Facebook Pixel

Dealing with divorce and a restraining order?

By June 12, 2010 - 10:55am
Rate This

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 And what do you do when the restraining order is no longer valid after the one-year period goes by?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!!

Add a Comment30 Comments

Thanks, Diane.

I received a private message last night from a member of the EmpowHER community, and she very gently suggested that I might have PTSD. She felt that she'd read signs of it in my post and comments. That was incredibly astute of her, and I appreciated her reaching out to me.

This experience truly has knocked me to my knees. And even though I'm in this horrific domestic violence realm, and have been for months, I honestly still can't believe I'm here. It's like some unrelenting, vicious nightmare I keep thinking I'm going to wake up from. But I don't. So I wonder how the hell I'm going to make it go away. But I can't.

And the court system isn't even allowing me to at the present time. I'm still caught in legal hell right now, fighting to keep my Order of Protection upheld so that my kids and I will have police enforceable protection and can feel safe.

It's all really crazy making, and so hard to see that someday there will be some normalcy to my life again.

June 15, 2010 - 11:11am


You are absolutely right about physical and verbal abuse. I am glad the State of Arizona treats both of them equally as violent behavior. I certainly didn't mean to suggest that my friend -- or you -- didn't experience serious abuse -- I saw firsthand what he did to her, and just as you said, the scars are deep and pervasive.

I am so sorry about how scared you are, and how this has changed everything about your life. It is unforgiveable that someone did that to you. Unforgiveable.

June 15, 2010 - 10:05am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Kristin - The Arizona Crime Prevention Association is an organization that can provide helpful support and resources. They have set up a page of resources for domestic violence resources, which you can find here:

I also found the following list. I'm not sure that everything on it is up to date, but hopefully what is current will be helpful:

If you need information on resources in your community call :

The Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence
602-279-2900 or 800-782-6400

Community Information and Referral
(800) 799-7739, in the 602, 623, and 480 area codes
(800) 352-3792, in the 520 area code

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Arizona Humane Society Project Safe House
1-602-997-7585 Ext. 134
(Provides temporary foster care for pets of domestic violence victims)

Hope this is helpful, please stay in touch. Pat

June 14, 2010 - 5:13pm
(reply to Pat Elliott)

This is FANTASTIC. Thanks so much, Pat!

June 14, 2010 - 7:11pm


Missie and Susan gave you excellent resources, so I won't search for more. But I just wanted to add my support and sympathy to the situation you have been in and are going through.

A best friend went through a very scary situation with an alcoholic husband who emotionally abused her (thankfully, it never escalated to physical abuse). She also felt that she'd somehow lost her way. Her self-esteem was devastated. She was overwhelmed with the thought that she had "failed" in marriage (it was her second marriage as well) even though it was his fault that it came apart. It took her a couple of years, I would say, before she felt truly whole again.

Don't be hard on yourself. Clearly, this man was hiding his true self from you, and if he hid it for six months, he could just as easily have hidden it for a year. When someone is being deceptive, all bets are off. You fell in love, you made your best judgment based on what you knew, and you made a commitment. I don't see a downfall there.

I hate that you are scared. I hope that you take Missy's advice and have already had all the locks changed and the prepaid cell phones purchased. You could also have motion-sensor lights installed around the outside of your home if they would add more security.

Were you ever physically harmed? Are you afraid of possible physical harm now? I am so glad you have the support of your first husband and your children's father. That is a huge help right now, I know.

OK, I lied. I did find another resource. You might find this site helpful:


Please keep writing. So many women have experienced what you are going through right now. Just take one day at a time (so easy to say, so hard to do) and let your instincts guide you. They are still good.

June 14, 2010 - 9:45am
(reply to Diane Porter)

Diane, thank you so very much. All of you are so wonderful to respond to me!! And the resources are so helpful!

I have changed all the locks and security codes in my house. I did that immediately, the morning after I had to call the local police to have Neil removed from my home. That was an incredibly frightening experience, to have to call 911. I'd never done that before, and to have to do so in order to get Neil to leave my home was unbelievable to me. Like I said before, I never saw this coming.

Although I was never physically abused, abuse is abuse. In the State of Arizona, verbal abuse is considered domestic violence, just the same way as physical abuse is considered domestic violence. I didn't know this at all before I filed for my Order of Protection. I had no idea what domestic violence was until I started meeting with the local police department's Victim Services program. I've learned that there is no difference in the Arizona courts between physical and verbal violence. They are both forms of violence. And they are just as frightening and insidious and devastating. Verbal abuse leaves internal scars - you may not be able to see them but I think that they can at times be even worse and linger much longer than the results of physical abuse.

My perception of domestic violence and abuse is totally different now. I used to think along the lines that you mentioned in your comment, where you were thankful that your friend wasn't physically abused. Now I understand that there is absolutely no difference. (For a woman who is physically abused, I'd never say that I'm thankful she wasn't verbally abused....)

I am extremely afraid. At all times. Even with the locks changed, etc. And I'm so incredibly tired of being afraid. It's exhausting being in "flight or fight mode." Not being afraid was something I completely took for granted in my "previous life," before all of this happened. Neil was supposed to be one of the good guys. Working for Homeland Security, he's "supposed" to keep people safe. That's supposed to be his job. I completely trusted him and never even saw an Order of Protection on my horizon when we married. It's crazy to have your world turned upside down like this and to be so caught off guard.

The thing that worries me, besides the safety factor and all of the stress involved in dealing with the court system while trying to make sure my Order of Protection is upheld, is the fact that I don't think I'll ever be able to trust another man again ever. And that kills me. I've always been so trusting - in people, in life - that was a part of my nature as long as I can remember. And it's been stripped away. How can I ever trust again after this?

June 14, 2010 - 12:28pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi again!
Here is a laundry list of organizations in the State of Arizona that you may find helpful. There are descriptions under each one which will help you recognize which ones have legal help also. I know that there was a non-profit agency that offered assistance to me legally while I was going through my battle with a protection order. Just remember, there are assistance programs so call, they will be very helpful.

Here is free legal advice also http://www.usattorneylegalservices.com/free-legal-aid-Arizona.html.

Here is another link http://www.dmoz.org/Society/People/Women/Issues/Violence_and_Abuse/Domestic_Violence/Shelters/United_States/.

This all brought back many memories and I wanted to make sure I shared everything with you today.

First, make sure you change all your locks in the house. As I previously mentioned, get those pre-paid cell phones and place them in different areas of the house (just in case). Call the above resources and also let your neighbors know what is going on so you can form your own block watch. Now, you may not be open about this but this is certainly in your best interest. My neighbors ended up being a legal aid in my defense as they watched for a large white van and knew him well. I also purchased a gun but you may not want to go that far with kids in the home. I live alone with my dog which obviously knows him and would just wag her tail.

I would get the divorce done as quickly and painless as possible to be DONE with everything. There is no need to let this linger so get the aid you need.

As for the time progression of feeling safe....you will in time. It takes time and you will find yourself always looking over your shoulder. My ex happens to live less than one mile from me. I hardly ever see him and when I do, I just turn my cheek and look in another direction. Sometimes I still feel like I want to move away from here but I bought a house and feel a little stuck. In time, I will though.

I would say that if you have insurance, seek mental assistance also. This situation is very hard on a woman and yes, your brick wall is built up so high right now that you will not let anyone get close to you. This is not fair to you or to the person you let walk away because you are afraid. You got hitched in 6 months, who cares....you learned a lesson from it and will be sure not to let your emotions get the best of you next time. I spent 8 years with my ex and wanted out after year 2. You should be commended for making the best decision you will ever make.

Preparation is key. Make sure you are prepared in every legal proceeding that is coming up. The day before, get your hair and nails done. Does this sound idiotic? Maybe, but it relaxed me and we always feel refreshed after a great haircut, fresh polish and maybe even a new outfit. The best way you will fight back is feeling 100% about you. You are prepared if he tries to contact you (because we already completed step 1), we look great and are prepared for the legal battle (because we made phone calls and got the legal assistance, Step 2), and we will learn to say that this situation was rough but we got through it (because we took care of our emotional state by seeking help).

Your not alone. Many of us live our lives everyday wishing we were strong enough to get out of situations that are unsafe. Some get out and some stay due to fear. You are strong as you have already stood up and said 'ENOUGH'. Prepare for what is to come, write to me or us at EmpowHer to get you the resources and shoulder to cry on to get you through this and most of all, take care of you!

Please keep us updated! You will also help so many more women!

June 13, 2010 - 8:18am
(reply to Anonymous)

Missie, I'm curious to know what your legal battle was like to get your Order of Protection. Did you have to go to court more than once? What kind of evidence did you have to provide? (I totally understand if you don't want to revisit those memories.) We had our first court hearing in May and it was such a nightmare just being in the same room with him, let alone having to give my testimony and relive pieces of the nightmare all over again. The legal stuff is not over yet, thanks to our judge who granted him a continuance, which has just strung this process along way longer than it should have lasted. What was your hearing process like?

June 16, 2010 - 9:03pm

Missie, thank you sooo much for your response. It means a lot to hear from another woman who has "been there." I have felt so alone at times while dealing with this, which only compounds the stress and fear that much more. I'm looking forward to learning about any resources and groups you might know of. Big hug to you!

June 12, 2010 - 12:10pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Kristin,

Oh, I have been there also. I will never forget 02/12/08. I slept in my bedroom (alone) every night with fear of him while we were still together. I was in such fear that I slept with a knife underneath my pillow. I have to admit that this period of time (living with him) was much worse then getting the protection order.

When you have had enough, you know and you get the strength to move on. This is very recent and no, the fear does not go away quickly. The best thing you can do now is prepare yourself. If he contacts you IN ANYWAY, you call the police IMMEDIATELY! Did you hear me, IMMEDIATELY. Every single time he contacts you, he will be punished by the courts and you need this to happen because in my case, he never stopped contacting me even after 10 months. I called the police every single time until he finally gave up and now a few years have passed.

Yes, there are help groups and I am going to send you some information very soon, probably tomorrow. I had a great one that I know is national. Let me pull out the things I received from a help group in Ohio and get back to you. One thing I would do immediately, buy a few of those pre-paid cell phones (they are cheap) and strategically place them in different areas of your home. I don't want to place fear on you, I just want you to be prepared. If he is law enforcement, he may have lost his right to bear arms also. Do you know if that is the case?

I will write to you more tomorrow, let me pull out all the things I had and groups that were very helpful to me. Please feel free to write me any time also privately, if you would like. I know exactly how you feel and know what you are going through. Your not alone, just remember that it does get better in time.

With a big heart,

June 12, 2010 - 11:20am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.

Relationships & Family

Get Email Updates

Relationships & Family Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!