I’d love to say that the moment I made the decision to call a lawyer that my life immediately became a calmer, safer, happier one. The truth is I was about to embark on the most painful, dangerous, difficult journey that I would ever take. But sitting here, on the other side, I can now look back and know not only was it worth it…. it was the right thing to do for both my children and for me, and if I had I not made that choice things would have only escalated with time.
The first lawyer I called was a complete shark. She was expensive, but she told me I could charge her fee on a credit card and the John would end up paying it in the end. I knew, that if I hired her, she would do everything in her power to get me as much as she could. The sad thing is, that despite all of the terrible things that John had done to me and the knowledge that I needed to get out of this marriage for my mental well being, I was still trying to protect John. I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t want to take all of his money. I just wanted a fair split and I wanted to protect my children from him, knowing that he had hurt them in the past. They were my focus. I had to limit the time he was alone with them and could hurt them without me there to intervene.
In addition to this the idea of paying a large sum of money (that I didn’t have in my bank account) terrified me. See, John had taken care of organizing all of the finances. I had asked him in the past if he would share the account information with me so I would know what we had if something were to happen to him… but that would mean him giving up control. We kept separate bank accounts, used my money as disposable income and he saved. This left me in a position where he had access to a lot of money… and I had none. It was just one more way that he had power over me and it fed my fear.
I ended up calling a less expensive lawyer. I was shaking head to toe at our first meeting. He talked a lot. To the point where I didn’t feel like he was listening to anything I had to say. When I could finally get a word in, I let him know that my priority was the kids. I didn’t care about the money so long as I had enough to take care of them… but I needed to make sure my kids were safe (mentally and physically as the mind games and manipulation John does is just as damaging as when he hurts them physically).
Looking back, I wish I had gone with the shark. I wish I had listened to the advice of my friends. I wish I hadn’t still been trying to protect this evil man. I was going to need that money when I had to rebuild a life for my children. John wasn’t going to get a lawyer that he thought would be as fair to me as possible. He was going to do what John does best…. look out for himself. But I can’t change the decisions I made in the past. I can only recognize why I made those choices, learn from them and grow… and hopefully encourage others out there to remember that the best way to protect yourself and your children in a situation like this, is to stop protecting your abuser.