A Survivor Speaks: “Why Judge, Why?”
By Jesalyn Lewis
Surviving domestic violence is more complicated than many can imagine. There are many turbulent twists, reckless waves, dangerous curve balls, and sometimes unintentional interceptions involved. Domestic violence does not discriminate, I actually worked for an agency that served survivors of domestic violence while I was a victim of domestic violence myself. I was in complete denial.
One day while at work, my abuser called me to come home for lunch. Almost instantly after my arrival home, he began to head-butt me. I looked for a way to escape to no avail. There was a daycare center right behind our house and the workers and children were all outside on their lunch break, so I went toward the side door of our home in an effort to get the attention of one of the daycare workers. He caught me before I could get the door open and strangled me until my knees buckled. I was dazed but could feel him slapping me to make me become aware. He held me at gunpoint for a while, then told me to go back to work and not mention anything that took place. Needless to say, because of all the times I had promised God that the next time would be the last time, I decided to file official charges.
A few days later, he went to jail. He stayed there for 43 days, which is when I received a phone call at work from a local judge’s office. The judge was asking that I come to court to testify as to whether or not I had an issue with my husband’s bond being reduced. I remember holding the telephone receiver in utter shock and disbelief. The secretary even told me that the judge was willing to wait until I got off from work to come to the courthouse.
As I gathered my belongings, I wondered what in the world I was going to say. I was petrified of my abuser. I had every intention of relocating by the time he was released, but I had not packed a single box yet. When I arrived at the courthouse, I saw an attorney that I knew very well. He saw the look of distress on my face and asked me what was going on. When I explained it to him, he took it upon himself to ask the judge if he would be willing to let me speak to him in his chamber. I requested 2 more weeks to be able to relocate and he reluctantly agreed. I told him that my husband had said that if I told anyone, he would kill me and he knew many ways to gain entrance into the house, so I feared for my life and the lives of my 5 children. Why did that judge take me through all of that when I was the one who needed to be protected? I needed consideration, not my ex-husband. He essentially made me feel as if it was my fault that my husband was incarcerated instead of my husband’s action landing him behind bars. Why, Judge, Why?