Protection Orders Part 2: One Woman and Her Journey to Safety 

Betty* thought she knew everything about the man she married. ” After I got married, um, my husband became different after about a 24 hour period. He started to show signs of being aggressive and just things that I’ve never seen him do,” said Betty. Like many victims of domestic violence, Betty didn’t leave. ” When you’re in it, like your vision’s cloudy and you don’t always see what’s happening to you and you can justify it or think it’s your fault or you know, just keep coming for the plan and try harder,” said Betty. Six and a half years later, the abuse continues and now they had a 2 year old son. ” I always felt like it was ok if it was me that was hurt, as long as my son was ok.”Then, she says her husband pushed her to the ground while she was holding her child. ” I got back up by myself and he knocked me down again and started doing abusive things in front of our child,” said Betty. That was Betty’s a-ha moment. ” When I got back up, something changed inside of me where I for the first time, realized taht it was wrong and when I saw that my son wasn’t safe something just triggered me to look for help.”Organizations like Spruce Run in Bangor help victims of domestic violence. ” It’s not something that happens far away or in inner cities, it’s something that happens everywhere,” said Amanda Cost, program director at Spruce Run.For Betty, she started making secret calls and a pastor recommended a protection order. ” I was able to do all of the preparation in secret and I kept things hidden places and it was kind of scary preparing,” described Betty. For many victims, they’re worried about what will happen when the abuser finds out. ” The serving of a protection order sometimes sets a fire or ignites the abuser and you just don’t know when that’s gonna happen,” said Chris Almy, district attorney for Penobscot County. ” I had to return home and pack my belongings and leave before they could serve him with the protection order, so I had to do it all in the quick swoop and just get it all done because it was very scary. I didn’t want him to obviously see me when he received it,” added Betty. Cost says protection orders are best used as part of a larger safety plan.” Changing phone numbers, changing locks, it can include messing up your routine a little bit so that you’re not going to the same place every day at the same time,” said Cost. For Betty, the protection order is giving her the help she needs. ” It gave me a sense of having a voice, like someone heard me, someone like knew that what I went through was wrong and it was real and they were willing to give me something to keep it from happening again to me and my son,” said Betty. Her ex-husband did physically violate the order once. ” The court took it very seriously and then gave me more protection after that.” Her son is young, but already asking questions. She says she’ll talk to him about what happened. ” If my son can grow up some day and be a loving husband and father then I feel like we’ve used what we went through for something good to turn it around,” said Betty. She wants her story to help others. ” There’s hope, you just have to take a step towards recognizing it and letting a protection order be a part of it can be a huge asset.” She hopes one day everyone will be free from abuse. *Her name has been changed to protect her identity.We thank Betty for sharing her story with us. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence call the statewide hotline at 1-866-83-4HELP.To learn more about Spruce Run click here.