“I am finally in a place where I am stable. I am healing. I would like the time and the space to do so without any interference from him. I ask that the court legally grant me the freedom I have been fighting for, for so long.”
The last time I had spoken with Travis, I told him that if he reached out to me again, I would contact the police. The day after reading his message, I went to the sheriff’s department and spoke with an officer. He suggested I file a domestic restraining order. He also let me know that in the meantime, they had on record that I stopped and if he were to show up, I should call them immediately. He took my concerns seriously and helped me feel safe.
I then reached out to a local domestic violence organization and arranged to meet with my advocate, Kendra, to go over the restraining order paperwork (more on her and her agency in my next post). Kendra reviewed my paperwork, provided recommendations, and mentally and emotionally prepared me for the process. My statement is provided below.
“Travis [excerpt removed to protect innocent parties] and I were together from April 21st 2012 until August 3rd 2016. Our divorce was final on January 13th 2017. Throughout our marriage, Travis was physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually abusive to me.
The first time Travis put his hands on me was Labor Day weekend 2012 while we were staying with his dad [excerpt removed to protect other parties]. Travis had been drinking heavily. We went to go to bed in his dad’s basement. I crawled into bed to go to sleep while Travis got ready for bed. Suddenly, he was on top of me trying to initiate sex. I told him I did not want to and asked him to stop. He kept touching me everywhere and trying to kiss me. Again, I asked him to stop. He did not stop. Finally, I had told him if he did not stop, I was going to grab his penis and twist it. He still did not stop. I grabbed his penis and twisted it so he would stop. He yelled, “You bitch,” picked me up off of the bed and threw me against the table in the room. I hit it hard and fell to the cement floor. He proceeded to kick me while I was laying on the ground. He picked me up off of the floor and threw me back onto the bed. He climbed on top of me and began to strangle me. His hands were so tight around my neck that I could not pry them away. I started having tunnel vision. I grabbed his glasses off of his face and threw them against the wall. He leaped off of me to go grab them. I made a run for the stairs to go get his dad and step-mom. He caught up to me, pushed me down the stairs and ran upstairs.
He, his dad and his step-mom came down to the basement. His dad and step-mom told me that I had too much to drink and was initiating a fight for no reason. They took my cell phone because “There was no reason to get anyone upset over a little fight.” I was left downstairs in the basement while they all went upstairs with the only option I had to call the police. The next day I went upstairs, visibly covered in bruises and no one said a word. I ended up seeing the Employee Health nurse at Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire since I was not feeling well. She asked about my bruises and I told her I fell off of a four-wheeler the weekend before. She said, “Are you sure that is what happened? Those bruises are not consistent with a four-wheeling accident.” I assured her that was what happened, fearful for what would happen if I told her the truth.
After that, Travis strangled me two more times. Once in Winter 2012 and once in May 2013. Both times we were in the middle of an argument. He was pushing me against tables/doors/anything that was in his path. Both times he put his hands around my neck and pushed me against the wall, strangling me. Both times he begged me not to call 911 because he said it would result in his daughter being taken away. Both times he was intoxicated. After that, I tried to remove myself from any situation when I knew he would be drinking.
Throughout our marriage I was in and out of the Emergency Room for various reasons. I experienced severe abdominal pain that was later attributed to my emotional instability. I saw a family practitioner at UW Health in Madison. She asked Travis to leave and asked me if I had ever been or was currently being abused. I told her I was. She went to get her supervisor and they gave me a number to a domestic violence agency. Travis was extremely upset afterwards because he knew he was being accused of abuse.
I developed PTSD during our marriage. Travis continued to drink heavily, despite his tendency to physically attack me when he drank. I never knew when he would put his hands on me. I lived in a constant state of fear, especially when he drank. Every single time he became violent he would tell me the next day that he didn’t remember anything. Once divorced in 2017, Travis would email me or try to contact me on social media. I blocked his phone number and profiles on what I thought was every single one of my accounts. As it turns out, I forgot to block him on Linked In and he messaged me on there as well. He insisted I had to be involved in a discussion regarding a vehicle we had co-signed together, even though his name was on the vehicle as well. I blocked him on Linked In. He then created a new email address and emailed me again. I wrote back and told him to leave me alone and that if he contacted me again, I would call the police. His communication stopped completely until recently.
In October of 2018, I started a blog called Survivorhood. On my blog I tell my story of enduring and overcoming the mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse from our marriage. Other survivors also share their stories of domestic violence and sexual assault. This summer I posted Travis’ name on my blog. I was too scared to for the longest time. I wasn’t sure what he would do when he found my blog. This past summer however, I gained the courage to take a stand and completely own my story.
On Saturday, September 7th 2019, Travis completed a contact form through Survivorhood and messaged me again. His message is included in my materials. In the message, it is clear that he is not happy with me putting his name on my blog. While he has not contacted or physically assaulted me for 2 years, I still fear for my life. The unpredictable nature of his behavior, especially when he drinks, along with his history of strangling me multiple times causes me to fear for my safety. In addition to these concerns, Travis knows my current address since it was listed on our divorce papers. Travis has family and friends who reside in Eau Claire, WI whom he likely visits on a regular basis. I fear that during one of his visits, he will become intoxicated and have someone drive him to my home.
I want to be able to live my life free from fear – fear of him showing up somewhere and fear of him contacting me. I was a prisoner in our marriage for 4.5 years. I continued to be a prisoner of the aftermath of our marriage for the past 2.5 years. I am finally in a place where I am stable. I am healing. I would like the time and the space to do so without any interference from him. I ask that the court legally grant me the freedom I have been fighting for, for so long.”
The day after meeting with my advocate, I went to the Clerk of Courts to file. I felt sick to my stomach as I awaited the judge’s decision. I knew I had a history of abuse, but also knew I had no physical proof. That thirty minutes felt like hours until the receptionist finally called me back to the window. The judge had approved my temporary restraining order! I felt like I could breathe again. It was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt for the first time, validated by someone in power.
The injunction hearing was scheduled for the following Thursday.
Photo: Flickr – Fredrik Rubensson