Emotional Abuse


As many as 10 million children per year witness or are caught in the middle of domestic violence. Domestic violence, and the resulting trauma, has a profound effect on a child’s physical, emotional, behavioral and social health. Children who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence commonly suffer from: anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, nightmares, flashbacks and feelings of guilt/remorse.

A relationship with a stable, caring adult is one of the most important factors in a child’s recovery from abuse or trauma, and can help to break the cycle of violence.

Some tips on how you can best support an abused child, and be a positive role model :

*** If you are working as a mentor, “Big Brother/Sister”, peer support, spiritual support, advocate or family/friend to this child, be consistent in scheduling regular visits. Don’t over commit your time then miss a visit. Don’t schedule a large number of visits then decrease the visits unexpectedly. Consistency is crucial to a child’s sense of safety—so schedule visits on a regular basis that is realistic to what you can offer, and what your time/energy allows for. Then put those visits on a calendar so the child knows what to expect, and can plan for your visit.

*** Working with an abused child can be triggering, exhausting or very emotional for the support person—so make sure you are caring for your own physical and emotional needs. This may involve a “check-in” with your supervisor. Or taking classes or attending support groups with the organization you are working for. Or it may involve self-care such as taking a walk/exercise, listening to music, reading, enjoying a hobby etc. If you feel the need to talk about your day, keep the privacy of those you are working with—do not reveal their real name or sensitive personal information about their case or family situation. If there is an urgent issue, go to a supervisor for help, if there is no supervisor you may consider calling a domestic violence shelter for advice or calling 911 in an emergency or if you feel the child’s life is in danger.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline for victims is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or http://www.thehotline.org. Information about local is also available through the hotline.
NATIONAL CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
Crisis Counselors Available 24/7 or http://www.childhelp.org/

*** Use community resources as needed, this may include children’s support groups for victims of abuse, parenting classes, religious/spiritual support, food shelves, housing support, case management etc.
A good place to find resources is United Way 211: http://www.211.org/

*** Creating a welcoming, child-friendly environment will reduce anxiety and help foster trust. This may include offering toys, books or games (that are non-violent). Opening a window to allow sunlight in the room. Including pets in the visit. Greeting the child in a way that is comfortable to them—soft voice, smile, avoiding direct eye contact, calling them by a preferred nickname etc (you will learn these over time, as your relationship grows). Or being sensitive to cultural needs. Be consistent in your routine. Allow the child choices. And be open to trying new things, in a creative way.

*** Listen with an open, neutral ear. Refrain from judgment, shame or blame. Be open to hearing the child’s unique way of expressing themselves– their voice may not come out in a direct conversation but may be revealed in a game, in playing with toys, relating to a song or art/drawing a picture etc.

*** Domestic violence and trauma can affect a child’s mood, behavior and ability to socialize. If needed, develop a “safety plan” with the child, their parent(s) and therapist to address behavioral problems if they arise. Work with parent(s) and care providers to become aware of the child’s emotional or behavioral issues, their triggers so you can better meet the child’s needs.

*** “Kids Helping Kids: A Guide for Children Exposed to Domestic Violence” by Mental Health Programs, BC Children’s Hospital is a valuable resource and support for kids, parent(s) and caregivers.
“Kids Helping Kids” offers testimonies about domestic violence told by children in stories and pictures, which validates to children that they are not alone, and the feelings they have are okay.
“Kids Helping Kids” offers tips on how to support abused children, and gives general advise on commonly available community resources. It also offers child-friendly tips on how to talk to children about their feelings and the changes happening in their family.
I highly recommend “Kids Helping Kids” – it’s written in child-friendly manner to educate children about abuse and help prepare them to cope with the trauma, and the changes occurring in their family (which may include out of home placement or court involvement).

Any more tips? Please share your thoughts, resources or links in the comments box!

For More Information and Tips:

“Helping Children Exposed to Domestic Violence”. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, “Facts for Families Pages”, #109, April 2013: http://www.aacap.org/aacap/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/Helping_Children_Exposed_to_Domestic_Violence_109.aspx

“Honor Our Voices: A for Practice When Responding to Children Exposed to Domestic Violence.” Presented by MINCAVA, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare and Avon Foundation for Women: http://www.honorourvoices.org/docs/GuideforPractice.pdf

“How Can I Help a Child Exposed to Domestic Violence?”. National Online Resources Center on Violence Against Women, Casey Keene, 1/2/2013: http://www.vawnet.org/news/2013/01/child_exposed/

“Kids Helping Kids: A Guide for Children Exposed to Domestic Violence” by Mental Health Programs, BC Children’s Hospital:

http://bcsth.ca/sites/default/files/Kids%20Helping%20Kids.pdf

Talking to a “Protective Mother” Who Lost Custody of Children
Due to an Unjust Court Ruling: 10 Comments to Avoid & Why

PART TWO COMMENTS #5-1

These tips are for family, friends, community supports, professionals and others who are in a position to help or support a “Protective Mother”. It is devastating for a Mother to lose custody of her children—especially in a family court proceeding where she may feel victimized, violated and abused (and there no recourse for justice). Those closest to the Mother often struggle with what to say or how to help. Sometimes comments made to help actually hurt the Mother. Other times, those making comments struggle with their own emotions and/or grief and their actions and behavior causes hurt or harm because they are also struggling or don’t know what to say. Some just don’t believe that a court of law would make a mistake, and believe the Mother must have done something wrong to lose custody. These 10 Comments are commonly reported among Protective Mothers to be hurtful, and traumatic. I am sharing these comments to raise awareness, and offer tips on how to better offer emotional support to Protective Mothers.

grief

5. Don’t tell a Mother how you want to hurt or get revenge on the ex. And don’t vent or dump anger, hatred or plotting revenge onto the Mother. This happens when a Mother tells her story and there is a strong reaction that involves harming the ex or fantasies of getting back at him.
The Reality: Holding in hurt, anger, hopelessness and other feelings intensifies those feels, and will ultimately cause more hurt and pain in your life—or that of someone else if you lash out. Words and actions to hurt or get revenge on an ex will negatively impact the custody case of the Protective Mother, and may cause her to be punished by the Court—even if she did not commit any crime or wrongdoing.
I heard a lot of anger towards my ex after I lost custody of my children; it made me afraid of talking about my situation because I felt I had to take care of and protect my friends and family members from the bad news. As a result I felt alone. Or hearing intense anger about the abuser intensified my own feelings or triggered memories of abuse.
If you are a friend or family member of a Protective Mother, and witnessed her being abused or losing custody, it is normal to feel empathy—to feel hurt, anger or frustration but don’t dump or project those feelings onto the Mother of the ex. Recognize that in your role as a support, at times, you will need support or rest—the loss of the child and trauma of family court will affect you as well.
Another tip: Take time for hobbies, recreation, social activities and other activities that are important to you, don’t withdraw or isolate. It is important to have an outlet, and to keep a connection to the things that bare a positive for you. When you can use your energy in activities or ways that make you feel good about yourself, or offer a way to vent frustrations in a safe, healthy way—that will help you work through the pain and hurt, and lead to healing. It may also be something you can enjoy together with the Protective Mom, and be another way of offering support.

4. Don’t completely Ignore the Situation and Act Like Everything is Fine.
The Reality: Acting like everything is fine, and ignoring the most traumatic loss a Mother can experience—her children—IS NOT HELPFUL! This will make a Mother feel alone, isolated and that she has no one to turn to for comfort or support. It is better to be honest and up front about your own feelings and limitations, so the Mother knows what to expect.
Then again, if the family or friends are acting like the loss of your children is no big deal, and seem unable to empathize with you, this may indicate an unhealthy relationship. You may have to reconsider this relationship and what your role in it.

3. Should’s… Don’t tell a Mother what they “should” have done differently in Court or in their marriage/divorce. Or criticize the mom’s lifestyle, appearance, employment, religion, etc. to excuse/blame/justify what happened.
The Reality: See #6. Similarly, don’t give a Mom “shoulds” if her appearance, demeanor, habits etc change after losing her children. Be understanding the loss of a child is incredibly painful and traumatic
—it feels like a death even though your children are alive, especially when you cannot have contact with those children. So be sensitive and understanding to the needs of the Mother, and allow her time to grieve and process. If you see the Mother is struggling, gently ask to help or offer support but also respect her answer, don’t force yourself onto her. I remember that after I lost my kids, my church sent me a postcard that said “We prayed for you” and the prayer team signed their names to it—that meant so much to me. Simple gestures go a long way, and one of the most profound gestures is loving acceptance. Give the Mother your love and acceptance—not your “should’s”,

2. Comments that you must have done something to make the Court take your kids/Good moms don’t lose custody of their children. Comments that Insist a Mother must “prove” her case. Examples: I don’t believe you//Judges would never award custody an abuser/Courts are always fair etc …

The Reality: Fit, loving Mothers who are primary caregivers lose custody at alarming rates—this is happen across the US, and all over the world. Your initial reaction may be disbelief, and for good reason, but don’t project that disbelief onto the Mother—take some time to process your own feelings before approaching the Mother or take time to educate yourself on the issues. The Mother will be hurting, and will need your support. The questions you have are probably are ones running through the Mother’s mind over and over. And are questions family court reformers are struggling with now. Even if you don’t have the answers for what happened in court or in her custody situation, focus on what you do have control of and ways you can offer support or help—make a cup of hot chocolate, suggest a support group or day at the spa, lead a prayer, bring her a meal, offer to help with housework.. etc When the Mother is ready, she may open up and talk more about her situation, for her to do that she must have trust in you, and feel safe. That process begins with offering support, and being present with her in her pain—not questioning, just being available.

1. Don’t say or do things that jeopardize the current custody case, custody situation or the Mother’s relationship to her child(ren).
This may include: Social media posts that threaten, criticize or harass the ex. Contacting the ex or making deals in order to see the children (or for other reasons). Publicly criticizing the Mother or showing a lack or support. Not respecting the Mother’s wishes or requests regarding her children or need for privacy. Breaking court orders. Talking negatively about either parent in front of the children. Putting the child in the middle of the custody dispute. Attending court hearings and showing emotional displays or outbursts in court, threatening either party, being disruptive or dressing provocatively in court. Publicly criticizing, harassing or naming the judge, attorneys, or other involved parties. Publicly naming the children, and revealing sensitive information about abuse allegations or information that should be private (legal name, address, date of birth, where they live, etc). Getting revenge on either party.

The Reality: DO NOT take the law into your own hands! Even though the Court situation can seem hopeless or that there is no justice, do not make it worse with aggressive, hostile or crazy behavior and actions that may cause the Court to further punish the Mother or restrict her parenting time—this is NOT helpful.

Consider seeking support and finding a safe outlet instead. Support may come from friends, family, community. Church, Professional help (lawyers, support group, counseling, religious support, classes, grief group etc).

Lisa Copen Quote

Talking to a “Protective Mother” Who Lost Custody of Children
Due to an Unjust Court Ruling: 10 Comments to Avoid & Why

PART ONE: COMMENTS 10-6

These tips are for family, friends, community supports, professionals and others who are in a position to help or support a “Protective Mother”. It is devastating for a Mother to lose custody of her children—especially in a family court proceeding where she may feel victimized, violated and abused (and there no recourse for justice). Those closest to the Mother often struggle with what to say or how to help. Sometimes comments made to help actually hurt the Mother. Other times, those making comments struggle with their own emotions and/or grief and their actions and behavior causes hurt or harm because they are also struggling or don’t know what to say. Some just don’t believe that a court of law would make a mistake, and believe the Mother must have done something wrong to lose custody. These 10 Comments are commonly reported among Protective Mothers to be hurtful, and traumatic. I am sharing these comments to raise awareness, and offer tips on how to better offer emotional support to Protective Mothers.

What is a “Protective Mom”?: A Protective Mother fights to protect her child(ren) from domestic abuse that occurred in their relationship with an ex spouse/partner. After the Mother escapes the abuse, an abusive ex often uses legal proceedings to intimidate, control, or retaliate against her. Protective Mothers raise concerns about abuse in family court only to lose custody, parenting time and/or rights to her child(ren) due to corruption and systematic failures in family court. Children are then vulnerable to further abuse, and forcibly separated from a fit, loving mother.

These comments are not meant to generalize all custody situations but to explore how domestic violence and controlling behavior does not simply end with the relationship but continues, and even escalates, after the victim has left—and how family members and friends struggle with how to best support the Mother, who is further devastated when an abusive ex gains custody of her children.

10 Comments to Avoid & Why

10. Do Not make a “deal with the devil” to gain access to or contact with the children, who are now in the custody and control of the ex.

An abusive ex may engage the support of a concerned friend or family member—he may lie, manipulate or use the children as pawns to win their trust and gain an “ally”. Why? Once the abuser has won the support of someone closest to the Mother, he will use that person for his own reasons—which may include isolating the mother, gaining an “ally” to fight against the mother, getting information about the mother or otherwise escalating the control and abuse. An abuser will never see these people as a friend or family member, they are just serving his own needs.

Do NOT negotiate with an abuser to gain access or visitation with the children; this may pose a safety risk to both Mother and Child, and may damage her custody case/situation. This includes: Giving emotional, financial or other support to the ex to gain access or visitation with the children. Testifying in court or providing statements to professionals on behalf of the ex. Violating court orders (which often jeopardizes the Mother’s case and/or custody arrangement). Not respecting the wishes or preferences of the Mother. Criticizing, bullying or pressuring the Mother into unsafe situations so you can gain access to the children. Offering support or help to the Mother than taking it away in order to compel her to do what you want. Not being understanding or supportive of a Mother’s custody arrangement or time with her children (putting your needs and wants first). Etc

The Reality: You may feel justified to take these actions because you want to continue your relationship with the children but what you are doing is causing more harm to the family, and showing the children that abuse is acceptable. A child who has been a victim of domestic violence or witnessed it, knows something is not right in the home. A child also knows something is wrong when their Mother is taken away, suddenly and without explanation. To see a loved one make deals and become allies with an abuser enforces to that child that they cannot trust adults, and that coping with abuse involves appeasing the abuser. This will only cause more pain and hurt in the child’s life. Especially if your actions contribute to the child becoming alienated from their Mother, or result in the Court restricting her parenting time.

Instead, take a stand against abuse. Model healthy, appropriate behavior in your words and actions. Be a source of support to Mother and Child. A safe haven. Someone they can trust or rely on.

If you are a friend or family member who is hurting or grieving because an unjust court order forcibly took a child from your life, and gave custody to an abuser, the answer is NOT seeking an alliance with the abuser. There are other ways to maintain the bond that has been broken (although that will be different from the relationship you once shared), and also receive the support you may need. Ideas include: come together as a family, as a community to seek support or comfort in each other. To share special memories. To grieve, and heal. Go to court with the Mother to offer support. Start a fundraiser to help with legal costs. Pray. Seek a support group. Volunteer to fill the void, and use those same energies in a positive way. Find ways within the Court order to maintain contact with the child (regular phone calls, e-mail, letters, spending holidays together, etc.) Most important- do not accept, appease or tolerate abuse.

9. Comments that the Mother just needs to “move on with your life”, “get over it” or “forgive/make peace” etc
The Reality: For a Mother, her children are an inseparable part of who she is, what her life is—she carried them in your body for nine months and nurtured their life. She nursed them through sickness. Prayed over them. Poured her love, energy and soul into her children. A child can never truly be separated from their mother—she will always carry a part of her children with her. A Mother does not move on, or forget or make peace after the loss of a child. Her world is totally shattered, never to be put together in the same way again. The Mother may experience nightmares, fits of crying, depression, anxiety and physical illness and other physical or emotional symptoms because of the loss and grief. The loss of children due to an unjust court situation is made even worse when the Mother believes her children are not safe, when a dangerous abuser wins custody.

To tell a Mother to just “move on” or “get over it” implies that she needs to accept the abuse and injustice and just go back to life as normal; this is extremely damaging. It is better to just to be honest about what you are thinking and feeling. If you hear a Mother’s story and just don’t know what to say or how to comfort her, admit that you don’t have the answers or you don’t understand or you don’t know what to say; that is understandable.

If you struggle with what to say to a grieving Mother, try another approach. After I lost my children, I had a friend who never had children, and didn’t really know what to say or how to approach the subject of abuse with my ex, and losing custody of my children. He would offer to take me to a coffee shop, where we would hang out playing checkers, or sometimes we just sat at a park, in silence. Knowing I had a friend to just be there gave so much comfort. It was nice to have the presence of a caring friend who didn’t judge or ask questions or pressure me to do anything. When I felt comfortable I would talk. Other times I just needed a distraction.

Just being present, offering a shoulder to cry on, or welcoming a Mother into your are good ways to show support—open displays of support and affection can are as important as words. If you don’t have the words, try giving your support with loving actions or demonstrations of care (and respect her choice whether to participate or not).

8. Comments that it must be nice having “a break from your kids”.
The Reality: See #9. Protective Mothers who are forcibly separated from children due to unjust family court rulings experience considerable trauma and grief—they may not see their children for weeks, months, years and some lose all contact with their children. Other Mothers are subjected to further abuse, intimidation, humiliation and controlling behavior from their abusive ex partner when attempting to see or contact children. It is important to offer emotional support to a Mother based on where she is, do not project your own feelings or ideas onto her—and do not vent your own frustrations about your children onto her. Be there to listen, offer a hug, pray or whatever else the Mother is comfortable with. Let the Mother express what is needed, and respect her boundaries. Most important, understand this is a significant loss, very painful to endure.

7. Comments that involve spiritual or religious advice based on opinion, judgment or assumption. Examples: This is “God’s will”, “If God wants you to have your kids back, He will make a way”, You are being “punished” for a sin or other wrong, “God hates divorce”, and “You are being tested” etc.

It is normal to question why bad things happen in this world—why there is abuse or injustice, why bad things happen to good people. It is normal to wrestle with faith at times, to struggle with thoughts or emotions; especially at times you are struggling with or dealing with situations beyond your control. But it is not okay to vent your frustrations, emotions, or other personal issues onto another person—especially some who is vulnerable, and struggling, like a Protective Mother. When someone is struggling or hurting, they need compassion not judgment, shame or religious clichés. If you cannot offer that support, it is better to be honest, and set a boundary rather than say or do something that will negatively impact someone else. Seek help from a church leader or other community resource as an alternative but be open to what you can help with, or how you are able to give.

Similarly, churches and congregations are supposed to be places of refuge and support for needy people. If you find someone hurting, crying, or reacting poorly to advise you have given, it may be time to examine your message, and what you are offering. If you cannot offer the support that is needed, be honest, and help find another resource. And be open to growth in yourself, and in your church as a whole—which may involve further education, support from another church/organization or working together as a whole to meet a need. You also may want to work with a faith based organization that is working with abuse victims.

6. Comments that, “I knew all along”…Remarks that you knew the relationship was troubled or you could foresee problems, or you would have done things differently. Those who make these remarks usually stayed silent during the course of the relationship and then pounce with comments when it is over, the comments often sound harsh, critical or judgmental.
The Reality: Abusers are often charming and/or manipulative, they know how to win people to their side, it is difficult to predict the outcome. Even after a woman has left the abuse, there may still be a lot of unanswered questions—she may never have the answers.

Part of healing is letting go of “should’s” and being able to feel empowered over your life, your body, your choices in the present. Healing also includes finding healthy ways to deal with mistakes without living in regret or dwelling on the past—which will only make you feel victimized. Domestic Violence agencies and organizations may offer help in the way of classes/education, support groups, family support, counseling and advocacy services to help process what has happened, receive support from professionals, and receive feedback from other woman who have also survived abuse. You are not alone!

HOPE

Another story of family court injustice.. abusive drug addicted father gains sole custody of infant twin children, who are forcibly separated from their mother, and forced to endure 10 years of horrific abuse and neglect.

Twin siblings Georgia and Walker “Patterson” Inman III, heirs to a multi-million dollar estate, survived a horrific life of abuse at the hands of their father, Walker Inman Jr. Georgia stated she didn’t think she would survive the abuse. The family court ruling did not serve the best interest of the Inman children and in fact, endangered their lives and subjected them to 10 years of abuse.

Walker is accused of squandering their fortune and inflicting brutal mental and physical abuse on the children. His fifth wife, Daralee Inman, was also accused of abuse–and found to have committed physical abuse on the children by the South Carolina Department of Social Services (in 2011). Friends and associates connected to Walker are also accused of abuse and stealing from the estate. The children were also subjected to severe parental alienation, and led to believe their mother abandoned them–and made to fear Daisha Inamn. After the death of Walker, Daisha, was finally able to regain custody of her children. Freed from years of abuse, the children have been reunited with their mother and are working to rebuild their lives as a family, together.

Marriage Ending in Custody Nightmare

In 1996, Walker married his 4th wife, model Daisha Lorraine Williams, the twins were born a year later. The marriage was troubled, and didn’t last long. Daisha claims that Walker took off the children in 1999, while they were on vacation, leaving Daisha behind, then went into hiding. Daisha did not her children for several months then was served with a notice to appear in family court–Walker was seeking a divorce and sole custody of the twins. In 2000, the Court awarded sole custody of the twins to Walker, both were just 2 years old. Daisha alleges that Walker bribed court officials to get a favorable custody ruling. In the heated custody battle Walker claims that Daisha was a mentally unstable topless dancer unfit for custody. Walker was found, with evidence, to be a heroin addict who went through women like kleenex, marrying and divorcing a total of 5 women. With a record like that, you have to wonder how anyone would take seriously Walker’s judgment of women??

According to the Post & Courier, “A court-appointed guardian in Platte County, Wyo., concluded that the children would be better off with Inman despite his history of “multiple marriages for short durations; his drug, alcohol and cigarette use; limited parenting experience and prior parenting mistakes; and his unusual, perhaps dysfunctional, upbringing,” court records show.

Note all of these risk factors mentioned by the Guardian (multiple marriages, substance abuse, lack of parenting experience, parenting mistakes, history of family dysfunction) would and should justify no custody, and supervised visitation, until Walker could prove that he is drug free and could provide a safe, and stable environment for the children. There are laws a court has to follow to protect children from abuse, and parents who may endanger them. When a parent is found to be that dysfunctional, and poses a safety risk to the children, the Court usually recommends a course of action for the parent, and there is usually some monitoring by an involved professionals. In those cases, parents are referred to supervised visitation in a safety center. The court can revisit custody at a later time by issuing a temporary order, or may order sole custody to the other parent. This court ruling does not make sense–unless you assume that the court is corrupt, and not acting on the best interest of the children.

Daisha continued to battle for custody and visitation time with her children, in 2009, her case reached the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Allegations of Abuse Walker Inman Jr.

Walker Inman Jr. was an eccentric figure–he was gourmet chef, a world traveller and collector of weapons (knives, guns, grenades–many are highly collectible and valuable). Walker was also an expert in explosives. In happier memories, Walker enjoyed showing his son how to blow things up (cars, trailers, fireworks etc.), this became a hobby for them. Walker was also said to have brought grenades and guns to school, to show the other children in “show and tell”. The family also enjoyed exotic pets (a lion, an alligator, a camel), and going on luxury vacations. But the good times were few and far between.

Supporters of Walker and Daralee Inman claim abuse never happened, and that the children were well cared for.

Walker was known to be heavy into drugs–heroin, methadone and strong narcotic pain pills were favorites.

After Walker won sole custody, there were several calls to the police and social services on behalf of the battered twins but the system failed to take any real action to protect the children from their abusive father and stepmother–who were never brought up on charges.

The Department of Social Service (DSS) in South Carolina had 3 separate complaints about Walker’s abusive treatment towards his children, and they also failed to take any actions to keep these children safe. In the summer of 2008, the manager of the Greenfield Plantation, Mike Todd called DSS because he felt the children were not being properly supervised, and were playing in an area home to a 12 foot alligator.Todd said he saw nothing to indicate that DSS investigated the case. The children claim they saw their father paying off officials to close the case, to not investigate.

Later that summer, police were called when a woman reported that she saw Walker screaming at his daughter and hitting her in the head. Walker admitted to hitting his daughter to the police. The police were called but there was no investigation, no intervene, nothing to assure the safety of the children.

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The State of Wyoming also failed to investigate or file charges on behalf of the children. Their home life was so terrible that the children considered suicide as a way to escape.

The children grew up in luxurious plantation estates, but spent time locked in a dark basement covered in feces and filth. Alternately, the children were locked into their rooms with a deadbolt. With no access to a bathroom, the children were forced to relieve themselves in the corner, and the room reeked of excrement. At times the children were starved. Nannies in charge of their care came and went–an estimated 57 nannies were hired to care for the children, some could not stand the conditions in the home and left as little as a day later. Other nannies were accused of abusing the children, including one who is alleged to have forced the children to play a game of Russian Roulette with a loaded weapon.

The daughter also recalled being dunked in a bath of boiling hot water by her father, and feeling her “skin melting away”.

In another incident, Walker set off a teargas grenade in his house to teach his frightened children a “safety lesson”. “I never asked to be born into any of this,” Georgia said during an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, “Sometimes I wish I was never born.”

These children should have been protected by the Court, Police, or Social Services and placed into a safe home environment. In separate statements, both Daisha and the twins claim that Walker paid these people to look the other way to the abuse that was happening to the children. Indeed, you have to wonder why so many failed to intervene, and rescue these children.

Allegations of Abuse: Daralee Inman

Walker married a 5th wife, Daralee in 2001. Daralee has been convicted of felony drug charges in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. In June 2007, Daralee was pulled over by a state trooper in Wyoming for driving erratically, both children were in the car with her. Daralee told the trooper she had smoked marijuana; the trooper found pot, crystal meth and hash in the car. Daralee pled guilty to drug possession and was ordered into drug treatment.It is unclear why child protective services did not intervene and investigate.

Daralee is also accused of abusing the twins. In April 2011, the South Carolina Department of Social Services found that Daralee had physically abused her step-children.

After Walker died in 2010, Daralee petitioned the court to become guardians of the twins. Her petition was denied and in August 2010, Daisha finally won custody of her children.

Daralee has refused to publicly comment on these allegations but has said she thinks Daisha is coercing the children to make up stories about the abuse. She did file a slander lawsuit against Daisha due to her allegations that Daralee abused her children, that suit was withdrawn.

The twins are looking into the possibility of criminally prosecuting Daralee for the abuse they endured at her hand. Complaints were filed with the police but as of yet, there has not been enough evidence to move forward with charges. However, DSS is investigating the claims.

Just a Thought: When a parent is alleged to be negligent in the care of the children, to be abusive or to provide an unsafe home environment,the court would and should intervene to protect the children. Daisha was already involved in the court process–once she alleges there is abuse in the home, a drug addicted parent or any other risk of physical or mental harm to the children, the court has an obligation to remove the children from the home, changing custody if necessary. Child protective services should also have been involved. So what happened? I believe an investigation on the Inman case is necessary to examine the records and allegations to determine if how the court (and child protective services) responded was appropriate, and legal. Even though the children are now with their mother–if this court acted improperly, if officials were bribed, if there was injustice present that means other children and families are at risk. This should not be allowed to continue.

The Death of Walker Inman Jr.

Walker was found dead of a methadone overdose on Feb. 24, 2010, in a Colorado hotel (no one knows why he was in Colorado). Daralee fought to obtain guardianship of the the twins and lost. In August 2010, Daisha finally won custody.

Daisha went to rescue her children, sending ambulances to the home, because they were so resistant to her yet desperately in need of help. The children were deeply affected by parental alienation, and had to be hospitalized for 3 months in the Wyoming Behavioral Institute to re-stabilize them from years of abuse and neglect, and work on healing their relationship with their mother. The children were told by Walker that their mother abandoned them for the street life–that was was a druggie and a prostitute. Upon reunification, the children were extremely hostile towards Daisha–at times aggressive or swearing at her. Daisha worked to regain their trust through therapy and slow, gradual visits. Daisha says that when her daughter saw that she keeps pictures of the children in her purse, from the time they were babies, it helped break the walls keeping them apart–her daughter say her mother’s love and became less resistant. A social worker stays with the family 10 days a month to continue the therapy. The family has participated in counseling to cope with the abuse the children have experienced, and to help transition into home life with their mother.

The Struggle to Rebuild

Certainly, Daisha has struggled in the past. If she worked as a stripper in the past, that should not be used against her because Walker married her anyways, and chose to make a family with her. The Guardian’s report from her court cases states (South Strand News) concerns that Daisha was paranoid and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress. Put that in context–most women involved in an abusive relationship, whose husband has run off with the children and she has not been able to see them, will present with emotional distress. These types of symptoms do not mean a mother should lose custody, and in fact signal that the home environment should be further investigated for evidence of abuse or other risk factors that could harm the children.

There are more recent allegations, that Daisha has left the children at home alone for days while she went on trips with a “friend”. Daisha is said to have married a convicted sex offender named Randy Williams in 2003, and although they divorced, they allegedly remain romantically involved. Williams was convicted of sexually abusing his step daughters from a previous marriage. Williams is also prohibited from having any contact with his son, who he was found to have sexually abused.

According to DNAinfo New York: “JPMorgan also claims a court recently entered a restraining order barring Williams from communicating with the Duke heirs — Walker Patterson Inman III and Georgia Inman — because of the threat he poses to them. The filing doesn’t specify where and when the restraining order was filed, or if it has been lifted…”

In another incident, Daisha was been charged with public drunkeness in May 2012, she claims her water was poisoned. The judge deferred sentencing for 6 months and likely will not convict Daisha if she stays out of trouble. Daisha is seeking therapy for the family, and stated she has a social service working living at her home for 10 days a month. This is a positive indicator that she is seeking help, and seeking to improve her situation. Clearly, someone needs to investigate the truthfulness of these claims (especially if there is a sex offender in the home), and if there is a safety risk to the children– but that does not take away from the suffering this family endured. The family court ruling did not serve the best interest of the Inman children and in fact, endangered their lives and subjected them to 10 years of abuse.

Certainly, Daisha has endured a struggle–surviving an abusive marriage that robbed her of her children, the grief of being separated from your children, and spending years fighting for custody in a system that seemed unresponsive, and enabled the abuse of her children to continue. I sincerely hope she gets support, and can heal from past so she can move forward to a positive, healthy relationship with her children–a happy future for herself.

The twins report that they now share a good relationship with their mother, and feel a close, loving bond with her. They are adjusting to a new private school and optimistic about the future.

Parenting Abused Children wishes the best for the twins, we are sorry to hear of your ordeal–and hope and pray you are safe, loved and able to have a fresh start at life. You have our love and support. xoxo
Hope
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NOTE: My emphasis on this article is family court failures, I did not want to take attention away from the abuse or suffering of these children by talking about their inheritance, but as it is an important part of the story, that information is included below.

The Inheritance:

Daisha claims Walker fought so hard for custody because he needed an heir to his estate. As wealthy as the children are, they hardly realized it–and were severely deprived due to the abuse, neglect and forcible separation from their mother they found little joy in the rare comforts they were offered. A legal battled has ensued over this inheritance, and use of the trust fund, and is currently ongoing.

Twin siblings Georgia and Walker “Patterson” Inman III are surviving heirs to an inheritance connected to the tobacco fortune of American Tobacco Co., whose proceeding heir was Doris Duke. Their grandfather Walker P. Inman aka “Skippy” came from a family of successful Atlanta cotton merchants.

James B. Duke aka “Buck” was the founder and president of American Tobacco Co., makers of Lucky Strikes cigarettes. Buck married the paternal great-grandmother of the twins, Nanaline Holt Inman Duke, but they did not have children together. Buck’s only heir, was daughter Doris Duke, who inherited part of the fortune at age 13, when her father died. Though Doris Duke was next in line to receive the inheritance of her father, Buck, he did not trust women to run the business. Doris did receive a sizeable inheritance but the bulk of the estate was passed onto professional managers.

Buck’s second wife was Nanaline Holt Inman Duke, she came into the marriage with a son named Walker P. Inman. Buck never accepted Walker P. Inman as a legitimate heir but did pass on some money to Nanaline Duke, who then passed her inheritance onto her son. Walker bought a plantation in South Carolina, complete with a 10,000 square foot house. His heir was Walker Inman Jr. aka “Skippy”. In her will, Doris Duke set aside $7 million for a trustee to invest, with 5% of the balance going to Walker every year. After Walker died, the trust ended and is co-mingled in some charitable trusts Doris Duke established before her death.

Reports vary on the worth of the inheritance or trust fund that will passed to the Inman twins, its estimated worth is in the millions. Some reports say that the twins could inherit $14.5 million, each, when they turn 21. Others say the inheritance is worth $60 million. Still, others says the fortune is as high as a billion dollars. The bulk of the trust fund money is tied up in two properties, some valuables (jewelry, guns, antiques), sacks of hold and bars of silver. One of the properties is being used to host weddings as a way to generate funds for its upkeep.

Money Mayhem:

After the death of Walker, am intense legal battle ensued over the remaining estate, and the handling of the twin’s trust fund; this battle is ongoing.

Everyone involved in this case from the trust managers, to Daralee, to Daisha, to the attorneys and others has a vested interest–and has accused someone else of mishandling the estate.

Daisha has been accused of wasting away the trust, and spending money on excessive luxuries. Daisha vehemently denies these allegations, and claims she is keeping receipts to prove how every penny has been spent. Daisha is currently involved in a legal battle with JP Morgan Chase over the administration of the twins’ trust fund.

Randy Williams, convicted child molester and alleged romantic interest of Daisha, has also been accused of trying to get money from the trust fund. JP Morgan said it was so concerned about account activity, and how close Williams was getting to the twins that it placed funds in a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act account, which offers court oversight. JP Morgan also filed a motion with the court in 2013 asking that the court bar Williams from benefiting from the trust, and ban him from being able to access or manage funds.

There are allegations that people close to Walker are raiding the trust and stealing the inheritance of the twins. Daralee is accused of selling off valuable items belonging to the estate, and pocketing the proceeds.

There is also a battle over how the twins are being represented in court, with allegations that they are not receiving proper legal representation.

As of yet, these disputes have not been settled.

For More Info:

“Billionaire Twins Abused Like Slaves by Dad”, by Susan Donaldson James, Good Morning America. August 5, 2013. : http://abcnews.go.com/Health/billionaire-twins-abused-slaves-doris-duke-heir-father/story?id=19853671&singlePage=true

“Dr. Phil.com – Shows – The Darkness of Riches: From Victims to Victors”. Aired Jan 30 & Jan 31, 2014: http://drphil.com/shows/show/2160/

“Duke heirs claim stepmom sold off family heirlooms”, by Julia Marsh, New York Post. Sept. 27, 2013. : http://nypost.com/2013/09/27/duke-heirs-claim-stepmom-sold-off-family-heirlooms/

“Locked in feces-smeared basement, eating scraps and given scalding baths: Twins set to inherit billion-dollar Doris Duke fortune tell of their horrific childhood abuse”, by Daily Mail Reporter. August 2, 2013. : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2383194/Doris-Duke-descendants-Treated-worse-dogs-Twins-set-inherit-fortune-tell-child-abuse.html

“Mother of Doris Duke’s twin heirs, 15, used ‘SWAT team’ and bodyguards to stop bank from serving her with legal papers demanding to know how she is spending their $30million trust fund” by Daily Mail Reporter. July 9, 2013: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2359120/Doris-Duke-heirs-Mother-Daisha-Inman-used-SWAT-team-prevent-served-legal-papers.html

“Mother of twins, 16, set to inherit billion dollar Doris Duke estate insists she needs their money to pay for their mental health care after ‘they suffered years of abuse at the hands of drug-addicted father'” by Daily Mail Reporter. Jan, 31, 2014: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2549832/Mother-twins-16-set-inherit-billion-dollar-Doris-Duke-fortune-insists-needs-money-pay-mental-health-care-suffered-years-abuse-hands-drug-addict-father.html

“Sex Offender May Be Trying to Get Doris Duke Heirs’ Cash, Court Doc Says” by James Fanelli, DNAinfo New York. April 9, 2013: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130409/new-york-city/child-molester-may-be-trying-get-doris-duke-heirs-cash-court-doc-says#ixzz2QrFbFzoq

“The story of 15 year old twins, a big trust fund from Mrs. Duke, and a squabble between her grandson’s 4th and 5th wives” by Duke Check. March 7, 2013: http://dukecheck.com/?p=11645

“Trouble in paradise: Death of heir to Duke fortune ignites flames of already heated family discord” by Glen Smith, The Post & Courier. August 19, 2012:

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20120819/PC16/120819047

“Video: Duke heirs talk about years of abuse, Charlotte Observer.http://dukecheck.com/?p=11645 : http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/01/29/4648978/video-duke-heirs-talk-about-years.html#.UulJiPZRaYc

I know this is dated but I had to post to show that sometimes justice does prevail. I also want to encourage other judges and court personnel to take the concerns of abuse victims seriously, and make the effort to thoroughly investigate their complaints, and above all–work to keep the kids safe. -EJ Perth

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Sept 2012: True Story of Justice in Family Court

In Orange County, California, a Family Court Judge wrote a 10 page opinion that concluded with a Protective Mom being awarded sole legal and physical custody because the father was found to have “severe and unresolved anger and hostility”, that often was projected onto their 12 year old son. The child suffered from the emotional abuse he endured.

The father made various false allegations of child abuse against his ex wife (the mom) in court, and to law enforcement. The Court took away nearly all of the father’s visitation, including overnight visits.

Attorney for the mom, Orange County divorce lawyer, B. Robert Farzad, partner at Farzad & Mazarei comments on the case: “We were not mother’s first attorney on the case. When we came into the case, we were disappointed with what we saw had occurred prior to our representation. Therefore, we pushed the case forward and to trial immediately when settlement discussions failed. This was an emotionally difficult trial for my client but, in the end, justice was done and this young boy was protected.

The false allegations and emotional battering extended the length of litigation. The Court also awarded the Mom $60,000 in attorney’s fees.

B. Robert Farzad encourages other parents facing abuse and legal challenges to keep fighting to keep their children safe, “It takes courage for a parent in a family law case to defend false allegations and take the case to trial. A parent falsely accused has the choice to fight or surrender. Many don’t have the will to take the case to trial when the other parent won’t relent. Our client did and, with our representation, her son is now protected from further abuse and she is protected from more false allegations against her.”

Source:
“A Father Who Made False Allegations of Child Abuse in Orange County Family Court Against His Wife Loses Custody and Visitation of His Son” by B. Robert Farzad, partner at Farzad & Mazarei. 9/19/2012. http://www.prweb.com/releases/orange-county-divorce/lawyer-robert-farzad/prweb9908677.htm

Lady Justice

For all those Guardian ad Litems, Evaluators, Judges & Court Personnel ordering co-parenting, divorce education, mediation, couples therapy and other ridiculous interventions to force victims of domestic violence to co-parent or share joint custody with an abuser…written by a victim who is traumatized after your failed interventions.

Why is it when a victim of abuse flees the relationship, often losing everything she has to do so, the Courts tell her she needs to better communicate with the abuser? That she has to make it work for the children? That her concerns about safety and continued abuse, harassment, or stalking are not valid–she needs to learn how to co-parent?

A few thoughts on co-parenting or mediation classes for women involved in domestic violence situation:

*Communication is about equality. It is NOT the woman’s fault that she is unable to communicate with the abuser, or make joint parenting decisions.

You try to communicate with someone who threatens you, denigrates you, threatens to kidnap your children, has raped you or beaten you.. You cannot commmunicate with a person who does not see you as a human being, who does not respect your rights, and has hurt you or indicates they will.

*It is not safe to attempt mediation, couple’s counseling or joint sessions between a victim of domestic violence & their abuser.

One Anon. Example: One time I was in the kitchen, and had to bend over to grab something from the lower cabinet. Suddenly, and without warning, the abuser comes up behind me, grabs me by the waist and rams his private parts into me. And while I was screaming to stop, and let go, he would not release me and was laughing the more scared I became. I ended up stomping on his foot, butting him with my head & somehow pushing myself away..all the while my child was in the other room so I could not really escape because it meant my child would be unprotected. The abuser’s response was to yell at me, swear & call me names. I was told my “problem” is that I am “not affectionate” and I “psuh him away but let everyone else into my life”. I was yelled at and berated for weeks.

When I attempted couple’s counseling, it was used as a platform to point out my faults, and portray the abuser as the victim–this incident was cited in his lengthy tirade that went beyond the one hour time slot for counseling. After counseling, the abuser followed me to my car, and pressured me into going on a date with him–this after saying the most horrible things about me in session! I was alone, and afraid and went with him only because I was afraid of what would happen if I refused. He then went out to talk about sex, and try to pressure me into a relationship he did not want.. and seemed to get turned on by the fact that I wanted nothing to do with him. And now, I am being ordered by the GAL to attend divorce education classes to improve my communication!

*An abuser will not benefit from classes, mediation, therapy or other interventions until they realize they have a problem, that their actions & words are harmful, and decide to be open to suggestions; and willing accept the need to change.

*According to one study, only 5% of abusers really change.

*A victim won’t be helped by mediation, classes or therapy because she will get the message from the Court that something is “wrong” with her, which creates further victimization. And even if the victim uses all the strategies offered, the abuser will continue–it does not solve the original problem.

My domestic violence advocate offered verbal cues, and ways I could word things in order to de-escalate conflict. She was an experienced, trained professional but none of her advice worked because the abuser’s agenda was about having total control, and authority over me. She even suggested I tell the abuser I need a break, give a set time, and offer to come back (I need a break for 5 minutes, can I talk to you about this then?) The abuser absolutely did not respect my boundaries. Taking any kind of break made him more agitated. If I hung up, he would repeatedly call, and fill my answering machine with so many messages it could not hold them all..not to mention calling my cell phone. There were only two ways I could get him to stop– pretend I was romantically interested in him, or agree with his insulting remarks about myself (and verbally abuse myself).

*Women leaving domestic violence need support, resources & encouragement to heal from the abuse and rebuild their lives. Safety of the mother and child should be a number one priority — not the rights of an abuser.

*Abusive behavior should have consequences, and should be punishable under the law. Harassment Restraining Orders (HRO) and Orders for Protection (OFP) should be taken seriously. NO Court officer should force any woman who expresses safety concerns into any kind of mediation or couples therapy with an abuser.

My Guardian ad Litem is repeatedly making excuses for the abuser, and now has told me I need to think of his feelings, and somehow talk in such a way that does not offend him! The HRO is in place for a reason…and yet it seems the GAL is pressuring me into some kind of joint parenting agreement that does not respect my safety concerns, and punishes me for speaking out about abuse, and wanting to set firm boundaries.

*Divorce Education is better suited for families who do not have a history of domestic violence; different interventions are required when families violence, incest, or any kind of threat, intimidation, stalking, controlling behavior or violence involved. In fact, abusers will often manipulate these classes, and the professionals involved to gain leverage.

For Further Reading:

A large part of the reduction in domestic violence homicides had been aided by providing victims with safer ways to leave their abuser. Court decisions, particularly in criminal cases taking domestic violence more seriously sent an important message that society no longer tolerated abusive behavior. The
frequent custody decisions supporting abusers have undermined this progress and
sent the opposite message. Domestic violence advocates have told me that they
are seeing more mothers staying with their abusers and taking his beatings
because they are afraid the custody court will separate them from their children
and they won’t be able to protect them. Of course some of these mothers do not
survive this decision. At the same time, custody decisions that minimize the
significance or fail to recognize the father’s abuse are sending a terrible
message that society will tolerate this abuse..” Barry Goldstein, “Extreme Custody Decisions that Risk Lives”. http://timesupblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/extreme-custody-decisions-that-risk.html?showComment=1311216123158#c1623428036311340788

What influences women when they are making child custody decisions that will bring them into future contact with a violent or controlling ex-husband? Fear, pragmatism, and the belief–sometimes reinforced in mandated divorce education classes–that their children will suffer if both parents are not in their lives, according to a University of Illinois study in the August Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. ..

And, although experts recommend that abused women be screened out of co-parenting classes, such as the class mandated in the two Missouri counties studied, half of the women in the study were directed to participate in the classes, even though all but one of the women’s attorneys knew there had been violence in the relationship.

‘Many women talked about the influence of that class on their thinking about custody,” said Hardesty. “They’d say, I can’t restrict his involvement with the children because I know it’s bad for the kids if we’re not getting along and both involved in their lives.'” Rick Nauert, Phd. “Co-parenting with an Abusive Ex?” http://psychcentral.com/news/2006/10/06/co-parenting-with-an-abusive-ex/310.html

Co-Parenting with an abusive spouse, Protect yourself and your children. Some tips and things to remember when co-parenting with an abusive ex-spouse can be found at this blog: http://coparenting101.org/2010/10/part-2-co-parenting-with-an-abusive-ex-spouse/

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What are YOUR thoughts? Please post below

Psychopaths are true predators- they con, manipulate and take advantage of other people without any guilt or remorse. Their victims are left heart broken, emotionally devastated, financially ruined, abused and sometimes murdered. Psychopaths act for self gratification alone. According to author and researcher Rober D. Hare, “If we can´t spot them, we are doomed to be their victims, both as individuals and as a society.”

 

A new study, using computer analysis to detect patterns, reveals that certain speech patterns, and emotional expressions, can indicate psychopathic tendencies. Researchers at Cornell University report that ” Psychopathic murderers use words that reveal selfishness, detachment, and emotional flatness“. The study used computer analysis to detect speech patterns which could lead to new diagnosis treatment of psychopathy, as well as uses in law enforcement. Perhaps, by understanding these communication cues, we could also be aware of warning signs, and better be able to protect ourselves from dangerous psychopaths or abusers.

 

The ground-breaking research was conducted among convicted killers, who were asked to talk about their crimes. Those diagnosed as psychopaths were compared to those who were not, their stories were taped and transcribed then underwent thorough computer analysis.

 

The findings reveal:

*Psychopaths use other people for personal gain or benefit, they manipulate, fake emotion and gain sympathy to do so. Their crimes and objects meet a personal need or goal, “They used twice as many words relating to physical needs, such as food, sex, or money, while non-psychopaths used more words about social needs, including family, religion, and spirituality.”

*Psychopaths focus almost exclusively on personal needs and exclude social or familial needs

* Psychopaths are predators, their stories often include details of what they ate on the day they committed the crime

*Psychopaths are emotionally detached, they often use past tense words or use “ums” and “uhs”, Researchers also speculate this could indicate that psychopaths are trying harder to make a positive impression or con the victim, so they exert more mental effort and it takes more work to invent a convincing story/facade.

*Psychopaths have trouble describing emotional events to other people indicating they have shallow emotions

*Psychopaths view the world as theirs for the taking.

Example: My abuser’s step-father said of this son, a gambling addict, “He sees life as one big poker game. He’s plays everyone, and you never know what is going on with him.” The step-father is now enabling and supporting the abuser, suggesting his own abusive and/or anti-social tendencies.

* The psychopath views their crime as a logical outcome or as part of a plan–it needed to be done to achieve or gain something. While their victims are hurt, offended or even killed, for the psychopath this makes perfect sense, and is a reasonable action.

 

This study is new, and will require further research and analysis, “The researchers caution that their analysis applies only to murderers relating the story of their own crimes, and suggest further studies of speech patterns in more neutral situations, such as telling a neutral story from the subjects’ past or describing an incident shown to them on video.” The Researchers would like to take the study onto social media at some time in the future.

 

Sources:

Live Science, “How to Spot Psychopaths: Their Speech Patterns Give Them Away” by Wynne Parry. 10/20/2011. http://www.livescience.com/16585-psychopaths-speech-language.html

Psychopath.com Victim Support Community – Various Sources

http://www.psychopath-research.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/12077/Re_Psychopaths_words_expose_pr

 

Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us (Details on psychopathic behavior, real stories from victims) by Robert D. Hare. 1993.

http://www.sakkyndig.com/psykologi/persfor/WCons.html

Threats to Take Children are a Form of Abuse!

I have heard people say a threat doesn’t matter unless it is carrried out or if you are not hit/beaten you are not “really abused”. I have even seen a psychologist minimize the threats of a man who promised to take the children, and run off, as a way of getting his girlfriend back under his control… These quotes are to counter those kind of nonsense arguements and show the real, devastating consequences of the emotional and psychological battery inflicted on women who are threatened with having their children taken by abusers. No one deserves to live in this kind of constant fear and torment!

– EJ Perth

“Victims of abuse may experience… using children to manipulate a parent’s emotions.” “What is Battering?”, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, http://www.ncadv.org/learn/TheProblem_100.html

“Forms of Emotional Battering”…Threats to Harm or Take Away Children: One of the most common reasons given for resuming an abusive relationship is the fear that the abuser will act on the threats of taking the children from the victim. Studies show that batterers have been able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases.” American Judges Association “Domestic Violence Publication” Educational booklet that provides judges with critical information about the Court’s responsibility to protect the safety and the rights of victims of domestic violence. http://aja.ncsc.dni.us/publications/domestic-violence.html

“Domestic violence is a pattern of battering behavior used to establish power and control over an intimate partner or family member. It not only involves punching or hitting but also can include sexual, psychological, or emotional abuse. One can be a victim without exhibiting any obvious physical injuries. …Psychological Abuse can include threatening you, controlling the money, controlling how you spend your time with your friends, attempts to make you feel inferior and threats to harm or take away your children.” “Domestic Violence”, Justice System Solicitator General (Fayette County, Georgia), http://www.fayettecountyga.gov/courts/solicitor_general/domestic_violence.htm

Emotional abuse cuts to the very core of a person, creating scars that may be longer-lasting than physical ones. With emotional abuse, the insults, insinuations, criticism and accusations slowly eat away at the victim’s self-esteem until she is incapable of judging the situation realistically…. Examples: Threatening to take away the victim’s children Threatening Intimidating Dominating..”  “Verbal/Mental/Emotional/Psychological Abuse”, There is Life After Abuse: http://www.thereislifeafterabuse.com/Page.html

“Many batterers’ motivation to intimidate and control their victims through the children actually increases after separation , due to the loss of other methods of exerting control.” Lundy Bancroft & Jay Silverman, The Batterer as Parent: Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Family Dynamics (2002); Langford, Isaac & Kabat, Homicides Related to Intimate Partner Violence in Massachusetts 1991-1995, Peace at Home (1999)

“Domestic Violence is a pattern of assaultive, abusive, controlling, or coercive behavior including physical, sexual, spiritual, emotional, and psychological tactics, as well economic coercion that is used in effort to gain or maintain control or authority in an intimate relationship…Includes threats to take children, often these threats will make a partner stay the a relationship… Violence at home can have serious long-term effects on children and affect their emotional development and self-esteem. Children who grow up seeing domestic violence face a greater risk of becoming victims or abusers themselves when they grow up.” What is Domestic Violence?”, North County Family Violence Prevention Center: http://familyviolencepreventioncenter.org/id4.html..

“If your ex is simply controlling and manipulative, your goal is simply to protect your kids as best you can by pointing out the ways s/he may attempt to control or manipulate your children….Many manipulating and controlling people will use their own children to further their control needs, after a divorce occurs…The emotional abuse often extends to the (favored) child.” Krystal (WikiHow) “How to End a Controlling or Manipulative Relationship”: http://www.wikihow.com/End-a-Controlling-or-Manipulative-Relationship

“Domestic violence can also involve a pattern of emotional and verbal abuse. Underlying domestic violence is one person’s need to feel powerful and in control of another person’s behavior and actions. They may hurt their victims and maintain control over them by using insults, put-downs, public humiliation, name-calling, verbal threats, or social and economic isolation. They may be extremely jealous and keep the victim from seeing friends or relatives. They may use threats of violence, suicide, or of taking away the children.” – Domestic Violence Awareness Month (Spouse Buzz) – http://spousebuzz.com/blog/2006/10/domestic_violen.html

“Real threats are oral or written statements promising harm to persons or possessions…Real threats are always obvious, for as they are made, specific acts are described that clearly state what the “Threatener” intends to do. A Real threat is exact and openly expressed through dialogue, a letter, fax or email…A psychological Real threat might be (A Legal threat) when your ex flatly states, “I’ll see you in court!” Real Threats also include “I’m taking the kids away from you.” Even if your ex has never engaged in physical violence in the past, or appears to have always been passive and non-reactionary to situations that might send others into a complete frenzy, do not overlook your gut feelings. We hear of many spurned spouses who kill exes, for instance, whose friends and neighbors describe them as the last person they thought would ever kill someone, burn down the house, or run away with the kids, etc. When you consider that you may know your ex more intimately than anyone else, your instincts can prove invaluable.”  “THREATS AND CONTROL: Real, Implied, and Imagined” By Stacy D. Phillips (DivorceMag): http://www.divorcemag.com/articles/Health_Well_Being/threatsandcontrol1.html

Children are seriously harmed by observing the controlling and demeaning behaviors and words shown toward a parent. Such parental behaviors result in severe stress in the home which damages a child’s happiness, hopefulness, trust and confidence even if the child is not the recipient of these words and behaviors. The emotional pain in these children, which includes a great deal of anger, is often unconscious… Subsequently, many of these children develop cognitive difficulties.”  “Children and the Controlling Parent”, Richard P. Fitzgibbons (Institute for Marital Healing), http://maritalhealing.com/conflicts/controllingspouse.php WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE CONCERNED THAT YOUR CHILD MIGHT BE KIDNAPPED, Published: June 1994. Written by GERALD L. NISSENBAUM, J.D., LL.M. (TAX). Nissenbaum Law Offices 88 Broad Street, 4th Floor Boston, Massachusetts 02110 (617) 542-2220: http://deltabravo.net/custody/kidnap2.php

 Women who bravely flee abuse begin their new lives anticipating danger, and unable to truly feel safe when court ordered parenting time presents further risks to their lives, and that of their children.

Abusers often use access to the children (transitioning from one home to the other, contact made around visitation/parenting time, ongoing communication about parenting issues, etc.) as a means to retaliate against victims.

Abusers are rarely punished for these inappropriate, harmful behaviors–nor are they required to seek help or change their ways. Most family court rulings reward abusive men  with the same “rights”  as loving, non-abusive fathers and act without regard to the safety or well-being of the children involved. These courts blindly believe that abusers deserve to see their children, at any cost; that more harm would come to the children if kept away from the abuser. Nothing could be further from the truth.                        

According to an article from The Leadership Council: “When his victim leaves him, batterers often recognize that the most expedient way to continue to hurt his partner is to assert his legal rights to control her access to their children. By gaining control of the children, an abusive male now has a powerful tool which allows him to continue to stalk, harass and batter an ex-partner even when he has no direct access to her.” (Domestic Violence (DV) by Proxy: Why Terrorist Tactics Employed by Batterers Are Not “PAS” . September 2009).

It is very important for victims of domestic violence, or those who have been threatened by an ex spouse or partner, to establish a safety plan for any contact with the abuser, especially around times when children will be transferred from one home to the other. Also, if you are in a situation where you will be using public transportation for transfers or visits, let the advocate or professionals working with your family know so extra precautions can be made.

Note: Abusive behavior can be disguised! Abusers are adept at conning, charming, and manipulating people to their cause. Also, children may be bribed or threatened not to report concerns; or they may speak out because they feel no one will help them or they assume this behavior is “normal”.  It is very important to document any past concerns or acts of abuse and then to keep note of any current concerns or “red flags”. Once you are able to establish a pattern or unmask the manipulation for what it is, as abuse, you will be in a better position to advocate for your family. Don’t wait for the explosion–get help immediately. If you feel afraid, threatened or notice dramatic changes in your children, get help or professional advise right away. The abuse will only escalate so it is imperative that you act sooner than later.

Common Examples of how Abusers will use Custody or Access to the Children as a Means to Threaten, Harass or Further Intimidate:

* Manipulating Family Court, the Legal System or CPS to intimidate, threaten or gain control (filing frivolous motions or lawsuits, threatening to take the kids, raising false allegations, using the cost of court proceedings to cause financial hardship, minimizing violence in proceedings, falsely accusing mother of mental illness/substance abuse or being generally unfit etc.)

 * Involving Family Court, the Legal System or CPS to force unwanted contact (with the abuser), this is very effective if the victim is afraid she will lose custody or be punished by the court system if she does not comply. Contact may include: marital counseling, family counseling, mediation, co-parenting plans, verbal communication and unsupervised exchange. OR involve instances such as school events, holiday events or religious events where both parents will be present to support the child or participate in an important occasion.

* Threatening to take the children either through the legal system or by kidnapping, running away or hiding in another country or with a family member.

 * Threats of harm–may include the children, the victim, family pets, friends, family, or co-workers. An abuser may also threaten to kill himself, or say things like “I can’t live without you”, “I don’t know what I will do without you” or ” I’m lost without you/I don’t know how I will make it” to imply harm if the victim does not do what they want.

This is a form of emotional abuse that often evokes feelings of fear, confusion, guilt and helplessness. The victim is tormented by thoughts, feelings or messages that come from the abuser, stating they will be responsible or are the cause for the abuser harming someone else or turning to suicide.

 *Denigrating the victim or making false accusations about her.  Or trying to win sympathy by portraying victim as unfit. The abuser may reach out to: daycare staff, school staff, church members, family members, co-workers, friends, neighbors, Family Court, CPS, law enforcement, mediators, counselors, etc with false allegations, degrading remarks about the woman or lies meant to destroy her reputation and character. The abuser may also go online and make similiar derogatory remarks.

The damage caused by these remarks and false statements is virtually impossible to overcome–your reputation and character has not only been assaulted but any attempts to defend yourself will be viewed with disbelief or suspicion. The woman will also be isolated, and unable to communicate with those working with her children/family.

Example: My son needs special education services in school, and the abuser was against this so he told the school officials lies about me including that I took drugs while pregnant and that I am mentally ill (and just saying my son needs help because I really want it for myself). The school was so convinced by these lies that they were reported in my son’s IEP. The school also refused to talk to me, or involve me in my son’s educational plan. It got so bad that when I attempted to contact the school, they reported me to the guardian ad litem! There was no evidence for any of these remarks. In this kind of situation it’s best to seek outside help, and don’t go alone to meetings or contact with the other party–they will likely be brainwashed, confused and defensive and it may take awhile for them to come around, if ever.

* Using the children to send messages or carry out tasks for the abuser.  If this is occuring you may consider seeking additional help or support for the child.

* Manipulating children so they don’t want to spend time with the other parent (bribes, giving scary or negative messages, threats to the children if they go with the other parent, planning fun events with the purpose of causing the child to refuse a visit with the other parent, etc)

* Making negative remarks about the other parent to the children. Initiating the children to make negative remarks. Or initiating the children to ask embarassing or intrusive questions.

* Creating an inconsistent or unpredictable visitation schedule–not showing up, showing up at random times, allowing access to the children (including phone calls) only when he feels like it, changing the transfer location at the last minute, unreasonable requests, asking mother to exchange children in unsafe/isolated/ or out of the way locations etc. If the mother has been denied access to the children or is afraid she will be hurt, she may become so desperate that she gives into the abuser’s unreasonable demands or unpredictable behavior, putting herself at risk.

* Returning children from visits or sending to visits dressed inappropriately for the weather or occasion, missing needed or important items (like medications, school backpack, comfort toy/blanket, etc) or doing something to make the child uncomfortable or unprepared for the visit.

It is very disruptive (this has happened to me) when your child comes to your visit wearing clothing that is dirty, torn, doesn’t fit or isn’t right for the season. At the same time, you may have to wash the child, brush their hair, and provide whatever is needed. You can only do this so many times before you are depleting your resources or just missing out on the activities you had planned. Doing this to a child repeatedly, over time is abuse. I have even heard of parents giving children pop and candy so they will be hyper and out of control during the other parent’s visit.

*Unpredictable, erratic or dangerous behavior at exchanges. The abuser may be adept at acting one way in front of others but when he is alone with the victim, he is completely different. This may include: actual physical attacks, verbal threats, stalking,  threatening gestures. If his behavior is reported, the abuser may makke a  false reports to police/CPS/ or family court to blame the woman for any problems with exchanges and avoid any responsibility for his role in it. This also works to show the mother is “unfriendly” or “uncooperative”. which can seriously jeopardize her ability to gain custody or visitation time in family court.

Please feel free to leave any other examples or stories below.

E.J. Perth, Dec. 2010

Additional Information:

Child Custody and Visitation Decisions in Domestic Violence Cases: Legal Trends, Research Findings, and Recommendations by Daniel G. Saunders P.h.D. (University of Michigan School of Social Work).  Revised October 1998 (Includes Visitation Guidelines): http://new.vawnet.org/category/Main_Doc.php?docid=371
 
Domestic Violence (DV) by Proxy: Why Terrorist Tactics Employed by Batterers Are Not “PAS” , The Leadership Council, September 2009: http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/DVP.html
Domestic Violence Safety Plan, Aardvarc: http://www.aardvarc.org/dv/plan.shtml
Safety Planning, BPD 411: http://www.bpd411.org/safeplan.html
Safety Planning, The National Domestic Violence Hotline: http://www.thehotline.org/get-help/safety-planning/
Woman Abuse and Child Custody and Access/Ways You Can Help: http://www.womanabuseprevention.com/html/CA_lawyer.htm

 

I woke up this morning, and was thinking about my own situation—overcoming domestic violence and homelessness only to lose custody of my children to my abuser, and unable to afford legal help or get any community resources to assist me. I was even turned down by the self represented legal clinic at Tubman Alliance, the largest agency helping battered women and needy families in my area, because I was told the “economy is bad” and everyone needs help, the demand is so great they would not even accept my name for the waiting list. I know that if I spent every penny I had to try to get legal help (which would not be guaranteed to turn my case around), I would end up homeless again…unable to pay rent, bills or food and that too would go against me in court. The whole situation seems so hopeless and yet you must have some kind of hope so you can put one foot in front of the other and keep fighting for my children.

 

Hope sometimes turns to day dreaming and by “coincidence” I pondered that if I was a celebrity or a movie star, how I would help needy women…how I would give my own money and start a foundation to provide legal support services… I’d shrug off designer gowns for thrift store fashion, and give up exclusive parties to hunker down in an office, hearing tearful stories of mothers like me—and finding a way to help. I’d look at the pictures of their children, and remember those toothy smiles, the babies curled in the arms as well as the reports of abuse, the violations of family court and the manipulations of abusers who seem to get away with everything.. I’d never forget those stories because they are so much like my own. Those images would be branded on my heart next to the memories of my children, and the abuses in family court we had to survive, and with every last bit of strength in my body, I’d fight alongside these women. I day dreamed of finding shelter for families and winning hopeless cases. And for a second, the pain ebbed away…

 

Then, I found this article and it seemed to speak to those very dreams… I had to share it with all of you, it is my inspiration for today.

******************************************

 Somy Ali was born in Pakistan then moved to India at age 16 where she worked as an actress in Bollywood, appearing in several movies, and widely popular.  Ali left India to pursue an education in Florida, where she received a degree in psychology and also completed courses in journalism. Ali went on to establish a non-profit organization called “No More Tears” in 2006 that helps abused women to get legal help, financial help, and counseling and support services. Ali now lives in Florida, where she works as a journalist, model and is an outspoken human rights advocate confronting social issues and areas of injustice such as: abuse, teenage suicide, abortion, and cultural perceptions about women. Ali also creates films designed to raise awareness about social issues important to women. Ali also sells an original line of clothing called So-Me Designs, which she designs. One of the graphic artists working for So-Me Designs is one of the abuse survivors helped by No More Tears.

There are many inspirations for No More Tears including a personal experience Ali had with a neighbor who came to her in the middle of the night, pounding on Ali’s door, begging for help. The woman confided that her husband had physically and sexually abused her for years, and she was desperate to escape. Ali paid for the woman’s apartment and her divorce, and then began to think of other ways to help abused women, which led to the founding of No More Tears. Ali also works alongside an attorney who helps abused women at a greatly reduced price. Saman Movassaghi, the attorney, claims she helps because, “I really enjoy helping them in the respect that they know that there is somebody out there who listens to their case and fights for them…I went to law school to help people.”

Ali spreads the word about No More Tears by passing out flyers in public places such as mosques, churches, grocery stores and restaurants. She also promotes No More Tears on the internet and by selling a documentary about it’s life-saving mission. Ali says she wants to help women in her native Pakistan but fears that she could be hurt or killed for doing so (I believe Ali will find a way to reach women in Pakistan, she is that determined and supported).

No More Tears works with immigrant women in the US to escape domestic violence, and specifically addresses cultural and residency (fear if they speak out they will be deported) issues. Much of the funding for No More Tears comes from the sale of clothing from So-Me Designs as well as through donations. Ali says, “These people have now become a part of my family,” she said. “There is nothing more gratifying than rescuing a woman.”

My thoughts and prayers go out to Somy Ali, you have brightened my day today. Thank-you for your hard work and efforts to improve the lives of abused and needy women, and their families. 

– Evanlee J. Perth, 2010 

No More Tears Online (Information, Statistics about Domestic Violence, Make a Donation, Volunteer): http://www.nmtproject.org/index.php

Mission Statement: No More Tears is a 501 (C) 3 not-for-profit organization with a focus on helping immigrant women in the United States who are victims of spousal abuse. Many of these women are brought to America via arranged marriages and are scared to speak out against their oppressor due to the ramifications they will face in their home country or for the fear of being sent back. No More Tears works with these women in helping to provide them with legal counsel, financial assistance and psychotherapy. We help with these women in not only wiping away the tears, but also making sure that there are No More Tears!

Source: The Jakarta Globe, “Bollywood Star Reaches Out to Battered Women” by Lisa Orkin Emmanuel | September 16, 2010

Retrieved 9-17-2010: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/lifeandtimes/bollywood-star-reaches-out-to-battered-women/396464

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