Though the names have been changed, Alyson’s story is true and common of what happens in the Wild Iris offices.
Alyson kept glancing up at the clock every few minutes, as most of us are wont to do on a Friday afternoon. It’s 4 o’clock and she’s finishing up some paperwork at her desk before heading out for the weekend.
Looking out her office window, Alyson saw a police car pull into the parking lot and a young girl hop out of the passenger seat.
A few moments later a timid head peaked into the front door of Wild Iris. Alyson met the girl at the door and ushered her in. The girl, who could barely pass for eighteen, introduced herself as Lynn and immediately began to cry, as it’s obvious from her puffy eyes she’s had been doing all afternoon. Lynn handed Alyson a massive stack of papers in exchange for a tissue.
“Can you help me fill this out?” Lynn asked between sniffles. “The policeman told me you could. They just arrested my ex-boyfriend and told me I should fill this out for a restraining order. Today my ex followed me through town, slapped me, told me he would kill me, and then smashed my phone when I tried to call for help. All I want is for him to leave me alone.”
Alyson smiled, placed a hand on Lynn’s shoulder, and said, “Of course I’ll help you.”
As Lynn told Alyson more about the abuse she experienced that afternoon and for the past 6 months, all Alyson could think about was the danger Lynn would be in as soon as her ex-boyfriend was released from jail. Alyson was normally equipped to handle such a situation, but it was almost 4:15. Alyson knew if they didn’t have the mountainous stack of paperwork filled out and delivered to the judge before 5pm, when the court closed, Lynn would be left unprotected for the duration of the weekend.
Alyson and Lynn started the paperwork together, but all the while Alyson was considering options for getting Lynn out of town or into a shelter if they couldn’t finish in time. Alyson knew that without a restraining order, the time when an abuser is released from jail is an incredibly dangerous time for a victim.
“He’s going to be so angry with me for getting him arrested,” Lynn said, “I can’t even image what he’ll do.”
Alyson thought to herself, with her years of experience with domestic violence, “Oh, I can imagine exactly what he will do.”
Alyson and Lynn rushed to complete the paperwork and arrived at the front doors of the courthouse just as the bailiff was locking up. It was 5:02.
“Please,” Alyson asked, calling the bailiff by name. “I know it’s late, but it’s urgent.”
The bailiff could see the concern in Alyson’s face and the fear in Lynn’s, and said “Just this once…” as he cracked the door open.
Alyson similarly pleaded with the court clerk, who already had her coat and her keys. “I understand you’re trying to close up, but could you please let the judge look over this request. It’s so important that he sign it before the weekend.”
Thirty minutes later, the clerk handed Alyson a signed copy of the restraining order. As Alyson explained to Lynn that her ex could no longer contact her or harass her in any way without violating a court order, she watched Lynn begin to cry again. This time, however, Lynn was crying tears of relief, not fear.
It was three years before Alyson saw Lynn again, but when she ran into her in the supermarket, Alyson recognized her immediately. Lynn introduced Alyson to her loving new husband, then gave her a hug and whispered, “I wouldn’t be here today without you. Thank you.