Distress is also caused by some abusive partners manipulating the legal process as a means of control over the survivor. Some make excuses to postpone court hearings as a way to control. At one stage, Linda worried that Stephen would use his absence from Ireland as a means of delaying the separation process. The process was somewhat delayed, but the judge quickly realised the true situation, and, to her relief, was successfully concluded. The following part of her narrative shows her fear during the waiting period
“Stephen has used any step he can to drag out the separation, from not providing a forwarding address in Canada to having post refused at his parents’ house. It has been a long drawn out process. It is so frustrating, and just when I think it is moving along, he does something to slow it down. I tried to locate an address from one of his family members, where we could issue papers, as Stephen would not provide an address. After going through all that hassle and given him plenty of time, he didn’t respond. Then after a number of weeks, when it suited him, he hired a solicitor to represent him from Canada. But, because of the fact that he is in another country with different time zones, it’s hard for my solicitor to make contact. At the moment, we are not sure as if an Irish solicitor will be appointed, or what is the plan. Because of the fact that he is now so far away he is entitled to more time to get paperwork sorted out, once again slowing up the whole process. Even though I started the legal separation, he seems to have gained control of the whole process, and once again, everyone is moving to his terms. I feel that it is so unfair.”
It was unfair. It was a bullying tactic. It was also bluff. Stephen did not have the money to pay a solicitor. His profligate ways continued in Canada.
It was a relief for Linda when the separation order was granted, and on her desired terms. I have no doubt that she has now completed her counselling, and can look forward and move on. Ultimately, too, your counselling will end, and the legal process will be completed. During this time, you will have done your best to practice self-care and keep you and your children safe. You slowly build a new life and new relationships, and if your circumstances allow, you may begin to think about forgiveness. Some survivors tell me that it is the greatest healer of all, and they want to know how to reach it. I do not have the answer. Some of the survivors who told their stories to Elaine Weiss managed to forgive their abusive partners. However, you cannot force yourself to forgive. Sometimes it arrives apparently unexpectedly. However, if it happens, it can only do so after the long road of rehabilitation, and perhaps through a new (non-intimate) relationship with your ex-partner. I think that Linda will reach a stage of forgiveness, because even at this early stage she feels a certain sadness for Stephen. I feel that, somehow, she sees the lost vulnerable child in this very abusive person, and in the midst of her own pain finds space to feel sad for him.
“I am also a believer in my faith and I strive to do right by people, and even though I may have slipped on some occasions with him, over time I have found it just has dissolved, I have no urge to get back with him. He’s in a big enough mess with his life due to himself, without me adding to it. And as much as he has done to us I still wish that he may have some sort of a good life without all the anger and rage To be honest I feel sorry for him sometimes, because if he could just see all the hurt he causes from what he does, he might see things differently.”
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLORS IN TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD