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Doc@DrIrene.com

Got Legal Advice for Abused Man & His Kids?

Got Legal Advice For Abused Dad?

----- Original Message -----
From: Peter
Sent: Sunday, September 19, 1999 11:42 PM
Subject: Pat Benetar sang "Hell is for Children" Is it?
 

Dr. Irene,
I am writing as a survivor of abuse: physical, verbal, and emotional. I came out of a severe situation and brought my children out with me. I will give you a VERY abbreviated version and you can comment and hopefully give feedback about the decisions I made and the actions I have taken.

I was married for 8 years to a woman I placed on a pedestal and worshipped as a Goddess. I owned a small business which was very lucrative so we never needed for anything in the way of material goods. After our marriage I began seeing disturbing signs that there was something wrong: she became sharp vocally, constantly criticizing me about my business, my appearance, my manners, my actions, etc, etc. It escalated to the point where she began to pinch, punch, kick me in the groin, slap my face, pound her fists on my back, throw knives or other utensils if we were in the kitchen, etc. accompanied by her verbal abuse. 

After our twins were born she began tormenting me by having lovers come to the home to "service her" as she liked to call it and then throw the facts of her infidelity up in my face. She began to use the paternity of the children as an issue, making allusions that the twins were not really mine. She had her own car and could do as she wished, not having to work. She could have found interests outside the home or a job if she wished, but instead she never left the home. After she nearly smothered one of the children when he was 7 months old, I hired a nanny to live-in and help care for the children. She would not feed them while I was at work or change their diapers. I had to hire a housekeeper to come in and care for the home as she refused to do any of the housework, insisting that I do it after I returned home in the evening. 

She appeared depressed all the time, so after talking with some medical professionals I asked her to seek help to save our marriage. After some persuasion, she agreed and went into a psych ward for 30 days at a local hospital. She was diagnosed with Bi-Polar illness (manic-depressive), agoraphobia, and panic disorder.
After a few months of her taking her medication, I acceded to her demands to remove the nanny and housekeeper from our home and allow her care for the home. Because of my high expectations and hopes, I didn't see the warning signs at first, and allowed her to explain them away. I would come home and the children would have split lips ("his brother hit him with a toy truck"), black eyes ("ran into the doorknob"), bloody nose ("fell down"), arms pulled from their sockets ("went to put them in bed and one pulled one way as I went the other way"). This continued for months. I still feel guilty because I didn't stop it. I allowed her to continue her abuse of me as I felt that I could take it. I thought if I let her take it out on me, the children would be safe. 

I finally came to my senses after she took a pistol and tried to shoot my mother who had come to visit the grandchildren. It was 3:00 pm and the children hadn't had eaten yet because my ex had them locked in their bedroom. My mother let them out, and my ex just went crazy. She attacked her, forcing her to curl in a ball in a corner of the kitchen to avoid the blows raining down on her. When the ex got the gun, my mother grabbed the kids and ran with them from the home, screaming for someone to call the police.

My ex went to a state facility for 30 days and I filed for divorce. That happened 4 years ago. Since then we went through 2 years of supervised visitation and 2 years of every other weekend visits. The children are forced to go to her place and be punching bags. We are in court every month and a half because she abuses them - enough to require hospital attention. The doctors Childline her, children and youth ignore the situation, and the judges keep giving them back to her. They state, "She has the rights of the mother". 

She stabbed me in 1997  with a kitchen knife in the stomach. She was not arrested for it although the complaint was made. I asked the Magistrate for a PFA and you know what the response I received? "You are a man, you can handle it. If I gave one to every man who got scratched up by their wife, I  wouldn't get anything else done". I am heavy set so the knife did not hit any major arteries or vital organs, but it did require stitches. From that experience I realized that there is definitely a bias and a double standard in dealing with domestic violence. The women's shelter I went to for my PFA said that they had only had 8 men in the past year, which surprised them. They were not equipped to deal with men, but since they received federal money they had to help us. The counselor made it appear to be a chore. I felt like a Black person would have felt trying to sit in the front of the bus in 1967 in Birmingham, Alabama. 

She uses her mental illness to her advantage when it benefits her (she cannot pay any child support as she is too mentally ill to work), yet she claims she is cured when we go in front of a Judge for some abusive action against the children. She has a free attorney while I pay for mine, so I have had to mortgage my mother's home to pay my attorney fees. This long battle has no end in sight. She tells the children that she will ruin myself and my mother financially by dragging us into court before she "kills us." The children are terrified.

Psychiatrists have made determinations that visitation should not be permitted and that she should not have access to the children. But the courts refuse to listen! The State Supreme Court chastises the lower court decisions but upholds them, not wishing to intervene in the matter. I can definitely use some advice on how to deal with this situation...thanks for listening.
 

Dear Peter,

What a horrific story! You gave this woman every benefit of the doubt - and then some. Unfortunately she is too ill and/or too sociopathic to respond in kind. Not that her diagnosis makes a difference in my book. I don't care what anybody's problem is. There is no excuse, no reason in the world that gives one human being license to harm another - especially a child!

I think you are saying that the children will not turn their mom in to authorities, no matter what. That I do  understand. That's pretty normal kid behavior. Even if they hate her, they love her; she is their mother.

I don't understand much. I don't understand why the Courts nor why child protective has not intervened. They tend to be OK with protecting kids from physical, as opposed to emotional, abuse. God knows you certainly seem to have enough physical evidence! I don't understand how the psychiatrists' recommendations have not been heard in the Courts, or how these same (?) doctors "Childline" her. In fact, I don't even understand the word, "Childline."  Nor do I have a clue where you live. You talk about "State Supreme Court," so I think you live in the States. Then you refer to a "Magistrate," which I think of as Canadian or European, though I may well be off on this one.

My lack of understanding of these issues doesn't really matter much. I would still be baffled because your problem appears more legalistic than psychological. From what you say, you seem to be doing an OK job in handling an impossible situation.

What I can offer you is rather thin compared with what you face: encouragement to continue the fight for your children's welfare; affirmation that the system is unfortunately biased against men; an invitation to join an abused guy's support list (Men_D); and, some publicity. If you let me know roughly where you live, I will publish it in the hopes that an attorney or sympathetic survivor of similar circumstances has some ideas that apply in your State or region. I am happy to forward and/or publish reader comments I get to you, or publish your email address if you are comfortable with that. Finally, I am willing to create a section  of this site to help mobilize abused men and promote father's rights. (So readers, if you have any ideas, pass 'em on down.)

May God bless you and yours.   -Dr. Irene

Dr. Irene,
Thank you for the understanding words, I have heard very few of those since this all began. I live in Pennsylvania, USA, about 50 miles north  of Pittsburgh. The county I live in is definitely a backwater area where political ties are strong and very clannish (blood ties). I believe that a relative of my ex, who is prominent in local politics, has a lot to do with the problems I have encountered within the legal system, but there isn't anything I can do to change jurisdiction at this point. In the states, we have approximately 4  Magistrates elected to serve as judicial review for minor matters per County. If they deem an issue worthy, the matter is sent on to local Court. If you appeal the local Court decision, then it goes to the State Supreme Court.  Childline is a national registry of persons who have abused children, and once a report has been made,  the law dictates that children and youth respond to the complaint within 24 hours to interview the victims...that has never been done. I have written my legislators, the Governor, news and media organizations, etc. but have gotten nowhere.

The focus in Pennsylvania law appears to keep children with their abusive parents, while asking the abusive parent to accept some sort of counseling. That may work in some cases but in others, it is totally wrong. As to using my real name or where I live, that is not a problem. The only problem I see is keeping what has happened hidden, so that it may continue. I appreciate what you are attempting to do for all of us, your site is a godsend! I already joined your men-D site over the weekend and have visited your site and read the stories posted there. Keep up the good work!!!! Peter

 Support groups are fine but I am more into tangible actions, such as writing their legislature and representatives so this horrible miscarriage of justice will not happen to others. In a lot of cases, that is what we survivors do, we commiserate with one another but don't get proactive to change what has happened so others do not go through what we have. I am more the activist than the victim. I don't want to sit back and feel sorry for myself. Instead I want to wake the world up to an injustice. I teach and see what happens to some of the kids in my classroom. I can't understand why something hasn't been said or done to stop this destruction of our youth. There are continuous commercials on television about the use of drugs and the destruction they cause, but nothing is said about child abuse...sad state of affairs. Thanks again Dr. Irene, and if I think of anything, I will definitely write and share with you. I will also keep you posted as to what is happening in our lives...take care!!!!    Peter

Dear Readers: I can't tell you how much this (or any) injustice upsets me. Got any ideas for Peter? Any ideas on ways I can help mobilize action through this site?  

Thanks, -Dr. Irene

 I'd like to read others' comments.

Read comments from an attorney who disagrees with Dr. Irene!