No one protects like a mother… A new ad campaign by Lysol celebrates the protective strength of mothers, and the incredible lengths they will go to keep their children safe. (For their part, Lysol says that no one protects against germs like their product.)

The ad campaign, named “What it Takes to Protect“, is created by McCann New York and features a video depicting wild animals to symbolize the fierceness, strength and beauty of motherhood. This creative ad campaign features humorous moments and touching images that will resonate with Moms everywhere.

What it Takes to Protect” was especially inspiring to me, as a mother who has been involved in family court proceedings with an abusive ex because what keeps me going day after day, week after week, and weeks turning into years in family court… is that motherly instinct to love and protect my child above all else.

The term “Protective Mother” is actually used to describe women, who are often survivors of domestic violence. who fight for the safety and well-being of their children, and fight to maintain a relationship with their children in family court. Abusers often initiate custody disputes or other legal action against their victims as a way to maintain power and control, and will use children as a pawn to hurt their ex partners. Sadly, the family court too often fails to recognize domestic violence and how it manifests post separation and rulings are issued that endanger both mother and child, and often results in a dangerous abuser gaining unsupervised visitation or, even, sole custody. The efforts these mothers make to escape the abuse, and attempt to keep their children safe and rebuild their lives under such daunting challenges, is truly courageous… and should be celebrated. 

According to McCann New York Co-CCO Thomas Murphy,”There is something deep and universal in the motherly instinct to protect. and it goes beyond human moms… Everyone knows that in nature you don’t mess with the mother! McCann New York, Lysol Show You How to ‘Protect Like A Mother’

What it Takes Protect” offers an interactive website: Protect Like a Mother (Lysol)

The website features fun facts about animal mothers in the wild portrayed with stunning pictures of animal mamas and their babies, allows you to e-mail a Mother’s Day card and showcases the video.

In addition, there will be a free, family friendly event in Brooklyn, New York over Mother’s Day weekend May 13-14, 2017. According to the website,”The free, family-friendly exhibit will pay tribute to the fiercest moms on the planet through larger-than-life interactive animal installations, reaching up to 24 feet in height and including an eagle, an octopus and an orangutan. The installations will chronicle motherly instincts through visual storyboards of the most incredible moms on Earth.

Date: Mother’s Day Weekend – May 13th – May 14th
Time: 9am – 6pm
Location: Brooklyn Bridge Plaza at Brooklyn Bridge Park”

“How are you, what terrors are you going through? Hiding it from the Abuser, the One you ran from, and are now imprisoned in his home..”

A YouTube video with absolutely no sound leaves an impression even more powerful than the mighty roar of a lion… “Silent Child” by Family Court Abuse is a narrative/poem about the pain, grief and fear a parent experiences after their child has been placed in the custody of an abuser by an unjust order of the family court.  As a result of the ruling, the parent has been forced out of the life of their child, and can only speak through the stark black and white images of this silent video. 

The video description reads: “This is about Family Court decisions to seperate children and mothers who are victims of domestic abuse/violence, giving custody to an abusive father, how they are broken and silenced by courtroom tactics, and the painful silent space left in the home of the child and heart of the mother (and child). The lack of training in domestic abuse for Judges and Cafcass is a strong influence on decisions to force children into damaging and traumatic situations with an abuser.

What is portrayed in “Silent Child” is REAL and happening to parents in the United States, U.K. and all over the world…. family courts are awarding custody to abusive or unfit parents at alarming rates, and punishing the parent who is trying to protect the child from harm.

Studies have been conducted on the intersection of family court and domestic violence and revealed a consistent pattern in the court’s failure to protect children from harm by granting custody and/or unsupervised visitation with abusive parents:

** The Committee for Justice for Women studied custody awards in Orange County, North Carolina over a five year period between 1983 and 1987. They reported that: “…in all contested custody cases, 84% of the fathers in the study were granted sole or mandated joint custody. In all cases where sole custody was awarded, fathers were awarded custody in 79% of the cases. In 26% of the cases fathers were either proven or alleged to have physically and sexually abused their children.” Are “Good Enough” Parents Losing Custody to Abusive Ex-Partners? (Leadership Council)

** “Only 10% of children alleging incest are adequately protected from their identified perpetrators by family courts through long-term supervised visitation orders or no-contact orders. The remaining 90% of children disclosing abuse receive no protection, with 70% continuing in shared custody and visitation arrangements without any supervision, and 20% being placed in the custody of the parent they accused of the sexual abuse, and losing unsupervised or all contact with the parent who sought to protect them.” FACT SHEET CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN CUSTODY DISPUTES (Child Abuse Solutions, Inc.)

** “… A history of violence does not stop batterers from obtaining custody. In fact, a history of abuse seems to increase the likelihood that the batterer will seek custody…In one recent study in Massachusetts, fifteen of the forty fathers (approximately 38 percent) who sought custody received sole or joint custody of the children, despite the fact that each and every one of these men were reportLosed to have abused both the mother and the child/children prior to separation and continued to do so after separation..” “One More Battleground: Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and the Batterers’ Relentless Pursuit of their Victims Through the Courts” by Mary Przekop

** “My own survey of the case law in 2001 identified 38 appellate state court decisions concerning custody and domestic violence. The survey found that 36 of the 38 trial courts had awarded joint or sole custody to alleged and adjudicated batterers. Two-thirds of these decisions were reversed on appeal. –  Joan S. Meier, Esq., Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and Child Protection: RATES AT WHICH ACCUSED AND ADJUDICATED BATTERERS RECEIVE SOLE OR JOINT CUSTODY (Compiled by Joan S. Meier, Esq).

The tragic result of family court failures is that children are being abused and have absolutely no avenue for help or legal protection because the abuser is being protected by the legal system (not the child), and the child has become silenced. As parents and professionals we have a responsibility to protect our children.. and when systems fail, it is our responsibility to fight for justice so these silenced children can finally have a voice. 

 

 

 

Why can’t we just drop everything we’ve said?

All I want is a peaceful night in bed… 

Without these bizarre thoughts all runnin’ through my head

Sometimes you make me wish I was dead…

I Know It Is Hard” describes the experience of Domestic Violence by Proxy/Alienation from the broken heart of a teen.

The powerful words of the rap song “I Know It Is Hard” were written and performed by a teen who has been physically alienated from a parent and used as a weapon since the age of 14.

The video was posted online after being sent to a targeted parent in 2012.

 

Research reveals the devastating effects domestic violence has on pregnant women, and their unborn children….

According to recent studies, a staggering 45% of abused women report that they are forced to have sex with their partner. When pregnancy results in an abusive relationship, in 50-70% of women the abuse continues during pregnancy. The National Institutes of Health reports that over 300,000 pregnant women in the U.S. are victims to domestic violence, with domestic violence being the leading cause of death among U.S. women of childbearing age.

I am one of these women the statistics speak of. I understand, firsthand, the horror of becoming pregnant as a result of abuse, and then enduring a pregnancy in a home where I did not feel safe. 

Pregnancy journal.. while other mothers are scrap booking the milestones of their pregnancy from the first pink line on the pregnancy test to hearing a steady heart beat for the first time, these are my sad milestones….

Common symptoms announced pregnancy –nausea, fatigue, sudden weight gain… and cravings for pickles. On the outside I looked like any pregnant woman but behind closed doors, I lived a life of fear and uncertainty, as an abuse victim.

4/5 Months Pregnant, while I was celebrating the first kicks – my abusive ex was calling me fat, and telling me I looked like “an old granny” in maternity clothes. I attempted to squeeze into jeans even as my belly stretched, and baby kicked in protest to avoid his angry outbursts… and secretly hoped baby did not hear what was said.

6/7 months Pregnant, while I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my child, preparing a nursery, reading baby books and shopping for clothing and toys (tears in my eyes, goofy grin on my face) – my abusive ex is giving the baby the “silent treatment”. He has ignored every aspect of my pregnancy, and acts as if we are not expecting a baby. There is no emotion. No talk of the pregnancy. No planning. I feel like a single parent before the baby is even born.

8/9 months Pregnant, still working a job to support the family, finances are stretched thin… my abusive ex is addicted to prescription pain pills. While I am planning my trip to the hospital to delivery the baby, he is planning his next visit to the ER or to the dentist or to a round of doctors to get his next fix.

“..to think of all the babies whose pre-birth experience is one of fear and threat. I have worked with women for many years that have lived with domestic violence and other abuse it made me feel immensely sad for them and their unborn children..” ~ Laura Schuerwegen, author the blog, Authentic Parenting

Unborn children are harmed by domestic violence that they are exposed to in the womb, research confirms what many domestic violence victims and advocates have reported.

Exposure to domestic violence begins in utero, as does the harm it causes. Beginning in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, babies can hear voices and sounds from the world around them. The clearest sound heard is the mother’s voice. What to Expect: Fetal Sense of Hearing offers a simple experiment to give you the chance to understand what noise sounds like to an unborn baby, “Try this for fun (really!): Put your hand over your mouth. Have your partner do the same. Then carry on a conversation – and that’s what voices sound like to your baby in the womb.

The louder a sound the more likely a baby is to hear it, which includes yelling or threats directed at a pregnant mother, the sound of crying or police sirens – all common in experiences of domestic violence.

Before birth, a unborn baby is not only hearing but experiencing the very emotions of fear – through the chemical process that happens in the mother’s body. Chemical processes in the mother’s body send emotional and physical messages to the unborn baby. A mother who is frightened, anxious or hyper vigilant as a result of abuse has higher levels of stress hormones in her body, that will also affect the developing baby; and over time will put extra stress on the brain and body (this is also reaffirmed by the ACEs study which says toxic stress damages the function and structure of a child’s developing brain, and can lead to other health consequences). In particular, the hormone cortisol is neurotoxic and has damaging effects on the brain, and may contribute to emotional problems in a baby after birth, says new research by Michigan State University scientists.

Other risks to the pregnant mother and unborn baby include: physical injury, inability to seek medical care or treatment, less access to support/friends/family and a higher rate of miscarriage.

To be clear – the problem is NOT the expectant mother but the abuse inflicted on the mother, at the hands of an abusive partner. By gaining a better understanding of how abuse affects unborn children, Alytia Levendosky, a study co-author at Michigan State is hopeful that increased education and awareness about domestic violence will send a strong message that domestic violence is harmful to unborn babies, and will encourage doctors and other medical professionals, and social workers, to screen and monitor for violence; and better be able to support victims – or provide needed resources for help. Research has proven that advocacy for abuse victims, in combination with providing resources for help, does improve outcomes.

A positive note – children’s brain can heal and create new connections; so early intervention can lessen some of the damage caused by domestic violence; and may also save a life.

Need Help? The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

Additional Reading: 

ACES = Adverse Childhood Experiences

Authentic Parenting: Effects of Pre-Birth Trauma on the Unborn Child

DOMESTIC ABUSE MAY AFFECT CHILDREN IN WOMB

The effects of domestic violence on unborn children (Includes a list of how exposure to domestic violence negatively impacts the emotional, physical and social development of children)

Partner violence during pregnancy: prevalence, effects, screening, and management

NCADV Pregnancy and Domestic Violence Facts

When Pregnancy Triggers Violence

(Note: I am writing this from a mother’s perspective because I am a mother.. but this could apply to anyone, male or female, who is grieving the loss of a child)

“Finding Dory” (2016, Pixar) is a touching animated movie about a fish named Dory who gets separated from her parents at a young age, and goes on a journey in search of them. Guiding Dory are the memories she has held onto all of her life. Since Dory suffers from “short term remembery loss” she is guided by only glimpses of her past, and along with it, the sense of home, and feeling of belonging.

Years pass. Dory meets new friends, including a quirky fish named Nemo, that become like family. One day, Dory’s memory gets triggered, and she is compelled to find her lost family.When Dory was young, her parents set out a trail of purple shells to teach her how to find her way back home, she follows it.  So Dory sets off on an epic journey to find her parents.

 

Dory’s parents spent years forming trails for her to follow – up and down valleys, across distances and through the dark currents of the ocean, in the hopes that she would eventually find them.

“Finding Dory” offers a powerful message for Protective Parents separated from their children that is familiar to those who have experienced this particular kind of pain, grief and loss.  

And for children separated from their mothers, what Dory felt may also be familiar – missing family, fear of rejection and the emotional experience of trying to piece together memories.

The purple shells are what connect Dory to her parents, and trigger the memories that eventually lead her home. The tiny shells are unremarkable in the vastness of the ocean. At times the sandy floor washes over them, and they disappear. But Dory is not alone, with the support of her friends, she finds her way.

 

What are your purple shells? Each parent and child has something special or shares something that links them together. It could be a physical or emotional reminder. A trinket, photograph, a prayer or special song, a drawing or toy etc

You can also create “purple shells” to honor your parent/child or to preserve special memories. Some ideas: scrap booking, releasing balloons on special occasions, lighting a candle, spiritual celebration, talking with friends/family, writing a letter etc.

Create a Path in the ways you can. Find creative ways to connect to or reach out to your parent/child if possible. Use your shells to bridge the distance. Seek support to help cope with the loss or grief.

Another message in “Finding Dory” is that Dory, and her parents, never gave up hope.The love they have for each other is unconditional. For those mothers/children who are estranged from each other, and have no contact or communication, there is a value in hope. And value in holding onto the love you share. Through love, we maintain our “purple shells”, our connection to our family – and it does not diminish with time or distance.

Also, when Dory was separated from her parents she found other ways to express her energy and love, and was able to channel her loss in a positive direction. You see that especially in her unique optimism, and her loyalty to friends. Though a loss of a parent/child can never be replaced, we can channel the expression of our love, and what that person meant to us, in other areas of our life. Or use that love to make a positive difference in the world. Some ideas: volunteer, be a friend, participate in community groups/activities, do something in memory of your loved one, fight for a cause, raise awareness, join a prayer chain etc

Final message – Never give up!

~ EJ, © 2016.

Another Perspective:  

Mother, Carrie Goldman, shares her thoughts after watching “Finding Dory” with her family. Carrie’s teen daughter was profoundly moved by the movie. Carrie shares insights from her perspective of “Finding Dory” and on her daughter’s reaction to it. Finding Dory: Why It Made My Seventh Grader Cry by Carrie Goldman

 

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Public Domain Photo

Several years ago, I found myself escaping an abusive relationship after being physically assaulted. I was homeless with two small, traumatized children to care for… despite the bleak circumstances, the life ahead of me was so much better than the one I left behind.

The children and I stayed wherever we could – on the couches of friends or family willing to take us in, slept in our minivan and in a battered women’s “shelter”.

The “shelter” was a roof over our heads but little else – it lacked supportive services and was generally a toxic, chaotic environment. Toys and games for were donated to the “shelter” but children were not allowed to play with them. I don’t know why. The kids were rounded up in the living room and sat on the dirty floor playing with dust balls or watching whatever was on TV – no cartoons because there was only one TV and the adults chose all the programming. My children were already traumatized and being in this environment just made things worse. So I made it a point to take my children out of the shelter during the day, and find activities or parks to visit.

It was during this time that my “art advocacy” was born. I started taking pictures to record our lives as being homeless; I wanted to speak out against the abuse that was done to us.. and the only safe way (at the time) was in pictures.

To keep my children busy, and to keep their mind off our struggles, I would tell them “tall tales” – long, adventurous stories. From these stories I found the voice that had been suppressed due to the abuse and began writing stories and poetry.

I found community and church forums to display my photography or read a poem. Then I started creating picture quotes to raise awareness about abuse, and the issue survivors face when leaving abuseThrough art, I was not only creating a way to raise awareness and give voice but I was also creating a new life for myself. 

I am now sharing my art and photography on “Parenting Abused Children”, to share my journey and offer an encouraging message that it is possible to heal, and overcome abuse.

WHAT ARE SOME CREATIVE WAYS THAT HAVE HELPED YOU TO OVERCOME A CHALLENGE OR STRUGGLE?

OR WHAT HAS HELPED YOU TO DEAL WITH THE EFFECTS OF ABUSE?

LET’S TALK AND SHARE! POST YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW (YOU CAN REMAIN ANON).

Blessings,  EJ, © 2017

 

Pockets full of pebbles and a head full of dreams...

Pocket full of pebbles and a head full of dreams…

 

Cincinnati, Ohio – Model and YouTuber, Natalia Taylor, revealed in a video that she “experience things a child should never experience in life” (she says her father, Rod, did not abuse her, only her mother) and witnessed domestic abuse her father perpetrated against her mother. Natalia also recalls that Rod threatened to kill her mother.

At age 6, her mother divorced Rod due to his severe mental illness and abusive behavior. Natalia says her father “was never willing to get any help, and never willing to let anyone help him“.

During the divorce proceedings, Natalia’s mother begged the courts to protect her child from Rod, and revoke visitation. Natalia herself begged to be kept away from Rod but says her cries for help were ignored,”basically there was no way of getting out of it. I had to have visitation with my dad, the law prevented me from not seeing him.” 

Natalia was traumatized by being forced to visit Rod – she was neglected in his care, and forced to spend time in a home that was filthy and contaminated with fecal matter. Rod continued to exhibit frightening behavior. Several reports were filed with police and caseworkers. She says Rod was “very defiant” and rejected help. It is unclear why visits continued after so many reports or if CPS was ever involved.

After the divorce, Rod kidnaps Natalia from a relative’s home. She said that during her ordeal Rod “terrified” her and demonstrated bizarre behavior due to his schizophrenia. Rod also threatened to kill Natalia and himself. An Amber Alert was issued, the second ever issued in Northwest Ohio.

After 17 hours, Natalia was recovered. Natalia is thankful that she survived. Rod was charged with kidnapping, and held in jail for 6 months, but later found not guilty by a jury. Rod is now thought to be living in Florida, and is homeless.  He is believed to be “highly dangerous” and has a lengthy criminal record and is registered sex offender with active arrest warrants against him. Rod has attempted to contact Natalia and sends her bizarre letters and packages.

Natalia says about speaking publicly about her experiences,”I’ve come to terms with a lot since I’ve talked about it online and it has been a little bit therapeutic and it has changed my mind a little bit on how I see this story…

I guess what it comes down to is that I am not afraid of Rod anymore. Call me stupid, call me naive once again, but I’m not scared of you.

Thank you Natalia for sharing your story and giving voice to so many children who have survived living in abusive or dysfunctional homes, and giving voice to those court ordered into visitation or custody with an abuser. You have raised awareness to the voice of the children, and shown an inspiring example of a survivor. Thank you for sharing this story – you are in my thoughts & prayers.

My second thought – When courts fail to recognize abuse, and minimize or ignore the dangerous behavior or potential risk one parent poses, children are placed in visitation or custody arrangements that endanger their lives – and often cause lasting trauma. This is unacceptable – the priority of the Courts should be to protect children from abuse, and ensure their well-being. 
Read more: Daily Mail: Come and find me – I’m not scared of you!’ Model who was ‘kidnapped’ by her mentally-ill dad dares him to ‘come forward’ after revealing her identity in viral video seen by MILLIONS