“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. 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Commentary on Botched 60 Minutes Child Rescue Also Says Alot About Abusive, and Alienating Parents. 

Amy Stockwell’s commentary offers background information about the non-custodial kidnapping of the el-Amien children and offers deeper insight into parents who use children as a pawn in custody disputes. 

“But here’s the thing: Even if you disagree with your ex-partner about how to raise your kids, you don’t get to steal them.

You don’t get to arrange an access visit and keep them.

You do not get to use the misogynistic laws of another country to get around the fact that you’re not entitled to permanent custody of your children.

You do not get to keep your ex-partner in prison in order to get the child custody you want.

You do not own your kids…”

Commentary written by Amy Stockwell: 60 Minutes: Ali el-Amine now has everything he wants. Because this case was all about him.

Abusive and alienating parents will lie, manipulate, triangulate and create havoc because their feelings of entitlement or feelings of being right are placed higher than the well-being of their own children.

Children should NOT be used as a pawn, or as a weapon, to wield against a former partner or to be used to further one parent’s agenda or interests.

BACKGROUND: MOTHER SALLY FAULKNER ATTEMPTS TO RESCUE KIDNAPPED CHILDREN IN LEBANON

Sally Faulkner and Children. Source: News Talk ZB http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz

April 2016: Australian mother, Sally Faulkner, was given sole custody of her two children (6 year old Lahela and 3 year old Noah) by an Australian court. Their Lebanese-born father, Ali el-Amien, took the children to a holiday in his home country and never returned – that is kidnapping. However, Lebanon is not a signatory to The Hague Convention, so it does not have to enforce or acknowledge  the Court’s orders to return the children to Australia.

Ali el-Amien took the children because he was jealous that Faulkner had moved on from their relationship, and was dating another man.

In a desperate attempt to get her children back, Faulkner and a four-member crew from 60 Minutes went to Beirut to attempt to rescue the children, and were arrested in the process.  They faced up to a 20 year sentence in jail.

60 Minutes Team. Clockwise from top left: Tara Brown, David “Tangles” Ballment, Stephen Rice and Ben Williamson. Source: Facebook Source: Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au

Ali el-Amien’s family has strong political connections in Lebanon’s parliament, and was given custody of the children by a religious court.

After being detained, a deal was struck where no criminal charges would be filed if Faulkner were to relinquish custody of the children, and co-operate in obtaining a religious divorce from el-Amien. The deal was struck after a closed-doors meeting between lawyers representing the parties and the judge.

Faulkner was pregnant at the time, likely agreed to the deal in order to save her unborn child. 

Everybody is happy,” said Nine Network lawyer, Kamal Aboudaher. It is hard to imagine a mother being “happy” to lose custody of her children who will be raised in another country by the father who kidnapped them, and now has total control over both the children and is restricting her access to them.

Channel Nine will also pay a financial settlement, of an undisclosed amount, as a settlement to el-Amien to drop his civil claim. News Corp reports the settlement may be as high as several million dollars. el-Amien says he did not receive financial compensation, and he may be willing to allow a visit between the children and their mother at some time in the future; however he will not allow the children to return to Australia because he is afraid they will not come home (the custody order would be enforced).

Faulkner’s legal rights in Australia mean nothing in Lebanon. Faulkner’s Lebanese lawyer Ghassan Moghabghab said El-Amien will get everything he wants because he has the legal rights in Lebanon. 

Faulkner was allowed a short visit with her children before leaving Lebanon. Her daughter gave her mother a Barbie ring “so you won’t forget me”.  Faulkner reports that she is overwhelmed with grief due to the loss of her children, and has not had any contact with them. 

Ali el-Amien admitted that the children ask to return to their mother. 

Read More: 

60 Minutes crew face jail term over attempted child ’rescue’ in Lebanon by Janet Fife-Yeomans

60 Minutes: Sally Faulkner’s estranged husband admits children want to be with mum by Latika Bourke, Ruth Pollard and Suzan Haidamous

Deal struck in 60 Minutes ‘child-abduction’ case by Latika Bourke

The heartbreaking moment Sally Faulkner had to say goodbye to her now estranged children by Holly Byrnes, with staff writers News Corp Australia Network

‘I call this injustice’: Adam Whittington refused bail with three other men accused over 60 Minutes botched child abduction attempt by Daily Mail

Source Alan Toniolo de Carvalho, http://www.publicdomainpictures.net

June 2015, New South Wales, Australia – “Judges must not mistake their own views for being facts” Australian Family Court Justice Murray Aldridge made this strong statement after Family Court overturned a ruling from a Federal judge who issued a court order prohibiting a mother from breastfeeding her 11 month old son. The order was unanimously thrown out by the Family Court because the Federal judge based his decision not on expert opinion or medical evidence, but based entirely on his own internet research.

The case came to court after the child’s father, Mr. Macek, refused to return the child at the end of his parenting time. Mr. Macek argued that his ex partner’s new tattoos placed the child at risk of harm should she breastfeed.

Judge Matthew Myers heard the case in Federal Circuit Court and banned Ms. Jackson,a 20 year old mother,from breastfeeding because she recently had a tattoo placed on her finger and another on her toe. Judge Myers said the tattoo put the baby at risk of contracting HIV. The father, Mr. Macek, was also given increased parenting time.

Ms. Jackson has tested negative for HIV. She filed an urgent appeal, and the appeal was heard by a full bench of the Family Court in Sydney. The Family Court overturned the ruling of Judge Myers because they felt there was no evidence to support that Ms. Jackson presented a risk to the baby should she continue to breastfeed.

Another questionable aspect of this case is that the father has a domestic violence order against him, but is allowed to have extensive visits with the child, unsupervised. The original order granted the father to spend 6 hours a day, 4 days a week, with the child. The Family Court (who heard the appeal) changed the order to 2 days per week for five hours per day pending the conclusion of another hearing.

The court record also contains concerning reports made about the ability of both parents to care for the child; yet Judge Myers issues his harshest ruling on the breastfeeding issue. Judge Myer’s focus on breastfeeding as being the sole concern about the safety of the child is misplaced.

Both parents have used illegal drugs in the past, and as part of proceedings, have been tested for current drug use. Ms. Jackson was found to have smoked marijuana on May 22nd, while breastfeeding. The Court has ordered the parents “abstain from using illicit drugs in the 48 hours prior to or during the care of their son”.

It should be a red flag that the father, Mr. Macek, would just take the child, which is non-custodial kidnapping. Mr. Macek’s claims of endangerment are not supported by the present health or well-being of the child, and not supported by any direct medical reports or evidence. The child is primarily being cared for by the mother, Ms. Jackson. To abruptly take the child from its mother, and its home, and to abruptly wean the child from breastfeeding would certainly cause distress for this child. All of this was done without any findings from child protective services, police, a medical report or any credible professional. That combined with the Mr. Macek’s history of domestic violence, creates a real risk of harm for this child. Yet, the response of Judge Myers is to reward Mr. Macek with additional parenting time; it makes no sense. It is unclear if the safety of the child has been assessed, or if the father is receiving any kind of treatment.

Judge Myers has ordered Ms. Jackson to live her grandmother. Ms. Jackson has been diagnosed with postpartum depression, and was told to by the Court to follow a mental health plan. TMr. Macek was ordered to live with his mother. The ruling was created to make sure there is a “responsible adult” around the child. The reality is that there will not always be someone around to monitor these parents with their child. What then? It seems very clear that these are young parents struggling to care for their child, and are in need of supportive services, and family therapy (or parenting classes). At the same time, the family court should recognize the need for sensitivity, and not exacerbate an already tense situation by issuing a court order that unfairly punishes one parent and ignores the real safety risks.

— EJ Perth, 2015

Sources:

“Australian Court Orders Mother to Stop Breastfeeding After She Had Tattoos” by Jonathon Pearlman, The Telegraph, 6/18/2015:

“Breastfeeding Ban on Tattooed Mother Overturned by Family Court” by ABC News, 6/19/2015:

“Mother asks court to let her breastfeed her son after ban by judge for getting tattoos” by Louise Hall, The Sydney Morning Herald, 6/18/2015:

In 2004, Genevieve Kelley, along with her second husband, Scott Kelley, and daughter 8 year old Mary Nunes, went into hiding in Central America. Genevieve claims her daughter was being sexually abused by her ex-husband, Mark Nunes, and that she fled with her daughter in order to protect her.

Genevieve Kelly (US Marshals)

Wayne Rioux, who was then the police chief of Whitefield, New Hampshire claims Genevieve was brainwashing her daughter to believe abuse had occurred. There were concerns over a video Genevieve made, questioning Mary about the alleged abuse. Genevieve says a therapist told her to make the video, that her intentions were to help not to harm. Guardian ad litem on the case, Abbie Teachout, says Genevieve was alienating Mary from her father, “She (Genevieve) appeared to be really, almost obsessed in her concern over Mary and that Mark had done something to harm the child…Out of all the families I’ve worked with, this was a case where parent alienation was 100 percent evident – that Genevieve was doing everything she could to alienate this child from her father, from the beginning.

In 2004, the Kelley family moved to Colorado. The child custody order said that Genevieve was not to remove Mary from the state, and in 2005 the court would award Mark sole custody. By then, the family had fled the country.

In Colorado, Mary was evaluated by two doctors, one who diagnosed trauma in the child but did not state what caused it. The family also sought help from a noted attorney. Attorney Alan Rosenfeld specializes in child advocacy and domestic violence cases, says that Genevieve had no other option than to run away with her daughter, after a court-appointed guardian and social service agencies didn’t believe the abuse allegations.

The abuse allegations against Mark Nunes were investigated then dismissed, no charges were filed due to lack of evidence. It is worth noting that before their divorce, Genevieve filed for, and received, a restraining order against Mark (who claims he never abused her).

(March 2015) In a recent court motion, Mary states that she was being abused by her father, and that she begged her mother and step-father to protect her, ” “and I asked them to do it.” Mary also refers to herself as a “rape victim” and her father as the perpetrator.

Now the family is back in the United States, with both Genevieve and Scott Kelly facing criminal charges in Coos County Superior Court for noncustodial kidnapping and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Scott Kelly (wanted poster)

The Kelley family emerged from hiding when U.S. Marshals were alerted by officials at the U.S. embassy in Costa Rica that Mary, Scott and their attorney, Alan Rosenfeld, had asked the embassy to help them get US passports.

In November 2014, Genevieve returned to the US to seek medical treatment for a son born to her and Scott, while in hiding. She refused to reveal the whereabouts of Scott and Mary when arrested in Lancaster, New Hampshire. Genevieve has since been released on bail and is barred from having any contact with either Scott or Mary.

In April 2015, Scott was told that he could come back into the US without facing charges, a lie. So Scott and step-daughter Mary boarded a plane for the US, not knowing they were being tricked in order to get them to return to US soil.

On April 14, 2015 Scott was taken into custody as soon as he stepped off the plane at Atlanta International Airport. Scott was arrested on a kidnapping warrant. Mary was questioned then released.

Father, Mark Nunes, has expressed that he is concerned about Mary, and wishes to reunite with her. Markhad hired a private investigator to find Mary but had not been successful. Mr. Nunes says (The Associated Press): “It’s very hard for us to reconcile our mental image of her as a 7-year-old girl with the reality that she’s a gawky, beautiful, 18-year-old teenager that we could pass on the street and might not even recognize. We love Mary and are overjoyed that she is alive and back in the U.S. Our hearts and home are open to her, and we will do everything we can to insure she remains safe and healthy. We look forward to the day our family is finally reunited.”

Mary Nunes is expected to testify on behalf of her mother, and shows no indication of wanting to reconnect with her father.

Sources:

For updated related to Genevieve Kelley: “Friends of Genevieve Kelley” https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-Genevieve-Kelly/370039133164287

“Missing girl taken by mom in custody battle found after 11 years; stepdad arrested” by Dave Solomon, New Hampshire Union Leader, 4/15/2015: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150415/NEWS03/150419409/1006/NEWS03&template=mobileart

“Search for girl reveals bitter family split” by Associated Press, AZ Central, 5/10/2009: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/05/10/20090510mary.html

“Scott Kelley, fugitive featured on ‘The Hunt’ surrenders” by Stephanie Gallman and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN, 4/15/2015:

  • http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/15/us/hunt-fugitive-scott-kelley-arrested/
  • “Teen in high profile custody case pleads for her mom – Mary Nunes breaks an 11 year silence as mom faces trial” by Newser Editors and Wire Services, 4/28/2015: http://www.newser.com/story/206053/teen-in-high-profile-custody-case-pleads-for-her-mom.html

    “In the 1970’s when the Khmer Rouge came through Cambodia, they wiped out the entire educated class.

    They wanted to destroy the family structure. Mother and women were slaughtered. That’s a whole generation that was taken out.

    And now you have women raising children who’ve never had grandmothers teaching them, mothers to teach them how to raise children, how to be a mom. And these women have felt the effect for years.” — Sissy Samaritan’s Purse

    I was really struck by this quote because it reminds me of how –injustice in family court destroys the family structure, and destroys the bond between parents and children. A whole generation is being taken out due to the failures in family court.

    Fit, loving parents are being forcibly separated from their children. This causes real trauma, and often leaves life long scars. I wonder what the effect will be on the future generation of children… who have been forced to live in an abusive, dysfunctional home and deprived of a healthy, nurturing relationship with a parent.

    How will these child survivors parent their own children? How will they function in the real world? What will the effect be?

    – EJ, 2015

    “Crossing the River: Motherhood in Cambodia” is a short film created by Samaritan’s Purse who is doing missionary work in Cambodia, providing maternal and child health programs and offering support.

    The video explores the challenges and experiences of mothers in Cambodia, a country with one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. Samaritan’s Purse is working to reverse that trend by building health clinics, teaching mother’s needed skills, and offering support to build their confidence in raising their children.

    Some thoughts on how the loss of my children due to an unjust family court order has motivated me to fight for family court reform. This post give you a glimpse into my family, and what the loss of my children means for us.

    I dropped my youngest child (not involved in this custody dispute) off at preschool, he gave me the biggest hug and said “Love you Mommy… see ‘ya!” then ran off into the classroom. I remember the tight squeeze of my son’s arms wrapped around his neck. The softness of his hair under my chin. How he smells like bubblegum toothpaste and the crisp, wintery air that dusted snowflakes on his coat. I remember the sound of my child’s sneakers slapping across the linoleum floor when he ran into the classroom. And when the day is done, I will pick my child up from school, we will share our life together, as family.

    I treasure each moment with my youngest child because I know the deep pain of being forced to live without your children.

    My two oldest children have been unjustly taken from me and sole custody was given to an alleged abuser, with over a dozen child abuse allegations against him. As a result of the abuse, both children have suffered from anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, problems socializing, problems communicating and more. My daughter has been diagnosed with “adjustment disorder” for almost her entire life…I think it is a sign that she has never truly “adjusted” being forced to live an abuser. My son has clear memories of abuse, and when he was younger he would bang his head on the wall or hit himself in the head because physical pain was the only way to drown out the memories. My son now lives a “double life”. He has learned to project an image to the outside world, what he wants people to see…and hides who he really is. My son says that he on purpose blocks things out as a way to cope.

    The abuser is using sole custody to totally exclude me from the life of my children. I do not get basic updates about their care or schooling. I wake up each morning with a tremendous emptiness. I do not get the chatter at the table as we eat breakfast. I do not get the hugs. I do not know what my children do during the day, or if they remember to say their bedtime prayers at night. I do not get to see my little girl grow up, and cringe at the thought of an abuser, who has shown no respect for women, is now guiding my little girl as she grows into a teen…all those important questions and conversations a mother and daughter share, will never happen for us. My oldest son spends all of his time on the internet; he has a new family in video games and Skype.

    There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel the incredible grief for my children… the place where my children once nestled in my womb, safe beneath my heart, is empty.

    The future for my family is a frame with no photograph.

    It was my dream to be a stay at home mom. I wanted to be on the PTA, and attend play groups. I wanted to take my daughter to dance class, and play dress up with her. I wanted to encourage my son to develop his interest in science, and do crazy experiments together… Now I am the Mom involved in never-ending court proceedings. The Mom studying legal blogs, court rulings and rules of procedure—to fight a legal battle just so I can have a place in my children’s lives. I escaped the abuse to give my kids a better life, and now the Court is telling me their life is better with the abuser. Horrific.

    I am the Mom who attends meetings, speaks out and takes every opportunity to advocate for my kids…and others like them… families negatively impacted by the failures and injustice within the family court system.

    I will never stop fighting to keep my kids safe and to bring them home.

    — “EJ”