Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You

Crafting Your Safety Plan During Divorce

July 06, 2023 Attorney Billie Tarascio
Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You
Crafting Your Safety Plan During Divorce
Show Notes Transcript

Divorce can be the most dangerous time for those who have experienced domestic violence. It can also be tricky inside the law office working on your case, if your ex is crazy, angry and ready to lash out.

In this special episode of the Modern Divorce Podcast, Host Billie Tarascio talks with Caitlin Lindahl, a law office manager who has had to create safety plans and manage the crazies who might think they'll come by the office (or yours!) to do something foolish. Caitlin talks about the training and steps to take to protect yourself both at your workplace and your home.

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[00:00:42] Billie Tarascio: Hi there, and welcome back to another episode of the Modern Divorce podcast.

I'm your host, Billy Tarascio, owner of Modern Law, and Win Without Law School, and today I am joined by OG Caitlin Lindell. Caitlin, how you doing? Fantastic. How are you? Fantastic. So today's [00:01:00] topic is gonna be on safety planning during Divorce, and Caitlyn is our facilities operator. She has been around and with the firm since its inception, and we have, had quite a few safety threats over the years, not only to us but our clients.

[00:01:18] Caitlin Lindahl: That is valid, 

[00:01:19] Billie Tarascio: Yeah. And so anybody going through a Divorce, well not anybody, but many people going through a Divorce, um, may be in an unsafe situation. And, um, also lawyers can be in an unsafe situation, and not just lawyers, but those who work at law firms for many, many, many years, Caitlyn was that front desk person and we would get active threats that people were coming to our office.

[00:01:45] Caitlin Lindahl: Yeah. Um, I do think there are definite steps that we can take as a firm and also as a individual to try to help keep everybody as safe as possible. Um, I can go through some ideas if that's, that's useful. 

[00:01:58] Billie Tarascio: Yeah. So we've, we've [00:02:00] done some safety planning, but yeah. So first, why don't you share with people kind of what threats you and we have received and how we've handled it.

[00:02:09] Caitlin Lindahl: Of course. Um, so one of the. Threats that I feel like comes up that is most nerve-wracking for the majority of the firm is when somebody calls and says, my ex is really mad. They're headed into your firm. Or, um, the, the opposing party itself calls in and, you know, comes that. You because you don't know when they're coming, what they're coming, are they just coming to yell?

And so nerves get, you know, really high and we've all heard of the horror stories and that's not fun. So typically in, in those scenarios, what we've done is anybody who can go home, we send home. Um, and if we can't, you know, lock up the office for some reason and just go home, what we do do is I remove everyone from the front and I lock the doors.

And so then if we know that somebody's coming at a specific time, we will listen. And then, [00:03:00] uh, usually if I can take point, I will safely go check and then let people in as needed if we can. But if you can reroute. Whoever needs to come to the office that day for any reason. Like you just, you try to make as minimal people there as humanly possible.

Um, if you, one of the other things that, that we've done is, um, the threat of, You know, like shooters coming in. So we, especially after the, I think it was a law firm in Scottsdale, had some, an opposing party who was very, very mad at how the ruling came down, came in and, and opened fire. Um, we took that as an opportunity to bring in, um, some police officers.

To kind of run us through some stats as a firm with that. And so things that they taught us were to go through your office in each and every single room and look for what items you could use to protect yourself and what you could use to [00:04:00] barricade the doors and the windows. And so we as a firm went into each of the offices and talked through what we would use because there's so much that says if you preplan your problem, Your brain will remember that in the time of the incident and you're less likely to freeze and you're more likely to take action.

So, um, those are a couple of things that we've done as a firm to try to help us, um, be a little bit more prepared for when those instances come up. And 

[00:04:31] Billie Tarascio: luckily we haven't had anybody that has actually come to the firm with a gun, no. Or been super aggressive. We certainly have had people at the firm who are very upset or maybe, maybe not entirely stable.

So at that point, our deescalation training comes in. So we've done some deescalation training, some active shooter training. And the other thing is whenever we've gotten a threat that somebody's coming there with a gun, which has happened a number of times, we've called the police. And [00:05:00] we've told the person, Hey, the police are here, or they're on their way and just, well, 

[00:05:05] Caitlin Lindahl: or given, because, you know, sometimes we have their photo because we had to serve them and we, we give all of that information to the police.

So, And then let them know, like, Hey, they have all your information, so. Mm-hmm. 

[00:05:18] Billie Tarascio: Yeah. So by, by planning, by knowing what you're gonna do, we certainly feel a little safer. Um, the other thing that I started doing after we had this active shooter training was bringing in, um, Delilah to work Delilah the. Office dog who's laying over here sleeping, who's like a 12 year old, um, white goldendoodle who is not really gonna be like protecting us, but any type of, um, interference is a good thing.

[00:05:47] Caitlin Lindahl: Right? Um, the other thing that I started to incorporate in onboarding is, um, as we bring on new people into the firm, Talking through with them some of the procedures, where are the emergency exits and [00:06:00] where you work at. Mm-hmm. Um, how do you get out? What are the steps, you know, if there's an emergency, kind of just going through some of those basic things to try to help people think through what they might do.

Yeah. Um, 

[00:06:16] Billie Tarascio: So any person who is going through a Divorce or if you work in an office and you and you, you know, may be exposed, there are some basic things that you can do that is safety planning. And at this point, with the world that we live in and the number of shootings that there are, we all need to be thinking about and doing some safety planning.

So you have to decide whether or not you're gonna keep your doors locked. Some law firms keep their doors locked at all times. 

[00:06:43] Caitlin Lindahl: Or I've, I mean I've definitely, uh, seen a handful of firms that also have those, um, metal, uh, so that they don't have it locked all the time, but they have a button that they can immediately lock it.

Um, yeah. So that [00:07:00] then if they do see a threat, they can hit a button and then the person can't enter without trying to get through that option. So, 

[00:07:08] Billie Tarascio: And if you are leaving a relationship that is violent or has had violence in that relationship, It is incredibly important for you to come up with a safety plan, and I would recommend you talk to a domestic violence shelter or, um, a domestic violence advocate who can help you come up with a specific safety plan.

And this spec, the safety plan should not be generic. It should be specific to your house. Your neighbors, your resources, and your potential threat. So even a brief exercise of going through like, where are my exits? How can I get out? Because the cops taught us, what is it? Run, hide. Fight, right? Yep. First, get away if you can Get away.

Get away. Yeah. Get away. If you can. Get away. Get away. Next. Hide if they don't find you. [00:08:00] Fabulous. Hide, barricade, get yourself safe that way. And third, be prepared to fight. Because the worst thing you can do is, you know, you can't run, you have hidden or you can't hide, and now you have one option and that is to fight.

And so going through the, the mental exercise of what would I throw, 

[00:08:21] Caitlin Lindahl: what would I, they even talked through the level of like, um, You know, uh, grabbing the, the gun as it entered in, but being aware of the fact that like, that gun is going to be so hot, but that is still like, they can't shoot you if you have a hold of like, things along those lines.

Uh, like I just, there's so many, I know that there's so many options out there these days to get educated on that, that I just think it, it's unfortunate we live in this day and age, but it's, it is where we are at. I know that even when I go to like. Places now, like big malls, I pay a lot more attention to [00:09:00] where are my exits, even within the substores.

Like, you know, cuz every place has an exit inside of a store. Almost always. Like, it sucks, but that's where we're at. 

[00:09:12] Billie Tarascio: And if you have, if your, if your relationship has been violent, you are at most risk when you leave. You just are so considerate. An order of protection. I know people say they don't work, but I can tell you based on my 20 years in Family Law and experience with Order of Protections, they actually do make a huge difference to the people who I know who have gotten them.

I personally am happy to report, I don't know, I haven't had any clients who have been, um, hurt or offended or, um, Shot or anything after an order of protection was in place, usually violations. Once you set those boundaries, if you start holding the boundary, you know, if you call in the [00:10:00] call, that is an order that is a violation.

If you set really firm boundaries, it does seem to make a difference in the vast majority of cases. Certainly not all of them, but it's something to consider and I do think that they work and they have a fairly. They have a, a real impact on the dynamic because if nothing else, what you're doing is stopping the communication and that communication can spiral into violence quickly.

So you really wanna cut off the communication or figure out a way to have boundaries around communication that make the communication, um, as limited as possible. The other thing is if I know many, many women who have filed for Divorce and been so nervous, I'm not sure if he will be violent. He hasn't been violent in the past, but I'm not sure what he will do.

And I, I, I just think that that is incredibly normal. I can't tell you how many women I've talked to who have felt that way. Um, but also in my experience, the vast majority of time, if there hasn't been violence in your relationship, [00:11:00] there, there, there won't be. I don't know if that's, that's good news.

Statistically true, but I can just say I've had probably hundreds of those conversations of, I'm not sure if he will do anything he hasn't before, but what if and every time nothing's happened. Praise. He's 

[00:11:16] Caitlin Lindahl: good. I, I always think of, I'm a, I'm a what if kid and an overthinker, so I always kind of think about, so this is a fear of mine.

What would be my plan? Then like, and kind of go through that same concept of like, okay, well, I. They never have been before. But what if they are, okay, what can I do to ensure that me or me and my children are gonna be safe? Is it that, you know, we go stay somewhere that they don't know for a few days when they first get the, the, the get served?

You know, so that then if they get really emotional at first, then they don't even know where to find you. Maybe you change up your routine a little bit. Um, I think those are easy ways to. [00:12:00] Just, you know, create a little bit of difference so that if somebody gets really mad Yeah, 

[00:12:06] Billie Tarascio: I agree. That makes they get 

[00:12:07] Caitlin Lindahl: a little bit back in check before they end up seeing you.


[00:12:10] Billie Tarascio: Yeah. Prevention is key. Having a plan is key. Ring cameras are so, so easy now and they, they record to the cloud. It's a deterrent. You are on camera. Signs are a deterrent. So my goal with this podcast, we are by no means experts in this. No, not at all. By no means are we experts, but simply planting the seed to talk about it, to think about it, to go out and seek that expert help.

And you know, maybe it's time for us to get, um, another expert opinion because things are different now that we are mostly at home. It does seem to be a little safer. 

[00:12:51] Caitlin Lindahl: There are, um, you know, uh, I don't know if you're interested, but I, I have seen a couple of new door locks too that, um, [00:13:00] go into the seam of the door so that people can't bust through the doors.

So like, um, there, there are a lot of new inventions like that out as well that can help you very minimally make your doors and your things like that. Even another level of secure from. From everyone, you know, robbers. 

[00:13:21] Billie Tarascio: Yeah, that's a great idea. Yeah. So definitely with this podcast we will link to resources.

We will, um, make sure that you have. Some ideas to get you started, and as I said, please don't stop here. 

[00:13:35] Caitlin Lindahl: Mm-hmm. No, 

[00:13:37] Billie Tarascio: and thank you so much for coming on the show. I think this has been a super informative.

Different episode, but I hope that it is one that people enjoy. And if you have enjoyed this podcast, please make sure to download it, like it, share it, rank it, review it. And um, if you or someone you know would make a great guest on the Modern Divorce podcast, please do send them my way. Thanks so much.

Thanks for having [00:14:00] me. 

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