Allison came to the Domestic Violence Project for assistance with an Injunction for Protection Against Stalking. She had separated from her boyfriend Josh who had been controlling and abusive during their relationship, and now he refused to take “no” for an answer. After Allison moved out, Josh pursued her relentlessly, sending her thousands of messages through a texting app, begging her to come back. He ignored Allison’s requests to be left alone, along with her requests that he return some valuable documents and personal items which he held hostage to keep a connection to her. Allison also started receiving text messages from unknown numbers, purportedly from admirers propositioning her and then questioning her relationship status. Accompanied by her father, Allison went to retrieve some items and found her laptop and tablet smashed and her cellular phone missing. Lying, Josh told her had thrown the cellular phone into a lake, but that perhaps she could get it back if she just did what he wanted. When Allison reported his actions to law enforcement she was told there was nothing they could do. Josh denied destroying or taking the items, and Allison couldn’t prove it. In continuing text communications Josh spelled out the different things Allison needed to do for him to get back each remaining item. The text messages documented his dogged attempts to extort Allison into reconciliation or contact with him. Allison remembers: “I went back to the police after this, and they were not able to help me because it was just what they call ‘he said she said’. I felt so helpless. I couldn’t believe someone could just treat me this way and totally get away with it. I had to do something.”
When Alison came to DVP, she was suffering from severe anxiety due to the manipulations of her abuser. Her attempts to find a resolution through law enforcement had failed, she was terrified to see her abuser again, and she feared that her attempts to obtain an injunction would be fruitless since her allegations detailed no physical violence or specific threats to do her harm. The DVP attorney met with Allison to prepare for the injunction hearing. With Allison’s help the attorney gathered and reviewed thousands of text messages. Two of the “unknown numbers” were also traced back to Josh. Armed with evidence of Josh’s stalking, Allison and her attorney prepared for a difficult hearing.
Anxiety issues and paralyzing fear of her abuser would make Allison’s hearing challenging, but presented with compelling evidence of stalking, the judge granted an indefinite injunction and ordered Josh to return Allison’s personal items within ten days. Josh was also ordered to surrender all firearms and ammunition to law enforcement and to not possess them as long as the injunction was in place. When Josh disobeyed the court order and didn’t return Allison’s personal items, the DVP attorney filed a motion for contempt. Josh protested, saying he didn’t have the items. He had likely destroyed them weeks before. Using the text messages as evidence, the attorney used Josh’s own words to prove his deception. He was ordered to pay Allison several hundred dollars in replacement value for the items. Subsequently the DVP attorney, Katy Oleksy, learned that Josh continued to carry and use firearms, and filed another motion for contempt. The attorney then brought the firearms violation to the attention of law enforcement and the State Attorney. A couple days later Josh was arrested for the violation. When he was taken into custody, a shotgun was in his truck.
When asked about her experience with Legal Aid’s Domestic Violence Project, Allison is overwhelmed with appreciation stating, ”I would have never believed that I would feel as amazing as I do today. My world was in shambles. My mind was a mess. My heart was broken. Katy picked me back up and showed me that I can be strong. He can’t just push me around like that! I can overcome. Good people do win! I have learned so much from this experience, and I am so happy with the way things turned out. Lawyers are so important. If I didn’t have Katy to help me with my case, I don’t think I would have ever come this far!”To help other clients like Allison continue to receive access to legal services that protects them from domestic abuse, please consider supporting our program today by clicking here.