UPDATE: My children have to go with their abusive father today

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2004
UPDATE: My children have to go with their abusive father today
25
Sat, 11-03-2012 - 8:59am

I'm not sure where to post this. I used the message boards when we were going through our divorce. We've been for almost 3 years.

My son, 11, told me in August that they had been witnessing domestic abuse in their fathers home with their step mother. And knowing how our marriage was, I believed him in an instant.  My children are having all kinds of effects from this. Hearing voices, intense fear, confusion, depression, physical sickness, aggression.

I called CYFD, CPS, they have an investigation open, were suppose to close it this week, and issue me a closing letter on their findings. It was not soon enough, he won this visitation back on Tuesday. 10 hour days, no supervision. He is of course minimizing the situation.  I don't know how the court could allow this to happen.

This mommas heart is broken and scared. My son is terrified. I don't know what to do. The court system is so broken.

 

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Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001

Hi Jcsmom and welcome to the board.  Sadly, this is an all too common problem for people who have managed to escape from the abuser in their lives.  The child welfard system has a long, long way to go in acknowledging how detrimental allowing children to have contact with an abuser can be to the child(ren)'s health and welfare.  To them, it appears that allowing a child to visit with an abusive parent is more important than actually protecting the child(ren) from the abuser and THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE, not to mention DANGEROUS.  Since visitation has been court-ordered, to not send them could put you at serious risk for going to jail for contempt of court, the next best thing you can do is prepare the children for the next visit.  Contacting your local domestic abuse agency so that they can assist you and your children in preparing a safety plan for when visitation occurs is one of your options.  I've seen this done on many occasions, and in some cases, activating that safety plan has enabled the custodial parent to obtain either supervised visitation or no visitation at all.  You are seeing the devastating effects of this in your children's physical and emotional problems.  Counseling for you and your children is also available through your local domestic abuse resource.  While I never had to cope with this particular issue due to the abuser in my life being stripped of his rights to my dd because he committed the abuse against me in her presence.  An outstanding online resource for you is womenslaw.org.  It lists state-by-state resources for help, as well as legal info for your state.  I urge you to go to their website www.womenslaw.org and research what the laws of your state have to say.  One of the key things you can do is document, document, document everything your child tells you when (s)he returns home, as well as the behavioral changes that are happening as a result.  It may take finding another attorney who is more experienced and knowledgeable about the devastating affects that witnessing domestic violence have upon a child.  It may take returning to court several times (which costs a fortune) in order to achieve the goal of supervised visitation.  You mention that he won visitation back on Tues. even though CPS has yet to complete their investigation and issue their findings.  I am so, so sorry this has happened.  Please contact your local domestic abuse agency about the safety plan for your kids and tell them that it is okay for them to call 911 should they witness it happening while they are with him.  You don't mention what state you are in and practices vary widely from state-to-state in handling this.  Perhaps sending a cell phone with your son when they go so that he may call you to come get them or call the police to intervene would be an option, but ONLY if it doesn't place your children at greater risk.  Keep documenting, take them to their physician and/or counselor and ask them to provide written reports on the effects that witnessing domestic violence is having on the children.  CPS is so overwhelmed with cases that oftentimes, situtations like yours are only given a cursory examination and since the children themselves are not PRIMARY victims of his abuse, nothing is ever done.  Providing non-CPS documentation from doctors, counselors and teachers can be used to build your case again, and go back to court.  I wish I could provide more help, unfortunately, this is an all too common problem facing survivors.  One of the member's of this board who rarely posts here went through SEVEN YEARS of unmitigated hell trying to protect her dd from the emotional and verbal abuse her ex was heaping upon her child.  FINALLY, after all that time, the judge in the case retired and a new judge took over.  She took it back to court and the new judge took one look at the case, and could not believe what had been going on and issued orders that stopped her dd from having to have any contact with the abuser until he completed a series of requirements in order to see her.  He never completed them and hasn't had any contact with his daughter in almost three years now, by COURT ORDER.  I wish I could say this is the "rule", but it's not, it's the "exception" and was only obtained after YEARS of documentation, going to court and wracking up massive legal bills.  And finally, finally, after all that, what turned the tables was simply a judge who was well versed and educated on the effects of domestic abuse on children, along with documentation from the child's therapist, doctors, and her mother, who NEVER GAVE UP.  I'm going to drop R~ a note now and see if she can come on the board and give you better advise that I've been able to.  Since this is something that I have no experience with, I would hate to steer you wrong except for the most generic of suggestions.  In the meantime, while I know you hate to do it, follow the court order and do what you can to help the children when they return from the visitation.  Y'all are in my thoughs and prayers.

Mama Harmony

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2004

Thank you for the response. We are in NM. I have contacted the domestic violence resource center here, and have gotten myself into counseling there. I immediately put the children into counseling after my oldest finally let on what was going on. I have no other choice but to abide by a court order.  It rips my heart out because I know today my son will be hearing all kinds of things to manipulate him. It worked on me for 10 years and I'm an adult. He is already confused as it is. Of course, my son acts like it is all fine when he is in his Dads presence because he is scared to be anything else (this was used in court, by his Dad and also the court clinican when observing. That he is happy to see his Dad.). I get the brunt of it when they get home. Their counselor says it's because they know  it's safe to do with me. I will never give up. This man, regardless of how many times he says to me: "You know I'm a good person", is a terrible man.

 

Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001

Hang on, Jcsmom, my friend R~, whose story I shared with you in my earlier post, got my email and she plans on responding to your post.  One of the thing that several of our members have done in the past is requested psyche evaluations from an independent "child custody" specialist.  These guys work with domestic abuse cases on a daily basis, and then makes recommendations to the court based on these evals.  It almost always works out to the benefit of the children and the non-abusive parent because it's a very rare abuser who can pull the wool over the eyes of the evaluator.  They can try all they want to "act nice" but between the testing and the in-person interviews, they simply can't keep it together and end up screwing up.  I won't kid you - these evaluations are pricey, and so is going back to court to get these evals. in front of a judge, but our children are more than worth it.  I'm sure R~ will have some good info for you.

On an off topic note, NM is one of my most favorite places on earth.  My family and I have a ski home at Angel Fire and we go out there every chance we get.  My oldest and dearest friend has lived in Santa Fe for about 28 years now and I love going out to see her there.  I can remember going to Santa Fe when most of the streets were still dirt and Cerillos Rd. was still two lane.  My dd and I went to Albuquerque to the NM Botanical Garden and Aquarium and had a blast, and Taos is always one of my favorite "funky" places to visit.  So, you posting where you are brought a smile to my face and I thank you for that. 

Hang in there, Jcsmom, we'll do all we can to support you while you face the nightmare that is your kids' visitation.  While we may not be able to do a whole lot to change the situation for you, we can offer support, strength and hope, so come here and post often, read and learn and know that we're here for you.  My best to you.  LIke I suggested earlier, please consider contacting the children's advocate at the agency where you are receiving your counseling.  S(he) will be able to help your children in setting up a safety plan for them while they are visiting with their father that will, hopefully, empower them to remain safe and know when to reach out to either you or law enforcement for help if they need it.  You're doing all the right things, the court system failed you and your children and that is one of the things that is the domestic violence movement's mission to stop.  Education of the judiciary and law enforcement are VITAL to helping stem the tide of domestic violence that has become epidemic in the world.  Another thing you might want to do some research on is called "parental alientation syndrome".  Your ex is attempting to alienate your children by talking to them about you in a derogatory and demeaning way.  While they are frightened of him and will do what they have to do to stay safe while with him, they KNOW what is going on and in the end, he will lose them because of it.  If nothing else, hang on until they are at the age where the court will take their wishes into consideration in granting custody and visitation.  My best to you.

Mama Harmony

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2004
Mama Harmony ~ I needed these words so much. Thank you. I am feeling deflated, and defeated this morning. I have to drop them off again in a couple hours. I will check for a childrens advocate. I visited the domestic violence center because my fear renewed after my son showed me, and the court accused me of putting my fears on my son. I pray for peace and justice. I pray for truth. I feel like no one is listening.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2004
*after my son showed me intense fear towards his Dad. It triggered my own.

 

Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001

Hi Jcsmom.  I got an e-mail from R~ this morning.  She can't remember her old member name and so can't sign in.  The following is what she e-mailed me and told me to post as coming from her.  If anyone can help you figure out what to do, it's HER. 

Ugh, I cant get on. & I keep trying, but I dont even know my user name for sure.

Can you post to her that:
"She needs to contact the courts & request a Gaurdian ad Litum, which is a court appointed, neutral party, who is there ONLY in the kids best interest. An advocate for the child. They GAL will meet with kiddo, & parents all seperately & eventually make a recommendation to the court. They will look at & take any & all evidence you have - but be sure you dont look like you are trying to discredit your x, ALL you are doing is trying to prove his mental status (your x;s), his violent history, his current manipulation, violence, etc - save all emails, texts, messages - communicate iwht him ONLY in writing so you can show the GAL all of this.  Our GAL was 1K, & we had to each pay 50%. Much cheaper than a pscy. The courts look highly upon GALs b/c they are usually attorneys or past judges. They then make a recmmendation to the judge on whats best. In my case, after 5 yrs of horrific mental abuse to dd (after I left him for DV), FINALLY the GAL realized what a crazy person he was, & made supervised visits. A yr later, with a family therapist, whom the court agreed to let supervise visits, & make reports (who was paid by my health insurance for his family & indiv viists with all of us ) but we piad 50% each, for him to write his court reports - finally he stopped ALL visitation. He recommended to the court that XH only ever be allowed to see dd again if he was cleared by him mentally after intensive therapy - & the judge went with his recommendations & pulled ALL visitation - well ... dd is 13 now & ts been 4 yrs & XH has never followed thru. So he hasnt had one LICK of visitation in actually, almost 5 yrs . & he lives 2 miles away. AND I LOVE IT.  My child would NOT be ok had he continued to emotionally abuse her. 
Hnag in there, its a fight to the death - but you CAN, & WILL WIN. B/c there is no option. You must."
And there you have R's response, Jcs.  I had totally forgotten about the GAL.  Keep us posted and good luck!

Mama Harmony

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-04-2012

I am very sorry to hear this,I was in Domestic Violence filled marriage before,and it is nt an easy thing to have to do ,when you are made to send your children back to the person that you tried so hard to get away from.I understand completely how you feel. Is there any way you can possibly video tape the kids when they return from his house ,without them knowing ,so the way act when they come home is documented .? That way a judge can see the real truth of what they go through and know that isn't anything you are making up. Kids are made to feel like they have to pick sides in these issues even when that is not the case, and even though they may know what their father has done is wrong they are usually conditioned from the past violence to know not turn on that person or make him/her angry.My children and I went through counseling for a couple of years before they could admit to anyone that they were afraid of thier father, they felt as though they would be betraying him and didnot want to face what he may do.They would say things like"He would never hurt us,He loves us," or "He doesn't mean it,Mom just makes him so mad,we know what to do and what not to do so he doesn't get mad at us" when in reality they were on eggshells hoping they didn't set him off. The counseling will help them tremendously ,but something has to show the judge that they are really scared,or he will be twisting thier minds about the abuse.I hope all works out for you ,and your children .Stay safe.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-10-1998

(((hugs))) I hate the way the justice system works. I am one of the lucky ones that once I stood up to my abuser he rolled over and played dead. It helped that I left the state when I left him and instead of following us (I have to much family and I would have been afraid to follow us to NY too, lol) he went back to Florida (we were living in South Carolina).

I remember R's story and was wondering how things were going there, I use to lurk on the board back when she was posting and my heart broke for her and her dd.

I hope the suggestions given to you helps your children and you deal with this mess. When we first met with the law gaurdian in New York she wanted to find a way to keep contact with the children and my ex but realized with my oldest the only way she would agree to see him (she was 11) was if it was supervised but thankfully my ex had come up with the idea of us having to agree with visataion and so they never had to see him. It does say in the court papers that I can't be unreasonable and well after his conviction for bad behavior with a minor down in Florida I don't think I am being unreasonable and since the children don't want to see him I really don't think I am.  I just wish everyone leaving a DV sitution would get as lucky when it comes to visatation as Harmony and I did.

Good luck!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2004

Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to move out of state. I dream of this. He still controls what I can or cannot do with the "joint custody". Still has control over child support, before all this happened he would make me ask for it, or "remind him".

Both boys came home very different this weekend. My oldest, who is usually confident, and sweet, was mouthy and loud. Attention seeking. My youngest who is usually a chatterbox, was quiet, but when he did talk he was very rude and disrespectful, "I KNOW MOM!!"  The car ride home last night was strangely quiet.  My oldest had diaharrea 3 times, and my youngest woke me up at 2:30am, he said he was scared and couldn't sleep. I ended up sleeping with him the rest of the night because I am so exhausted myself. My intent was to lay with him till he fell asleep, but I also passed out.

The GAL - I would like to do that. I need to do that. I am still in debt from the divorce. He made it ongoing. I was a single Mom for the full 10 years we were married, I was basically unemployable in this economy. I worked odd jobs, sometimes 2-3 at a time to make ends barely meet. Now I was hired with Hallmark in May, and finally getting stable again.

Should I request a psyche eval on him? Is that what I understood from one of you ladies? I appreciate all this advice. It is all so terrifying.

 

Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001
In order for the judge to get a COMPLETE picture, everyone undergoes the psyche eval. In most cases, each adult is responsible for the charges for themselves and the cost of evaluating the children is split 50/50. Are you documenting your kids' state when they return? When I say document, document, document, I mean EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING. Use dates, times, quotes, ANYTHING the children say or do that is not their "normal" selves. Also, it is not uncommon AT ALL for an abuser to continue to "control" the custodial parent via the children. It's wrong, it's unconscionable but it IS The Abuser's Way. If he is behind on his child support, file an application with your state's Child Support Enforcement division to see if they can go about collecting it on your behalf. If he's not behind, they may not be able to do a whole lot, but it's worth a shot. Just be aware that the first thing they will do is contact him and get him to pay up on his own, but at least this will take it out of your hands to keep after him to pay up. The second step they will take will be to send a withholding order to his employer, who will then be required by law to take the child support payments out of his paycheck before he even sees it. The only problem with this is that quite often, the non-custodial parent will begin to "job hop" to stay one or two steps ahead of CSE, or will begin working "off the books" for cash, so that their wages can't be garnishes. HOWEVER, if this is the case, another step they can take is to seize his income tax refund. They have many remedies that they can employ, which will make collecting the child support something you no longer have to deal with. Good luck and keep us posted.

Mama Harmony

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