I would like to be very clear on one thing. I agree that it’s in the best interest of the child to be raised in a two-parent home. A mentally healthy, two parent home, that is. That’s the best case scenario! Now, lets face it, that’s just not always an option for many different reasons and I’m not going to get into all of those reasons. I grew up without a father for a very large portion of my life, so when I had children it was very important they were raised with both parents.
I have been warned by my lawyer and many others that if I don’t be agreeable with my ex and the courts I will be looked upon as a difficult, greedy, selfish and alienating mother. Now let’s back up a bit …before I left my ex I tried, what I felt at the time, everything in my power to fix and save our relationship. One of the things I suggested was relationship counseling, but after the third session, he walked out saying: “There’s nothing wrong with our relationship. You just make me angry and I need to work on my anger.” Which he never did.
I left with the children on several occasions, each time after a huge angry blow up by him. He would throw things at me, push me, throw me, call me horrible names, break my personal belongings, have severe road rage among other things that I am not yet ready to speak about. He did most of these things in front of the children. I also have to say he severely bullied my oldest son, who is not his biological child. Horrible name calling, such as “You’re going to be gay when you grow up.” “You’re such a baby, quit crying.” “You’re so stupid.”
He would also mock him. My son suffers quite badly from hay fever and asthma. My ex would get mad at him for coughing so much and would copy him, but in a way that was making fun of him. He would blink his eyes to mock him when his eyes were swollen and itchy from allergies. Since we have left, other stories are coming out as my son feels more comfortable speaking. Like the time he was crying and my ex stuffed a sock down his throat and choked him. Or the time he squished his own child’s head between the couch and the coffee table because he was crying. The kids have told me about the time daddy hurt the puppy by carrying her up the entire flight of stairs by her tail and she was yelping in pain, or the time he kicked her so hard he collapsed her lungs. There are so many stories like this, and I wont get into them all, but I will say that the abuse was not just directed towards me.
My ex also had very little interest in the children until I left him. It was my responsibility to keep them away from him while he was “working in the yard” or “busy doing things” around the house. It was my responsibility to care for the children 100%. Funny how I can be sitting in Children’s Hospital with our youngest on life support at 5 weeks of age and he is calling me on my cell phone asking me when we are going to be finished so he can get his work done. Are you “effing” kidding me?
The first time I packed and actually moved out I think I was in my new place for about 6 hours before he found it and was leaving a letter in my car … which I never read. Over the next two months he pushed his way back into my life, promising me the world, swearing he loved me and that he would change and get help blah blah blah …He actually went as far as trying to convince his brother to break into my place to scare me so bad that I would move back into his home! Luckily for me his brother refused to do this. Eventually I moved back. Stupid me. But he was still controlling me with money at the time and I shit couldn’t afford to keep living in my new place without his support so I moved back and hoped that all his promises would come true.
They didn’t. I think it was two weeks before he “lost his shit” on me again, for turning the hose on too soon. Well at that point I was done. But his explosions were getting worse and more scary. I told him I was leaving. But I was terrified. I planned a camping trip with my mother and the kids and told him that if he could be nice he was more than welcome to join us. Well, he came and it went horribly. He assaulted me the minute we got to the campground. He threw a full can of baby formula at my head, shut the car door on my arm and tried to drive away while I was stuck in the door. He stole my car and took our oldest boy with him. The police were involved and did nothing. We tried to press charges but the cop we dealt with absolutely refused to agree, and was aggressive about it. Something seemed wrong, and to this day I am still completely dumbfounded by this event.
The next day he brought our son back to the campground and he was abusive again, verbally, but I didn’t care. I got my son back. He left me and my three boys at the campground with no car. I went to the Women’s Shelter after that weekend and lived there for a month until I found my own place, this time in a different town, one hour away from him. I hoped that with this bit of distance he would back off and leave us alone. Not a chance! I eventually got my car back, but not my belongings. He would use them as leverage in order to keep contact with me.
I want to say, at that point, each time I left I gave him his boys every weekend. I never once denied him seeing the boys, even though everything in me told me it was dangerous to let them go. I had no clue what he would do. He was desperate because he was losing control. And that is when it became the most dangerous. He would become desperate and would do the unthinkable to regain that control. By this time, I had a lawyer through legal aid and he was advising me to be co-operative and give him the children. So, if he asked for them, I gave them to him. I did not want to “poke the bear.”
After being in this new place for two months, once again I was sucked back in, but not in the same way as before. I did not go back to him, but he got me financially. He actually convinced me that he had moved out of our family home and that it made way more sense for the boys and I to live there and for him to rent a place. Plus we got all our stuff back. This was a huge mistake because he would come over every day. He would just walk in as he pleased. Because it was his house and we were his property. He had us right where he wanted us. I became very scared again. I was trapped. He would drive by at night, keeping and eye on us, watching us. He knew I wanted to leave again.
He was at the house one day. When I was in the bathroom, he went into my email, saw that I had accepted a job in a town 4 hours away, and knew I was leaving, and taking his kids. At first he agreed, but I could tell he really didn’t. He was lying, but trying, in some way, to convince me to stay. He works out of town, and has since I met him; it was just over this past few months he had taken a leave to try to keep us “home,” but kept claiming “I’m going back to work next week.”
So I really didn’t see the problem in where I was living with the boys as long as on his days off I facilitated his visits with the children …right? But the next two weekends were hell. The abuse got worse and his attacks on me in front of the children were getting worse and more violent. He was leaving bruises on me, all over me. The boys were scared; the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) was involved.
My ex used the ministry against me by saying I was the crazy one, so they threatened to take my kids from me. He smashed into my truck when I was trying to leave with the kids. He “keyed” the side of it and took the baby out of his seat and refused to return him. I was told by the ministry worker who had now arrived, to leave the home with the two boys still in the truck, but I had to leave my baby behind.
I felt my life was falling apart. I was scared, broken, hurting, bruised. I was told by the ministry that if I had any contact with my ex they would take the other kids from me. At this point I was staying at my Aunt and Uncle’s house in the same town. Two days after leaving, my ex texted me, telling me to “come get your kid.” Of course I did. And then I went back to my family’s place.
My ex had lost control again. He was texting me, saying he would get help. He actually decided to go to a 5-day program out of town. During this time, I went back to the home and stayed with the boys. He came back from his trip of “awakening” and said he was a changed man. I have also taken this program, and it is amazing, but on the first day they tell you that they “can’t fix crazy!” Well, they didn’t fix him. Five hours after returning, he asked me to meet him at a park so he could see the boys, and I agreed. Then he convinced me to come by the house to get a few things. This is when he tricked the boys into going into the home. He then attacked me in the doorway and tried to lock me out of the house.
I knew his plan. I could not let him lock me out. I would lose my kids. I pushed and fought my way through the doorway. He broke the door on my arm, severely bruising it. He smashed my finger in the door jam so badly it split open and was bleeding all over. He pushed me and choked me. The kids were screaming. He was ripping the baby out of my arms who was screaming in pain. Our oldest son was stepped on by his dad and ripped his toenail half off and it was bleeding. It was crazy. He was hurting my children.
I let go of my baby. I tried calling the police. He attacked me again and then he called the police himself. I got my other son (not his boy) and we left the house. I left my babies. I remembered the ministry’s warning. I drove a block up the street and called the police.
He was arrested, and the ministry worker called me and allowed me to come to the house to get my boys. I packed what I could fit in our truck and we left town…forever. That was three years ago.
Up until this past October where he threatened my life, I had facilitated all court ordered visitation. I never once withheld access. Even against my better judgement. Even though we had left, the abuse was still happening, just in a different form. I am not going to talk about the things that the children said when they came home after a visit with dad. It was horrific. Things that a 3 and 5-year-old should not be hearing, seeing, thinking, repeating.
As these visits continued, the things the boys said got worse and more frequent. Then they started displaying severe behavioural issues: violence, aggression, depression, anxiety, loss of fine motor skills, signs of sexual inappropriateness. What was I going to do?
Not to mention the people around town stalking me, driving by my house, being offered money to break into my house and do God knows what to me, the daily phone calls, texts, emails, threats …but all just done well enough to not be able to convict him of criminal harassment or any other charge.
This is when I learned about Gaslighting, a form of abuse. I wondered if I was losing my mind. He was convincing me I was. So, after years of this torture, threatening my life in front of the children, after he cut up my baby book that he had kept and placed the pictures with my head cut off on my mother’s doorstep and a second time on her car, and after years of abusing the children emotionally and psychologically, I had had enough. If I continued to let this happen to my children I would be just as guilty as him.
I marched into supreme court, with a toddler under one arm and a stack of papers under the other that I had worked on all weekend, to apply for an emergency, ex-parte application to suspend all contact between him and the children. I saw a judge two hours later. He granted my request! No further contact or exchange of the children until further order of the court.
What scares me now is the part that says “until further order of the court.” Everyone, my lawyer, the ministry, and many others I speak with, tell me that he will get contact back. So now I sit and wait, waiting for his application in court to be served on me. It will happen I am sure, especially since he was just acquitted of the criminal charges this past Monday for threatening my life. His lawyer did request a “Views of the Child” report be done. At this time, I am still supposed to be facilitating two weekly phone calls, where the boys call their father. I agreed to these in a consent order around Christmas time. I was told that I should at least agree to do this, so I did. I figured there would be no harm as I could just hang up if he was speaking inappropriately.
At first, our oldest son refused to speak on the phone to his father. No matter how hard I tried to push him to talk, he would fight back harder. I could see the pain in his eyes so I eventually just stopped pushing. I would ask, and leave it at that. Our youngest would happily talk to anyone on the phone. (Back to the requested views), once I realized the motivation behind the promises of all these extravagant trips and toys and the “biggest play fort with a huge red slide” daddy built at his house for him, and all the Thomas the Train toys he would buy him, and reminders of all the toys that he had bought in the past but wouldn’t let him bring home to mom’s house ….well, I could see what he was doing.
My youngest started getting angry with me, yelling at me, hitting me and just becoming more and more defiant towards me. This was his way of molding our children to give a “Views of the Child” report that would benefit him. I have since stopped the phone calls and my youngest is slowly starting to like me again …for lack of a better term. Though he does still ask me why I don’t get him all the things that daddy says he is going to get him. I also have since decided that children should not be subjected to this abuse. Children of this age, who are suffering from emotional trauma, PTSD and anxiety may not know what is in their best interests and I am not comfortable at this time involving them in this matter. I am sure he will try to get a court order for (it to be done.)
I am not an alienating mother. I can stand up and very confidently say that I have tried my best to keep a healthy level of contact between my boys and their father. But I don’t care who you are, if you abuse my children, I will protect them from you and put their best interests first. I have put my foot down. I am ready to fight until the bitter end to ensure they are given the best opportunity to heal from everything they have been through and to grow up in a happy environment.
They should have that right.