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”

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

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”

(Stearns County, MN, 2014) Shocking family court order: Supported by testimony from GAL, Family Court awards joint custody and primary residence of a child to a convicted child molester. GAL cites concerns that the mother is “protective” and orders orders her to have a “psychological evaluation” because the child has been tardy to school on several occasions….

As reported on the blog “Family In Law” by Michael Boulette on Jan 31, 2014 (I edited the names for privacy reasons)http://family-in-law.com/case-law-round-12713-understanding-endangerment/:

“One unpublished case out of the Court of Appeals this week.

In re the Marriage of H vs. H, A12-2127, (January 27, 2014) leaves the impression that Appellant (Mother) took for granted that the court would never award custody to Respondent (Father) because of his criminal history. (Father was a registered sex-offender for an offense he committed as a 13 year old.) It appears she was wrong.

After awarding Mother sole legal and physical custody in the parties’ 2009 divorce, the Court later granted Father temporary sole custody of their child in 2011. The district court restored custody to Mother a few months later, only to permanently modify custody in 2012 by granting the parties joint legal and joint physical custody and establishing Father’s home as the primary residence.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about H is the basis upon which the Court found “endangerment” sufficient to modify custody under Minn. Stat. 518.18: missing school.In affirming the district court’s custody modification, the Court of Appeals found support in the case law for the concept of endangerment-as-educational-neglect.

Apparently, the child’s difficulties in school, coupled with Mother’s interference with Father’s parenting time were enough to tip the scales towards endangerment and sustain the district court’s ruling.” http://family-in-law.com/case-law-round-12713-understanding-endangerment/

Background: Mr. H and Ms. B married in June 2006 in Stearns County, Minnesota. A daughter was born in the fall of that same year. A separation occurred in 2007 with formal divorce proceedings initiated in 2009. After the divorce, the mother, Ms. B was granted sole physical and sole legal custody of the child. Mr. H was ordered into supervised visits. Mr. H did not exercise parenting time during the time he was jailed for failing to register as a sex offender — this would have been the second offense for the same reason.

The Father, Mr. H, has a lengthy criminal record dating from 2003- with the most recent case being in 2012. Charges range from passing bad checks, theft to various traffic offenses. And two separate charges of intentionally providing false information under the Minnesota predatory offender registration rules (failing to register as a sex offender). There are conflicting reports about the age of the victim involved in the sexual offense. Mr. H was 13 at the time, the GAL reported the victim as age 11 while the police report states that an officer learned from the BCA the age of the victim as age 4. What is know is that Mr. H was found guilty, and was convicted of molesting a child.

In 2010, Mr. H petitioned the Court for more parenting time and an un-named GAL was appointed. The GAL criticized the mother Ms. B for being “protective and somewhat possessive” and felt it was in the best interest of the child to further parenting time, unsupervised, with Mr. H. Ms. B alleged that sexual abuse had occurred and on two occasions, failed to bring her daughter to visits. Ms. B also claimed that Mr. H brought her daughter to bars. A police investigation was conducted and found no evidence of sexual abuse.

As parenting time advanced, Ms. B continued to express concerns and in May 2011, denied Mr. H parenting time on other occasions. In June 2011, the Court gave Mr. H temporary sole physical and sole legal custody because Ms. B would not bring her child to visits.Keep in mind, at that time – Mr. H is still on probation and is a registered a sex offender. The Court felt it was in the best interest of the child to be reunited with her father, a convicted sex offender with a lengthy criminal record — and that the mother posed more of harm to the child by refusing to take her child to now unsupervised visits.

Reading the history of this case from the Appellate findings, it appears the Court moved rather quickly to push reunification with the father. Also, upon being released from jail, the father begins a new relationship with a woman who has a minor child living with them for part of the week. Which should be concerning — the guy just got out of jail for an offense related to child molestation, he is supposed to be establishing a better relationship with his own child and now is moving in a woman with her own young child. How much time and energy is Mr. H really putting into improving his own life? And how much can he provide his child when he is moving another family into his home–and his own relationship with his own daughter has not been established. And given his history, does Mr. H really need a minor child in his care? Not to mention the guy was in supervised visits for a reason and is now moving a woman and a new child into his home.. The Appellate findings do not answer these questions but they would have to be addressed by the GAL at some time, and clearly she was not concerned with any aspect of Mr. H’s parenting or home environment.

Around this time, the mother Ms. B suffered a mild concussion and while recovering, claimed she had trouble getting her child to school. Ms. B also said that some of the absences were excused because the child had medical issues and required frequent doctor visits. The record shows at least 3.5 absences and one tardy per semester. Ms. B. subsequently signed an Attendance Contract with the school. The school did not take any other formal action against Ms. B and did not notify social services.

The father Mr. H also suffered a back injury at some point, and missed at least one visit with his child because of it. Yet it appears the GAL dismissed his ability to parent based on a physical injury and instead focused on Ms. B’s physical injury as an indicator that she was not able to provide for her daughter.

It appears that the GAL pushed for Ms. B to get a psych eval, which the Court did order. The record offered does not show if Mr. H. was also ordered to undergo a psych eval. Ms. B psych eval showed that she has adjustment disorder with anxiety and depression, concerns with economics and concerns with the safety of her daughter and occupational problems.

When the child continued to be absent or tardy from school, the GAL cited “educational neglect” to recommend physical custody to Mr. H. It is unclear if other interventions or measures had been tried before removal was recommended by the GAL. Mr. H was living in a home with a girlfriend and her daughter. The GAL cited evidence that the daughter of the girlfriend was rarely late for school so the home would provide a better environment for the child. Which is somewhat strange because Mr. H never married the girlfriend, and is not the biological father of her child, so he is not considered a legal guardian. Further, the nature of their relationship as dating only, not marriage, does not indicate stability…the relationship could change at any time, and should not be used as a basis to determine custody. The Court then granted joint custody to both parties with primary physical going to Mr. H.

The appeal filed for this case was problematic in that the transcript from district court was not submitted, thus limiting the ability of the judges to make a decision on the Court’s conclusion of law. Also, Ms. B’s claims about contradictory statements made by the GAL could not be verified without an actual court transcript. Ms. B also did not submit the findings of her psych eval to the appellate court. When reading the findings, it seems clear the Appellate Court largely interpreted the psych eval based on what was in the GAL report. So presenting the psych eval would have been crucial. Also important, would be an updated medical report to note any change in condition or improvements. The Appeals Court upheld the findings of the district court.

Mr. H was discharged from probation in March 2014.

I am having trouble finding the best interest of the child in this ruling – The mother, Ms. B divorces her husband, specifically stating safety concerns for her child. At the time, Mr. H is put in jail and removed from society because he is a danger. Mr. H gets out of jail to be awarded increased unsupervised parenting time — while he is still on parole, and still be monitored because of concerns with his ability to be safe with children! And then the Court awards Mr. H joint custody and primary residence even while he is dating another woman, and moved a child into the home. That means the Court is awarding the non-relative woman who is staying in a relationship with the convicted child molester while punishing the blood relative mother who chose to divorce, and clearly expressed concerns for her child’s safety and left the relationship for safety rasons. Now we have two children in the home with a convicted child molester. And somehow missing a few days of school is supposed to be a bigger concern?!? The child molester father is given more resources and support to help gain custody of his daughter than help given to the protective mother, who has raised the child continuously since birth. And now the Court wants to introduce a live-in girlfriend and her daughter into this young child’s life? And this is really supposed to be in the best interest of the child? This ruling is problematic on so many levels — and yet it is so similar to so many stories many of us have experienced due to systematic failures in family court, and failures of the GAL program.

— EJ Perth

A heartbreaking yet courageous story of a mother fighting to protect her children…and the family court system that failed this family.

This story is reblogged from: http://amississippimom.wordpress.com/

The Guardian ad Litem recommended sole custody to an allegedly abusive, criminal and drug abusing father who was later to found so unfit and abusive towards the children that they were later removed from his home. This mother was then prevented from being reunited from her children because she was now being sanctioned by the court for failing to pay exorbitant GAL fees!
“Even though my children are fully cognizant, aware, of their own memories, of me, their mother, of my behavior, of my affection, my deep, abiding, maternal love for them, and of our lives together, I have yet to offer any reasonable explanation why their father, an indisputable criminal, abuser, drug-user, was able to obtain, and keep, custody of them for so long, and, how this was done with the complicity of those court appointed to see to the children’s safety and well-being … how all these things were done for so long, how I was given very limited, stringent visitation, as their mother, and for so long. Is it acceptable to try to explain to children? How does one do so in any rational way?”

amississippimom

Starting Over When You Can’t Go Back?  – To All Protective Parents:  Rebuilding when you can’t go home again:
To all of my friends:  I have slowly begun to rebuild my work and my career, my freelance paralegal research.  I had been self-employed in the same field for over 20 years when my life came to a screeching halt in 2010 when my young children (ages 9 and 12) were kidnapped by their father and taken over 200 miles away … this was parental kidnapping, against custody, against the law.  So many others are familiar with this horror but this type of kidnapping garners little sympathy and certainly less action.  This atrocity, and the long-haul of horror it places a protective parent in is in no way different than having your children kidnapped by a stranger.  Although with parental abductions there may some knowledge, confirmation, and awareness, however vague, that…

View original post 1,678 more words

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/

Warning: This song may be triggering, as it discusses domestic violence from a child’s perspective, and the video contains images of abuse.

“Oh Mother” is a powerful firsthand account of abuse and survival–that has really touched my heart. This is a song for battered women and protective moms from a child who has survived, and grown into an amazing woman. That child is the talented Christina Aguilera, now a mother herself.

The lyrics are haunting….
“She was so sick of believing the lies and trying to hide
Covering the cuts and bruises (cuts and bruises)
So tired of defending her life, she could have died
Fighting for the lives of her children..”

“Oh Mother” is a powerful piano ballad sung by Christina Aguilera (featured on her 5th album, “Back to Basics”, 2006). “Oh Mother” describes Christina’s childhood, growing up in a home where domestic violence was present.

Christina says, “Growing up I did not feel safe. Feeling powerless is the worst feeling in the world… I turned to singing as an outlet. The pain at home is where my love for music came from.” (Thompson, DailyMail)

Christina say that of her violent father made her family’s life “hell” and that he physically and emotionally abused her. The father denies all allegations of abuse.

Christina’s mother fled the home with Christina and her sister, taking them to live with her grandma. Christina’s parents divorced when she was 7 years old.

Christina has expressed that there is too much secrecy about domestic violence; “Oh Mother” has certainly raised awareness about abuse and the effects of violence on children. Christina dedicated this song to her mother. The video ends with a sign lit up that reads,”I Love you, Mom”.

Source: “Christina Aguilera talks about childhood hell at the hands of her violent father” by Paul Thompson, MailOnline. Spet. 23, 2009: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1215346/Christina-Aguilera-talks-childhood-hell-hands-violent-father.html

Wikipedia: “Oh Mother”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Mother