names have been omitted in this post
"If I don't lose a few pounds I'm going to have to go buy all new clothes. Like, seriously. This is getting to be ridiculous." I told my mother as I tossed another pair of pants that no longer fit in a heap on the small settee at the end of my king sized bed. With a sigh she followed me out.
"Yeah... it would be better to lose the weight than have to spend the money on all new clothes." She told me.
"Tell that to my sweet tooth!" I quipped "I'm hungry all the time. I eat and then I feel guilt. But if I didn't have all this stress I probably wouldn't be eating so much!" I retorted. I opened the refrigerator and began searching for something to eat. "I guess it's plain chicken and steamed broccoli tonight." I commented and then added "After dinner I get to start printing all these messages off Our Family Wizard so I can mail them to the Amicus. Oh, yay!"
"I hope this is going to go well this time." She murmured.
"I hope so... because personally I'm getting real sick and tired of people screwing up and enabling him. The last Ad Litem was a waste of money. This is ALL such a waste of my time and money.... print all this stuff and for what? Are they going to actually do something about him and what's in the children's best interests? He's the one who filed all this crap and then I have to pay to deal with it... with a huge disparity in income and with no guarantee something will be done about him. How is that right? When is someone going to step in and shut down all his aggressive litigation? It's bad enough I had to deal with what I endured being married to him. And now I've been dealing with his abuse for the past five years... him using the kids. I'm completely disgusted with the whole system." I told her.
We may be told that someone who is an abusive partner can be a loving and healthy father or mother. But the truth of the matter is that is not only a misconception but a lie. Not all domestic abuse is obvious or even noticeable. Some domestic abuse is so subtle that it's not even picked up on by others. Emotional abusers have the keen ability to say and do things that even their target begins to second guess if they are being abused... even verbal abuse is easily hidden behind closed doors and often smoothed over by profuse apologies and affection... even gifts and empty promises of not hurtfully unleashing their tongue again.... yet always of course these gestures are proved over and over again to hold zero value as the abuse is repeated.
If an ex husband or wife was verbally abusive and shut you down during your marriage and used tactics such as stonewalling to avoid discussing a subject; using intimidation to make you quiet and to get their way.... it only stands to reason that at some point those same tactics will be used on your children. If your child exclaims they are frustrated because Mommy doesn't pack them a sandwich for school lunch... all they get is rotted fruit and a few leftover pieces of candy from Halloween... and yet when they explain this to their Mommy... and Mommy replies "Tough!" and walks off... that abusive parent is merely mimicking what they did in their marriage with their child. If that same mother (or father) is fighting for custody of said child.... they don't truly care for their child. The obvious take away from this scenario is the Mommy is just using the child as a weapon to "win" them in custody... they are not even meeting this child's very basic needs; a healthy and basic school lunch. The mother's true feelings for the child shine through in her actions toward the child. Yet how often do the court systems ignore the actions of a parent? One might say "Well, it's just a school lunch. Maybe they didn't get to the store that week. Maybe they were busy. Maybe they were stressed." But when you look at this scenario combined with so many others they begin to stack up... to more than "just an isolated school lunch". The child not only doesn't feel loved and adequately fed but also not heard... they tried to explain to their parent how they feel but were shut down.... that speaks volumes.
The family court systems today often want to give fifty-fifty to parents as they deem that is what's fair. But what is "fair" is not necessarily what is in the child's best interests... the two are not one in the same. Often the only way more time is granted to a parent is if one parent is a drug abuser or pedophile.... but is this low standard really what we want to set for our children of today and future? Is this the level of expectation we are holding for our young ones lives? If we aren't going to bat an eye at emotional and verbal abuse and we are going to merely sweep it under the rug then what hope do we have in the fight against domestic violence? If we are going to pat parents and children on the head and say "Well, it's not like you're being beat... you're not being molested... you're not being exposed to drugs.... it's just that your mom or dad needs a little help... they just lack in some areas and have said some things they shouldn't have... maybe your Daddy didn't really mean to say "If you tell anyone you want more time at Mommy's house I'm going to throw your baby doll away"... I'm sure your Daddy was just stressed out... maybe we can rehabilitate your Daddy... or maybe your Mommy and Daddy can take some parenting classes on how to co-parent.... Oh, okay... and in the meantime that child is learning to accept that what was said to he or she is perfectly okay; if I don't conform and do what Daddy wants, my baby doll gets thrown out.... I'm already scared and I don't want to lose my baby doll so maybe I better do what Daddy says....
So then what? Fast forward time to when she's thirty and we shouldn't bat an eye when she goes out and picks out a piece of you know what just like her Daddy.... and then one day when her husband says to her: "If you tell anyone I hit you I'm going to throw your dog out." We shouldn't be surprised when this happens, right? I mean, the court okayed it. Everyone acted like it was no big deal... she grew up thinking this kind of behavior was okay.... she didn't believe she deserved any better.... it was comfortable... it was what she knew... yada, yada, yada.... I mean.... if you really think about it... this has to be all her fault right?
She ****picked him out**** right??? I mean, why didn't she just leave? Why did she stay? You get what you tolerate, right? Isn't this the mindset so often today?
If your spouse or ex is abusive they are not capable of being a good parent. They are not able to live a life of kindness, self reflection, growth, empathy and love. No parent is perfect.... we know this and it's not about perfection. But it is about self awareness and having empathy. Those are two traits that abusers do not have. They are self serving and do not care about others or in what form or route they go to get what they want. An abuser feels satisfaction when they "win" and get their way... when they come out on top and feel superior as it strokes their ego. This is why abusers are so dangerous when it comes to child custody... because they are often enabled (wittingly or unwittingly) by the court systems who give them too much length on a leash or completely release it and try to play down the real damage they are doing.... the abuse is merely continued from the marriage and the children become objects to fight over and used as weaponry in the abusers new continued battle.
If only an abuser realized that when he or she uses the children to continue his or her domestic abuse there are no winners. He or she may think they've won but it's all a lie. The biggest losers are the children... having the knowledge that in their parents eyes they weren't worth exuding love to but instead wielding control and seeking ownership. These children grow up not feeling loved and then even worse realizing they were mere puppets... also seeing the frustration and wear it's put on their healthy parent.
Today, I want to give you encouragement... no matter how frustrated, depressed or bleak we may feel in our outlook regarding the custody of our children we can cling to hope... even if it's as small as a mustard seed. Even as we spend our last dime fighting for our children, even as we waste trees and precious time printing the same information over and over... we pray. Some of us have had our faith shattered in being able to trust anyone again after discovering betrayal, some of us have had our faith shattered at the idea of marriage again, some of us have had our faith shattered at the thought of whether we will have a relationship with our children again... or maybe we have seeds of doubt... will it get better? And if so when? And how?
Maybe we believed strongly for a long time our situation would improve but as the years go by that faith begins to dwindle to less and less. If you have struggled with any or all of these I understand. You are not alone. Even if it may feel like it at times there are others who know very well what you are going through. Today my prayer for you is renewed strength, and knowing He knows your situation intimately and no matter how tiny your faith is or tiny the steps may seems to be in restoring what you've lost He is there alongside you... for He replied: "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea', and it will obey you." Luke 17:6