This is Her Home Too
She had sent DG an email stating “I need your counsel my lease is running out and I don’t have rent money he has moved out and made me sign divorce papers in lieu of right to stay in the apartment. He visits the apartment whenever he wants but refrains from spending a night under the same roof (it is a requirement of divorce court that they do not spend six months under the same roof) but takes away whatever he wants and yells screams. I have no money to buy baby food or necessities I have to wait for him to bring those for their child. There is a court date in three weeks and I do not know what to do. Please help.”
As they were in the same city DG asked her to come over for a meeting. The woman was a doctor in India and had moved to the US after marrying the love of her life, a software engineer. That one meeting gave her lots of validation and courage to go on for another two weeks while DG traveled. Over time DG has learned how to read legal documents and file responses; on her return together they did that and prepared for the court date. On the eve of court date DG spent a night at her apartment as they had to go early morning to the family court, it is the most unsafe time for the woman when she stands up to an adult bully and he knows she is preparing to leave (here he had filed for divorce). He did his usual yelling and screaming and pointed finger at DG and said, “this is my house, I’ll call cops on you, you are here illegally.” The poor woman was in tears for she had asked DG to be there with her and now had to ask her to leave. By now DG had learned the rules of game played in US of A by desis. She shouted back and asked him to lower his finger as well as his voice because she was not his wife and “this was her home too and she could invite her family and friends as she wished no matter if he liked it or not.” This was a stunner for him no one to that day had stood up to him under his roof and asked him to lower his voice.
Next morning DG approached the man’s attorney and served him the response (just know one has to respond to all legal notifications not doing so will not make them go away rather you’ll be at loss). Without a lawyer the woman pleaded her case (though DG and another male friend wore black coats, they looked like lawyers but were not granted permission to sit beside her) the judge immediately asked the man to deposit $500 in cheque or cash for woman and her child’s expenses and asked him to pay rent and child support of $1500 in back date since he moved out and rest of spousal support and division of assets could be taken care of in subsequent court dates. First thing the man does is fire his attorney because if his wife could stand in the court without a lawyer and beat his lawyers why did he needed to waste $5000 paying a useless fellow. That night DG brought the woman and her child to her place for, there awaited one scorned man to teach a lesson to the timid wife could do nothing.
This was immediate relief the woman needed to get back on her feet in its absence she was vulnerable to further abuse. Lack of knowledge of laws of land and means to beget that information is very difficult for an abused woman who cannot leave home for fear of being locked out or not knowing where to go searching for it. Just one positive association and validation works as a stepping stone to set women free. It still remains a question where to find it when greater number of people you know disapprove of you or can sympathies with you but do not know how to help you.
One thing we could do is tell women the roof they are under no matter who pays rent is their home and by law they have equal rights to invite friends and family. This one affirmation will challenge patriarchy and abusers alike.
It is important we all learn how to help an abused.