There is a mathematical theory based in fractal geometry called “Chaos Theory.” At its most simplistic level, it says that if you look long enough and carefully at what looks like total chaos, patterns begin to emerge. This is exactly how I help my clients in coping with their court cases against an abuser.
What I found in the court system is that the law does not care about a single incident unless that incident is so shocking that it can’t be ignored, like a severe beating or shooting.
Domestic terrorism is not on their radar because, until you make it concrete for them, it is entirely too abstract to consider. What they are looking for in the courtroom, or even the police station, is a pattern of behavior. Discrete incidents are like paint splatters on canvas and you have to connect the dots to make them see the picture. The legal system wants to see something so obvious and undeniable that sometimes survivors simply give up.
Connecting the dots
It can be exhausting and darn near impossible to link together incidents that to you seem ridiculously obvious, but it is an investment of time and energy that will pay off. Abusers will always have a “logical explanation” for one incident. They will have the same “logical explanation” for multiple incidents. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to connect the dots for the court. That’s what attorneys do every day and, as your own best expert witness, this responsibility rests on you.
Believe it or not, this is a big part of what we are able to accomplish when putting in place reasonable disability accommodations for litigants…because if you can’t think or you can’t speak under stressors, you can’t connect the dots.
In a typical case, I have my client put together a long list of incidents and demonstrate a pattern not only of behavior, but escalation.
For instance, pushback against threats may have resulted in an escalation in the number and type of threats.
Blocking email might result in an exponential increase in harassing phone calls.
Blocking phone calls may have resulted in calling the police claiming a “welfare check” of the children, who may have just talked to the abuser hours before.
When that didn’t produce the intended result, it may have been followed up by a completely false contempt filing.
If a client counter-files or fights the contempt, it may result in covert terrorism, such as sending a shot-up range target or attempting to lure the client to a location under false pretenses while in possession of a firearm.
When none of that produces the intended results, it may turn into harassment of and information-seeking from an attorney, real estate agent, friends or personal proxies.
When all that fails, a private investigator may be hired on false pretenses, claiming the children are being hidden or making another outrageous claim, even if the client has just had a successful visitation exchange.