Standing outside of the karate studio, watching my niece’s belt test, after SonHerisme’s belt test, the thoughts that flew through my mind:
If MrexH were to show up here and threaten to make a violent scene if I did not get into the car right then with him, what would I do?
If I went with him, would this be when he kills me?
If I somehow pulled away from him, would we survive whatever scene he would make?
How fast could those karate instructors get to their telephones to call 911? Would the karate instructors use karate?
Would whatever was about to occur, ruin the emotional health of everyone present?
How would SonHerisme be? Who would make sure he got home?
I became so eerily frightened, that I ended up pushing my way back into the over-filled karate studio, so that if MrexH did show up, I would not be able to hear him, so there would be no decision for me to make.
Que sera, sera… Whatever will, be will be
Last night, I received two Facetime calls from MrexH’s former company’s Vice President. How odd. Probably mistakes. While we were in professional communication during the initial crisis, once MrexH was arrested, we have had no professional reason to maintain contact. With all of the legal issues surrounding MrexH, it is understandable that his former company (whom he was also threatening), needed to maintain distance from me.
With the unusual Facetime calls, my thoughts spiraled into:
Is there any reason this VP would be at the workplace in the evening, and MrexH has gone there?
Does MrexH know where VP lives?
Since I did not answer the Facetime calls, if it is MrexH, is he going to show up at my home in an agitated state? Is this the night that he is going to kill us?
I became so frightened, that I double checked all the locked doors, set the house alarm early, and left our future to fate.
Que sera, sera… Whatever will be, will be
(spoiler alert– we were not murdered)
As I no longer have a therapist, (which might be an issue because, like, anxiety and such from this and that) during an update meeting with SonHerisme’s therapist, it did come up that one of the most difficult things about our situation, is the not knowing.
When I drive past the overly thin man relentlessly walking the streets downtown with his backpack and uncomfortable smile on, my stomach turns and my heart breaks for you.
When I walk past the local mission service house with desperate people loitering outside, my stomach turns and my heart breaks for you.
When I park in front of the therapist’s office, next to one of your series of attorneys’ offices, surrounded by housing for people on permanent mental illness disability, standing in their doorways, staring at cars and people or off into vacant space, my stomach turns for you and my heart breaks for you.
When I am faced with the reality of our son’s lacking education as a result of your bad behavior, my stomach turns for him and my heart breaks for him.
When I am staring at my financial reality as a result of my misplaced trust in you, my stomach turns for our son and me, and my heart breaks for our son and me.
Yet, every day I awaken with a new sense of hope for our son’s and my future.
Every day, I am able to see grace and beauty and potential.
Every day, I can feel our son and myself getting stronger and more confident.
Every day, I am blessed with being surrounded by the support of my family, friends and surrounding communities.
Every day, I wonder at the miracles and tragedies all around us.
Every day, I am grateful for all of the little moments of happiness,hard work, and challenges.
Even on days when I wonder how we can possibly get through any of this, I am grateful. Painfully heartbroken and sad, but grateful.
Because all of these things mean that we are alive and full of love.
This is an amazing, strange, weird, awesome life.
I pray that all of us can do this gift some justice.
You have said so many things to me, through your actions, words, legal threats, harmful terrorizing behaviors, and deceptions.
You were sitting across the courthouse floor from me, and obviously agitated. You were moving your arms with wide exaggeration, sighing very loudly, kicking your legs up periodically and trying to balance an oversized old shoe box stuffed with papers. You were rubbing your head, fidgeting with your glasses, crossing and uncrossing your arms – in constant agitated movement. I could not hear you, somewhat deliberately on my part, because I am afraid of hearing what you have to say. However, I could not help but hear the agitated anger and frustration in your tone. Everyone on the courthouse floor could hear you, and were aware that something was not right with you.
I desperately wanted to comfort smooth that out for you.
I desperately wanted to walk over, hold your hand, remind you how important you are to some people, and to tell you that we were going to be okay. We just need to get through this hard thing, and we will be okay.
I wanted to encourage you to listen to the professionals who will help you, if you allow them.
I wanted to encourage you to listen to what you know is true about our son’s well-being, safety, and health.
I wanted to encourage you to keep faith in your team of experts who want to support you.
I wanted to encourage you to take good care of yourself, so that maybe one day our son can know you as a safe, healthy person who likes and loves him.
I desperately wanted to do these things, and I feel guilty every day that I could/did not do these things any time that I saw you after April 2014.
While I recognize that doing any of that would put our son’s and my lives in literal jeopardy, the emotional pull is almost too much to bear. You need help. You have always needed help. I could not help you when you were with us. I cannot help you now. I have to remind myself of this multiple times every single day. I feel like a failure.
I have failed you. You have a severe degenerative mental illness and I could no longer pretend that I could care for you.
I have failed our son. I brought him into a family where his father is incapable of providing for him, either emotionally, physically or financially.
I have failed myself. I allowed an abusive situation to continue in my home, subjected my child to this, A CHILD, and set myself and my child up to be left penniless, unemployed, on foodstamps, on medicaide, working though PTSD, etc.
I am not really sure how to move on from knowing that you want to murder us.
I am not really sure how you have moved on from knowing that you want to murder us and cause us physical and psychological harm.
No one has shared any information about your condition or treatment, to me. Every interaction I have had with you since April 2014, has been alarming and further confirmation to me that you remain unwell and unsafe for us. The information I have about you, other than my personal observations (confirmed by others surrounding me and observing too) reaches me third or fourth hand.
You are ill.
I pray for your peace and comfort.
I pray for you to be treated well and to have healthy, safe, and meaningful purpose.
I pray for you to feel empathy.
I pray for you.
I pray for our son to keep safe from further harm from you (or anyone).
I pray for myself to be healthy and safe in order to be able to keep our son healthy, safe, and thriving.
I am sorry that I was unable to care for you adequately.
I am sorry that I was unable to see you for who you really are.
I am sorry that I relied on my eternal optimism, hope, hard work, and prayer to overcome your insurmountable fundamental challenges and mental illness.
Now that I know better, I pray that I do better and make better choices.
This letter is about me, I get that. It is about me telling you that despite all of the pain you have brought into my life, I continue to struggle daily with guilt about the entire situation.
This is the story of an abused person. As long as the guilt sits with me, as long as I feel that urge to run over and reassure/comfort you, as long as I internally vigilantly look for signs of distress in our son, I remain an abused person.
You have put a definition of myself in my life story that I do not want or like, yet like most of life’s tragedies, I have no control in making it go away. It happened. It is. I am. This is who I am. This is a part of me. This is not about ‘letting go.” This is about recognizing the real struggle of domestic violence and mental illness. This is about making some attempt to learn from it, grow from it, reconciling the immense guilt, and making different/better informed decisions as a result.
I will not be coming to hold your hand or comfort you in any manner.
You will never be a safe person for me, or my son.
But, I will allow myself/us to pray for you.
Safe and appropriate.
Now, in this moment of release, I feel like I can do this hard thing.
I pray that you take good care of yourself, and if that is not possible, I pray that others are taking good care of you.
There are a few giant flaming elephants roaming around our communities. Some have been recognized for what they are, yet they continue marching about in flames. Some are reluctantly seen from a safe distance through a dirty window, and appear to not be having an immediate impact, so they are dismissed as illusions. Some are blatantly ignored, as they go stomping about smashing and burning everything in their path.
Abuse is a giant flaming elephant in family law.
No one wants to admit abuse’s disgusting infestation of custody and divorce cases, much less face up to it, acknowledge it for what it is, and provide a platform for true health, safety and personal responsibility.
Abuse in marriage is rampant in this world, country, state, county, neighborhood. You don’t think it is in your neighborhood, but I assure you, it absolutely is. Abuse doesn’t go away with socioeconomic or educational status. Why this is true is a topic for another time, and does not change that it is true and it is affecting our entire culture, especially children.
Are you aware that there are programs in your community, which exist to promote healthy relationships between parents and children?
Doesn’t this sound like a wonderful resource for families in need of support?
Are you aware of how this translates to an abusive family situation?
Father abuses mother (raping her, punching her, threatens to kill her with a weapon, removes financial resources from her to gain power and control, verbally assaults her – you know, the usual). Mother calls domestic violence center to get help after years of trying to work things out and comply with whatever she believes is provoking her abuser, in order to please him so that he will not be triggered to be abusive anymore (yes, I KNOW this does not work, but when you are in the situation, you do not know this. You do not even know that you are being abused – another topic for another day).
Domestic Violence center provides services including a counseling session for mother, safety shelter for immediate threats, coordination with other agencies (police, child protective services etc), and sometimes legal services. Even if the abuser is seen as a threat to the mother and children, the children will be ordered to visit with their father in a supervised situation – with the helpful people who promote, encourage and support developing healthy families.
How is it okay to force children to sit with the human who abused their other parent?
How can we expect someone who feels that they have the right to abuse another human, will not abuse other humans?
Why do we allow children to be counted as property of marriage, rather than as humans?
Why do we not believe women when they report abuse?
Less than 2% of women are found to have falsely claimed abuse.
Are we saying that a woman being abused is okally dokally do, and has NO impact on any other areas of their lives?
Or, perhaps, we are saying that children are not affected by an abusive person abusing their mother?
The abuser will become even more angered that he is unable to be in control, and possibly files for divorce from mother. Abuser also files for immediate sole physical custody of children because HE has the home, HE has the family income, HE is being cast out of his children’s lives by his “crazy wife” who is making false allegations of abuse and requires counseling and therapy for her anxiety. Guess what? The court grants him at the very least, 50% custody of the children, and threatens mother that if she doesn’t have her own adequate home and income to take care of the children during her 50% custody, father will be granted more custody until she can get herself straightened out. Also, father claims, mother is traumatizing the children by subjecting them to being removed from their home and father.
The court agrees. Father has no criminal record. Mother has no hospitalizations from suspected abuse. The court has no professional evidence or proof that father is abusive, so they rule as if this is a “regular divorce,” and tell the father and mother to go to mediation and work everything out like adults.
Even if mother has some proof of abuse (Dr reports, photos etc), father hasn’t abused the children, so 50% custody and mediation it is. Mother is forced to negotiate the terms of her custody and divorce with her ABUSER, who is abusive to her.
How can you negotiate with someone who fundamentally feels the need to abuse you?
You are not on even ground and by that very nature cannot negotiate.
Why do we expect that a difference of opinion can be mediated when one party has all of the power and control?
Our custody laws do not make any sense for abusive situations.
The laws are the laws and the court has a responsibility to uphold the laws.
I do understand that. I also understand that laws are not entities unto their own. They did not create themselves, nor do they interpret themselves. Humans are making laws. Humans are interpreting laws. Humans are often doing this on behalf of very vulnerable other humans.
Abuse in divorce and custody cases is so incredibly rampant, that it has become marginalized, causing laws to swirl around and enforce the ultimate legal system drive of power and control.
Guess what abusers want? Power and control.
Guess who wins in legal battles? Power and control.
Too frequently, custody morphs into institutionalized abuse by lawmakers and courts who blithely absolve themselves under the auspices of upholding ‘fundamental parental rights.’
Only in the very rare case, are children and mothers protected from the abuser by court order. Ironically, the abuser is the one who helps them the most by his concrete abusive/criminal actions which physically prevent him from having responsibility or contact (he is in jail, in rehab, in a mental illness facility etc.). However, even then, a judge may, and usually will, order some kind of contact between the abuser and his children.
This may include forcing the mother to drive her children (at her emotional, financial and time expense) to jail/rehab/mental illness facility every week in order to spend time with their father. If the mother indicates that she is unwilling to, or unable to, comply with that suggestion, the judge will order that a social worker come to her home, remove her children and transport them to visit with their father. Especially after the abuser’s attorney argues that the mother’s extreme anxiety is harming the children and frightening them, as evidenced by her bizarre dependence on her therapist and domestic violence shelter support, and therefore she should not be involved at all with the care and support of her children as they rebuild their connection with their father.
You know, because fathers of any kind are better than no father at all… WTF … because studies show that children who have the (safe and healthy) influence and (safe and healthy) support of two (safe and healthy) parents, they are statistically proven to do better in school and as functioning adults. Except when this is quoted to you as a reason for placing your children into contact with an abuser, all the “(safe and healthy)” bits are turned into the disregarded flaming elephants, because “property parental rights” trumps all.
In my case…
In my case, we have a temporary reprieve (which on the surface appears permanent), due to the father’s serious mental illness combined with dangerous behaviors, which have led to him being placed in the State’s custody for a few years. And while in their custody, he still managed to violate court orders, which resulted in him having additional restraints on his ability to be responsible for himself, much less a child.
Even given all of that (and the lethal threats he made), there was continued talk of him obtaining at least 50% legal custody of our son, right up until the last few weeks before the final divorce. This would not have been unprecedented, unfortunately. This could have been a disaster. I would be in the same position as countless other women, and be forced to co-parent with an abusive person – which is probably in my future anyway.
To me, our current orders are a temporary reprieve, because at any time, father can appeal the court to modify custody, when his “treatment is successful,” and the State has fulfilled its commitment to be responsible for him. I can assure you, the judge will change the order, should that come to pass.
In the meantime, I have to bring my son to a reunification therapist so that she may facilitate contact between son and his father. I truly respect her opinion and understand she is obligated to provide some context for contact.
I do not understand WHO, outside of the legal system,
thinks that physical contact between my son and his father is okay.
Inside the legal system, they have this ability to make it seem like an awesome idea only because it fulfills some legal obligation which has nothing to do with keeping a child safe and healthy.
I am also ordered to send weekly updates about my son to father. At this time, to us, father is a stranger – and a dangerous stranger. He weighs about ½ of what he did when we knew him, his thick black hair is gone because he shaves his head. Yet, I am supposed to willingly and obligingly, send information about my young child to this person every single week, who, for all I know, still intends to murder us.
My story is just one of many.
Even here in our community, my story is one of many.
I am one of many flaming elephants.
According to my attorney, who has 25+ years of experience, my story is one of the scariest she has encountered (um, I would rather not be special in this regard), yet, in terms of the relentless abusive power and control tactics used in custody cases, I am, sadly, not at all unique.
Justice, as seen by rational reasonable humans, is rarely served in custody cases. If you are seeking human justice, go to a religious entity. Power and control are always served in custody cases involving domestic violence. When abuse is involved, the children and abused spouse, ultimately ALWAYS lose. The best you can hope for is that you are a strong enough parent with a strong enough child, to survive until that child is an adult and makes healthy choices for themselves.
Children are manipulated by the abusive parent. Children are silently abused by the abusive parent. The abused spouse is never ever allowed to not be connected with her abuser, unless they want to abandon their children to the abuser.
What message are we sending to victims of marital abuse?
Don’t report it, or you’ll lose your lifestyle/money/house/much of your children’s time/any ability to potentially protect your children from the abuser/dignity/privacy/etc? (why abusive men get custody link here)
What message would you send to a mother in an abusive marriage?
Are you prepared to support the consequences of your advice?
What are you doing right now in your community to help these mothers and children in need?
How can we help prevent our daughters and sons from entering into these situations?
When someone wants to murder you, nothing can protect you.
Nothing can protect you
Nothing can protect
A few years ago in our town, over a very short time period, there were three ladies who were brutally murdered by their husbands. Two of these husbands also murdered their own children. The third intended to, as far as I’m concerned, but wasn’t given the opportunity, so he just killed his family’s cats, his wife and himself instead.
So now our community runs 5K’s in their honor to raise awareness and money for victims of domestic violence. Well, we run them for two of the white ladies, and one family’s children. The third woman and her children were a lower income Hispanic family, so our subtle, not so subtle, racist community doesn’t run for them. But, that’s another topic for another day.
What kind of husbands, fathers, sons, uncles, men do this? Men who are sick. Men who are crying out for help in ways that go unheard. Men that are abusive, controlling, ill, and violent in such duplicitous ways that their neighbors and communities, even their own families and spouses, consistently describe them as the “nice guy next door.”
How do I know about these things? Well, I suppose when you read our story in the quaint local paper, or the little paragraph on our sign-up genius/donations webpage, you’ll get filled in. Maybe you won’t know about any of it until you show up to support our sponsored cause at our memorial 5K, which might be your first 5K and you’ll feel all the community support feels by signing up for the cause. “Oh my, how sad. I think that I saw them at a thing once when they did something.”
I know these things because I’ve seen it happen before.
I know these things because my husband is very sick.
I know these things because my husband wants to murder our son and me.
I know this because he said so.
Not, “I’m going to kill you for not putting out the trash, you knucklehead.” More like, “I am your apocalypse, I’ll make you drink my blood, I’m Sly Stallone, Our 3 hearts beat as one, and I know God doesn’t forgive murder.” You know, he wants to LITERALLY, in the truest sense, kill murder kill us.
Let me tell you, um, yikes. It is extremely scary, and life altering, no matter how sick you know a person is, to know that this other human being wants to hurt your child and you merely for being who you are, for existing.
“Get a lawyer,” you say?
“Call the police,” you say?
“Get him to a hospital,” you say?
Done, done and done.
Here’s the catch though, none of these well-intentioned institutions can actually protect us.
“No, no!” you say?
“You must not have followed the correct procedures.
You must not have said the right things.
You must not have filled out the correct police reports.
You must not have found the right Doctors/hospitals/lawyers, because if you had, you and your son would be safe.”
Indulge me with a moment of your time to dispel these lovely, comforting, and overly confident in naiveté myths for you – to decimate your glorious happy bubble.
LAWYERS: super negotiative finesse and super law knowledge
The lawyer may file papers for you, provide legal advice to you regarding the laws in your particular state, navigate your local court. Your lawyer has to work with all of the other lawyers, judges and court personnel long after your legal issues are over, and therefore will not be vigilante advocating for what you think is “right” all Hollywood style. Also, your lawyer has heard and seen every disgusting side of humanity, most likely, and can only represent actual proven truth – not conjecture, predictions, heresay or those dreaded feelings of yours (tip: see your therapist for those fun times). What you vehemently insist is non negotiable and the most important things for you and your child, may not match up with the actual laws of the land, and may not be within your lawyer’s capabilities. Not because they are incompetent, but you will know this because of your lawyer’s undeniable extreme competence and professionalism – both of which you will need if you need a lawyer at anytime in your life. Also, lawyers are not superheroes with any superpowers, other than super negotiative finesse and super law knowledge.
POLICE: need actual proof
There’s a funny thing about the police too. They cannot arrest or detain anyone because you suspect something or are frightened of something. They need actual proof (gasp!) to do either of these. If someone uses their words, like, I don’t know, “I’m going to murder you” and such, yet they don’t actually murder you, the police cannot arrest that person. As told to me, “words are just words, not actions,” and “if every written threat to kill someone equaled an arrest, most people on Facebook would be in jail.”
MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS: HIPPA
Hospitals, Mental Health professionals – hey, guess what? They are even funnier than the police and tighter bound than the lawyers. HIPPA – google it, as it is AWESOME in a so very not awesome way for anyone with an adult loved one who has a serious mental illness. Also, as an adult, no matter what your condition regarding mental illness, your self-reporting is absolutely the only information that the Mental Health professionals can and will take into consideration. Psychotic much? Okay. Do you feel homicidal or suicidal? Not right now, you say? Okay. Do you want treatment? No, you say? Super! You are clear minded, discharged and free to go. This also frees the hospitals and Mental Health professionals from adhering to any bugaboo “duty to warn” an intended target (insert me, our son) for a psychotic homicidal mentally ill patient (insert my husband), because they just verbally confirmed that the patient can verbally say they are not homicidal right then.
“No, no, no, no, no,” you say.
“That cannot be. I know that the hospital can commit someone and detain them.”
Sure they can, until the adult patient says they want to go and don’t want to hurt anybody or themselves. The adult patient who two days prior sent multiple homicidal threatening emails prompting a Protective Order through the court system, after being picked up by police for threatening to blow-up the hotel he was staying in and to physically harm housekeeping, yes, him, indeed. Clear minded and well = discharged.
“Wait a minute,” you say. “Is this the same guy who was picked up by the same police for erratic and disoriented behavior within 36 hours of being discharged from the hospital after a nine day forced stay?”
Thusly I say unto you, “yup.”
And so, what are we doing right now? How are we keeping safe?
We have a protective order.
It’s like a restraining order, except it begins with the letter, “p.”
We have had open communications between local domestic violence groups, child protective services, police, sheriff, pediatrician, therapist, school, workplace, lawyers, family members, close friends, church etc so that everyone is aware of the situation.
Words, words, words, words, words.
Here is the thing about words.
They cannot actually physically protect you.
Here is the truth.
When someone wants to murder you, nothing can protect you.
Nothing can protect you
Nothing can protect
You can pray. You can hope. You can peek around every corner waiting for the something awful to happen. You can file every paper, you can contact every agency, you can spread your story far and wide, but absolutely nothing can protect you.
You cannot run away because a psychotic adult can hire an almost unethical lawyer to prevent that, especially since you have a child together. You know, because the law protects parental rights. Even for a murderer. Or, in this case, a wannabe murderer.
More awesomesauce for this hearty party…
Have I mentioned that our son was forced to attend supervised visitation with his father, who incidentally, in case you misunderstood something previously read, wants to murder us
and we have a protective order from a judge in a court showing they believe his father is too dangerous to be around him?
No? Well, it is true.
So not only has our son been frightened of his father’s behavior because of our previous domestic violence in the home, and his father’s attempt to hurt him because I refused to allow him to hurt me anymore, but also re-traumatized each week by being forced to sit in a room with him for an hour and listen to his father’s manic nonsense. Or, as I refer to it, “institutionalized abuse in the form of re-victimization.”
“Son, your father is too dangerous for us to be around him, except you’re still going to have to sit with him for an hour in a room each week and be subjected to his psychosis.”
Our son was six years-old.
Anyone else finding this uncomfortable, barbaric and unbelievable?!!?
Any else feeling like this might be truthiness/movie pitch/rantings instead of reality?!!?
Me too, except I AM ACTUALLY LIVING IT.
Until we are murdered by my husband
and then the police can actually arrest him,
and the Mental Health professionals will be forced to treat him,
and the lawyers can move on to their next case
and y’all can carry on planning and running our 5K.
When you run my 5K, you should expect tastefully decorated and chilled bottles (not plastic, duh) of water, with matching, tastefully decorated GF, DF cupcakes, which will, of course, have some kind of added unexpected nutritional value (“oh my! I would have never known kale was in there if you hadn’t told me! Amazing!). And napkins. Cloth commemorative napkins, which could maybe double as a glow kerchief or brow sweat mop, as you desire.
As you round the corner to the obscene amount of brilliant festive balloons (clear with floating glitter inside, white ribbon) and giant silky white ribbon indicating the finish line, someone, most likely my irreverent Uncle or sardonic brother, will point you in another direction, yelling, “Just kidding, this is a 10K all the way! Run it for Mrs Herisme and Little Heishim! Go, go, go, go, go!”
And you’ll do it for the cause *fist bump*!
Psssst…. Just a thought. If my husband could have actually received appropriate quality mental health support and guidance, my son and I probably wouldn’t be murdered.
I guess then, though, you’d miss out on my sweet tale
and my lawyer would be about $70K short.
Love, Mrs.Herisme and Son Heishim
Please note, dear Readers,
I should have prefaced this post by saying that it was written in the Fall of 2014.
For an update on our current condition, please read the post dated 4.21.16.