After the horror of domestic abuse, we can believe justice is essential if we are to ever move on. But what if moving on is the only way to achieve justice at all?
This week, on my second date with a guy – yes, someone actually has made it through to a second round! – we got talking about domestic violence. Not usual conversation-fodder for a second encounter, I know, but he was explaining to me why he refused to have anything to do with his father.
In the interest of being open and honest, I gave him a PG-rated outline of my story – focussing on my fear that my abusive, stalking ex may one day try to make good on his threat to abduct our son. The whereabouts of my ex are still unknown, and there is an outstanding warrant out for his arrest.
My date didn’t trot out platitudes, push for details, ask me why the hell I stayed, or run screaming to the hills. Instead, he scored instant brownie points when he asked me if I was receiving any professional support (yes, I am). He then he stuck on his Mr Fix It hat and offered to “sort out” my abuser.
Putting right the wrongs
It got me thinking of an email conversation I had a couple of months back with my dauntless online friend Americana Injustica – one of the founding members of the amazing Cut Throat Club and an all-round badass that knows this terrain inside-out and upside-down.
I was sharing my feelings about where I was in my recovery journey: feeling stronger than ever before, but frustrated that my abusive ex continues to evade justice.
I had worked long and hard to get out of the relationship, and to keep him away. I probably know most of the police force in my area by name now, since they’ve had to take statements from me so many times. I gave evidence in a trial which my abuser didn’t even bother to attend.
Some time later, he was arrested and brought in for sentencing. He left the court before sentence could be passed and hasn’t been heard of since, apart from a couple of cryptic phonecalls just to keep me on edge.
I’m glad he’s gone. I hope and pray that he never comes back. But those around me – like my date – think there’s more to be done. Most of us intuitively feel that wrongs need to be put right, that every action must have an equal reaction.
Justice: a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people ~ Oxford English Dictionary
The price of justice
I promised myself I’d paste Americana’s words onto my bedroom mirror as a daily reminder that sometimes the best action is to do nothing at all. She warned me, in her inimitable way, that safety has to come ahead of the desire for justice:
You have come TOO FUCKING FAR, TOO FAST to be vengeful to your own detriment. YOU ARE BIGGER THAN HIM, BETTER THAN THAT. You’ve graduated now, can’t play on that playground any longer these days, Big Girl.
I may call it ‘justice’, but my abuser would see it solely as revenge – and likely, he’d be right. I may have some instant satisfaction from seeing justice served, but it wouldn’t be worth the price I’d pay later. It wouldn’t bring back the wasted years and everything he cost me. It wouldn’t balance out the pain, or give my child a daddy he can be proud of. It wouldn’t make me feel less afraid. It wouldn’t bring me peace. The only thing it would do, is cause my risk level to skyrocket.
The best payback I can think of is to keep safe and to be happy. Justice is rebuilding my life, without the brick wall he constructed around me. And if the price for that is to let it go: I’m happy to pay.
What do you think? Can justice bring closure after domestic violence? Is revenge worth the price tag?
Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14