Emotional Abuse


Covert manipulation is a tactic used in corrupt family courts…

Are you involved in a family custody issue, and it seems your divorce or child custody issue got ten times worse since the litigation began? Do you feel that you aren’t being heard, perhaps your words are being twisted and used against you? Has a Guardian ad Litem, Mediator, Evaluator, Judge or other court personnel taken sides and seems biased against you, that no matter what you do or say, they always side against you? As a result of the court proceedings do you feel overwhelmed, yet unable to talk about what is happening in fear that what you say may be used against you in court, that you may lose custody or parenting time with your children? Do you feel abused, have high levels of anxiety, fear for the safety and well-being of your children?

So what is happening? Are these thoughts and feelings all in your head OR is something more going on…

Covert means secret, a hidden agenda. Manipulation is using words, gestures, behavior to provoke a reaction, get a particular response or send a message (usually a threatening message). Covert Manipulation is using and taking advantage of people through deceptive, implied or subtle methods; the perpetrator is usually in a position of power over the victim. Covert manipulation is a direct attack against your judgement, thoughts and personal identity.The intent of covert manipulation is to gain power and control over a targeted person, and to get that person to do things they would normally object to by breaking down their will. Covert Manipulation is so underhanded that the victim may not initially detect that they are being played, and may feel they are the cause of the problems–or may even feel that they are going crazy! According to Dr. Simon, “Covert-aggression is at the heart of most interpersonal manipulation. What the artful, subtle fighter knows is that if they can get you to doubt yourself, feel like you have to explain yourself, and question your perceptions and judgment, there’s a good chance they can get you to back down, back-off, or better still, cave-in…”

Used in family court, covert manipulation can be used to force the targeted parent to agree to a custody or legal issue they would not normally agree to (which happens under extreme duress or pressure). Covert manipulation may be used to threaten a person into silence–to back down from filing complaints against court officers, to remain silent about abuse, to stop questioning the actions of the court. Covert manipulation may be used to influence rulings. Or gain the sympathy or support of professionals and experts involved in your case so they take one side or play into the agenda of the manipulator. Covert manipulation may even be used to turn your children against you.

Common Tactics of Manipulators in Family Court Include:

#1 Turn on the Charm aka “Love Bombing”
How this works: At your first meeting with the Manipulator, they appear to be extremely pleasant, sympathetic, interested in what you have to say, encouraging you to come forward with information. They work to get you talking, and take notes on everything you say. They show fake sympathy for you and your children. They may try to impress you talking about their professional experience or background.
The Intent: To win your trust, and get you to divulge information. Sociopathic manipulators enjoy the “hunt” — preying on people to win their trust, and having the power to destroy their victims by using their trust against them.
How You Can Protect Yourself: Understand that anything you say or do to Court Personnel can be used against you. Consult with a legal professional, advocate or other professional to prepare for any meeting with a family court officer. If you don’t have a lawyer, speak with someone you trust. Prepare an outline or notes of what you plan to discuss, and possible responses to tough questions. Remain neutral, as the Manipulator may use emotion against you. Do not disparage your ex, and if you have concerns, try to get as much evidence or proof as possible to validate your concerns, reference that evidence or collateral contact in your comments. You may also consider have a witness come with you to any meeting.
Important** You are the best advocate for your family–you may also consider sharing brief information about the strengths of your family, the things you enjoy, and other positive attributes.
As human beings, we have a natural need to talk about our feelings, and the issues affecting our lives. I cannot state strongly enough– DO NOT vent, confide or seek the confidence of anyone in family court working on your case! You must remain professional at ALL times. If you need to talk, seek the counsel of someone you trust–friend, family, religious support, support group etc. Also discuss confidentiality with your counselor, and how your records are protected from family court litigation, what would be released and why etc.

#2 Lying, Manipulating or Twisting Evidence to Make You Look Unfit, Crazy, Like an Abuser or to Portray You as Being the Sole Source of ALL the Problems in the Family (Which justifies the actions later taken against you.. this is commonly done when a parent is labelled with Parental Alienation Syndrome, a Malicious Mom etc)

How this works:After the target parent has confided in the Manipulator or shared sensitive information, they will be ambushed when the Manipulator twists the information in such a way that the targeted parent did not intend. The parent becomes the target–falsely accused of being mentally ill, an unfit parent, making up abuse allegations, etc The Manipulator may used information shared to shock or silence a parent so they can be easily controlled. The trust you had in this person is totally shattered as their agenda begins to unfold and they work against you–inventing evidence, violating the law, refusing to communicate, and other actions where their sole pursuit and interest is about their own agenda, not the well-being of your child or your family.
The Intent: Manipulators fight dirty. They will break the law and ethical rules of their profession. They will lie. Accept bribes. Use political connections against you. Threaten you. Impose financial sanctions. Impose gag orders. Force you into mental health treatment you do not need.
How You Can Protect Yourself: There is nothing you alone can do to appease the corrupt Court Officer. You cannot fix things. You cannot impose justice in the Court. It does no good to play their games. It is better to detach, and focus on your goals and stay true to what you are fighting for.

#3 Provoke a Reaction, Provoke Strong Emotions then use those reactions against you
How this works: These expert manipulators use the appearance of power over you to push buttons, provoke a reaction and even use your children as pawns in an attempt to get you to lose control. If you are emotional and unguarded, you are not only vulnerable to their manipulation but unable to protect yourself (those without legal representation are especially vulnerable). Threats are common–including threats of loss of custody, threats to limit access to the children, threats to send your children into state care. Other times, the Court will not allow you to speak or allow you to present evidence.
The Intent: If the Manipulator cannot prove their false allegations against you, or is called to produce evidence, and none exists their only hope is to make you look bad so you give them the material they need. Others enjoy watching people suffer. Prejudice and bias may also shape their behaviors.
How You Can Protect Yourself: Document everything, and keep your paperwork organized so it is easy to refer to. Bring witnesses to meetings or court appearances if possible. Bring comfort items to court to help you deal with stressors. Comfort items should be routine items, not detectable, but whose significance is known to you. Examples: a photo of your children taped to a folder, essential oils dabbed on the wrists, wearing religious or spiritual jewelry, taking a deep breath as needed, saying a Bible verse or positive afir
Trust your instincts. Take the time to repair your self-confidence, and participate in activities or surround yourself with people that boost your self-esteem. These are important to developing your instincts, and developing a strong resistance–both need to protect yourself from Manipulators.

#4 Controlling How You Think and Feel
How this works: The Manipulator is hypersensitive to everything you say and do, followed by an implied threat or real harm if you do not comply or meet their expectations. Harm can take many forms– financial sanctions, loss of custody, loss of visitation with children, jail time, loss of your reputation..not to mention the emotional battering, trauma, and real injustice/violation of the law that also occurs. Abuse victims forced to interact with their abusers often suffer further abuse, some are even murdered. In turn, you become hypervigilant, anxious, self-critical and unable to think without judging yourself against their standard; your thoughts and emotions are being controlled.

Another tactic: A seemingly innocent action or word will be exaggerated or result in harsh consequences so, to protect yourself, you avoid that action, thought, behavior or others like it. Example: A parent is told their religious or cultural beliefs are evidence that they are “crazy” so that person stops participating or avoids normal activities for their religion or culture.
The Intent: To gain control. To break down your resistance. To normalize, and get you to accept the abuse and injustice perpetrated against you. To avoid responsibility, and trick you into thinking you actually did or said something wrong.
How You Can Protect Yourself: Stop blaming yourself! When you feel guilty, overwhelmed, anxious or want to blame yourself…STOP. First, take a moment to ground yourself--go for a walk, call a friend, exercise, listen to music, read a book, etc. This will move you from hypervigilant to a calmer, more rational state of mind. Then ask yourself what are you blaming yourself for–does it make sense? Are these actions a normal human being could accomplish? What were your intentions? How did the other person make you feel? Was the other person treating you fairly, with respect? Asking questions generates critical thinking, it sparks judgment. With judgment, you will be better equipped to see the manipulation, and protect yourself from it. If there is something you did, of course deal with that. But if you are blaming yourself for irrational things, totally out of control, or things based on lies–recognize the manipulation for what it is, and put the blame where it belongs–on the abuser. If you find yourself going into self protection mode, or retreating to tactics you used while in an abusive relationship, that is a huge red flag that you are being mistreated.

FOR MORE INFO:

“Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics” by ‘Psychopaths and Love’: http://psychopathsandlove.com/covert-emotional-manipulation-tactics/

“Eight Easy Ways to Spot an Emotional Manipulator” by Fiona McColl & Heartless Bitches International (heartless-bitches.com): http://www.heartless-bitches.com/rants/manipulator/eighteasyways.shtml

“Throwing You on the Defensive: The Covert Art of Coercive Manipulation” by Dr. George Simon, Jan 24, 2014:

“23 Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics” by Psychopaths & Love: http://psychopathsandlove.com/covert-emotional-manipulation-tactics/

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

________________

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/

_________________

What are YOUR thoughts? Please post below

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