(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 has suffered severe PTSD and behavioral problems, which therapists noted are consistent with witnessing or being a victim of domestic abuse. As a result of recalling this troubling memory, child would become upset and later have a meltdown. “Meltdown” meaning he would fall to the floor crying and screaming. At times, during a meltdown, he would repeat swear words he heard from “Daddy” or become aggressive. Therapists noted in records that DJ told them “I learned my tantrum from Dad” and “I want to be the boss like Dad“.
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 if there wasn’t bruises on their body right now, they could not prove abuse happened. 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