Trigger Warning suicide, self mutilation, child neglect, domestic violence
It was July 8, 2008 when my children were first taken from me. It has been nearly seven years, and nothing has changed. Sadly no matter how many times this man loses his temper, abuses, or neglects these children, there is nothing so bad that would cause the state to consider placing the children with their whore of a mom.
This case began with me being awarded a restraining order, custody, and possession of the home. However, because nobody could locate my ex to sign the order, the order was not valid. I drove to North Carolina to retrieve my children from the family that was hiding them, and instead was delayed and distracted until a shelter order was issued removing them from my custody based on accusations of prostitution.
You would think that state agencies would help me to recover from an abusive husband that fancied himself a pimp, and had more than a dozen documented cases of domestic violence reported. The opposite happened, and after a long and brutal divorce, all of the documentation of psychological abuse, neglect, parental alienation and the childrens own statements of fear and unhappiness were ignored, and the children were placed with their father.
Apparently the State of Florida thought whores are far more dangerous than wife beaters. Or maybe they reduced the charges in their minds to “whore beater” in my husbands case. He never admitted to being my pimp, and I never admitted to being a whore. I lied and used the “time and companionship is not illegal to sell” defense claiming I was doing nothing wrong so that they would give me back my children. They agreed eventually, and dropped the prostitution allegations, but they never returned my children because they knew I was a whore.
I felt devastated at the loss, and began a campaign to share my story through a documentary titled “Whoremom” which was originally a kickstarter project that did not meet its goal.
I had no choice but to accept the very minimum that the court offered me which was every other weekend, and two weeks in the summer.
The depression that ensued was nearly unbearable. A DCF report was filed by a schoolmates parent regarding my sons toe being so infected he couldn’t walk as well as there not being food in the house. No action. Case Closed.
Then, a phone call. My ex husbands relationship with his girlfriend ended making him homeless only four months after the courts decision.
He told me that he had no where for the kids to live because he works under the table, and noone would rent him a place without proof of income. He wound up living on the floor in my 2o year old daughters apartment, and both minor children came to live with me.
I was upset because the court order was so cruel, taking away even my voice in their medical decisions, school decisions or any other emergency. I insisted that the court be notified and he told me that he would.
He insisted it was his girlfriend fueling the fires and that like me he was tired and wanted peace. I must admit that I was afraid to go to the court. He told me his friends told him not to do this because I may use it against him, but at this point I was so annihilated by the experience of representing myself at trial I believed that there was nothing that I could say to win custody. If I told the court he was homeless, they simply would have said there is room for three on your daughters floor, and that would have been the end of it.
I believed that he would go to the judge, and week after week he had excuses. I did begin to know that he would never do it, but I was so happy to have the kids with me, that I lived with the fear that one day he would take it away. Which he did.
From May 2013 until August of 2014 my son lived with me 100% of the time, and our youngest spent most time with me, spending some weeks with her dad in between.
The peace was wonderful, the children thrived. My son’s grades had improved so he could play football, my daughter was happy and involved in band, drama and skating. Her grades went up as well.
Yet tensions rose. I didn’t care about his money, or help with the kids, but at the same time I was under a court order to pay child support, he told me not to worry that he was going to the court to notify them.
The kids spent most of 2014 with me. I had a book tour planned with Maggie McNeill during August and September, and the kids were to be with dad.
It was during this time that things fell apart. If I knew then what I know now, I would have never left.
I received a phone call from my ex informing me that one of my youngests’ friends had gone to her guidance counselor to ask for help for my youngest. They were aware that she had been cutting herself, and were worried sick that it was getting worse. I was in a panic. He said that he looked and that it was only superficial scratches, and that he talked to her about it. I asked him about counseling and he said she was going to see the school counselor, and that it was no big deal.
My daughter indicated the same. That she just did it because some of her friends did, and that she wasn’t going to be doing that again.
Now it’s October. She is visiting me, and I notice marks on her arm while we were making sushi. First she tried to lie, then I saw another, then I took her in the bedroom to inspect her skin.
When she realized I was asking her to remove her clothes she said “I might as well just show you.” She lifted her pants leg to her hip, and I nearly fainted. She was covered with cuts and scars from knee to hip on both legs and significant portions of her arms.
I wanted to baker act her immediately. But, having no say in medical decisions, I had to call her father. “You’re not Baker Acting her.” he said in his condescending way. He minimized it, and said I was overreacting. He didn’t know where to get help, or how so he told me to keep her with me home from school, because I was better equipped to handle the situation. I told him that he had to do medical things but he refused.
I took her to two hospitals, and found one that I thought was good for her ongoing treatment. I enrolled her by lying and stating that I had custody. I know that may be wrong, but I had to get her help. I was able to get her into counseling every other week.
She told me that things were going well, and she wasn’t cutting anymore. I got a phone call then about putting her on prozac. I asked her father why he would do that when therapy was working so well? That is when he told me that she was still cutting.
“Still cutting? Why didn’t you tell me?” reply? He said he didn’t have time. Arguing about the amount of time required to send a text wasn’t going to help. It wasn’t up to me anyway, she was just placed onto whatever the doctor threw at her without any research into the side effects at all. He didn’t even know what her diagnosis was.
I noticed in January that she wasn’t answering her phone. I couldn’t reach her for a week when I finally text her dad asking why I couldn’t reach her. He told me he took her phone away because of an inappropriate photo that he found on her instagram.
Of course I was concerned because her safety plan is based on calling friends and family or a crisis line if she feels like cutting. How could she do that if her phone is taken away? I talked to him that night and said Jon, we both know that I can’t fight you in court, you will always win, but I am telling you that she is on a negative path, and she needs me. You need to let her live with me permanently. He instigated a fight out of this and wound up screaming abusively calling me a whore, a slut, a cunt, and everything else you could imagine. I told him that when he treats me like that it is so devastating that it makes me want to just walk away from the whole thing. I can’t win.
I didn’t mean it. I was only referring to the ongoing verbal abuse that he always reverts to. I didn’t know he had me on speakerphone in front of her. She took this to mean that I was turning my back on her, and instead, turned her back on me. I came to her therapy appointment to try to work this out with the therapist.
Surely she is aware of domestic violence, and how an abuser continues to abuse even after a divorce. Surely she would intervene and tell him that this wasn’t fair to the child, and that she deserves both parents.
Nope. She did nothing to help. Only said that we can only talk about the present, not the past, but how do you understand the present without learning about the past?
I felt completely ostracized.
I spoke with her very little in the next few weeks, only texting that I am here and love her.
Then on Sunday it all came to a head. I text her a song about being happy.
She text me back, “Ya, I really regret not being baker acted. I think it would have been the best thing to keep me safe.”
I asked where her dad was. He went to lunch. Lunch? Its 8pm?
I called her and she told me she wasnt cutting, but that she was thinking of hurting herself, thinking of suicide. I told her I was coming to see her, and she said only if you can mom, if you can’t it’s okay.
I immediately began a 27 hour drive to my daughter. I cannot provide details regarding that night because apparently my ex either was too drunk to remember, or is blatently lying saying that she did not have permission to leave. He is trying to have me arrested for kidnapping.
I can say only this- When I saw my daughter, her arms and legs were ten times worse than before, and her father did nothing to help her besides scream at her that he has to take two days off each month to drive her to the counseling that I burdened him with.
He met with a mutual friend/parent from school and said “I don’t see why I have to take her to therapy so she can have a relationship with her mother.”
The parent told him just the fact that you would say that is half of the reason she needs therapy.
At this point I am being treated as if I have a no contact order from the court, but I do not. I filed a motion for emergency temporary custody, and it was deemed not an emergency. I have no money for lawyers.
I think that a criminal defense team has volunteered to help me but it has not been determined to what extent.
The urgent matter is not criminal however, it is family. She was released from the hospital to his care today. I am gravely concerned that he is not taking her situation seriously, and hoping that she is okay.
I spoke to an attorney whose partner does family law and I have a meeting with them Monday. It is normally a minimum of $3000 to retain her for a family case.
I am trying desperately to raise that now. Initially it was reported as $1500 but that was for criminal, not family.
I am launching a fundraiser to retain this lawyer, and am open to anyone that is interested in helping in any way.