October 21, 1999 3:19 PM
Sorry about Happy
This is a terrific site! I read so many repeats of stories I hear on a
daily basis as a divorce attorney. I have both abusers and abused.
Your advice is savvy and helpful. What happened to Delaney? Her matter is so unfortunate, yet it
highlights the difficulties of many judges' Solomon-like dilemmas:
Keep kids with the more stable, yet abusive parent, or turn them over
to an individual who is in such pain themselves that the kids' needs
may come second, just at a time when the kids are having to cope with
the separation of parents. I recall Anna Freud's "Beyond
the Best Interests of the Child...". If one parent will feed the
little ones, get them to bed and to school on time, and the other
parent is incapable of performing these daily duties, due to coping
with and overcoming their co-dependence (or abusiveness), it will be
difficult for any court to place the kids with the recovering parent,
rather than the "one who will keep things the same for the
kids". And time is no friend. "They've always lived in
that house, in that neighborhood, gone to that school, change is hard
on everybody, why put the kids through that now?" when the
co-dependent eventually gets on his or her feet. (Or abuser, indeed, I
have seen some sincerely try to change, usually very young males learning
new skills. Mom's old fears may no longer be valid, but try to get
that fellow visitation!)
What's a judge to do? How do I help my clients in either end of the
situation? And how do I help clients who want to jump right back into
an abuse/ co-dependent relationship situation, rather than do the hard
work of changing inside? I've seen helpless women go from one abusing
step-dad to the next, and I've seen abusive dads go through wife after
wife who attempts to solve everybody's problems, becoming the
"new Mom", only to cause even more heartache and loss for
the kids when she finally has had enough and hits the trail. Is there
a crystal ball to predict the future, or some magic wand I can wave at
my clients? Sure wish there was. Life's just not fair, but it's the
children who must be protected and nurtured. But how? Your thoughts?
I like your
phrasing: "Solomon-like dilemma." You are apparently very
well aware of the risks: keep the kid with the more stable, yet
abusive parent or the parent in pain, etc... I am glad to hear that
since I did not realize that legal experts saw through much of
the posturing and maneuvering - and had a real awareness of abuse
phenomena - especially when so many psychotherapists do not! Forgive
my naiveté, but is your knowledge level of abuse phenomena common
in the Courts?
How to protect the
child? Hmmm. As long as I thought the legal system needed education, I
had a place to go. Apart from recommending treatment, which often
means little unless the individual is motivated to receive it, I am
humbly out of fresh ideas. If other legal professionals are as
savvy as you are, you are already doing what you can in negotiating
between a rock and a hard place.
Delaney is doing
great. Better than ever! Her kid wants to come live with her. One day
that will probably happen. How about this suggestion: In cases where
there is a question about where the child's needs are best met, what
about awarding a three to five year judgment pending re-determination.
Yeah, yeah, I know I don't realize how clogged the Courts are...
And now Counselor,
why did you send the Happy worm? Was it because I bad-mouthed you
Ps. I can't
help but recall my Rorschach instructor, the esteemed Dr. John
Exner, talk to us about anger indications on the blots. He used
attorneys as an example of a profession whose members consistently
scored high on a particular anger index!
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, October
22, 1999 1:10 PM
Subject: Really Very
Sorry about Happy worm!
Heavens to Elizabeth, I would NEVER purposefully send a worm to
anyone, and especially not to you, when I enjoy your site so. Mom
sent it to me last Spring, and I thought it had been purged- but I
have no anti-virus in this computer! After your note, I downloaded
an Anti-virus, which unfortunately deleted my entire internet
access, reinstalled to the tune of $60. Took me a while to get
back, but your site was one of the first I revisited. But indeed,
the bunch of attorneys I work with are well informed about psychological
needs, oppression, submissiveness, the whole shebang, but we may
be hostile because there's not much we really can do about the
suffering, perhaps just move it around, or lessen it somewhat.
Life's not fair and people aren't perfect. That's the hardest
lesson I have to tell my clients...Again, I'm grateful for your
responses. I'm not still Worming, am I? Do tell.
I am so
sorry. Please forgive me, snide remark and all. I just didn't
know what to think after I got an email from you with no message
and the Happy.exe attached! I deleted it so there are no worms
here. Yet, at least. Sorry about your mini-catastrophe, and
I'm glad you are back on-line.
So I am too
isolated in my little psychological vacuum. I don't hear the ins
and outs of cases. I only hear my client's account, and I
don't suppose a Judge is going to tell them something like,
"Well, I really know you are the good guy, but you are too
much of a mess right now..." Etc., etc.
ordinarily would not publish this email, I will for two reasons:
1. I would
like my clients and others to see that you guys do know what's
going on out there in terms of abuse. You and your group are
well-versed in these issues indeed. I hope others are as well.
2. I am
demonstrating what I preach: Nobody's perfect, we all mess up.
Best thing to do is own it, learn from it, and get on.
very much for your kind words.
See Counselor's first letter to Dr.
See reader email comments