thousand dollars in the bank. That’s how I, the victim, wound up paying a grand to an attorney to defend my husband against charges that he had struck me.

I’d earned and saved that money from a job I’d held before we were married. After paying his defense attorney, I was broke. It was a confusing time in my life.

Since my husband was already on probation, the defense attorney assured him that not only would he not be getting off, he should expect to spend the next two years in prison.

I was ecstatic.

Imagine my surprise when my husband returned home after his court appearance and told me the charges had been dropped. Why? They claimed I’d ignored a summons to appear as a witness in the case.

I’d never even received the summons.

Finding out that my husband had continued to be arrested for domestic violence following our divorce gave me mixed feelings. On the one hand, I felt relief. Whatever happened in his life no longer had any bearing on mine.

In some ways, I also felt guilt.

Were other women being abused because I had finally left him? Was I somehow to blame for their troubles? Had I done everything I could to help him? In my mind, the answers are yes, yes, and no; but the truth is that I don’t know how to feel about the situation even now, after I last saw him in divorce court.

(To be continued…)

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