How Family Courts Punish Abused Women

“The dirtiest little secret in America” is that family courts, in deciding custody, often wreak devastation upon mothers and children.

So argue Mo Therese Hannah and Barry Goldstein, editors of the new anthology Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Child Custody, which brings to light what many familiar with the family court system have long known: Designed to dispense justice, the system has become instead “an instrument of oppression,” particularly in cases involving domestic violence.

To find a chilling example of what the editors mean, we need look no further than the recent murder of infant Wyatt Garcia, reported in the Daily Beast:

Wyatt Garcia was born in April 2009. Nine months later, he was shot and killed by his father, who then turned the gun on himself.

It might have turned out differently—if a family-court judge had listened to Wyatt’s mother.

Wyatt’s mother, Katie Tagle, had previously filed three motions in family court for an order of protection against the baby’s father, Stephen Garcia, alleging that he had physically assaulted her and harassed her and her family. Garcia was apparently jealous that she was dating again. In the last motion, Tagle charged that Garcia “had threatened to kill her and their baby.”

The San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Robert Lemkau chose to believe Garcia’s denials over the evidence supplied by Tagle–which included emails, text messages, and voice messages, according to the Daily Beast. Tagle says she was treated like a “criminal” and “complaining woman.”

One goal of Hannah and Goldstein’s book is to convince judges, attorneys, and others who work in the court system that all forms of abusive behavior, whether physical, verbal, financial or legal, cause harm to women and children. On the legal side, men who abuse their female intimate partners have successfully used strategies such as false accusations, harassment, manipulation, and intimidation to win custody while often driving their victims into poverty. According to contributing author and lawyer Joan Zorza:

Abusive men not only harass their victims, many harass their partners’ lawyers and manipulate those in and connected with the court system who are supposed to insure that children are placed with their better parent in a safe, nurturing environment.

This makes it all the stranger that about half of the time batterers win custody in family courts. They are actually more likely to win custody than men who do not abuse their partners, according to Zorza. Over the past nine months, 75 children have been murdered by abusive fathers who used custody battles to get even with the mothers, according to the Daily Beast.

Yet Katie Tagle’s dismissive treatment by family courts is all-too-familiar. While there has been a growing awareness over the last 30 years of the harm domestic violence causes, courts are more and more ignoring women’s allegations of domestic violence and holding them responsible for their own abuse. This is largely due to courts’ reliance upon mental health experts who have inadequate training in intimate violence or child sexual abuse and who are easily manipulated by batterers.

Gender bias plays a large role in this backlash, according to the editors:

Compared to men, women are disbelieved more often, held to much higher standards, and judged far more punitively for failings such as drinking, use of drugs, adultery, or hostility to their partners. …Such behaviors are readily seen as grounds for giving the father custody.

Hannah and Goldstein hope to also expose two particularly harmful court practices that have evolved over the last several decades: Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), and “friendly parent” statutes. PAS provides a handy–and utterly without basis–refutation to incest and abuse claims by blaming mothers for any hostility that the children feel towards their fathers, maintaining that children love and respect their fathers unless a “poisonous” mother has convinced them otherwise. Even alleged incest and violence are not deemed reason enough for children to independently turn against their fathers.

Since PAS has been deemed by the American Psychological Association to have no scientific backing, at least 32 states have incorporated the milder sounding “friendly parent” concept into their custody laws. This gives custody to the parent who will encourage the child to have more contact and a better relationship with the other parent. Often mothers are hurt by the friendly parent concept, since they can be deemed “unfriendly” for saying anything against the father, including alleging abuse. Zorza says that, ironically enough:

The unfriendly behavior of noncustodial parents (usually the father), such as not paying child support, physically or verbally abusing the mother, or stalking her, is not considered as meeting the definition of unfriendly.

With such an approach, Zorza says, family violence is discounted, and abusers are empowered while battered women are disempowered. Ultimately, children are harmed.

Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Child Custody will be instructive for policymakers, those working in the family justice system, and members of the media–which the authors say has by-and-large failed to expose custody court scandals. But it is a must-read for any mother involved in a child custody battle, and especially for mothers trying get free from an abusive relationship.

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/ / CC BY 2.0

Comments

  1. G J Watson says:

    We have over 6 million children abused every year in the United States at least 5 children die every day from abuse not my strangers but by their parent or other caregivers. Family Court Judges and guardian ad litems ignore the abuse to women and their children, Judges listen to these guardian ad litems who push for men who abuse their girlfriends, wives and their children…guardian ad litems that are unattractive females are easy prey for these abusive men who are very manipulative and know how to charm women, and there is jealousy when the mother is attractive and the guardian ad litem isn’t. Let me tell you my horror stories then tell me was it corruption, Judges or officials getting kickbacks, or just mean bias officals who hate children and/or women. This happened in Virginia Courts
    In the 80′s a little girl was being sexually abused by her father, the mother got proof when taken to Court the second time the father had to admit it was true the mother had to much proof. He tells the Judge his ex wife (the mother) is vindictive trying to hold the sexual molestation of their daughter against him, he was a changed man remarried and his new wife had two daughters and wasn’t afraid to le thim be alone with them. The Judge threatened to put the mother in jail and give custody to the father if she didn’t send her daughters to visit their father, told her she had no right to hold the sexual moslestation against the father he was trying to be a good father now. The mother had to send her terrifed 8 year old daughter to visit her father every other weekend she was sexually abused over and over again crying begging her mother not to send her to her father every time even threatening sucide. The mother was saving money planning on fleeing to protet her child, begging her daughter to hang on she was working on something she was afraid to tell anyone her plans of leaving…The mother ended up not having to flee after all bedcause her ex husband wasn’t a changed man he raped his new wife’s 13 year old daughter…the Judge then wanted to issue the Mother a new order prohibitting the father from ever seeing her daughter again… It was to little to little to late…two childrens lives destroyed forever…the father was arrested the new wife was convinced not to put her daughter through a trial and plea deal putting the father in a mental facility a couple months then he was free to go to Florida to live with his mother..Florida refused to list him as a pedetor of children…
    In the 90′s a young mother of 4 left her husband after numerous physical assaults, while separated the assaults continued her husband constantly broke into his wife’s home assaulting her one night he raped her in right in front of 3 of her children. He put a knife to her throat another time he tried to shoot the mother he pulled the trigger three time but the bullet jammed, he tried to kill the wife and her children chased them down the highway for miles tried to run her car off the road with the kids inside. He was always found guilty but the charges were always reduced the Judge refused to do anything to this husband. It was so bad the police told her to shoot her husband and they would drag him in the house for her when they got there…Her two youngest children by her husband begged her to kill their father that’s how bad the abuse was…She told her children she couldn’t kill him she would go to jail and never see them again…The Judge told the husband one itme right in front of the wife stop pleading guilty and told the wife why don’t you move out of this county she did, when the husband took her to court again the Judge gave the father custody of her son telling the wife she didn’t need 4 kids to take care of…It would be almost 3 years fighting to get her son back…the little boy was abused regularly as was hsi sister when she visited the father, the Judge retired and the Social Service woman called the wife telling her it’s time to get back to Court the Judge is retired…the new Judge took one look at that file with tears in his eyes looked at the son 10 years old by that time and said “I am so sorry this Court failed you, the little boy looked up at the Judge and said “Can I please go home with my mama” the Judge shook his head yes I don’t think he could speak…He finally looked at the wife and said “i’m so sorry for everything take your son home” he looked at the husband and said “you can leave” and it was finally over..
    In 2004 a grandmother saw her grandchild was witnessing the domestic violence to his mother (her daughter) by the daughter’s boyfiriend, the abuse escalated by 2005 her grandchild was being endangered,abused and physically assaulted by the daughter’s boyfriend, she went to the courthouse and the Judge granted the grandmother emergency custody to protect the child, he told the mother she was in danger situtation he hoped she would seek help through domestic violence agencies to learn skills to protect herself..the boyfriend threatened to kill the Mother and grandmother numeorus times but the poilce never arrested the father, he even trespassed on the grandmother’s property in 2007 built a bomb while she was at work made her grandchild and a neighbors child watch him built it, the bomb exploded hurting the boyfriend luckily not the children, the grandmother was called home, the officer old her he was going to arrest the boyfriend, the boyfriend was screaming he was an informant he knew a well known Judge he would never spend a night in jail, the officer made a phone call in the presence of the grandmother, the neighbor child’s father and her daughter, the officer said to someone on the phone “he will be mad’ the officer got off the phone refused to give the grandmother or the other child’s father a police report and refused to discuss the charges against the boyfriend and left…the boyfriend was never charged with anything…He continued to assault and threatened the life of the Mother the police refused to arrest the boyfriend when they were called to the boyfriend’s home…The daughter and her abusive boyfriend had a child together the end of 2008…the boyfriend tried to force the Mother to abort the child, the grandmother intervened and refused to allow the boyfriend near her daughter until she ws to far for an abortion…The boyfriend called and threatened the grandmother’s life numeorus times…when the chidl was born the boyfriend denied he was his child wanted nothing to do with the child and told the grandmother she wanted the kid she had to take care of it and the grandmother raised the child along with his brother. The abuse continued the father threatened to kill the mother and their child numeorus times, when she tried to end the relationship. The boyfriend was hospitalized in 2009 for his mental illness anger issues and suicidal tendencies he was first dignoised with mental illness in 2000. The daughter still terrifed her boyfrined would kill her she found the courage to end the relationship for good the end of 2010… The grandmother told her the Courts would protect her child and her, she was dead wrong…the boyfriend went after custody telling the mother and grandmother he would get custody and make sure they never saw the child again…Every time the boyfriend wasn’t given custody he took it back to court or appealed…Psychological evaluations were done the father’s report indicated the father was mentally unstable, the medical report from the father confinement documented the father was dangerous wouldn’t follow treatment…a later counselor testified to the boyfriend’s incurible mental disorders and anger issues and disrepect for authority…the boyfriend violated the order over 160 times but was found not guilty by the Judge…he kept the child from the mother for months the police wouldn’t enofrce the order, the mother’s show causes weren’t given a court date, the guardian ad litem’s retaliated against the mother and grandmother for reporting the abuse violence and violations of the orders…the guardian ad litems pushed for the father to have sole custody…the mother finally got her child back and the Judge instructed the boyfriend to refrain from violence and stay in treatment he didn’t he appealed the ruling to Circuit Court, the Circuit Court Judge ignored everything about the father his mental illness,anger issues, violence, the violations of the orders, the long history of abuse to the mother her other child, the domestic violence already happenening between the father and his new girlfriend who he married prior to the last Juvenile hearing… The Circuit Court Judge criticized the mother and grandmother for reporting the mental illness, all the abuse to the child his mother and brother and to the new wife by the boyfriend (father), she took this terrifed child from his mother, brother and grandmother and gave sole legal and physical custody to the abusive father, citing the marriage as the change in circumstances since the last order to change the custody order…it was inncorrect and the Judge knew that, the boyfriend was married prior to the last Juvenile hearing…and the domestic violence between them sure wasn’t a reason to give a child to them …The child had bruises every time he was returned by the father the child screams begs not to go to his father, the Judge refused to view videos of the child’s distressed state or view the pictures of the bruises on the child, multiple black eyes, busted lips, bruises on both arms on his back and butt and the back of his legs that look like fingerprints.. The child’s statements of abuse by his father and his father’s wife was also ignored…it was heartbreaking for the grandmother who raised this child and tried so hard ot shield and protect him from this abuse…
    While the grandmother was dealing with this she wa sback in court fighting to protect this grandchild’s brother again this itme from hsi own father’s abuse…the Judge wouldn’t believe the grandmother when it had ot do with the child’s father abusing him just like in this younger child’s case…the grandmother was ordered to send that older child to his father for unsupervised visits ignoring the prior abuse, on the very first overnight visit the child was abused again and this time seriously injured, left with permanant physical and emotional damage…
    The younger child’s case was appealed because the Judge refused ot listen to any of the evidence and took the child from his mother, brother and grandmother who he lived with since birth and gave the child to his father and hsi wife who abuses him and the father abuses his mother in front of him and his father’s wife assaulted his mother in front of him…That was in November 2012, the Court of Appeals still hasn’t ruled to overturn the Circuit Courts ridiculous ruling that was clearly rigged and bias against the mother and grandmother…the child continues ot have bruises on his face and body screams and begs his grandmother not to take him back to his father he is being hit by his father and his wife and they keep hitting each other in front of him…The grandmother keeps reporting the abuse but it is always ignored and she is treated like a criminal or a liar even with videos and pictures of her grandchild’s bruises…Recently she picked up her grandchild he had over 6 bruises on his face and body she went to the police and CPS again and like always was told the child didn’t have broken bones it wasn’t a crime to hit a child, the police told her the child was ot young to testiify they couldn’t make a case, the grandmother kept calling people finally the police made a report and involved the CPS but agains she was otld the abuse would be to hard ot prove with the child to young to testify and he didn’t have any broken bones…the grandmother still didn’t give up she went and filed for emergency custody agians for the 7 th time, the clerk wouldn’t take her emergency motion to the Judge they put it in the Judges mail box and told the grandmother you can’t get an emergency hearing the same day, the grandmother otld the clerk this was urgent if the Judge didn’t sign her Motion today (friday) she had to turn over this child to his father on Sunday, the child was terrifed begging her not to take him back, the clerk said they had to follow procedure…she was given a court date in September 2013 and tody is July 26, 2013…they told the grandmother the Judge would look at the emergency motion within 5 days…or set up an earlier hearing date than September…The grandmother was devastated …..the boyfriend could file bogus motion and given protective orders against the Mother who isn’t violent and has never hurt her child….the father was ordered to pay the mother 28.00 a month for child support when the mother had custody now the father has custody the mother was ordered to pay the father 250.00 a month..the mother makes less than 12.00 an hour and was unemployed at the child support hearing…the father made 60,000. a year but never paid one penny of child support the child is now 4 years old the grandmother is the one who supported loved and took care of this child since birth…
    These two grandchildrens cases were done in the same courthouse different Judges and idfferent guardian ad litems, the 4 year old guaridan ad litems ignored all the abuse and mental illness in this child’s case, in the other child’s case his guardian ad litem didn’t ignored the abuse by this boyfriend or by his own father…all the Judges is this cases ignored the abuse violence and violations of their own orders and have allowed these children to be abused and injured physically and emotionally…
    Family Courts are supposed to protect children from abusive parents who is suppose to protect children from the Family Courts who don’t protect children?… The grandmother has written to her local news stations, TV shows trying to get some public atention in this situations she heard nothing back from anyone she wrote to the Governor, Senator anyone official she could get an address or email for even to the President…everyone seems to think corruption child abuse and abuse in family court is a private matter…This isn’t a private matter to the grandmother or the mother in these stories…I am the mother in the first two stories and the grandmother in the last two stories….
    I will never stop trying to protect children I love and I will never stop trying to get someone to listen to the injustice that happened to my children or is happeneing to my grandchildren right now…I have been retaliated against limited in my grandchild’s life because I cared enough to report the abuse… These bad officals need to be exposed and removed from their positions…they don’t care about the suffering of a child…abuse should never be ignored by any official…
    The Goverment makes the laws they can mandate that Judges and guardian ad litems are responsible and can be held accountable if they ignore abuse to our children…as it stands now there are only laws in place to protect bad Judges and guardian ad litems from any accountablity for their mistakes….There are no offices set up to protect abused children and their mothers from bad Court rulings…Children are losing their mother and other loving caregivers and given to abusive father who only use the system to continue their abuse…WHO IS GOING TO END THIS FAMILY COURT ABUSE…REMOVE THE JUDGES WHO ARE GETTING KICKBACKS…THROW OUT GUARDIAN AD LITEMS …MOST ALL OFFICIALS HANDING CUSTODY CASE AREN’T QUAILIFIED IN VIOLENCE OR MENTAL ILLNESS HOW CAN THEY MAKE DECISIONS ON CASES THEY ARE TRAINED TO HANDLE…IT’S TIME EVERYONE TAKES A STAND TO END CHILD ABUSE…
    If you know where I can turn next please let me know..my grandchild’s life is in danger and I can’t ignore the abuse he is going through…
    Let’s make a change help save a child from their abusers….even if it is family court officials doing the abuse or ignoring it….

  2. Nancy Capps says:

    I AM IN THE EXACT SAME SITUATION HERE IN FAYETTEVILLE NC. COURT FILES HAVE DISSAPPEARED FOR OVER 50 COURT APPEARANCES IN CONSTANT FRIVOLOUS EX PARTE COURT HEARINGS IN WHICH I HAVE NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO PRESENT ANY WITNESS IN. I have been in court for 12 years with a sexually, emotionally abusive man who did not want this child, seriously abused child, refused to leave my home (no legal recourse), has submitted falsified documentation to doctors and schools claiming full custody ( which he has never had

  3. I am in this situation in NC also. I was a stay at home mom for 10 years. I have never done drugs. Was never abusive and never put children in danger. Was also very involved in my community. Yet he made allegations of me having an affair and was granted an ex parte for all children even one that is not bilogically his? I can not find a lawyer that will take this case. I have not had my children for a year and now my daughter may have cancer. The only way he is letting me see her is if I go back to him. Did I mention I finally got the courage to leave because he pulled a gun on me but no one believes he would do such a thing. If anyone has any resources that can help please let me know!

  4. This should read, “How Family Courts Punish Women” because, it’s like triage in a hospital – the cases of domestic abuse are the most urgent, there is no argument – these are the most distressful, harmful cases, but this is also used to harm women (in a variety of ways) seeking to remove children from ANY harmful or unhealthy situation at home. By the same token, these “fatherhood initiatives” are also used to reduce or eliminate financial support (by using the mother/child/rens safety or well being as a bargaining chip) when either parent seeks to end a relationship. The courts routinely side with fathers due to the fallacy (perpetuated by Father’s Rights Groups and financed by the same and other right wing conservative groups and grants available thru the US gov.s HHS department (https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL31025.pdf) that “all fathers” (“Likewise, President Obama
    has also included responsible fatherhood initiatives in each of his budgets.
    P.L. 109-171 (the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, enacted February 8, 2006) included a provision
    that provided up to $50 million per year (FY2006-FY2010) in competitive grants to states,
    territories, Indian tribes and tribal organizations, and public and nonprofit community groups
    (including religious organizations) for responsible fatherhood initiatives. P.L. 111-291 (enacted
    December 8, 2010) extended funding for the Title IV-A Healthy Marriage and Responsible
    Fatherhood grants for an additional year (i.e., through FY2011). For FY2011, P.L. 111-291
    appropriated $75 million for awarding funds for healthy marriage promotion activities and $75
    million for awarding funds for activities promoting responsible fatherhood. Since FY2012,
    several continuing resolutions and appropriation laws have extended funding for the Healthy
    Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grant programs at $150 million per year on a pro rata basis,
    divided equally between the programs. ) are an exclusively “positive” factor in children’s development, even when studies show extreme and adverse effects of exposure to neglect, abuse, parental discord, etc. (http://acestudy.org/) The end result is that, our courts will give custody to abusive fathers (even when there is documentation of the abuse) over 70% of the time. At the same time, these same forces that promote “responsible fathers” use the court to barter the mother’s and children’s safety for freedom from financial responsibility. Child support statistics show that only about 1/2 of Custodial parents have child support agreements in place, AND in 2009, only 46% of THOSE parents ever recieved all the payments due (average in 2009 was 300.00 a month and over 108 billion dollars was “unpaid”). In 2012, there was a cost of over 53 BILLION dollars to taxpayers for public assistance to children. 82% of custodial parents owed this money are women – and 41% of households headed by single women are below the poverty level. (http://money.cnn.com/2012/11/05/news/economy/unpaid-child-support/)
    The promotion of the “equitable” custody agreement – the so called, “shared” or “50/50″ custody promotes the idea that EVERY child custody situation is best solved by giving each parent equal time, regardless of the situation, the child’s best interest and personal wishes (regardless of age and/or personal history). There is also little or no accountability for the court administrators when they force children into abuse/neglectful situations.

    Bottom line is, there can be no guidelines for a “one size fits all” agreement – every situation is different. Children MUST be heard in the courts, and BOTH parents must be given equal status regardless of income, grants must be either eliminated or made free of gender bias. The courts MUST be unbiased and are NOT. The court administrators require oversight and governance and have NONE. The mechanisms in place for recording proceedings are outdated and allow for no real transparency or accountability (errors in court transcripts and “backroom” meetings, cronyism, appointment of “select experts” etc) and require correction. The current systems’ extortion like and robber tactics must be stopped, the courts should be a place of law, not extreme commerce and crime. Lives are being lost and ruined for no other reason than financial gain in our courts at present and this must stop.

  5. G J Watson says:

    Trying to Protect A Kid

    ©
    ©©©
    © Kid ©
    ©©©
    © ©

    I saw the bruises on their face and bodies
    I saw the fear in their eyes
    Hours later their screams would still echo in my head
    “Please don’t take me back they hurt me” they begged all the way there
    I sought help I left no avenue unturned
    Trying to protect a kid…

    Over the last thirty years in one courtroom after another
    I reported the abuse but my concerns were ignored
    evidence never viewed or disregarded if it was even read
    I was threatened called a liar crazy slandered even retaliated against
    But my heart wouldn’t let me give up
    Trying to protect a kid…

    Every time in the past a child was seriously hurt or injured
    before they would correct their mistakes
    Never once saying “I’m sorry” nor acknowledging the damage they did
    Their lack of remorse made me doubt they would change
    I prayed I never had to go deal with that Court again
    Trying to protect a kid …

    Thirty years later dealing with different courtrooms
    I’m devastated to see that nothing has changed
    The abuse is still ignored evidence is minimized not viewed or hid
    I’m called a liar, slandered and threatened like before
    I may be permanently disabled, financially ruined my reputation destroyed
    But they’re the ones with blood on their hands and I’ll never stop
    Trying to protect a kid …

    By, Glenda
    (Dedicated to her children and grandchildren and every other abused child)
    @All copyright reserved by Glenda

  6. Two decades ago I was a battered wife. My husband was violent and his rage was only escalating. We had an argument in a parking lot of the doctor’s office after he was told by their staff that his treatment of me was inappropriate. He left me there in my car after he took our baby and took off running. I couldn’t find him. I had my other child with me. I went home. He called to say he was sorry. He was sorry that he wouldn’t be able to pay me child support for the next 17 years. I could hear him sobbing as he told me he was going to drown our baby in the river. I dialed 911. The police officers located my husband near the water with our baby. (please note, that this has been the suffering of my life and it isn’t easy to share)
    I was met with a caseworker, David Kamp, from Child Welfare. I was told they he needed me to sign my children into temporary custody. I said no, I am leaving, I cannot take this abuse from that man any more. I was then told that they could make it so I could never see my children again. I signed the paper, and I put “I am signing this as I have been told I will never see my children again if I don’t”. The officer got angry. I was asked what part of “never” did I not understand.
    I was told that all I would have to do is seek a restraining order showing that I would not allow my kids to be put in this type of situation again. After the weekend, I had that protection order in my hand. I went to pick up my children. However, I was then told that they had decided a psychological was in order. I was then given notice of a court hearing to place my children in foster care.
    My daughter was 9 years old. Her foster dad forced her to take showers with him. The state didn’t care, afterall I was being looked at as someone that was mentally unstable.
    I jumped through hoops (parenting classes, one on one counseling, and even anger management… I was the victim of abuse, I suppose they were confused). As the classes were completed, which took nearly a year, I was told that the recommendation of Kathy Turner, was that my sons would be placed in the custody of their father despite the fact that he had admitted to saying he was going to drown our baby in the river.
    This was something that was hard for me to fathom. How in the hell could they consider him a safe option. I was diagnosed with Depression and anxiety. These two diagnosis’ are considered character flaws in the eyes of Child Welfare. My nose had been broken during the time my children were in foster care by my husband who had lured me over to his house to pick up one of my remaining birds as he had decided to let his dog kill the other one when he was angry with me. I never saw the body of my bird dead, just a pile of bloody white feathers. There had been reports made by my neighbors that had stated he had hung my cocker spaniel up on the rafters of the garage. I am short, all I could do was scream and hold the dog up until my neighbor came in and helped me to get the dog down. This is the man that agency claimed was the better parent;an animal abuser, a woman batterer, someone who had total disregard for other life.
    I was forced to make choices. I will NEVER regret the choices I made. I stayed with my abuser. I stayed to protect my children. I learned to take the punches, hide the bruises, I learned to endure the life of hell. Years later he decided to obtain a gun. A 45 magnum, I believe. Sometimes at night, just for fun, he would stick it in my mouth and ask me if I was ready to die. The police were called in Portland, Oregon when he decided to call his dad and tell him he was going to kill us all. Our house was surrounded. Oh how I cheered inside, finally this nightmare would be over. Only I was mistaken as the police officers took my husband into the ER for a psychiatric evaluation. He was brought back an hour later.
    More years passed. Those punches were still coming. Silently, silently, I cried as my spirit was being oppressed and broken. We moved to a small town in Nevada. Small communities have their own ways. This little town has the habit of running NCICs on all newcomers. They came and arrested my husband, stating he had failed to file as a registered sex offender. I was in shock. What the hell were these people talking about?
    I soon learned that he had a prior history for rape. He had been convicted years before I met him. How could the Child Welfare system in Oregon have overlooked that? I felt sick to my stomach as I looked at my daughter. I couldn’t force a disclosure. But I had the feeling in my gut that the evil that was amongst us, abusing us, had somehow gotten to my baby girl. He left us after he knew that I had read the police reports regarding his past convictions.
    My daughter eventually made the disclosure no mother wants to hear. The state will not accept the part they played by dismissing his acts of violence, his threats of violence, and his criminal history that involved sex with a minor. I have been sick for decades.
    I was able to finally obtain a stalking order of unlimited duration against the man that abused my children and myself in 2003. Yet Child Welfare continued to come, like the Gestapo, and violate my civil rights under the guise that they had received multiple allegations and reports. I obtained copies of these reports, and low and behold I could clearly see that it was my ex husband/stalker that was continuing to harass me by using this agency against me. For years he would make these false allegations, the police department joined in on the numerous unwarranted searches of my home. It took me years to find out that this is how he was verifying my address.
    Both agencies were well aware of the protection order. Yet due to their discrimination against persons diagnosed with mental illness, they continued to search, coerce, and threaten to arrest me and remove my children if I didn’t let them in.
    I have one last child to raise. She is a teenager. She has reached her “defiant” stage. Child Welfare came out to my home to investigate allegations she had made with her friend’s mother. Child Welfare is calling calling the case “founded” for mental injury. Yet their thorough investigation never included the adult witnesses that were at my house that could have shed some light as to what events truly transpired.
    My daughter has been gone since December 9th. I miss her and as a mother I know that forgiveness is something that comes with unconditional love. In this time since she has been away I have been able to provide Child Welfare with proof that my daughter was given access to sexually explicit photos of adults engaged in sexual activities. I stated I did not want my daughter with this family as I do not believe they have moral standards that fall in line with my own. Child Welfare took this as me discriminating against their sexual orientation. Strange how they never seemed to ask me what my own personal sexual orientation is, or the orientations of my other adult children. Instead they have decided to say I am anti-gay, which is a far cry from what I was referring to when I said I did not want my daughter to be placed with her friends family.
    I am strong. I am resilient. Perhaps if I continue to state this outloud enough times I will become just that so I can continue fighting for my youngest to be returned to me so I can finish raising her. My other children have turned out to be decent members of society thus far. I wish I could have videotaped the eyes that were rolling in the family safety meeting when I stood up and proudly stated that in spite of all of the trauma we have been forced to endure due to their refusal to admit his entire criminal history so that a different plan could have been set into place two decades ago, my daughter, my precious girl who was forced to carry the wounds of a victimized child, has made it. She is in her 2nd year of medical school, aspiring to become a doctor.
    It pains me to see that Child Welfare cannot see that even a poor disabled woman diagnosed with Depression and Post traumatic stress disorder can raise a child with a decent moral standard. How many of their children have succeeded?

  7. kathleen says:

    sanbernardino county is corrupt!! I had guardianship of my granddaughter..i had to go through hell. because the mothers dad,ex cop, decided to fight me against my wishes of having her supervised!the mother stabbed my son 3 times with garden shears and gave my son death threats via email..mother denied these and denied she hurt the babys arm..ex cop dad lied for his daughter.i also tried to get him to not be the supervisor under court order.i knew he wouldn’t tell on his daughter.. long story short, after all the months of child getting hit and licked,i got custody..i didn’t call cps as I knew they would lie!! however, when the child told me sexual things,i did!! long story short, cps lady heard it herself before I even knew and I lost custody to them!! they set me up!( at first the mother agreed to let me have custody,then when the court investigator said I should raise her until she was of age,then the mother denied she said I could have custody and then she said I was on meth and then said in a fb post she was going to get custody and we will never see her again( except called my family a name) and also she was taken into foster care,my son was told I put a naked video of her on my fb..I did no such thing..then I found out the old fb I has was hacked!! I was so scared,i went to the police..evil people in this world..

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ms. Magazine and Janet Fraser, Kathleen Russell. Kathleen Russell said: How Family Courts Punish Abused Women – http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/05/17/how-family-courts-punish-abused-women/ [...]

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