My Order of Protection This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     My life has produced some rough stuff. Not that I'mthe only one who has experienced pain - there are obviously people a lot worseoff than I.

My parents divorced when I was four and, because of a childcustody order, I was "split" between them - four days at Mom's houseand three at Dad's apartment. They had very different views on how I should beraised.

My dad was a Christian, but I use the term lightly because of hisaggressive ways. Most things were wrong, sinful or against God. For instance, Iknew I wanted to study computers and possibly work on scripts for anime videos. Ilove to write as well as play video and computer games, but just like my desireto play a card game at the comic book store, both my passions fell into the"evil" and "Satanic" category. Seems like everything I wasinterested in was wrong to my dad.

Mom, on the other hand, wouldinvestigate things and usually come up with a reasonable compromise. She didn'tthink it evil or Satanic, she just wanted to make sure I balanced my activities.As long as something it wasn't harmful, she usually allowed me to explore it. Mydad called her a sinner even though she has always talked positively about Godand her Catholic faith.

Dad pretty much laid out my life and my future. Hewas in complete control and it was his decision that I would attend a Christianuniversity. He also said that after college (which I would attend while living athome), he would build a house with two floors so he would live with me forever.For many years this is what I thought my life would be. It was the product of hiswarped mind and he accepted all of this as normal. Although I was almost neverphysically abused, there was always the threat. And he would always get veryangry when he thought I had committed a "sin." I would forgive himafter his yelling bouts but as the years went by, it became increasinglydifficult to ignore the truth about him. He was right, and the rest of the worldwas wrong.

I was certain that my growing opposition to my dad wouldeventually lead to violence. I wasn't afraid of most things, but I was afraid ofmy dad. In a way, the constant verbal and mental abuse with its put-downs wereworse than my fear of his physical explosions. He was critical of teachers in ourown church because of their incorrect Biblical knowledge and so we changedchurches a lot.

When I was 13, I began to resent my dad more and more. Oneweekend he became so angry, I ended up calling my mom to come and get me. My dadthreatened to call the police to get me back, and sure enough two officers showedup at her door. It was weird because the story my dad told the police and what Isaid made the officers decide not to return me to my dad even though it was histime. I talked with one of the officers for a long time and he must have seen thetruth in what I was saying because he said something that completely changed mylife. He told me that even though I was only a 13-year-old boy, I had rights, andhe recommended that my mother and I go before a judge for an Order of Protection.We did that the next day.

It seemed like the sky opened up when I didn'thave to go back to my dad. It took that police officer for me to realize that Icould do something about my situation. For all those years I had thought my dadwas the authority on everything. He had even convinced me that my mom could neverwin full custody of me. He told me I would not be allowed to testify and saidthat without that, she would never get me. All the years of my dad's aggressionmade me so nervous I had no hope for my own life.

Now my whole life haschanged. I no longer live in fear. I am in public school and learning Japaneseand trying new things. I volunteer at the YMCA, and my mom and I have a renewedfreedom because we don't have the pressure of me leaving each week to go to mydad's apartment. We have fun.

It's been really hard because the only thingthat stopped my dad from being abusive was a legal judgment saying he couldn'tsee me. I did have to go to court because he fought the Order of Protection. Ihad to talk to two court-appointed psychologists (both recommended that I not beforced to return to my dad), but it was all worth it.

It's been almosttwo years and I have no desire to see him. I don't know if my dad and I will evercommunicate again. Maybe when I'm older. I think I only want to see him if I havea car and could drive away if I want.

I hope that if anyone reads this andrelates to my struggle, they will use the opportunity to get help. Kids do haverights. Parents should guide their children through life, but not so brutallythat they lose sight of who they are and eventually lose a parent.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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