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

 

 

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“ReMoved” is a two part short film told in the first person narrative of a young girl named Zoe who is removed from her home, along with her little brother Benaiah, due to domestic violence and child abuse. Zoe begins a new life in the foster care system, which in some ways is an improvement, in other ways is just as chaotic, and unpredictable as the life she has been taken from. When placed in the home of foster mother, Ms. Law, Zoe is faced with her most difficult struggle of all — finding what is lovable in herself. “ReMoved” is an emotional, raw film – that wisely uses the power of its emotional scenes, and the insightful messages Zoe provides to give a voice to vulnerable children, and help people to understand what is happening, in the foster care system.

“ReMoved” was written by Christina Matanick, directed by her husband, Nathanael, who were inspired to write a movie about foster care from a child’s perspective after taking training on how to become foster parents. The film’s goal is to “serve as a key tool in raising up and training good foster parents, social workers, court-appointed special advocates, and the many other adults who interact with children in foster care“.

“ReMoved” is also based on Hebrews 12:2, a Bible verse about Jesus enduring pain and humiliation because of his great love for humanity. The Matanick’s say Hebrews 12:2 offers reminds them of foster parenting – that they take on the pain of the foster children when offering a home to them, and offer their love just as Christ offered his, even when challenged. Hebrews 12:2 has a hopeful message as well, one of healing and restoration, though not explicitly stated, it becomes the conclusion of “ReMoved”.

“ReMoved” may be triggering for some. As a domestic abuse survivor, whose children suffer from PTSD and many of the emotional issues that Zoe does, alot of the scenes hit home. Zoe drew tornadoes to depict her struggles at home. My daughter did the same – drawing squarish pictures of “home” with a scribbly tornado ripping through. Zoe is also like the tornado – she has recurrent PTSD flashbacks, and feelings of helplessness, which may trigger fits of rage where she becomes destructive and out of control. I saw those same kinds of outbursts in my son, whose anger and violence was modeled after what he experienced from his abusive father.

It was interesting to see the different adult reactions to Zoe’s struggles – her behavior became what defined Zoe, because the adults failed to understand how abuse impacts a child, and her own need for healing. I saw similar reactions when seeking help for my family, and was told several times to just spank my child to get him to behave. There was no real understanding of how abuse affects children, and that these children are traumatized and in need of help. Even when staying in a domestic violence shelter, I was given a safe place to stay with my children (temporarily) but their emotional needs were neglected. There were no services for children available at the shelter during our stay.

In “ReMoved”, Zoe’s behavioral and emotional struggles resulted in her being moved from one foster home to another, being rejected by her mother (the film did hint at a possible reunion) and finally, being medicated with instructions to double the dose if she did not calm down. Finally, when placed with a patient and caring foster mother, Ms. Law, did Zoe begin to receive the nurturing and guidance she needed to begin her healing journey.

Another issue revealed in “ReMoved” is that what is happening with the family is kept totally separate from what is happening in the foster care system, when the two should be working together. At many points in the film, the foster care system seemed punitive towards the mother, and placing a greater weight of responsibility on her (directly) rather than dealing with the abuser and the abuse.

This is also a theme I have experienced in family court, that somehow the abuse victim is responsible for the harm caused by the abuser. Only in family court, there is no emphasis on restoration of the family, limiting visitation or removing custody from a parent is a routine practice, that is quickly and easily done. Abuse victims are particularly vulnerable to loss of custody because the family court sees their efforts to protect their children as signs that they cannot “co-parent” or are otherwise “difficult”, even with CPS findings of abuse, family courts will routinely place children into dangerous custody or parenting time agreements with abusive, unfit parents.

Throughout the film, the mother struggled with her own issues from domestic violence. Taking the beatings and emotional abuse, could not protect her children from being abused by her husband. The mother is largely disconnected from her children, and the daughter takes on the role of caretaker for her younger brother Benaiah. After the children are removed, the mother is placed into supervised visitation where she attempts to reconnect to her children. What the family really needs is therapy, and supportive services, but you don’t see that being offered. For example, The mother is told to “get her life together” by a social worker- and the system is ignorant to the hurdles an abuse victim faces trying to start their entire life over. Many victims of domestic violence become homeless in the process of escaping the abuse and are forced to abruptly cut ties, and remove themselves from the only life they have ever known. They face financial hardships. And deal with their own trauma, and emotional scars. To blindly tell a victim of abuse to “get her life together” is not only insensitive but unrealistic. What is really needed is a more holistic approach, to protect the safety of the children while also assisting the parent to rebuild their own life.

I was inspired by the foster mother Ms. Law – she modeled the best of what the system could be. Ms. Law put the child’s interests above her own time and time again. Zoe was extremely close to her little brother, but was constantly being separated from him in the foster care system. Ms. Law took Benaiah in,even if it was not convenient for her to do so. Ms. Law patiently waited through Zoe’s rage, and lashing out against her – and saw past her struggles to nurture Zoe into growth and healing. Ms. Law advocated for Zoe in the therapist’s office, that there are other options than drugging a child into compliance. So many examples depicted in the portrayals of Ms. Law offered ideas on how foster care parents, and the system as a whole, could better meet the needs of children, and the families they are working with.

For me, the hardest part of “ReMoved” was the ending (which is in Part 2). There was some sense of closure but also a lot of unanswered questions. I took it as this where the film meets our lives, that each person viewing is challenged to bring something they learned from the film, or where inspired by the film, into their own life, into the community around them.

I highly recommend “ReMoved”. It has an impact watching alone but would also be beneficial to watch as a group or organization – with discussion following. This film has the potential to inspire needed changes in the foster care system, and the motivate everyday people to become heroes in the lives of needy children.

— EJ, 2015

 

For More Information:

Visit the “ReMoved” website: ReMoved

Watch “ReMoved”:Watch Removed

“Foster Care – It’s Not for the Praise” by Megan Pyrah (Brassy Apple). A foster mother shares her experiences raising foster children, and offers her thoughts on ReMoved: Foster Care – It’s Not for the Praise

“Writer/Filmmaker Christina Matanick discusses her film ReMoved” by Meka (Scream Loudly), Nov 19, 2014: Writer/Filmmaker Christina Matanick discusses her film ReMoved

A Review “What I Like About Me! A Book Celebrating Differences”

Author: Allia Zobel-Nolan

Illustrator: Miki Sakamoto

Publisher: Reader’s Digest Children’s Books: Pleasantville, NY. 2010.

Genre: Children’s Books, Board Books. Age range 2-8, but suitable for all ages. The message and bright colors would also appeal to older kids, and teens.

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“This fun-loving book proves to kids that, in a world where fitting in is the norm, being different is what makes us special” — From the back cover.

“What I Like About Me” is a lyrical, silly children’s book that reads like a child skipping through a park on a windy, spring day.

The message is very endearing. “What I Like About Me” praises the unique, one of a kind characteristics of “Me”–the unibrow, big ears that wiggle, braces, and big feet are all given a loving tribute. The book is beautifully illustrated with bold colors, expressive faces and humorous touches. “Me” is portrayed in the faces of children from all backgrounds, who romp and play throughout the pages. This book is upbeat, and leaves room for parents to add their own creative touches when reading to their child.

For a child who has been abused, bullied or feels different in any way–this book will be especially inspiring. Qualities that may cause children to be teased, or bullied, are celebrated in this book. Also, one of the neat aspects of “What I Like About Me” is that it shows children how to reframe their thoughts, or the messages given to them to turn a negative into a positive, and to celebrate their individuality. The silly rhyme and humor will appeal to children, and get them thinking at the same time.

I highly recommend “What I Like About Me: A Book Celebrating Differences”, and hope you enjoy it as much as I do! 🙂 EJ Perth, 2012

 

Allia Zobel  Nolan Author Page: http://www.alliawrites.com