In November 2012, after over a year of trying to divorce and get away from him, my abusive ex-husband ambushed my father and me at my apartment and shot us each. In front of our son, who was only 4 years old at the time. Thankfully we all lived, and I have been sharing our story ever since - to save lives. In this blog, I will talk about two key parts of what happened to me: gun violence and system failure. When I left my abuser, I was granted a temporary restraining order against him. Under Florida law, once he was served, law enforcement could seize the firearms in our home. They did. But they also informed us of a giant loophole: it was only a TRO, and he could go out and buy a gun legally the next day. He did buy the 9mm Beretta that he used to try to kill us legally. The justice system could have prevented this tragedy, but didn?t. Our family court judge refused to make the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) a permanent one - despite my request for one every time we went in front of him. My ex was violating the TRO, but the judge would not make it permanent, saying that we would have to figure out a way to be civil and co-parent our son. Clearly the man had zero knowledge or training on domestic violence dynamics - mothers cannot co-parent with their abusive ex-partners. It isn''t possible. In fact, it''s dangerous for women and children. I experienced this lack of knowledge by all aspects of the legal system. From judges, to lawyers, to Child Protective Services agents, to guardians ad litem, to even his military command. All seemed to be suspicious of me and not believe how lethal my ex actually was. Time and again he was given the benefit of the doubt and chance after chance, and all I wanted was to keep my son and I safe. It wasn''t until he actually shot us that all the people in these positions swung into action. I almost had to die to be taken seriously. Our case is rare: my ex was found guilty at the criminal trial and sentenced to 60 years, no chance of parole. But why did it take attempted murder for people in positions to help us to notice and care? It comes down to misogyny, and the way women are treated in these situations is just as abusive as that which we endured by our abusers. It has to change. And that's why I'll never stop talking about it. Check out my book, Killing Kate, where I have told every detail of this story.
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