The Merriam-Webster's Dictionary gives the definition of the word safe as: free from harm or risk, unhurt, secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss, affording safety or security from danger, risk or difficulty, obsolete of mental or moral faculties; healthy, sound and last but not least, not likely to take risks, cautious.
As the clock ticks away on my criminal order of protection, I have had plenty of time to think about the meaning of this very complicated word. The only time I have felt truly safe was the two days he spent locked up behind bars back in December after his arrest.
Before a warrant was even issued for his arrest, with the help of a victims advocate, I made the decision to obtain an order of protection through Family Court. I had to file a petition and tell the judge why I felt I needed this order. Lucky for me, I had a very understanding and compassionate judge who understood what had happened and believed me. Another person who believed me!!!
For the longest time when I confronted my ex about certain things and how his abuse was affecting me, he shook his head in mock pity and told me that I had quite an imagination. He had constantly told me no one would ever believe me. I was nothing but a piece of trash and a piece of shit. He was a successful businessman, who would even consider believing me over him?
Before him, I had a history. I had held responsible positions in well-known non profit agencies and won fundraising awards. I also had been a writer, a blogger, but since him, I had written very little and finished nothing. I spent every ounce of energy meeting his needs and demands.
My Prince Charming had a penchant for porn. He was unable to separate sex from violence and found violent sex the most exciting kind. It got so bad that I became able to turn off the pain of being punched in the face and thrown against the wall. I was afraid to feel. My feelings were not valid was another one of his favorite lines. I had turned off my feelings for so long that I was numb, but the December rape was so traumatic they broke through. I suddenly realized that I was tired of dying day by day.
And here we are today. The clock ticking on every level of the criminal proceedings. The DA's office not able to crack his alibi despite the physical evidence. Contrary to what he told the investigator when he was removed from the police car, I did not have a psychotic episode, fall down and hit my head.
Do I feel safe today? Absolutely not. I would like to. But I know him. I know what he is capable of. I guess you could say I am used to living in a constant state of heightened awareness. I sometimes distrust my fear or talk myself out of it. That fear may impel me to some action that may very well save my life.
How ironic is it that the word "Safe" also means secure and whole?