I have been through hell and back with this man for 11 years of my life. After I had filed the restraining order, we had went to court and I had told the judge that the Volunteer Lawer Program was working on finding me a lawyer. The judge extended my court date and Mike did not say a word. When we had turned around to leave my mother looked at Mike and said “ask about the kids.” I was pissed and she knew it. My mom went to get the car as I went down to get a copy of the new restraining order. When I had got to the car, my mom knew I was furious. I looked at her and said “Why in the hell would you say to him.” He did try and ask the judge, and she yelled “NOPE!” I would not speak a word to my mother while in the car, I looked out the window with tears streaming down my face. She did apologize multiple times, but the damage was done. I was supposed to feel relieved wasn’t I? In the next week I had got an email that they had found me a lawyer. Can you guess his name? Oh, another Michael. I was just grateful that I now had a lawyer, but I could not get away from that name, mind you my middle name is Michael, after my father who died in a motorcycle accident when my mother was 7 months pregnant. I had went and met with my lawyer and filled out all the nessicary paperwork and explained my situation. Now while doing this, my lawyer looked at me and said you talk about it with such strength in your voice. I had told him it was years of practice to be strong for my boys, and to let Mike know that I could handle what he was doing to me, even though I truly couldn’t. I had to be strong even when I was completely broken. I had rehearsed what I was going to say multiple times for when I had to testify. When we had gone to court again, I was ready to testify. Mikes lawyer and my lawyer came up with a deal, at this point I wasn’t in my right state of mind and everyone kept telling me take the deal and it’ll be over with. I did not want nor understand the deal. When we went up to the judge, she looked at me like why are you signing this. My lawyer even said to me as my hands were trembling, “You don’t want to sign this do you?” No I did not want to sign it, especially when I heard Mikes lawyer say that I was not afraid of him. My lawyer said just remember you will finally be free of him. I will never be free of him, he is the father of my children and I have to see him every damn Saturday looking at me with that same glare I had seen every day for 11 years. I will never be safe while he is apart of my life. When I walked out of that courtroom the only words I could get out were “This is the second rapist I let go free.” My lawyer told Beth that she was going to have to explain the deal to me again because I was not in the right state of mind. When someone comes near me I flinch, when someone gets to close I can’t breathe. I am constantly worried something bad is going to happen to me. I don’t see happiness in my future with a man, but I do see myself successful with a nice house with my kids and we are genuinely happy. They’ll be in high school and college and I’ll be sitting on my deck writing my next book. It’s never too late to start over, we are fighters, we are strong, we are survivors. If anyone reading my blog needs help getting out of an abusive relationship, please reach out to me and I will do everything in my power to get you out. When we stand together, we can do anything. Always rememer we are stronger than we think. I love you all.