Child’s Drawing: “Daddy in Jail, He Hit Me..” (Family Court Awards Custody to Abuser)

Family Court Injustice Hennepin County, Minnesota

(Hennepin County, Minnesota: 2006-2018) Mother discovers child’s drawings in a lost notebook, a voice silenced by family court speaks out about abuse…

“Daddy red touch – jail with lock. He hit me.” Child then slaps himself in the head, hard, to show what happened. 

This picture of “Daddy” is drawn in red crayon to represent “red touches”. The words above I wrote based on what my child, ” then age 7, reported to me.

Child read the “Red Flag, Green Flag People” book in a domestic abuse support group for children and learned about personal safety.  “Red Flag, Green Flag” follows the good touch/bad touch teaching pattern, with green flag touches being safe and appropriate touches and red flag touches being inappropriate, uncomfortable, or hurtful touches.


In April 2006, I was physically assaulted by my abusive ex, Martin and forced to flee the home to seek safety for myself and my children. My child was injured during the incident when Martin forced entry into the home, slamming him in the face with the door, causing a black eye. Being homeless, and living on the streets or couch surfing, was actually safer than staying in an abusive relationship with Martin. But nothing could compare to the nightmare that awaited us in the Hennepin County Family Injustice Center.

Martin sought sole custody of the children telling me that he “wanted me to know how it felt to be hurt“. Martin also told me that if he could not gain custody of the children that he would “call a social worker and have the children put into foster care” just so they would not be in my care.

When litigation began, in June 2006, I naively believed that the family court would listen when I reported the abuse, and investigate the various evidence I submitted showing that abuse did happen, and would work to protect the children.

I thought the Guardian ad Litem, first Christine Davis and then Jamie L. Manning, would listen to the children when they reported abuse, and showed fear of their father, and do something to protect them. Just the opposite happened – my children were pressured and coerced by the court and GAL Manning to recant abuse, and forced into a relationship with their father despite tears and cries for help. When my children reported abuse to the Guardian ad Litem, and court appointed therapist they were told “it happened in the past“. And when bruises and other marks as a result of abuse or neglect did happen, the court and GAL continued to make excuses for the abuser and deny that my children were endangered. 

I was unjustly removed from my children’s lives by court order and told that reporting abuse meant I was unable to co-parent. And also told that I am “keeping secrets” because I entered an address confidentiality program for victims of domestic abuse (and that meant I am an unfit parent). All of these obscene reasons were used to illegally strip me of parental rights and forcibly remove my children from the safe, loving home I provided. I now am allowed just one visit a month with my children, and the court order states I must ask Martin – the abuser – for permission before being given any additional parenting time.

As a result of proceedings, my children have been forced to live in an abusive and dysfunctional environment. The children have been physically and mentally re-abused and emotionally neglected after Martin gained custody. By court order, the children have been  forcibly estranged from their mother, and any connection to their maternal family including their sibling, other family members and friends and their cultural and religious heritage.

I am still involved in family court proceedings, fighting to regain rights and visitation to my children, and working to keep them safe.

~ “Emily Court” © 2018

About Emily Court

It takes "Just Us" To Fight Injustice in Family Court. I blog to raise awareness about problems existing in the family court system, and use my own story as a personal example of how the systemic failures in family court, and the Guardian ad Litem Program, affect families, in an effort to encourage needed reform. Written by a survivor of domestic violence and homelessness working to create a better life for her children, in a stable home free of violence. In her efforts to rebuild her life, she has not only encountered harassment and intimidation from her alleged abuser but faced systematic failures in family court that have empowered her alleged abuser and put her children at risk. She has spent over a decade trapped in family court until her children finally aged out of the system. Through writing and blogging, FCI is working to raise awareness about domestic violence, and the urgent need for family court reform. She is currently working on a memoir titled "'Til Prayers Are Answered".
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3 Responses to Child’s Drawing: “Daddy in Jail, He Hit Me..” (Family Court Awards Custody to Abuser)

  1. Do you know who the judge was on this case?

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Emily Court says:

      Several judges on this case: Judge Stephen Aldrich, Judge Jeannice Redding, Judge Ivy Bernhardson (aka “Poison Ivy”), Judge Patrick Robben (aka “Robben Children” appointed to the family court with NO prior experience in family court!)

      Judge Aldrich was a TOTAL DISGRACE on my case – his behavioral was both unprofessional and intimidating. I will never forget the time Judge Aldrich became frustrated and yelled at my attorney from the bench and then lifted his arm and threw his ink pen at her. At another time in my case Judge Aldrich was holding a hearing in my case and was actually running out of the courtroom, going back and forth, and trying 2 separate cases at one time.

      Public Reprimand of Judge Stephen Aldrich:
      “In September, 2010, the Board issued a public reprimand to Fourth Judicial District Judge Stephen C. Aldrich. The Board and the Judge agreed to settle the formal charges previously issued in BJS File Nos. 08-104, 08-105, 09-110 and 09-111. According to the agreement, a public reprimand was issued to Judge Aldrich due to improper personal conduct engaged in by him in court..”

      Susan DeVries, psychologist, was also court appointed on my case to facilitate reunification with my children and their abusive father. DeVries had a conflict of interest because she served on the Board of Minnesota Association of Custody
      Resolution Specialists (MACRS) with the GAL Jamie Manning and her business partner, Angie Banga. DeVries and Manning colluded together to take my children from my safe, loving home and give custody to their abusive father, who was diagnosed with a personality disorder. I will never forget when DeVries told me that my small son told her that he saw his father attack me, and drew a picture of the incident in detail. DeVries told my son that “it happened in the past” and basically said unless a beating was happening right in front of her face that she wouldn’t believe that abuse had happened (keep in mind we were homeless as a result of abuse, and spent time living in a battered women’s shelter).

      DeVries was also appointed to the Holly Collins case – she falsely labelled Holly with Munchausen by Proxy after child abuse allegations were raised, and evidence of abuse was offered.

      DeVries stepped down from my case without explanation after an article about the Collins case hit the local paper. Read Holly’s story here:

  2. Save Children from Court Abuse says:

    Even a child knows that someone who hits a child SHOULD GO TO JAIL!! Duh!! What is wrong with the judge and GAL in this case?!?!

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