Another Step Forward… Exposing Abuse, Family Court Injustice Hennepin County, Minn

Public Domain: Pixaby.com - Makamuki0

Public Domain: Pixaby.com – Makamuki0

Dear Blog Readers:

Thank you for your continued support as I discuss my experience surviving domestic violence, and a horrific experience in Hennepin County where the identified abuser was given sole custody of my two children – who are also victims to abuse.

Thank you for raising your voice to share your own experiences, and your thoughts. You have all inspired me. Your efforts to raise and effect needed change in family court and/or CPS is courageous. Your continued fight for the protection of your children and struggle to remain in their lives against incredible odds is heroic. I hope and pray that one day, justice will prevail and that no family, no child will ever have to endure this family court and/or CPS nightmare that has become a constant source of pain, and grief, in our lives. 

In my own journey of healing from abuse, and dealing with being re-victimized by the injustices of family court, I am taking another step forward in my advocacy for victims, and in my fight for justice… You know me as “Emily Court”. That is a nickname (think “family court“) that I used when beginning this blog. I have used other names as well. There were a number of reasons that I chose to use a pen name… of them the strongest being the strong sense of shame, and guilt, that I felt as a victim of domestic violence. Along with it, the false accusations thrown at me in family court seared my heart, and fear held me back… I am here to say I will no longer be abused. I refused to live in fear. And I refuse to remain silent because in silence, those perpetrating abuse, injustice and corruption hide. Silence only serves to keep the secrets that bind us in shame, fear and guilt. Only in speaking out, and bearing witness to the truth, can we be free from those chains.

abusednotbroken

In 2006, a crisis caused me to flee my abuser, in which I became homeless with two children. We were able to enter transitional housing, and secured permanent housing after 18 months. My children were never able to come home, and begin their lives, free of abuse, enjoying what most children take for granted because the family court awarded sole custody to their abusive father, and in doing so, has forcibly and unjustly separated me from my children. Allegations of abuse, and concerning incidents continued after the children were given to their abusive father – which the family court continued to ignore, and cover up.

Another crisis has caused me to shed anonymity, and stand unashamed, in truth. Since I fled our home, I have been dealing with ongoing emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of my abusive ex. The events of the past months are troubling. I have been forced to return my child my abusive ex after she disclosed a concerning incident, knowing no one would protect her from harm. My ex admitted that something had happened to my child but refused to tell me what, and refuses to communicate with me in any way. After disclosure, my child has been drugged with psychiatric medicines while the underlying trauma, and source of her problems, remains untreated.  I have had to watch month after month as my beautiful child has slipped away under a haze of medication that she does not need… what needs to be addressed is the source of her pain. 

For the last months, I have had to witness both of my children grieve the loss of a mother (who lives within driving distance) simply because their father will not allow visits home. And I have to witness my abusive ex lie, manipulate, and play mind games in which the children are used as pawns. His behaviors escalate when I try to be involved in the lives of my children. His efforts only serve to hurt the children more. My children do not deserve any of this. They deserve to be happy, safe and loved. They deserve a real childhood. They deserve a mother in their lives, and along with it the care and love I can provide.

playground

The Hennepin County Family Justice Center, Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Program, GALs and family court judges (4 have been assigned to my case) are complicit in all of this because they have not only covered up serious allegations of child abuse, but have enabled and empowered my abuser at great risk to the safety and well-being of my children and I. 

The system has failed at every level … the only recourse I believe that exists now is to go public, expose the problems and join efforts for reform. With no place to hide, those in family court who have aided and abetted an abuser, and profited at the expense of my children’s lives, will be held accountable in the public eye.

Let me introduce myself to you again… my name is Lynn Mari… and here is an excerpt of my story, as told to Bill Windsor of “Lawless America“.

I have told my abuser in a very blunt message that I am going public with my story, and he is fully aware that this will all be exposed. He will no longer be able to hide behind the name “Mr. X” as I am disclosing his real name, Martin Hegland.

That being said, I do not carry any negative feelings towards you Martin, I pity you that you spent so many years hating me that you have totally destroyed your own life.

As for the children – I love them with all of my heart. And despite what you have done to me, and to them, I allow the children to have whatever relationship with you that want, without interference or judgement. I support my children. And encourage their growth. And pray for the day that they are able to seek therapy or help, and begin the courageous journey of healing from the damage you have caused.

Martin you can take my children from me for only so long because one day they will age out of the system, and they will come home. On that day, they will be greeted with hugs and celebration. And our lives will begin, together, as a family. That is why I do not carry negativity in my heart – because my children need a positive example that the cycle of abuse can be broken. My children need to be able to come to a home that is safe, loving and offers them opportunities to grow. I provide that home.

My children need to see that love is greater than anything against us, even the deepest darkness, is just a pinprick because, as the Bible says (1 John 4:18),”There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

With that I step forward, shedding my pen name “Emily Court” and going forward in my real name, Lynn Mari… May justice prevail.

Posted in Abuse Allegations & Documentation, Domestic Violence, Family Court Injustice, Jamie Manning Guardian ad Litem, Judge Robben, Legal News, Parental Alienation/DV by Proxy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Guardian ad Litem Who Stole Christmas, and then the Children (Jamie L. Manning, Hennepin County)

Public Domain: http://img1.goodfon.su

Public Domain: http://img1.goodfon.su

As the New Year begins, 2017 will mark 11 years that I have spent battling in family court with an abusive, personality disordered ex partner. 11 years – that is the entire length of my children’s lives.

The family court proceedings have now exceeded the entire length of my relationship with “Mr. X”. It is pretty pathetic to say I have a longer relationship with the Family Justice Center than a relationship that resulted in two children being born and pretty pathetic to say the halls of the cold, dark courthouse are as familiar as home. 

This poem is a rewrite of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas“. It is based on a true event from my family court case.

Before he won sole custody, Mr. X was court-ordered into supervised visitation after a therapist wrote a letter disclosing that my son had been choked by his father, and described in detail hands being placed around his neck. The therapist believed abuse had occurred, and attributed my son’s fragile emotional state and behaviors to abuse, and trauma.

Tletter1

Despite this, Guardian ad Litem Jamie L. Manning sympathized with Mr. X and used supervised visitation as a platform to eventually recommend sole custody. Jamie was aggressively pushing unsupervised visits  before the children had been stabilized, or were even comfortable with their father. Jamie’s recommendations were based solely on her own opinion, and completely disregarded other sources of information. She also bullied those who opposed her. I lost count over the total sum of documented abuse allegations that had been documented in therapy, in CPS reports, in police reports, witnesses, medical reports etc.. and that number does not include private disclosures and drawings made by the children. And it was not just that allegations of abuse were raised but my children’s behaviors, and emotional state showed clear indicators of abuse, and severe trauma. To this day, my children have never fully recovered…and how could they, living in an abusive, dysfunctional home? To Jamie, none of that mattered – she simply did not believe abuse had happened, and any evidence saying otherwise was disregarded.

In fact, one visitation facility would not accept my family into its program because when my son was told he was going to visit his father, during intake, he had a severe meltdown and displayed violent behavior. Despite even this, Jamie worked hard to give Mr. X unsupervised visits. This meant Jamie first had to go through a supervised facility and prove things were working.

How? Jamie personally recommended and made efforts to get my family into a visitation center that has  a long relationship with the court system; a facility known for following the direction of the courts. A facility that also receives funding to get parents into its programs through a family court program. The facility is staffed by young, inexperienced interns who have little understanding of abuse and child trauma, and who were not able to meet the needs of my children during visits. Supervised visitations had been extremely difficult and not going well because both children suffered from PTSD, trauma and showed visible fear of their father during the visits (and after). The children displayed acting out behaviors, emotional problems and showed inappropriate play during supervised visits with Mr. X. The staff never intervened and never took any steps to alleviate the suffering my children surely experienced. Incredibly, it was considered a “success” by Jamie Manning that my children attended visits, and their behaviors and emotional state were totally ignored.

Since Jamie refused to admit abuse happened, she needed another way to explain my children’s troubling behaviors, their poor emotional state.. and a way to silence abuse allegations forever.. So Jamie lied and said I am the problem, and if my children were taken from the mother (me) they would better adjust to living with their father (translation – children have no choice, and are forced to accept this horrific situation for their own survival). My experience is NOT unique, Jamie has done this to countless other mothers, and fathers as well. All across the State of Minnesota, other families have been victimized by Jamie L. Manning. I have also talked to several children who have since aged out of the system, but were appointed Jamie Manning as their GAL. ALL of these aged out children described Jamie’s behavior towards them as being abusive, toxic and that she put her own agenda before their own needs and wants. ALL of these aged-out children were forced into abusive or unsafe custody situations due to the recommendations of Jamie. Who, in my **opinion** is a dangerous sociopath.

Some of these parents have come forward to talk about their horrific experience with Jamie Manning, that can be read in this City Pages Article: Separated From Their Kids, Parents Unite Against One Court Guardian by Susan Du

Jamie Manning, Guardian ad Litem

Jamie Manning, Guardian ad Litem

During this specific incident, it was Christmas time, and Mr. X was allowed supervised visits only.The facility did offer a festive holiday visit for families, that was a specially planned party. However, Jamie L. Manning decided that was not good enough, and contacted my attorney and myself demanding that I hand over the children to attend an unsupervised visit in the home of Mr. X. Immediately. When I objected, citing the court order, Jamie said if I did not comply that she would recommend to the court that custody be reversed and that sole custody go to Mr. X. My attorney was out of town, on vacation, and called me on behalf of Jamie. I will never forget the panic in his voice, he begged me to comply saying there was no other choice. Like a lamb led to the slaughter, I complied. I complied because my attorney was not available to meet with me or advise me of my rights. I was ambushed. In truth – Jamie was going to recommend custody to Mr. X anyways.

After being forced to visit his father, and return to the home that held so many painful memories, my son – who was diagnosed with trauma and PTSD, had a severe “meltdown”. This pain was inflicted on my child – along with flashbacks of abuse – was directly caused by Jamie Manning forcing him into a sudden, unsupervised visit and without any preparation in therapy. In Minnesota, a GAL does not have immunity if acting outside her mandated duties. As such, Jamie should be held accountable for her actions – but that will probably never happen due to collusive, corrupt nature of family court.

Numerous complaints have been filed against Jamie Manning with the Minnesota State Guardian ad Litem Board, with Suzanne Allegrio and with Laurie Kusek (program manager 4th District Court). Complaints have been filed by both fathers and by mothers, all whose children were wrongly taken from them and put into abusive or unsafe custody and/or visitation arrangements by Jamie Manning. And as I write, parents are still coming forward with horrific, real-life stories about Jamie Manning. And other parents are sharing stories from family courts across Minnesota, and other states. The State Guardian ad Litem Board refuses to acknowledge there is a problem with Jamie Manning, or any of its guardians. The State GAL Board will not investigate complaints about Jamie Manning; instead they engage in “victim blaming” and find fault with parents even when presented with evidence, witness statements and other collateral documentation that demonstrates misconduct on part of their GALs.

The devastating result is stories like mine…

snowflakes-falling-at-night-600x399

Twas the night before Christmas, in a cold, dark house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Gifts were wrapped, and set under the tree with care,
Alone, a mother folded her hands in prayer.

After the father had choked his son,
He was ordered into supervised visits, where he could hurt no one.
On Christmas, the children were abruptly taken from bed,
By GAL Jamie Manning, while visions of $$ danced in her head

Court order violated, the phone buzzed with  a clatter
Attorneys pulled from their vacation to see what was the matter.
Damn the children, Jamie made a decision in a flash
If she kept the litigation going, she’d be paid a lot of cash!

Tears fell on new-fallen snow
The children were frightened as they were forced to go
Back into the house they fled nearly a year before
Son got a black eye when he was hit with the door,
Trying to hold back Dad, who dragged mom across the floor.

Son learned that day to “be the boss just like dad
He raised his fists, and swore when he got mad
At age 5 diagnosed with trauma, PTSD
Underneath a child is really what he wanted to be.

The mother, now homeless, with two children to care for
Was served with custody papers, and assaulted once more
As her abusive ex fought for custody in Hennepin County
He wanted to make her pay, the children became bounty.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So too this mother gathered reserves of strength
Not understanding his abuse would go to any length.

And then, in a twinkling, Jamie Manning was appointed
Though just a Guardian ad Litem, she acts as if she is anointed.
Called the mother a liar, the children too, when they spoke about abuse
For every red flag Jamie had an excuse.

The judge was dressed in black, from head to his foot
And justice was tarnished, with ashes and soot
In courtroom 535, a family was destroyed
When corruption was deployed.

Jamie’s eyes – how they twinkled! Her dimples so merry!
Laws easily broken, children’s lives put at risk – how scary!
Jamie threatened to reverse custody if mother said no,
So unsupervised visit with abuser on Christmas, they must go.

The children know how to pretend – as abuse victims do
They put on fake smiles as they buttoned their coat, tied their shoe.
And tried to forget last Christmas – when Dad flew into a rage
He disappeared at the casino, and was upset when he got a page
Santa was waiting, with cookies and cheer,
Mommy just needed the car to take the kids to see him this year,
Dad was on a roll playing Texas Hold ‘Em
And not ready to throw in the chips, and fold ’em.
He came home angry and not very lucky
Child would forever remember “Daddy called me stupey”
And “Daddy call me fuckey”.

Children buckled inside, the car sped away
The snow fell silently this Christmas Day
Jamie was triumphant as she got her way.

The cycle of abuse spins its crazy wheel
Today rage will come to heel
He will buy expensive gifts, and demand their love
And for the rest of
The day things will seem fine
Until he becomes angry again, and crosses a line.

Son tried to be brave
But when he came home, he did cave
He ran into his room, fell on his bed
Shouted that he “wished he were dead”!
The “meltdown” lasted 20 minutes or more…
Jamie continued to keep score.

Jamie will write a report and say the visit went well
Ignoring that the children have been put through hell.
Jamie will lie and manipulate to protect the abuser,
To him, sole custody she will refer.
A devastated mother will now spend Christmas alone
Children taken from a safe, loving home.

The abuse will continue, and the litigation too
For the family court racket this is nothing new.

Twas the night before Christmas, in a cold, dark house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Gifts were wrapped, and set under the tree with care,
Alone, a mother folded her hands in prayer.

~ Emily Court, December 2016.

9b539-christmas-fireplace-and-stockings

 

Posted in Children Stolen by the Government, Domestic Violence, Family Court Injustice, Jamie Manning Guardian ad Litem | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jerry Retford Shares His Story of Taking Responsibility, Ending Abusive Behavior

“And I need to take responsibility for that if I want to get well. Instead of blaming everyone else for what was going on, I started looking at me and how I can change me and it was a phenomenal process…” ~ Jerry Retford, on recovery from abusive behavior

Source: http://quoteaddicts.com

Source: http://quoteaddicts.com – Love is NOT Abuse

Australia, Sept, 2015: Jerry Retford used to physically and emotionally abuse his wife, even in front of his children. Following a divorce from his wife, he received help through an intensive therapy program called Relationships that “helps violent men acknowledge and change their abusive behaviours”.

Retford has publicy shared his story to take responsibility for his own actions, and to encourage other men with abuse or anger problems to seek help.

Retford is also using his own story of ending the cycle of violence to create a number of short films with Films4Change. 

Read Full Story:

Domestic violence: Reformed perpetrator Jerry Retford calls on abusers to ‘take responsibility’ By Heidi Davoren

Former domestic violence abuser, Jerry Retford, speaks out about his problem and how domestic violence can be stopped. Studio 10 | 8:30am weekdays on Channel TEN

Posted in Child Abuse, Domestic Violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Narcissism: Stop the Flying Monkeys by Jerry Wise (Repost)

 

Flying Monkeys: Those who do the bidding of a narcissist (are also used by abusers, the angry, passive-aggressive, and those who get their needs met by using other people). Flying Monkeys are commonly used to exert pressure, threaten, force, mold or manipulate a victim. They also are called co-abusers. 

The term “Flying Monkey” comes from the popular movie “The Wizard of Oz” and refers to the flying monkeys used by the Wicked Witch as part of her evil plan. The Flying Monkeys were sent out by the Wicked Witch and used force, fear, coercion and manipulation to get the movie’s protagonist, Dorothy, under control and to take what she wanted from her. The same dynamic as what is portrayed in “The Wizard of Oz” occurs in narcissistic families, and relationships.

As scary as it sounds, Flying Monkeys are not always detected because at first they may portray themselves as a friend or confident… and then betray you to the narcissist. Flying Monkeys often appear in family court or custody disputes, and are used to influence people to do the bidding of the narcissist or are used to create difficulties for the targeted victim.

In this video, Jerry Wise examines common personality profiles of a Flying Monkey, and why they assume the role of an enabler to someone who is narcissistic or abusive.  

Jerry also offers tips on how to protect yourself from Flying Monkeys, and how to recognize and deal with their toxic behaviors. 

For More Info:

Jerry Wise Blog

Family Tree Counseling & Associates (includes videos, news and articles)

 

 

Posted in Domestic Violence, Parental Alienation/DV by Proxy, Parenting Tips and Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anmarie Calgaro Sues St. Louis County After Son “Robbed Of a Key Advocate in His Life, His Mother”, Seeks Restoration of Parental Rights – Son Given Gender Reassignment Treatment Without Consent

“Children are being too often used as pawns for the financial and political designs of special interest groups; groups that cannot have the level of regard for the personal, long-term well-being of a child as does a parent.” – Minnesota Child Protection League public statement, Calgaro lawsuit

Anmarie Calgaro. Source: http://www.inforum.com

Anmarie Calgaro. Source: http://www.inforum.com

(St. Louis County, MN: 11/16/2016) Anmarie Calgaro filed a federal lawsuit against St. Louis County and other agencies after her minor son J.D.K. was given gender reassignment treatment, provided with narcotic drugs as well as hormones, and provided with financial assistance without her knowledge or consent; and without court order. She also has been denied access toJ.D.K.’s school and medical records.

The lawsuit claims Anmarie was denied of her parental rights, and lost complete control of her minor child, without given court proceedings that would allow her to defend her rights in court. She is seeking to have parental rights restored.  https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Verified-Complaint-11-16-16-w-exhibits.pdf

Anmarie said in a press statement that she loves J.D.K. “beyond words” and, “Not only was I robbed of the opportunity to help my son make good decisions, but I also feel he was robbed of a key advocate in his life, his mother.” She remains in communication with her son.

The lawsuit claims Anmarie’s parental rights were unjustly removed, and her due process rights violated. There has been no legal action to terminate her parental rights when St. Louis County began providing care for her son and treating him as an adult without a legal declaration of emancipation. Michele Lentz, president of the Minnesota Child Protection League, states Anmarie’s “rights and the welfare of her son have been outrageously trampled upon.”

J.D.K. is living on funds paid through St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services to afford gender reassignment treatment, medicine and an apartment. He also receives food assistance. The agencies have been treated J.D.K. as if he is an emancipated minor but no court has made that declaration. He will turn 18 next July.

State Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) said he is “deeply concerned” when he sees state agencies undermine parental authority without due process, and says that he will introduce a bill next year to prevent similar situations from happening to other families.

Read More:

MN mom sues for parental rights as son undergoes sex-change procedure by Don Davis

BREAKING: Minnesota mom files lawsuit over parental rights in 17-year-old son’s gender change by Lisa Bourne

Posted in Children Stolen by the Government, Legal News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Australian Expert Says: Children Being Let Down By Family Law

(Australia, 11/07/2016) A recent study of Australia’s family law system shows that domestic violence is going undetected, and the court system is not meeting the needs of children. These dismal results come after efforts were enacted in 2012 to  better protect children from harm. 

Read the article in full here: “Systems keep children in limbo amid family violence, study shows” by Susie O’Brien, Herald Sun

The research was conducted by a fellow from the The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS). AIFS is “the Australian Government’s key research body in the area of family well-being“.

I visited the AIFS website and discovered a wealth of information that included webinars, and research on a variety of topics including family law, domestic violence, child abuse/child sexual abuse and forced adoption. The AIFS site has a lot to offer not only in the way of research on a variety of topics but also in its efforts to identify systemic problems in responding to domestic violence and child abuse, and suggests reforms based on credible research. Australian Institute of Family Studies

I found a submission from Family Violence Royal Commission – 2015  on the AIFS site. The submission says that a majority of divorced/separated parents are able to solve parenting issues with little or no use of formal services. A large number of parents who do use the family court system or seek professional services are those dealing with domestic violence and/or safety concerns.  Specifically, “These data demonstrate that families with complex issues are dealt with across the system but are particularly concentrated in the court caseload.” The Commission examines how families affected by domestic violence fare in the court system – and suggests alternative avenues to offer support or intervention, from community or professional resources, outside of the court setting. 

The submission does not elaborate but it is well-known that the power and control dynamics of domestic violence do continue post separation, and would make it very difficult – even dangerous – to co-parent or share custody. It is also natural for a parent who has safety concerns or concerns of child abuse to contact an authority or seek professional help; which would explain increased court involvement.

A concern noted in the submission is that court professionals lack the knowledge, and training to identify and effectively deal with issues regarding domestic violence and child safety. An interesting aspect of this submission is a survey that indicates a wide disparity exists between the opinion of judges and lawyers about their performance, compared to the opinion of parents commenting  how court actions have affected their lives, and that of their families. The disparity between judges/court professionals and parents can not be ignored. The rulings of judges, and recommendations of court professionals, hold real power over the lives of children and families, and shape future outcomes; if that power is used wisely and according to the law, there should be little disruption to the lives of children, and families. Meaning, the disparity would be minimal. That so many parents are voicing concern (not only in this study but across the board) demonstrates that a real problem exists.

Another issue raised in the submission is that cases involving domestic violence or child safety concerns take longer to resolve and require more services. Despite the intervention of the court and/or other professionals, the safety and well-being of children is not always improved, and in some cases grows worse,”The data from parents and children/young people in the ICL study is consistent with this point and provides some indication of the effects that this can have at a personal level, with 2–5 years of children’s/young people’s lives being spent engaging with legal processes, and in some instances with multiple professionals associated with child protection, police and family law processes. In some cases, during this time, the children were clearly in unsafe and inappropriate parenting arrangements, as eventually shown by the outcome of the family law proceedings.

Failures to protect children from abuse are not limited to family court alone but also include problems existing with the professional service providers (that often contract with the court, or work alongside the court). The report indicated problems such as: in a shortage of resources available to needy families, limited staff to meet the demand for services (especially in therapy), difficulty funding programs and/or services and problems communicating and collaborating when multiple providers are used. Once again, systemic failures to identify abuse and/or safety concerns and appropriately respond contribute to systemic failures, and failures that negatively impact families.

Inevitably when other interventions or systems fail, issues are then brought to the attention of family court or CPS. And along with those issues, comes a clamor of providers and their assessments, opinions and recommendations. When brought to the attention of the court system, an outside person – judge, Guardian ad Litem, evaluator, etc – is called to make a decision when a provider can not agree on what is needed or what is best for a child. Yet judges, lawyers and court professionals are the people least qualified to make those decisions or to interpret information because they are not specialists in anything but family law. The break down in systemic responses to abuse, and child safety concerns, must also be addressed because those systems interact with, and influence, court decisions and outcomes. 

Efforts are also being made to research and offer solutions to better identify domestic violence, and child safety concerns. The 2015 Family Violence Royal Commissions recommends a holistic approach with an emphasis on violence prevention, and offering supportive services to families. That is to suggest that families receive help and support to possibly avoid court, or minimize their involvement in the legal process. What I found most striking about this approach is that it is based on supporting families, and keeping them intact – parents are seen as important figures to raise their own children, and solve their own problems.

According to the Commission, Rather than seeing the protection of children solely as the role of statutory authorities, a public health perspective sees the opportunity for all families to have supports to improve their capacity to protect children and creating safe environments for them. However, it is not sufficient to simply “bolt on” preventive programs to the current child protection processes. Researchers and commentators have argued that the role and function of child protection systems need to be reviewed in the context of the wider range of policies and programs aimed at supporting parents and promoting the wellbeing of children.

The question not answered – and which goes not addressed – is what should be done with a parent who is found to have been abusive, harmful, or toxic to a child. A child’s safety must come first, and be made a priority in any intervention. If a parent is truly abusive, or has caused harm to a child, the safety concern must first be addressed before any other intervention can be attempted. At the same time, if the court system and social service system do not properly identify abuse, that puts the protective parent at risk for being targeted by the system, and unfairly punished.

Clearly more needs to be done in the areas of family court, CPS and government policies directed towards the protection of children.

What reforms or changes do you think are needed?

Or, what has been tried and has not worked?

Plz post your thoughts below!

 

Posted in Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Family Court News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Rockabye” by Clean Bandit – Dissociation As Survival Mechanism (Commentary)

Music is a form of communication and expression for me, so you will see some music videos posted on this blog as they related to subjects such as abuse, healing, trauma, etc.

The video for “Rockabye” by Clean Bandit featuring Sean Paul and Anne- Marie, I thought is an important video because it vividly portrays the experience of a woman who uses dissociation to protect herself from a stressful, and traumatic experience. Dissociation is survival mechanism also common to victims of domestic violence and child abuse.

The nature and cause of dissociation is complex, and this article is not meant to offer medical or professional advise but rather to give a general description; additional links and info are included below for further reading. Dissociation happens when a person can not fully comprehend or assimilate an overwhelming or traumatic event. In order to protect itself, the brain breaks up (fragments) the traumatic experience to help people from experiencing too much painwhether it be physical or emotional pain. As soon as it is safe to do so, those pieces are assimilated or resolved. If the trauma and resulting fragments are left unresolved, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, and other psychological and physical problems often result. Dissociation in a child or parent will also affect that person’s ability to form attachments in their own family, and affect their ability to later develop other social relationships.  The way dissociation manifests is unique to each person, and their experience.

There is a range of symptoms and manifestation of dissociation from day dreaming to anxiety and diagnosable  disorders; a number of factors determine how severely a person is affected (those factors are explained here: Dissociation Explained). Momentary dissociation vs. longer episodes also impact the severity.  Dissociation is a normal reaction to an abnormal or traumatic event that includes repetitive abuse, and complex trauma. 

Public Domain: Pixaby.com - Makamuki0

Public Domain: Pixaby.com – Makamuki0

The song “Rockabye” is performed by Clean Bandit, an electronic/dance band from England. The video tells the story of a woman with a troubled past who is raising a son on her own after the child’s father left. The woman has been disowned from her own family because she did not live up to their expectations. The woman has resolved to give her child a better life than what she had experienced. She is portrayed as a devoted, loving mother.

In order to make ends meet, the woman resorts to working in a strip bar. The patrons in the strip bar are older men, shady characters. In order to cope, the woman imagines a hole opening up in the wall, and instead of dancing for these perverts who treat her poorly, she images she is dancing on top of a beautiful cliff facing a vast ocean. In another scene, she is twirling on a pole in the midst of a serene forest with the sun shining through the trees. In between these scenes the woman thinks about her son – the video shows as he grows from an infant to a young child. This is dissociation – temporarily spacing out of your reality, imagining you are someplace else.

The woman is a skilled and talented dancer. Outside of the bar, through her imagination, you can see her strength, beauty and athleticism in her moves. The way she dances looks more like a professional performer or artist when she is in her safe place, free to express herself. And that is the tragedy of this video – that someone with so much heart, and talent would be reduced to this miserable circumstance.

There are touching scenes of the mother and son swinging together on a playground, in another scene they are riding on a train together and she holds him close, rocking him. The mother has given her life to protect her son, and keep him safe. The hope in the video is that through the efforts made for her son, she will be able to start anew, and will achieve that better life she has courageously worked for. 

There is also hope for abuse survivors, and those who have experienced dissociation due to traumatic events, that it is possible to recover, and to enjoy a healthy and satisfying life.

Public Domain - Pinterest

Public Domain – Pinterest

Some Personal Thoughts – 

The “Rockabye” video made me think of a past experience… which I am sharing to offer a personal perspective on abuse, and how I coped with overwhelming trauma (and fear) while living in abuse. Now that I have left the relationship, and have healed – I do not have these issues anymore. In my experience, the best “cure” for the stress and trauma I was experiencing was to completely separate myself from the abuser, and create a life on my own terms.  I am now fighting to bring my children to safety. 

My ex is very abusive and controlling. Not too long after our “relationship” began, “Mr. X”, he inflicted a horrific act of abuse towards me. I never wanted to be in any kind of relationship with him – but due to what happened, my whole sense of self was shattered. My will power, and ability to assert myself in any way was gone. This event would shape the entire course of our relationship – only when I was able to come to terms with what happened would I gain the strength to escape.

There were times when Mr. X was so hurtful towards me, and was so frightening, that I would push what he was doing from my mind. I made it a point not to remember or think about what had happened. Mr. X’s moods would also swing from intense rages to acting like everything was fine.  I walked on broken glass around him, and learned to acclimate my mood to his as a survival skill. As a result, I have blocked out certain incidents of abuse. Other memories are fragmented. To be honest, I have no desire to remember what has been suppressed. I think the world will be a better place if those memories remain buried.

In one instance, I remember laying on the bed and looking up to see one of the glass fixtures on the ceiling fan was broken. Without the protection of the fixture, rays of harsh white light were thrown into my eyes like arrows. There was a large shard of broken glass hanging down, leaving a pointed edge that was noticeable among the rest of the delicate fixture, whose frosted glass holders resembled flowers. I could not recall the exact moment the fixture was broken but I did remember of Mr. X raging – I could hear the sound of his voice throbbing in my hears. Could feel his anger fill the room like a rising thunderhead. Could remember him lunging at me … then blackness. I remember laying on the bed, the covers were messy, and I just did not feel well… like something had happened.. but I could not remember what.

Not remembering made it easier to deal with Mr. X. Because if I did feel then I might become angry or might cry or might do something that would just make him mad… and my safety depended on becoming so small, and so invisible that I would not provoke his rage. I was also completely dependent on Mr. X for my basic needs, and my survival. At the time, it would never have occurred to me to leave.  I honestly did not know any other kind of life. I met Mr. X soon after I graduated from high school and had no other experiences in the world, no friends, no job, no other home – I was totally isolated. This was just my life, and for a long time, I accepted this horrible existence. I thought it was normal.

That I was able to escape the abuse is a miracle, and I thank God every day for my freedom, and for being able to regain my life and sense of self. I pray for the safety of my children, who remain with the abuser – and pray that one day my family will be reunited, our lives free of violence or drama.

 

“Rockabye” is an amazing video – be sure to check it out. The song is positive, upbeat.. and has given me insight that helped me take another step forward in my recovery from abuse.

Have any songs, movies or messages inspired you? Plz post below!

“She tells him ‘uh, love, no one’s ever gonna hurt you, love
I’m gonna give you all of my love
Nobody matters like you’
She tells him “your life ain’t gonna be nothing like my life
You’re gonna grow and have a good life
I’m gonna do what I’ve got to do…”
~ Rockabye, Clean Bandit (In this verse the mother is singing to her child)

~ Emily Court, 2016

Additional Reading:

THE FRAGMENTED CHILD: DISORGANIZED ATTACHMENT AND DISSOCIATION

Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

Hidden Hurt UK: Dissociation

Posted in Domestic Violence, Inspirational Quotes/Scripture, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Family Court Judge Bryan Hedges Removed After Sexual Abuse Allegations

Public Domain: http://tinypic.com

Public Domain: http://tinypic.com

Syracuse, New York, 2012: County Family Court Judge Bryan Hedges abruptly resigned after being confronted with allegations that he sexually abused his niece in 1972. The victim was 5 years old at the time, deaf and mute, and unable to communicate. Following his resignation, Hedges was permanently removed from the bench following an investigation by the Commission on Judicial Conduct. 

Hedges was not a judge at the time of the incident. The victim’s mother recorded a conversation with Hedges in which he admitted to sexual contact with the child and said his actions were “totally wrong” and “very, very, very, bad“. The victim came forward as a teenager, and again after after news of child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State and Syracuse University triggered a memory. The victim now communicates through American Sign Language and writing. The victims says she has re-occurring flashbacks about the abuse, and remains traumatized. 

According to a report by the Times Union,”Hedges attempted to keep the 40-year-old molestation a secret by voluntarily retiring from the bench and seeking confidentiality when his case reached the state Commission on Judicial Conduct. The agency investigates complaints against judges in the state’s Unified Court System.” However, when the Commission ruled 7-2 to to issue a removal determination against Hedges, the record of commission proceedings become public. Due to the expiration of the statute of limitations, criminal charges can not be brought against Hedges.

Hedges denied the allegations, and appealed the decision of the Commission.  In April 2013, the Appellate Court upheld the removal of Judge Hedges, stating in its ruling, “..Petitioner admits that conduct of this nature in fact occurred…Accordingly, the determined sanction of removal should be accepted without costs, and petitioner should be removed from the office of Judge of the Family Court, Onondaga County.”  https://www.scribd.com/document/137927058/Court-of-Appeals-decision-on-Bryan-Hedges

Hedges served on the Family Court bench since 1985, winning three elections in 28 years. He will never be able to take the bench, as judge, again.

In a news release, Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian says, “It is not common to remove a judge for behavior that occurred years before taking the bench. But sexual misconduct with a child is so egregious that, even if it comes to light decades later, it must be addressed. An act of such moral turpitude undermines the integrity of the judiciary and disqualifies the perpetrator from being a judge.

With this decision, the Commission makes public a horrible 40-year secret that, had it been known, would likely have prevented Mr. Hedges from being a judge in the first place. Removal from office insures that he will never return to the bench, delivers some measure of justice to the victim, and sends an important message to the public that the integrity of the judiciary will be protected.” Former Onondaga County Family Court Judge Removed for Sexual Misconduct with His 5-Year-Old Niece before Becoming a Judge

Bryan Hedges. Source: http://www.syracuse.com

Bryan Hedges. Source: http://www.syracuse.com

Read Full Story At:

Former Judge Bryan Hedges sanctioned by state commission for having sexual contact with child

Judge Bryan Hedges quits Family Court, leaves job abruptly at mid-day

Jurist removed in abuse of niece (Times Union)

Posted in Child Abuse, Crime, Family Court Injustice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Court Ordered to Be a Deadbeat Parent (Judge Robben)

“Deadbeat Parent”, definition: “Deadbeat parent is a pejorative term referring to parents of any gender who do not fulfill their parental responsibilities…” (Wikipedia)

The court ordered custody and parenting time issued by Judge Patrick Robben (Hennepin County, Minn.) has removed a loving, stay-at-home from the lives of the children, and has legally made me a “deadbeat parent”. The court order does not even meet the bare minimum parenting time outlined by state law, nor does it serve the best interest of the children, rather it is an example of how judicial abuses of power can destroy families, and encourage parental alienation. 

I have been forcibly separated from my children by court order, and further separated by an abusive parent engaging in estrangement (who has been enabled by the court). It is not my choice to be separated from my children.

The inspiration from this article came from a friend, who commented that only a deadbeat parent wouldn’t be involved in the life of their child, if given a choice. My friend went on to say that society looks down on people who do not take care of their own children. How, then, can it be legally acceptable – and deemed in the “best interest” of the children to remove a parent who has been involved in their child’s life, and who has been a primary caregiver since birth?  Judge Robben has given my abusive ex the power to determine if and when I receive any additional parenting time – and basically has told me that if Mr. X doesn’t approve, then he will not agree to any additional parenting time. Any effort I make to increase parenting time or custody, and to be more involved in the lives of my children, is rejected by Judge Robben. 

Judge Patrick D Robben - Court Ordered a Loving, Stay-at-Home-Mom to be a Deadbeat Parent

Judge Patrick D Robben – Court Ordered a Loving, Stay-at-Home-Mom to be a Deadbeat Parent

My children have been taken for no justifiable reason – there never have been any abuse allegations raised against me, I have a “squeaky clean” background. In fact, I am successfully raising another child, and volunteer with children and families in my community. My children want to come home, they want to be with me – and their sibling. The grief and loss my family has experienced is beyond measure. 

An average non-custodial parent would have regular visitation, regular communication with the child and have some form of legal custody or ability to participate in the child’s daily life…I don’t have any of that. I have been court ordered to be a “deadbeat parent”.

Litigation has continued for more than 10 years. This is a comparison of my life with my children before family court … and after… This is the destruction of a family. 

BEFORE FAMILY COURT

What I Used to Do for My Children,

Stay-at-Home-Mom and Primary Caregiver:

Public Domain

Public Domain

  • Wake up with my children each morning, make breakfast, assist with getting ready for school or planning a daily schedule (when kids are not in school).
  • Make after school snack, go on a short adventure (the kids love exploring parks and nature trails!) or do homework.
  • Weekly Bible club. The church would have dinner that night and we’d spend the evening visiting with friends and enjoying worship before the kids went into their lessons.  Before my son was taken, Bible school included a music lesson taught by a Blues player. My son built a cardboard guitar and just learning how to play when he was taken, and music lessons ended permanently. Year later, my son asked about his guitar, but was too overcome with emotion to say much more…he still feels the loss.
  • Make dinner. My daughter had her own area of the counter to help cook, she would stand on a stool, and I’d give her a project. Spending time at the dinner table was special for us – we’d share a family prayer then spend time talking about our day or listening to music.
  • Doing educational or religious lessons at home. My son enjoyed science experiments. One of our experiments involved making edible play dough with peanut butter (teaching what a compound is – grin). My daughter enjoyed writing, poetry and art projects. At age five I was teaching her how to write Haiku poetry; those lessons permanently when she was taken but she still enjoys writing, and is advanced for her age.
  • Spending time with extended family. My kids have now forgotten the names of relatives they once played with.
  • Learning about their family history, culture, and heritage – impossible now. I feel like Judge Patrick Robben has white-washed my biracial children. They have lost so much –it scares me that my children could become part of the lost generation.  

THE RESULTS OF FAMILY COURT

Hennepin County Family Justice Center - Epicenter of Corruption

Hennepin County Family Justice Center – Epicenter of Corruption

 -Pray my children will come home.

-Pray my children won’t forget me.

-Pray my children are safe. Live in fear that talking about concerns could result in further harm to my children, and I. At same time when concerns arise, where do I go for help? How can I ignore what is happening? How can I stay silent?

-Pray my children know how much they are loved. And know that I did not leave or abandon them. I had no choice. We are the mercy of a court that has taken the law into its own hands, and twisted justice beyond recognition.

-Stare at the phone, willing it to ring. Silence. Phone calls I initiate to my children are never answered, never returned or acknowledged.

-Write an e-mail or letter and hope it will get to my children.

-Request additional parenting time or overnight visits from Mr. X. Usually there is no response, no communication. When he does respond, requests are denied 95% of the time. I have also witnessed Mr. X doing things to make my children fearful or not want to come home.

-Request to be present at doctor appointments, or ask for notification about medical issues and updates. No response, no communication. My child came home with a medical concern and I don’t even know if it is being treated… or who the provider is (if I push the issue legally because father will not communicate).

-Request updates on the children, denied most of the time. Refuses to communicate. Judge Robben actually told me that I do not need to communicate with Mr. X but rather, I need to address these issues with my own children and speak to them directly! Since when is it a child’s job to facilitate adult communication? Both of my children have special needs, and have communication issues. For Judge Robben to demand this is absurd.

-Abusive ex refused to tell me where the children are attending school. State law says that I am allowed to have this information, and allowed to attend school conferences and receive report cards. I had to call every school in the area to figure out where the kids attend school. Spend hours writing letters to the school, making phone calls, citing state law, sending copies of court orders, and waiting for the school to consult their attorney and get back to me… Explain to the school that my children do have a mother, no I can not explain why the father did not notify you of my existence, yes I do want to be involved in any way I can…   And hope for the best. Repeat next year.

-File court motions as allowed, by law. Consult with attorneys in legal clinics. Conduct legal research. Draft motions. Attach evidence. Seek support. Wish I won the lottery so I could afford an attorney. Face reality. Attend court hearings only to have requests for relief denied by Judge Robben – who does not even hide his contempt for me, and obvious bias towards Mr. X.  Wait for months for a ruling, which comes in at the very last minute. No surprise, Judge Robben will not increase parenting time or allow me to participate in the lives of my children. Try again next time.. and again… here I am 10+ years of trying…not even close to giving up.

-Enjoy short visits with the children, only to experience the pain of their loss… again and again….

–The absolute sense of nothing… I remember my life with my children. I cherish our memories. And then there is the nothing, the blackness, when your children are taken from your arms.. and you have no idea what their life is like. Your involvement is removed. The communication ends. And there is nothing.

This is what it is like to be a court ordered dead beat parent.

~Emily Court, October 2016

Public Domain: tinypic.com

Public Domain: tinypic.com

Posted in Family Court Injustice, Judge Robben, Parental Alienation/DV by Proxy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Family Devastated When Daughter’s Killer Sought Access to Child in Family Court

Jane Clough: Murderer wanted access to daughter

Jane Clough and her daughter. Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Jane Clough and her daughter. Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

“She bore your child and then you murdered her, leaving your infant child without a mother and with the prospect of growing up to learn one day that her father murdered her mother.” – Judge Anthony Russell QC at sentencing

September 16, 2016, Lancashire, UK: MP Peter Kyle (Labour) says it is “inhumane” that Jonathan Vass, who brutally murdered his ex-girlfriend Jane Clough, was able to use the family court system to seek access to their baby. Vass was incarcerated when he started demanding parental rights, and initiated family court proceedings.

There needs to be a serious change to the law the someone like Vass would even be allowed to file for any custodial rights or visitation, his parental rights should have been immediately terminated. Vass has a long history of domestic violence against Jane, including beating and raping her, and assaulting her when pregnant. Jane had filed criminal charges, and was seeking to escape, when she was brutally murdered. Police believe that Vass was also planning to murder his baby daughter, and the Jane’s parents. Vass was convicted of murder and given a life sentence, he will not be eligible for release until 2040. 

The surviving family was traumatized and financially devastated when they were forced into family court proceedings to protect their grandchild. MP Peter Kyle explains, “The man who brutally murdered their sister, their daughter, would be cross-examining them. Jane’s sister told me that she simply cannot find the words to do justice to the brutalising effect this had as the court date approached.”

The trauma meted out by the family court process is simply inhuman. This family had suffered enough.”

Jane’s daughter was 9 months old when her father brutally ripped her mother from her life. She is now growing up in a loving environment, being raised by her maternal aunt and uncle, and is said to be doing well. At the time of the murder, she was too young to understand what happened and will grow up without having any memory of her mother. 

Jane’s parents, Penny and John Clough, have campaigned to raise awareness about domestic violence, and change laws and policies to better protect victims. As a result of their efforts, Blackpool NHS Teaching Hospitals Trust adopted a domestic violence policy for its staff that would provide assistance to staff members who are facing domestic violence situations (Jane was a nurse at Blackpool Victoria Hospital). Penny and John Clough have also sought changes to the law to impose tougher penalties, and denial of bail for certain types of domestic violence offenses.

Read More: 

Justice for Jane Clough Twitter: https://twitter.com/justiceforjane

The mother who predicted her own murder: Nurse Jane Clough warned police her brutal ex-partner was going to kill her – yet he was freed on bail

Man who murdered ex-girlfriend in hospital knife attack jailed for life

Family’s bid to start rebuilding lives five years after tragedy

 

 

Posted in Domestic Violence, Family Court News, Parental Alienation/DV by Proxy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments