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I eat the donut immediately and get covered in chocolatey goo. A woman in her early fifties is waiting for a stall. I can feel the anxiety and deep grief rolling off her.
’ She puts down the papers and smiles warmly at me. The air thick with cigarette smoke, and my friend Kim’s sewing kit is taken by the cheery guard. ‘I might want to stab him with an embroidery needle if I see him.’ We hike up the stairs. This time I am a veteran, not shaking and anxious, but prepared: a friend, a bunch of bananas, a nutella donut and a pen for writing.
The bonding to an unhealthy man—as many dead women could attest—is a killer. I do not remember walking out of the court room, or how I got the papers, how I got home. Hearts, on the other hand, are dangerous, for they never give up hope. The process to protect women legally is a convoluted one.
The heart lingers long after the head has cut ties. If things are too awful they say fuck this and dissociate. You chose the least shit option.’ • Months later I have to return.
The lawyer explains that means despite physical evidence, it is, essentially, my word against his. ’ ‘But we are all done with court now,’ I say confused. His face crumples with embarrassed, apologetic frustration. This same sense pervades many people I come across during this process.
Remember that time you had to call me because …’ I nod. ’ Jesus, I can only imagine how hard, how impossible the family violence system is to navigate if English isn’t your first language, or you have mental health issues. They’ve closed our branch and your case came into a different branch, and there is a separate branch that deals with family violence stuff and communication is …’ He trails off, shaking his head.
But the parameters of what is possible have been redefined—once again.