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Dealing with divorce and a restraining order?

By June 12, 2010 - 10:55am
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I just recently divorced and it has been extremely traumatic. My marriage to Neil Z was quite brief; after about 10 months I filed for divorce. And shortly after that, on March 19, 2010, I filed an Order of Protection (restraining order) with the Superior Court in Phoenix, and he was subsequently served on April 30. One challenging aspect of this has been the fact that Neil is in law enforcement, as an air marshal with TSA. The amount of mental anguish and emotional stress and general fear that I've been dealing with in filing this restraining order has overwhelmed me.

I'm reaching out to see if there are others who are dealing with or have dealt with filing a restraining order against a spouse or significant other. Did it make things worse and more stressful for you to have a restraining order in place? Was it a good decision for you? Did the person finally leave you alone? And what do you do when the restraining order is no longer valid after the one-year period goes by?

I'd also like to know of any divorce and domestic violence resources that are out there. I'd like to get on the road to recovery, and I'm interested in joining a support group, but I have no idea where to turn. I'm in the Phoenix area and would appreciate any words of wisdom from our EmpowHER community.

Thanks so much!!

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EmpowHER Guest

Great news Kristin!!!!

You are such a strong and impressive woman! Your terms are the best I ever heard. My ex lives about 2 blocks away from me, lol! Out of sight out of mind. I love the planting the tree (beginning) too. What a great way to start fresh and new.

This is still a great time for you to focus on you and your children's mental and emotional side also. You have been through some really tough times and although he may not be able to enter the state, you are still stuck with the memories! Do yourself a favor and either get some counseling for yourself and kids and I found solace in Yoga! It is so amazing what your body can do for you!

Again, I am so happy to hear that you are doing well and I will certainly be watching for updates on your personal story. You are going to help so many other women.


June 26, 2010 - 11:43am
(reply to Anonymous)

Thanks, Missie!!

You know, yoga's a great idea! I haven't done it in a long, long time and I used to be religious about going to a local yoga studio that I absolutely love. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow...a perfect thing to do on a Sunday.

You're so right -- those memories can really bite. You know how those mental tapes tend to replay in your mind, mostly out of the blue? That is still happening to me. Like just earlier today, I started thinking how different things would be right now....if he'd just been nice to me. It sounds so simple -- just being nice to your spouse. And consistently, not just sporadically in between shocking bouts of abuse. I don't know how many times I begged him just to be nice to me. That's all I asked. And I don't know why he couldn't.

Well, it sounds like you've gotten to a really healthy place. I can't imagine living only two blocks from my second husband. Talk about a strong woman...you are amazing!!

July 30, 2010 - 10:32pm

Hey, I just want to give you all an update on how I'm doing. This past Monday, I finalized a settlement agreement with Neil. I went to court and had the Order of Protection dismissed. In return, under our settlement terms (and this is public information since an addendum listing the terms has been attached to our divorce decree), he is not allowed to enter the State of Arizona for the next year. And not only that, for the following three years, if he were to enter AZ, he cannot possess a firearm. Plus, he can never ever contact, in any way, shape or form, me or my children -- ever. If he were to contact us, I can immediately obtain another Order of Protection, and would have a leg up in the process.

I feel good about this settlement, and I can't tell you how relieved I am that I don't have to go back to court to face him for another hearing. We were going to have to do that in the very near future if we couldn't come up with a settlement. As stressed out as I was, I held firm to my settlement terms -- was absolutely not going to bend -- even facing the prospect of fighting him in court. And I'm really glad I did. He also had to pay all of my attorneys fees, including the fees I paid to my divorce attorney. Which I felt was only fair since he caused all of this chaos.

So....I did something physical and symbolic to mark the end of this chapter of my life. (Kind of like the way my eldest daughter and I tossed the necklaces/ring that he had given us into our community lake.) I planted a tree in my yard. It's a baby ficus and so far so good, it's thriving in my rocky desert landscape. It makes me smile to see it. I hope to one day enjoy some shade from it.

It's a new beginning and I'm feeling hope. I'm still accessing the wonderful resources that you all have provided in the preceding comments, and I'm so grateful for your support here in this awesome EmpowHER community. I'll let you know how things go....

Big hug,

June 26, 2010 - 9:55am


What a blessing that the children are doing so well. I nearly got tears in my eyes when I read about you and your daughter symbolically throwing your wedding-day jewelry in the lake. That's so profound.

Children are absolutely amazing. The fact that your son has dealt with it and is moving on is phenomenal. (I could use a bit of his ability to compartmentalize!) I'm wistful for you that the 9-year-old is having some difficulty, especially the horrible nightmares. I imagine that this makes you feel even worse. But you CANNOT feel personally guilty or responsible for that. And bless her heart, she has a super-strong foundation with you, her father and her siblings, and all of that unit is still intact. I hope that as each day passes, she can put a little more distance between herself and her fears.

Hang in there. You are doing an awesome job. Even if it doesn't always feel like it. You are.

June 18, 2010 - 8:47am

Hi, Diane! Yes, I do. I have a fantastic psychologist who is really helping me tremendously. Last fall, Neil and I went to see her for marriage counseling at my insistence, but were only able to see her for a short time. Marriage counseling is her specialty, but she found that she couldn't work with us as a couple after about four sessions. It's really helpful that she has seen the two of us together from an impartial perspective, saw the dynamics of our relationship, and knows what I'm up against in dealing with what happened during our marriage. She really provided a lot of encouragement to help me break free. She's also referred me to some great books to try to gain insight on controlling personalities and how to deal with them.

Sometimes I wish I could just magically propel myself forward in time, like at least a year or so. I know that the passage of time will help tremendously as I work my way through this. Right now I'm still stuck in the thick of it and everything's so difficult.

June 16, 2010 - 11:03am
(reply to Kristin Davis)


What a strength she is for you. I'm sooo happy to read this. I know that during a couple of difficult times in my life, therapists helped me immeasurably. And most likely by seeing her -- and having her understand your issues so well -- you ARE propelling yourself further and faster along than you would be able to do by yourself.

How are your children doing?

June 17, 2010 - 9:53am
(reply to Diane Porter)

They're doing remarkably, considering. They're so resilient. They have great attitudes. My daughter went through an angry stage for a while, but has dealt with it beautifully. She felt so betrayed by my ex because of the way he treated me and our family. One thing she did, which I thought was so great, was to have a little "ceremony" with me where she and I took jewelry that my ex had given us on our wedding day and we went to the lake in our neighborhood and threw it in. After that, she was just fine -- she needed that physical expression of release.

My youngest is having a hard time. I think that due to her age, this has been a big hurdle for her to get over. Plus she has nightmares about my ex coming to get her. I'm seeing a child psychologist for coaching assistance on how to help her. Things are gradually getting better, but we're not there yet.

July 30, 2010 - 10:32pm

Pat, that PTSD site is really helpful! I read the page you linked to, and explored a little till I came to this page: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/women-trauma-and-ptsd.asp
It's specifically about women and PTSD, and really interesting to read how symptoms of PTSD are different in women than in men. (I know, that shouldn't be all that surprising, should it!) According to the info on this web page, women are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD than men (10 percent vs 4 percent). Women also tend to take longer to recover from PTSD and are four times more likely than men to have long-lasting PTSD.

As I read through this US Dept. of Veterans Affairs PTSD site, which is really pretty amazing in its depth of information, I'm finding it so incredibly ironic... My ex is not only with Homeland Security, but he's also in the Army Reserves and has been for nearly two decades. So here's this military guy who caused this whole nightmare in my life, and here's the military offering helpful info on how to recover from the trauma....

June 16, 2010 - 9:29am
(reply to Kristin Davis)


Has there been room in here for you to find a therapist for yourself? I am so glad you are looking for resources and support groups, but I am wondering if it would help you to have a person you could go to to talkl about all the ramifications of this in your life. You have so many things on your plate right now, and I want you to have someone to whom you can talk confidentially and get support. Do you have that?

June 16, 2010 - 10:13am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Kristin - Herb Gravitz is one of the top psychologists in the field of PTSD, I think you'll find his books on healing the family and words that heal to be helpful in your situation. http://www.healthefamily.com/flash.html

This information may also be helpful:

Take care, Pat

June 15, 2010 - 3:24pm
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