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The School of Life has so much to teach – if only we would stop to observe and listen to the story whispered to our Soul. Sometimes we become inundated with the needs of people in our lives, at home, at work or no matter where we go. We see what is written on their faces that tells us without words where their mindset leans. We hear the words that are unspoken behind their eyes. We feel the impact of their words or actions when we are in their presence. The world outside our door teaches us what our schools do not and yet its language for many remains a mystery.
We see a tree renewed in the spring as the buds of their leaves and fruit are born forth reminding us that not all is lost and after walking the long dark of winter we feel the lifeblood of the Mother Earth come alive inside of us. We are like the trees before us. We Stand firmly rooted in our faith and know that we are still here and that Life renews itself. We are alive and are meant to thrive.
We see the four-legged beings in various forms sauntering by in their pursuits. A rabbit hops into sight trembling in fear of a winged predator that may come and sweep them into the air for dinner. It stops often to listen and look before it moves toward that tiny clump of lamb quarters not two feet away. When it arrives, its vigilance remains keen, its muscles tight and ready to sprint as it chews on the providence of abundance before them.
We hear the call of the hawk’s piercing cry, beckoning our attention to awareness. We become alert to our environment and become mindful of what we are doing and where we are going. It is Spirit’s messenger that begs us to follow the promptings of our heart instead of the wayward path of this world.
We stop long enough to look down and see a tiny ant, struggling with retrieving a succulent leaf 20 times its own size. It stops and assesses its targets position and thereby repositions itself in yet another attempt to lift and carry it home. The attempt fails but it does not give up. It continues the dance of assessment until alas he finds another way to retrieve Earth’s blessing. He hoists his heavy ladened treasure and moves around mountains of debris and any other obstacle in its path, never wavering in the task.
We see a lone flower in bloom sitting alone on a mountain of rocks. No other life can be seen around it. A tiny seed on the breeze has brought it into a stark empty environment, and yet this tiny seed found purchase in between the crack of one boulder. There is dug its roots deep to find the nourishment it needed to survive and thrive among a bunch of rocks. It withstood every windstorm holding firm. It braved the scorching heat of the sun-infused stones that tried to burn it out and the torrential rains that tried to uproot its foothold – and it grew to share its radiant beauty with all who passed on by.
I am grateful for Life and the ability to breathe.
I am grateful for all of Life’s mysteries.
I am grateful for my senses and sensibilities.
I am grateful to my parents for being absent…
… you made me unafraid to be on my own.
… you taught me to be my own woman.
I am grateful for your obtuse abuse…
…you taught me resilience,
…you taught me strength
…you taught me self-respect and resolve.
I am grateful for your criticisms…
…you taught me to be critical in my thinking.
…you taught me to think for myself.
…you taught me to see things from a different perspective.
…you taught me not to believe everything I heard.
I am grateful for betraying my innocence and trust…
…you opened my eyes to my reality.
…you taught me to see things more clearly.
…you taught me trust must be earned.
I am grateful to my siblings for shunning me…
…you taught me self-preservation was key.
I am grateful to all my family for abandoning me…
…you taught me to be self-reliant.
…you taught me to hold my head up and walk alone.
I am grateful to my ex-husband for your abuse…
…you taught me longsuffering and temperance.
…you became the catalyst for my healing journey from abuse.
I am grateful to my current husband and my children…
…you taught me acceptance.
…you taught me patience.
…you taught me it was safe to trust.
…you taught me it was safe to speak up.
…you taught me it was safe to step out of my comfort zone.
…you taught me it was okay to be who I am.
…you taught me Love really does exist in this world.
…you taught me to Believe in myself.
I am grateful You are here.
I am grateful You hear my heart.
I am grateful to You…for just being You.
We are human beings, both you and me – and yet we are so much more than we appear to be. We are composed of millions of particles of Light inside of us at the very core of our being. We are co-creators with the Divine unseen forces, both within us and within the fabric of this Garden of Life. Our existence…matters.
When we hold the Light of our heart – every moment we breathe holds the potential of what yet can be, but when the light is subdued by the shadows of our wounds we find ourselves bathed in fear or awash in grief. We tend to forget what we can achieve and become blind to what others may need. When we hide the Light inside us, our world seems to suffer an immeasurable number of things.
It’s a simple fact that humans are destroying our world. We have turned a blind eye and ignored the plethora of evidence all around us. There are thousands of other living beings and lifeforms that have been annihilated and more still suffering from the human storm. Old paradigms we were taught to believe has brought us to this present moment in time.
When I look back at the years of my Life and I see beyond the mundane news and take in the overall effect of humans on this planet. My heart hurts. I see patterns that have shaped the current conditions in our country and around the world. I see the shadow of abuses from the past, how it has grown into a global entity in the abuse of power and the rise of what the King James version of the Bible calls – the god of Mammon or money
When we hold the Light of our soul – we Inspire others. When we hold the Light of our heart forward to see – it dispels the darkness so others can see that the Light inside of them is also needed. When we share the Light – we Help Life heal.
Imagine the land, water, and air would be pristine because no one is raping or pillaging the resources of our planet for profit. Educating children to become the new stewards of Life and caretakers of our heavenly home.
Imagine the blessings and bounty of the Mother Earth recovered from the centuries of abuse from the greed of mankind. Imagine our ability to recapture Her full bounty, Her grace and Her blessings for all.
Imagine future stewards of faith and vision working together with each other to feed ourselves and one another, to cultivate, harvest and prepare the free natural God given medicines, health, and care for ourselves, our families and each other instead of the need for greed.
Imagine that. No one would go hungry, no one would have to worry about medical bills, or paying for education. No one would need to be concerned about a corporate toxic waste dump in their backyard or poisoned wells or aquifers from mining uranium that is killing them or their children. No nuclear waste or garbage under our feet bleeding into the soil where our food grows or illegally being dumped in our oceans.
Can you Imagine the whole world having Tesla’s free sustainable energy that no one has to pay for? No electric grid would be needed, no oil spills, no drilling and no need for fossil fuels. Imagine no homeless people – ever. Imagine no senior citizen not able to pay their mortgage or light bill in the winter or sitting without food because their medicine is outrageously high.
Imagine a child’s education geared toward what they are drawn to naturally. Imagine our warriors at home, caring for the home front here at home instead of fighting a wasteful political war to control a region or a marketplace or a commodity. Imagine people working together to build someone a house, a community center, a healing center, local gardens, farms or hydroponic stations, building and setting up solar panels.
So what would the governments and corporations do? Here’s a thought. They are fired and reassigned a new title with specific tasks that would provide every community with the necessary mandated materials in each State. Each State would distribute and deliver the necessary sustainable materials to each community and or individual at no charge. Maybe even require them to help put all the pieces together once they get there.
I believe all things are possible. I believe the destiny of humanity can change. I believe we can heal ourselves, each other and our planet. I believe we can enrich the whole world by making it sustainable for All Life. It is only the mind of mankind needs to change.
You and I may not see this Garden of Eden restored in our lifetime, but perhaps it could be a dream for future generations to aspire toward. Think, Dream and Imagine the different Future for yourself, your children and this beautiful blue jewel in the Heavens that is designed to sustain All Life.
My mind has been wandering and wondering. I am looking back to what was and to what could be. My fingers are typing what my mind is thinking at this moment. Call it madness, call it melancholy, call it what you will.
There was an issue that came up while preparing for the middle portion of my memoir. I felt truly blessed when a writing colleague and friend was gracious enough to assist me with a little research. The article that was found hit me like a baseball bat. The impact stunned me and I wasn’t prepared for the emotional tsunami that took the breath right out of me when I wasn’t looking.
I felt like I had been clotheslined by a five hundred pound linebacker that took me out of the game for a while. I withdrew like a turtle and went on lockdown. I stopped writing. I avoided it like the plague. I needed time to unwind a forest of tangled vines in my mind.
Then it dawned on me that I never dealt with it – quite frankly it blew me away. When I looked back at how things unfolded after this drawn-out event was over I saw where I simply brushed it aside, stuffed it down, pushed past it and moved on to try and put my life back together with some semblance of order and purpose.
The mental, emotional and the physical repercussions from that series of events has come full circle. I have been dealing with some very old wounds. Wounds that I never truly looked at or ever dealt with.
The impact of that series of events affected the flow of my Life both inwardly and outwardly. That unrequitable nightmare became embedded in my physical body,(As a massage therapist I know muscles hold memories)and was imprinted in the energy matrix or light of my soul.
The seeds sown during those 13 months had laid dormant inside me quietly taking root in the dark and have now come into season to be reviewed. Unresolved issues have a way of popping up when we least expect them to and when they unwittingly crop up it has a way of throwing us off course. My internal navigation system went haywire and I spiraled down into the depths of despair.
Negative thoughts can truly pollute the physical body on so many levels. When the issues associated with this long-term event rose up it exploded into my conscious and the ride thereafter turned me inside out unexpectedly. The emotions that were stuffed into the suitcase of dormancy were also retrieved from the lost and found area of the baggage claim department. It was extreme. My physical body reacted.
Recurring thought patterns came up for review. I had a choice to renew and refile the thought as it was, or review more it more deeply. When I dug deeper it was difficult to unmask hidden truths. Once ‘I got it’ then I had the option to refine, redefined and refile those thoughts in a totally different archive.
The difficulty I experience is when my conscious mind becomes flooded by the emotional tsunami that overwhelms whatever sense or sensibilities I have. My ability to reason begins to wane, and at times simply disappears. The term ‘brain fog’ doesn’t even come close to describe it.
My ability to think literally escapes me and unfortunately, a part of me goes with it! I walk around mindlessly as if a part of me has left to find answers and bring back some clarity. Its been a struggle to make sense of it all. The mental hula hoops I have to jump through becomes a regular 5-ring circus.
The emotional impact has been daunting – but fruitful. The physical repercussions will be coming to light in a couple of weeks. Listing the lessons learned and finding the words to portray the events is now the challenge.
Do not let unresolved issues continue to take you down that dark corridor. Pull them out, face them, learn from them and heal them in your mind. When you do that, you heal yourself.
A cool breeze lifted the branches of the trees as I watched the hummingbirds dance around the feeder outside my door this morning. It seemed they were synchronized under the spell of life’s music. The branches of the poplar waved its greeting and beckoned me to come join in the dance. Working from home can sometimes make you feel caged with the hours necessary to make a living. It had been awhile since I have spent time in nature and decided to get out for awhile.
Old news and experiences have a way of weighing us down, locked in a search to unravel hidden beliefs. My mind has been heavy in healing work and I felt the need to get my bare feet in the grass to reconnect with Mother Earth’s life giving essences. I am grateful to have chosen that.
When I stepped outside my door it was quite clear that I hadn’t been outside in awhile. My hummingbird vine exploded in beautiful growth this season weaving its delicate tendrils around the front landing and reaching skyward to embrace the fake shutters surrounding our front window.
My husband is such a loving soul and has expressed his concern of this happening. When I went to tend to them I realized how entangled a mass they had become and decided it would be wise to disengage its progress. As I began to unweave the braided strands I thought of the meaning associated with these tiny gifts of creation.
Hummingbirds have a way of bringing joyful delight in just watching them. They seem to conjure up images of purity and for me and the dance we dance with those around us. Everything in world is in a constant state of movement, even things that seem to be stationary – we just can’t see the molecules with our human vision. We have to look deeper.
As a seeker of Truth, on my own personal journey to heal from abuse, I realized as I unwound the cord of vines of this delicate plant, I understood the mirror it reflected back to me of what was going on inside my heart and mind. Each small featherlike strand represented “thoughts” that kept me bound to old patterns of thinking. As the years passed new thoughts were braided into the rope like weave I was holding.
As a child, I realized that the joy I once knew was lost to me at the age of five. It was choked off and buried deep down inside from that first beating. The joy of exploring my world was also suppressed that same day I was punished for coming home late from school. It seems I was dissociated from my eternal essence of love when I was made to feel like I didn’t matter.
So as I stood there acknowledging what my heart whispered to me in that moment, I chose to turn my efforts into a moving meditation. Unwinding each bundle of tiny fragile vines and leaves takes both time and patience, and with each strand I unwound my spirit lifted. Joy came into my heart in just doing the task as the wind danced around me whispering its song. It took an hour for the first bundle, and an hour and a half for the second to be rewoven along the iron fence housing the enclave of a sanctuary for my tiny friends.
I have been seeking the succulent nectar of joy and could never engage in its fullness. Now I understood why. As I continue to unravel the mystery that is still hidden in me I am rediscovering my true essence. I am a healer and a teacher in my own way and I love to create beauty in various artforms. I let that all go when I moved to this State, to appease and please the opinions of others instead of listening to my own heart.
Today I am reclaiming my joy. Today I am reclaiming my right to use the gifts I have been given, and my right to choose to use those gifts to make life better for others and humanity as a whole. Today I am reclaiming my sovereign right to just Be me.
Today is the day of reckoning for my friend in her fight to keep full custody of her child. My husband dropped me off at my her house this morning. When I knocked on the door she reminded me of a squirrel chasing another squirrel up and down a tree. Except the squirrel she was chasing was invisible.
She was bouncing around from room to room, shuffling paperwork, printing off last minute copies, looking for photographs of injuries inflicted on her child and other items associated with her case – and she wasn’t dressed yet. She was geared up and going nowhere fast. She was driving us to the courthouse in downtown traffic in this state of mind. It made me pause, and that became the cause for me to pray for her, the drive and the day. I stopped her long enough to give her a hug. She was scared to death of loosing her only child to her abuser.
It’s 9:00 o’clock a.m. when we were actually walking into the court room. A few others came to give her the moral support she needed and to be a witness on her behalf. She was frantic, carrying a cardboard box of paperwork while her opponents dressed accordingly toting their own in stylish crates on wheels.
We did the best we could, in the short window of time that we had, to pull together as much information as we could, so she could defend her right to retain custody of her abused child. To do so, she would have to stand up and state her case, then prove the ‘abuse’ really existed.
The Plaintiff, (her abuser) and his attorney sit at a table to her right. On her left are two other attorneys, each representing a State agency that had a variety of interactions with the Defendant. My friend, has been relegated to sitting in very the center of the room, directly in front of the judge. I felt an overwhelming sense of the imbalance of things.
Over the years, this woman had no choice but to send her child or leave him with his abuser. A court order took the choice right out of her hands. She even went to jail for 30 days and was slammed with a year of probation by withholding her son from his abuser.
My friend had sought out help from the resources available within the system in her region, and she was referred to other programs in the process. A Guardian Ad Litem had been appointed to her son by a previous court order, and an attorney with that agency was present in court today.
My friend fulfilled her obligations of attending all court ordered programs including co-parenting classes with her abuser and jumped through all the hoops they required.
Today, it looked as if they were all taking a definitive stance against her. Both agencies appeared to be contact with her abuser’s attorney from the glances, smirks and verbal exchanges within the courtroom. All the people involved in this case over the span of years have given their opinions. Some have assessed, evaluated and judged their position on the custody of this child. Judgments that may have been colored by their personal interactions with my friend along the way.
There is a great deal of research available to show us what few know, acknowledge or even talk about when it comes to “the abuse of power in the system” on the people who are up to their neck and treading water in it.
“Mediation of child custody disputes is mandated in several states. Investigators have averred that victims of domestic violence (DV) are greatly disadvantaged in mediation. The present study empirically evaluated outcomes and found that mediators failed to recognize and report DV in 56.9% of the DV cases. The court’s screening form failed to indicate DV in at least 14.7% of the violent cases. Mediation resulted in poor outcomes for DV victims in terms of protections, such as supervised visitation and protected child exchanges. Mediator capacity to focus on the child’s best interest was called into question. Child custody mediation should not be mandated in cases of DV.” Child custody mediation in cases of domestic violence: Empirical evidence of a failure to protect. Violence Against Women,11(8), 1022–1053. doi:10.1177=1077801205278043 –
We all know that interactions from some women facing the system and those within the system is traumatic in and of itself. My friend has been diagnosed with PTSD was being cornered by not one attorney, but a total of three attorneys. She is overwhelming stressed and is “shaking” as she speaks after 10 years of having to encounter her abuser by court order and having no choice than to leave her child with her known abuser.
The thought of her abuser having full custodial rights and being the primary caretaker of her son, after 10 years of fighting for her sanity and her son, was almost too much for her to bear. These attorneys “knew” exactly what they were doing by placing her in the middle of the room between them and directly in front of the judge. They knew she would not be able to communicate efficiently.
My friend waved me up front to sit with her at the table, not only for support but a sense that she wasn’t standing alone. All three attorney’s approached the judge and I was removed from sitting with her “because I was not an attorney.” She was visibly stricken and started shaking a bit more, knowing she would have to be up there on her own. The process was slow. The Plaintiff’s’ attorney, an attorney for DSS and the court designated attorney that was appointed as Guardian Ad Litem for her son, all took their time to state their case.
Meanwhile, the subtle interactions between all three attorney’s across the aisle did not go unnoticed by those of us in the gallery, nor did the judge miss a thing. It was not only unprofessional from all of them, including their witnesses, it was childish. The fact that the judge didn’t miss a thing made me smile.
When my friend got to question the witnesses for the State and the Plaintiff, she did her best. She was clearly not an attorney. The judge knew this. She was confused and unfocused, but she held herself up and didn’t break down. Her questions led nowhere and in fact there were many times she forgot to ask a question at all. The blessing was that the judge was patient and tolerant (to the dismay of the State and the Plaintiff’s attorney). He saw her condition and he saw the smirks and chuckles of the “professionals” who were attempting to break her down fly across the tables in front of him.
It wasn’t until well after a late lunch break that my friend was able to “state her case.” Her defining moment was when she held up her timeline with backup copies of the original planners to submit it into evidence and spoke up loud and proud – “This is MY VOICE!” “This document IS My Voice your honor!” This is a historical account of the abuse over the past 10 years that both I and my son have endured.
All three attorneys “objected” it as evidence. All three, especially the Plaintiff’s attorney voicing it as being “highly objected” as evidence. My friend’s questioning of her abuser already revealed her client’s arrest records which unseated her considerably and undermined the case that he was a “good man.” The document in question provided additional proof, and was complete with doctor’s names, hospital records and even a handwritten letter from her deceased mother that my friend found after her mother passed a few months ago. In addition, she had a recorded statement from her deceased mother in the Social-Emotional Evaluation of her son by one of the State agencies.
I truly feel her mother was present at her side during this last phase of this hearing session. She had very little time to pull it all together. The judge “accepted” her documents into evidence despite ALL of their objections. I bowed my head in gratitude for that defining moment.
The hearing lasted right up till 6:00 p.m. last Tuesday. The Plaintiff’s attorney thought she had the case nailed, as did the other two attorneys for the State. She pushed “twice” for a ruling at the close, and requested that the child be removed immediately and placed into the father’s care. She also had the audacity to request surveillance on my friend citing her “mental state” and the potential that she would flee the State. Really???
The judge shook his head at her callousness and denied her a ruling on the spot, stating that he would have to look at “ALL” of the evidence presented and that he would “email” his ruling to her, the other attorneys present and to the mother “when he was done.” You would think an attorney would not have a temper tantrum like a two year old. It was quite funny watching her twist her lip and make faces as if no one was looking. I swear she stomped one foot in the process. I believe the Plaintiff’s attorney was beside herself. In fact, all three of them were all stunned.
At the writing of this post, there has still been no word of the judges ruling. It looks like we will have to wait a little longer.
This is not a picture of my friend, but I really do feel that it portrays the sorrow, suffering and only a smidgeon of the frustration and futility that she has experienced through this harrowing journey. She is facing a court hearing that will determine full custodial rights of her child to either her or her known abuser. She has NO attorney to help her continue the fight for herself or for her child.
So we went to work. In reviewing my friends personal planner/journal of chronological events of abuse turned out to be a historical calendar of her 10-year history of physical, mental, emotional and financial abuse. Her court documents were records of information that would not have been available to us without them.
Her personal planner/journal would indeed be “Her Voice.” So together we diligently went through it all. Month by month we scraped out the information and compiled an Excel spreadsheet that detailed the sequence of events, encounters, communication difficulties, and accounts of every level of abuse that had befallen herself and her son.
The process became a stunning revelation of her story and for herself. She had no idea that her diligence, her fervor and her “pen” would become her greatest ally. Everything she was fighting for, every interaction and every step she had taken to get help from various State agencies was listed in her planner.
We learned that the father of her child had previously been arrested for “Assault by Pointing a Gun, and Assault on a Female” in 2007. We learned later that there had been up to 6 other charges filed against this man prior to that. We also learned that his brother was currently incarcerated for abuse as well. So there is a pattern of abuse that seems to run in the family. The man was going through a divorce when he met my friend, and it appears women were not at the top of his list of favorite people when he learned his girlfriend was pregnant.
The verbal, emotional and mental abuse was already underway in their relationship. Eight months and 3 days from the date that these charge were filed against him in 2007, this same man abused his pregnant girlfriend for the first time by grabbing her by the throat while forcefully holding her down on a bed choking off her airway as she is struggling to get him off the top of her and breathe. She was six months pregnant. He also repeated this display of power, control, threat of bodily harm in his rage on two other occasions. She was scared. She had never been abused and didn’t know what to do except fight back.
In 2010, a file was duly recorded and documented under a 311 call about her abuser “communicating threats.” Her child was diagnosed with a broken collar bone, while under the care of the abuser, had another fall out of a swing landing on his head three months later, along with another head injury to the boy one month thereafter.
He also mysteriously fell off the wheel well of this father’s truck, while in his father’s care. The fall scratched his belly and punctured his side when he landed on a triangular with a piece of metal. These accounts did not include the physical, emotional, mental and financial abuses to his girlfriend and mother of his child.
We also unveiled a written and recorded statement from my friend’s deceased mother. The 2011 statement had been recorded by an agency worker who conducted a Social-Emotional Evaluation on her son at the age of 2 years and 3 months old. That statement expounded a grandmother’s rage, live and on tape, stating boldly that “she will not tolerate any more physical abuse to her daughter or to her grandson by the her abuser.”
In addition, we uncovered a family pattern of abuse by the boy’s father toward his other children. A pattern that is already being seated in her own child. In addition her son has come home with accusations of sexual abuse by various members of his father’s family.
We had all of these incidents documented over a period of 10 years and yet the Department of Social Services and other State agencies involved to date state that the allegations of abuse were investigated and they deduced that all of the allegations of abuse were false” even with doctor’s records that were readily available.
Now, all we needed to do was to get the judge on Tuesday to agree to allow this timeline of historical abuse into evidence.
The abuse of power comes to the forefront in the next post…Read on in Part V.
We chose to compile significant events that could be useful for her to lay out her case before court from the detailed records she kept of her experiences directly from her planner.
My friend gave birth to a baby boy in March of 2009. My friend’s mother, her abuser boyfriend and his ex-wife were present to welcome the child into the world. Four months later she was asking him to sign over custody and he refused.
She expressed to me that she did not feel it was right to keep a father from his child’s life. I believe she tried to honor that. So despite her own misgivings, she made an effort to “keep the peace” but the interactions between them continued to escalate. For her, there was no peace to be found.
In Jan 2010, she is calling 311 to ask them to educate her on how to file a report on someone who was “communicating threats.” She explained that he was enraged and played out a drama of him holding a gun to his head, while he is blaming her for his insanity. She told him it was a shame he felt that way. He responded by telling her “not to worry, that if he decided to take himself out, then he would make sure to take her with him,” as he turned and walked out the door with their son. 311 told her that the person who communicated the threat had to specifically state they were going to kill her, in order for a report to be filed in their system. What she was trying to report was too vague.
May of 2010 a peculiar incident occurred involving her 1 yr -2mo. old son. On her way to work she dropped him off with his father at 8:00 a.m. When she comes home around 5:00 p.m. to pick up their son she immediately notices something wrong when she goes to pick him up. The boy jerks, then cringes and curls up to guard one side of his body. She feels the area and “knows” something is not right. When she questions the father asking him what happened, his response is “I don’t know, he hasn’t been acting right since lunch.”
“Now here I’m thinking, “Really???” It’s 5 o’clock in the evening. Five hours have passed since “lunch” and he doesn’t know? Is he not paying attention? or does he already know what is wrong with his son??? It seemed he was aware of ‘something’ just by looking at his statement. He knew his son “hadn’t been acting right since lunch,” but he doesn’t check the boy out?”
So mom immediately calls the nurse line at the child’s pediatrician’s office. After waiting a short time for a response, she chooses not to wait any longer and takes their son to the Children’s Emergency Room. The diagnosis: a broken collar bone.
In the Emergency Room, the father admits the child was in his care, and now states to the physician that, “he either fell off the couch or on the kitchen floor.”
The doctor, as a mandated reporter, calls a social worker in. All she wants to know is how it happened. The father acts differently now toward the social worker. He tells her its all his fault because his son was in his care, but that he is totally clueless as to his son’s condition. The Social worker appeared to do nothing. There was no follow up and no further contact had taken place as far as my friend knew.
My friend was truly shaken by this. He was evasive in answering until they got to the hospital. It was one thing for her to try and fight back, but her child? Her child would not have the ability to defend himself. Now it wasn’t just her being abused. His neglect may have caused her son’s injury, or he may have been the cause of the injury himself. The seed of fear for the safety of her child had been planted.
Three months later, the boy sustained a fall from a swing, hitting his head, while in the care of his father. A month later, during an argument, he picks up my friend carries her out the door, down the stairs and drops her in the gravel. Three weeks after that, her son comes home from his father’s with a huge “knot” right in the middle of his forehead. That is the 3rd head injury I have noticed now. Weeks after that he is threatening to turn her phone service off…and more. Much of what she has endured, in the current years that have passed, has yet to be chronicled on the timeline.
In some brief online research I learned a few things about the effects of abuse on a child; and please keep in mind that the mother was physically abused while the child was still in the womb.
“The physical effects of domestic violence on children, different than the effects of direct abuse. Those effects can start when they are a fetus in their mother’s womb.” – Ref: Horner, G. (2005). Domestic violence and children: effects of domestic violence on children. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 19(4):206-212.
“Both altered brain structure and function have been shown to be associated with prenatal stress.”(7) Buss C, Davis EP, Muftuler LT, Head K, Sandman CA. High pregnancy anxiety during mid-gestation is associated with decreased gray matter density in 6-9-year-old children. Psychoneuroendocrinology 2010;35(1):141-153.(8) Mennes M, Van den Bergh B, Lagae L, Stiers P. Developmental brain alterations in 17 year old boys are related to antenatal maternal anxiety. Clinical Neurophysiology 2009;120(6):1116-22.
Basically, when a mother is physically, mentally, emotionally or psychologically abused, the effects of the stress on her, inflicted by the abuser while pregnant, can affect the brain of a child “in utero” because the brain has not fully developed yet. Any biochemical changes in the mother’s body can affect the growth and development of the fetal brain.
My friends son has been diagnosed with ADHD, and has also been diagnosed with symptoms of autism. He sees a Behavioral specialist, is enrolled in speech therapy for speech delay and occupational therapy for sensory integration since 2011. According to Social Services over the years, they are still saying that abuse allegations have not been proven.
Any further abuse inflicted on either the mother or the child “after” the birth of a child, only compounds as the years progress.
Since reconnecting with my friend, I learned that her pregnancy was less than a pleasant one. The communications between her boyfriend and herself became more contentious. In 2008, he repeatedly grabbed her by the throat, and would restrain her with his body weight on their bed while restricting her airway, but not to the point that she lost consciousness. Her attempt to try and to kick him off of her, with a child inside her, was fruitless. Not just once, but a total of 3 times before the child was born. This was just the beginning of what she would endure as the years progressed.
The more I learned about her story from reading her detailed planner of events, I understood her present state of being in a much clearer light. She was a mirror image of myself years ago when I had to leave my son’s in the hands of an abusive man under the imminent threat of death if I tried to take them away from him a second time. With my friend, it seemed that the additional years of fighting the system to get help from a variety of Social Services in her region seemed to have taken a much deeper toll and still weighed heavy on her heart and soul.
The accounts of some encounters she had with a few key people in the system made it clear that they might perceive her as being more of a thorn in their side. Their attitudes seemed to bleed through their communications. I discussed this her as I began to consider their overall mindset toward her. Would their attitude toward her cause them to unwittingly turn a blind eye to the plight of a high-strung frustrated woman who was still being abused? Would not the fact that she continued to fight to keep herself and her child safe from harms way for so long indicate that something more was wrong here?
Their investigations seemed to always yield a ruling that her allegations of abuse “could not be substantiated or physically proven,” Yet she was the living proof that was standing right in front of them. If they were mindfully aware of the side effects of abuse, perhaps they would have viewed her and her case differently. If they investigated, would they not have her son’s medical records that recorded the potential of abuse at a very early age?
The effects of physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse on a victim can incite a wide variety of things to occur, which can make it very difficult for a battered person to function under stressful conditions. The scientific studies that have been done on the subject reach across many disciplines of medicine.
The scientific field of Psychoneuroimmunology – “is the science and study of the interaction between the psychological and physiological molecular biology and the nervous system has shown that prolonged stressor affect not only the immune system, but also how the brain functions and changes. The correlations between the neurochemicals and neuroendocrine activities affects the brain cells.”
The scientific field of Psychoneuroendocrinology – “is the study of the stress hormones, its functions and how it affects human behaviors including mood, agitation, confusion, inability to think, organize thoughts and more.”
My friend was a different woman before all this erupted in her world. I heard her struggle in communicating with me. I was well aware of the fact that it was difficult for her to follow a train of thought to a conclusive point, or communicate in a straight line on one subject without trailing off on a tangent storyline, and forgetting the point she was trying to make. It happens to the best of us under extremely stressful situations.
Social Services already had it on record that my friend was diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety. Her frustration in not being heard would have caused an good mother to become more increasingly combative. In my friends case she made it a point to tell one or two of them that they were not doing their job, and that may have polarized a few ego’s against her instead of garnering the alliance she so desperately sought. The system continued to repeat their stance that “without proof of abuse” there was nothing they could do.
I began to wonder about some of the people employed in these agencies. I know they are educated people. I know they have their standard protocols and procedures. “Did they not know the “common” effects of domestic violence on the mind includes, PTSD, severe anxiety, uncontrollable thoughts, depression, prolonged sadness, low self-esteem and questioning ones sense of self?” My friend displayed all of these symptoms.
Could they not physically see she was a living walking example that displays “the physical effects of domestic violence, in her inability to focus, think and communicate clearly? Did they not see her body visibly shaking from her nerves being frazzled right in front of them as she spoke? Were they not able to hear the desperation in her voice as she continued her plea to keep her son out of the hands of a man who was abusing them?
I am shaking my head, astounded at how long her journey has been feverishly fighting the system for help to keep herself and her child safe.
I met a young woman back in 2008 who was bright, sunny and quick witted with a quip or a comeback. She always had a smile on her face and was willing to serve those in need in the best way she knew how. She loved to sing and still seemed to retain the innocence of a child in her demeanor as she aspired toward her dream.
Weeks after we met, she encountered a man while he was working on her mother’s house. A man who I was introduced to during the early phase of their relationship. He seemed to be guarded at first then shared that he was separated from his wife. Later that same evening my friend informed me later that his divorce proceedings were well underway.
When he left we sat to talk for while as she was struggling inside herself with the issue of being with a man who was still ‘technically’ married, because of her own inner values and beliefs. In her mind she could not shake the feeling that she was doing something “wrong” just by being with him. I knew it was battle that was hers to resolve, so I sat and just listened to her trying to reason it all out. All she needed was someone to listen.
It wasn’t long before I heard from her again and I drove out to see her. I clearly remember the evening when she told me she was pregnant with his child. She was beside herself, pacing back and forth, running her hand up and down on the hood of her vehicle and bouncing like a superball on steroids in her mind.
She was stunned beyond belief, questioning how this could happen and I tried to get her to relax by making her laugh, so I started out by saying “well my mom told me a story about he birds and the bees…” and I did get her to chuckle a little bit, but it lasted a millisecond before she jumped right back into her laying out her “fears.” She was concerned about how she was going to raise this child, worried about this man’s volatility, the impasse in communications, while attributing it all to the emotional weight of his pending divorce.
When she told him she was pregnant, he was not happy about the news. It was quite obvious when the man walks away while running his hand through his hair, shaking his head and then kicks a trash can and something invisible to follow up on the first and storms off.
Their subsequent communications became an ongoing verbal boxing match that only increased tension between them, until the ringmaster rings the bell to signal both opponents to return to their respective corner of the ring. He was blaming her for being so ‘stupid’ to let this happen.
Some how they came to an agreement when they both asked me to mediate, in the hope they could find a common ground on which to communicate without shouting and perhaps build their relationship in light of the news of her pregnancy.
Shortly thereafter our path of friendship separated – a separation that was not a matter of choice, but one that seemed to be a Divine design. It appeared as if we were destined to part ways to deal with our own personal circumstances.
My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) was laid off from his job and we had to move. My 5-year budding business as a licensed massage and bodywork therapist was severely impacted as we struggled financially to keep our head above water. Impacted to the point that I chose to relinquish my cell phone from our fileted budget. Needless to say my friend and I lost touch with each other for several years.
A few months ago, I received a call from an unknown phone number. The Divine hand that separated our friendship brought us back together. She managed to hunt me down after several months of trying to locate me. At first I did not recognize her voice, and questioned my own mind when she said her first name, as her voice sounded quite different from the person I once knew. The lilting tone of her voice sounded like the din of a cracked set of cymbals on a damaged drum set, so I made arrangements for us to meet.
When we reconnected, I can honestly say, that she was a different person from the person I had met years ago. She looked pale and tired. The years of tears, struggle, frustration, anxiety, stress and abuse were written all over her soul. Her ‘light’ had been significantly dimmed, and intuitively I understood why she was the way she was now. I was seeing a mirror of myself from many years ago. So I listened and saw how her challenges had changed her through the relentless circumstances she has been through.
It turns out, that since we last saw each other, my friend and her son both, experienced physical, verbal, mental and emotional abuse from this same man for nearly 10 years of their lives. Her abuser has made several attempts over the years to gain more and more time with his son through the court system. In January of this year he filed yet another case, only this time to gain permanent custody of their child.