Archive for the ‘Family court’ Category

Although not one of them would admit it, and you’re to self-absorbed to realize it, you don’t know your own children. You may have carried them inside you and gave birth to them, but you don’t truly know them. You know the version of them that they MUST show you. The mask they must wear to receive your love and approval.

It started long ago. It’s gone on as long as I’ve been in the picture. Most likely from their births. The stories you made up, the responsibilities and lies you laid on them. Early on in my relationship with them it was evident they craved motherly love and attention. I didn’t set out to “steal your kids” or usurp your position in any way. If you were truly bonded to them, how could I? How could anyone?

Their love for me threatened you. It shouldn’t have. But you are weak. You are insecure. You hadn’t really “mothered” them much at that point, had you? Their Daddy was the one who took care of them. Even after your divorce, he was the one to stay home with them when they were sick, to feed them, clothe them. True to form, then as now, you were all about show. What people saw of you isn’t what went on behind closed doors. The kids watched all this. They took it all in. When they found safe haven at my home and in my arms, you couldn’t cope. You took it as a personal blow.

They would beg to stay with me even before I married their Daddy. We had so much fun on our adventures. Hiking, cooking, picking apples, playing with my dogs. It was safe at my house. No strange men coming in and out. No high school boys hanging around. No yelling. No having to fend for themselves. No drama. They got to see a Mom in action as I mothered my own children. They obviously liked what they experienced.

The oldest child loved my son. He was fascinated by the fact that he didn’t speak. He loved to play computer games with me. In elementary school he asked me often to visit his classroom. Once I gave a talk there. His class wrote thank you notes. He wrote an extra special note. I treasure it. It was written from his heart before you were able to poison him.

The second child saw right away her Daddy’s love for me. She watched me carefully. I loved that about her! She was shy. Her self esteem virtually nonexistent. I did my best to build her up and make her aware of her own unique talents and beauty. She and I had a secret code we would use to make puzzles out of our notes back and forth. She would make art for me.

The third child tried so hard to be happy and carefree but underneath she was angry and insecure. She would cling to me. Almost every night I would hold her and rock her in my rocking chair as she sucked her thumb. She loved to play games. I gave her a nickname that she was so proud of! I have a little wooden strawberry she gave me that says “I love you” when you open it. It will be mine forever.

The youngest child was always so quiet. He was only three when I met him. He wanted to be pretty much anywhere I was. A few months after I met him he asked me if I would marry him so he could be with me forever. I have the little ring he gave me to wear even though I told him I couldn’t marry him because his Daddy was my boyfriend. We would write stories and draw pictures to match. He was an artist, a creator. You took that out of him, didn’t you? Instead of being allowed to follow his own interests, he had to participate in whatever the dude you were “dating” at the time was doing. Pathetic.

They were happy. They were safe and secure. They loved the family rituals we had…”special plate” each night at family dinner, family game night, date night one on one with each child. They will remember these things. They will also remember the lies you told and the chaos you exposed them to on a regular basis. They will understand that they weren’t “stolen” but that your own actions caused you to be proven unfit and to lose custody. They will understand that was when the war began. Maybe, just maybe, they will realize that if nothing else, you had to step up and at least attempt to be a decent mother to them. The best you could be, anyway. Their Dad had a moral obligation to take them from you and keep them safe which is what he did. I supported him and loved him all the more for it.

Another Mother’s Day as rolled around. Lot’s of praise for you on Facebook as usual. “World’s Greatest Mom!” It’s funny, infuriating, and sad, all at the same time. All of the water that has gone under the bridge and they still can’t be honest with you. They fear your temper tantrums. They shudder at the thought of your disapproval. It’s just easier to lie and make you feel important. No, you don’t know your own children. You never will.

Enjoy your accolades whilst they last Momma. Sooner to later, all of the hate, the lies, the hurt, you have spewed out over the years will make it’s way back to you. Deservedly.

Symptoms of Parental Alienation

Parents Acting Badly (Book)

Helping Adult Children of PAS

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Today is the day celebrated as Father’s Day.  It’s usually a day of cookouts, family time, gift giving, and laughter.  Handmade cards and pictures from little kids; stories about their childhood from those that are grown. Memories are made, and memories are revisited.

Sadly, not all kids get to experience having a Father in their life.  They watch from the sidelines as friends, cousins, neighbors, celebrate this day.  Equally as sad is that not all Father’s get to experience Father’s Day with their children.  Some by choice, it is true.  But many, because they are denied that right in one form or fashion.

I have been on both sides of the coin not only in my own childhood, but in the childhoods of my children and stepchildren.  My biological father was an alcoholic who had an affair, which caused he and my mother to divorce.  Once divorced and ordered to pay child support, medical expenses and save for my education, he made one support payment ($8O) and promptly left for California where he would not have to pay.  (Remember, this was about 45 years ago so CS enforcement was not what it is today.)  My mother never received another dime from him and I saw this man exactly three times between the ages of 3 and 18.  In sharp contrast is my step-dad, Charlie, who was always there for me.  Charlie loved me and my siblings.  We were his children.  Charlie has been gone from us for over 26 years, but when I think of my “Dad” I think of him.  His wisdom still guides me and I love him as much today as ever.

In the case of my own children, their biological father isn’t any better than mine.  While we were married, my ex-husband was somewhat active in the life of our daughter, but not our son.  Because of his disability, I suppose.  Once we separated, he took the kids on visitation only three times.  Only after my daughter contacted him when she was 17 did he begin somewhat of a relationship with her, but again, never our son.  To this day, as my daughter sits in prison, her biological father does nothing to support her.  He had seen our son three times in 10 years and that was only because I invited him to my son’s birthday parties and dog sat for him once.

Then there is my husband.  He is not only a truly wonderful man, he is a magnificent Father.  A huge part of what attracted me to him was his love for and his devotion to his children.  And eventually, his love for, and support of, my children.  He continues to offer support and guidance to my daughter through her challenges.   He recently adopted my son, autism and all.  He is their Dad in every sense of the word.

My husband wants every minute he can possibly get with all of our children.  Unfortunately, sometimes he is denied that right.  If you’ve read any of my other posts you are well aware of the antics we experience at the whimsy of the ex.  If you’re not familiar with our story let’s just sum it up with these three key phrases:  parental alienation, abusive/personality disordered woman, using  the children as pawns for control and manipulation.  By my way of thinking, if a child is blessed enough to have a father who cares, who wants to be active in their life and provide a solid, positive influence, why would you want to interfere in that?

Today I have thought a lot about my stepdaughter that isn’t my husband’s biological child.  How do you think she feels about Father’s Day?  To our knowledge, she doesn’t know the identity of her biological father.  At 10 years old her mother very effectively stole her father from her.  She was told by her mother the day we had the children’s cheeks swabbed that her daddy wasn’t really her daddy.  She was made to be the outcast by her mother.  Biology didn’t change the way my husband felt about his daughter.  He had loved her and cared for her from the time she was a baby.  Now suddenly he was the bad guy.  And all so the mother could hide her crimes.  This young girl is now graduated from high school and about to be an adult.  She suffers emotional issues and has trouble making and keeping friends.  Her own siblings have long been fearful of her.  She has been in trouble with the law.  Why?  In my opinion because the loving relationship she had with the man she knew as her father was destroyed.  You see, whether as an ex you like it or not, Daddy‘s are very important.

This type of thing is happening to men all the time.  We are making progress in the courts and in the views of society but we still have a long way to go.  Just because a woman is a mother does not automatically make her the better parent.  Just because a parent has physical custody does not give them the right to interfere with the relationship between a child and the other parent.  As a stepparent I feel it is important to support both parents to the children regardless of your feelings.  And believe me, I know that at times the feelings can be very negative.  But children need both parents.  Little girls and boys need a Daddy.  No matter what their age.  And kids need to be allowed to be kids.  They don’t need to have your emotional baggage and insecurities dumped on them.  It’s hard enough just being a kid.

So a big, enthusiastic Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful men who love and adore your children as my husband does.  Much love to you.  Keep your head up and work towards doing the best you can to make things right.  If we can’t make the changes fast enough to help ourselves, at least we can work towards keeping these things from happening to other families in the future.

It is no secret that I am very much against teachers having sexual relationships with their students.  In fact, I am opposed to anyone in a position of authority or trust with someone being physically involved with them.  This includes doctors with patients, lawyers with clients, counselors with clients, police officers during traffic stops, etc.  In the case of teachers and students I find it particularly offensive.  Maybe in part because I have personally watched the damage this behavior causes everyone even remotely involved.  Not just the victims, and yes, regardless of the gender of the student these kids are victims.  But mostly because these kids are required by law to sit every day in a controlled setting, subject to the personality and opinions of teachers.  They are in essence held as a captive audience.  They are young and impressionable.  Many of them easily manipulated by the people who should be protecting them and helping them grow.

For years now I have written on various blogs and voiced my opinion on various newspapers in response to articles that have covered the abuse of teachers against students.  It is my right as a citizen of the United States of America to voice my opinion.  As a responsible citizen I feel it is my duty to stand up for what is right and what is in the best interest of protecting all children.  And for years, my husband’s ex-wife has been threatening my husband with court action, hiding behind court orders that WE put in place solely for the protection of the children.  Here is a classic example of the threats she has made and the way she harasses my husband:

(This is my comment in response to a local newspaper article related to background checks for teachers.)

catqueen wrote on Mar 27, 2008 8:52 PM:

” I could not agree more on the background check, random drug checks and credit checks, same as any other profession. Add to that list an occassional check of public records. Many times teachers are involved in issues that are hidden in the family courts. Any type of legal activity should have to be reported by the teacher to the administration. After all, if there is nothing to hide, why not? There are some truly great teachers. Then, there are truly sick people who mascarade as teachers. It needs to come to an end and I think the media attention is helping to flush them out. “ 

 Here is the ex-wife’s e-mail to my husband about the above post which she included in her email as her example.

(Addressed to my Husband),

Your wife is at it again.  I’m copying (her attorney’s name here) on this.  You can rest assured that if you do not put an end to her incessent public bull, Judge X  will.  This is the second time I’ve discussed this issue with you, and it will be the last.   

(signed by ex-wife “teacher”)

In addition to the email above that she sent, she called him and requested that he check my computer for any posts about teachers having sex with students that I may be writing.  Sounds like an admission of guilt to me!  Below is a portion of his response to her.

(Addressed to the ex-wife),

The email you sent on Friday has me extremely upset and totally perplexed. I again read the posts on both of the websites you mentioned, (one dealt specifically with teacher/student sex and the other is local news online). You say that (my name here) is attacking you on both.

What I see are posts by concerned citizens expressing their disgust toward teachers who engage in sexual relationships with their students. There are many posts on each site relating much of the same disappointment and disgust that many people share. I see no where on any post the name (ex-wife’s name) mentioned or any reference to you.

(Part of response removed as it names specific names of students with whom she has been involved.)

 I believe that every time you read a newspaper or see a story on TV about another teacher getting arrested because of inappropriate contact with a student, you go to those websites in sheer paranoia that someone is going to spill the beans on you.

Maybe it is time to address these matters before the court. 

(Part of response removed as it deals with specifics of one of the children.)

 As far as (my name here) is concerned, if you have a problem with something you perceive she is doing, take it up with her. I do not control her actions, nor will I snoop on her computer to see what sites she is visiting as you asked me to do. 

 (ex’s name here), if you wish to take this issue before Judge X, my response is Let’s go!

Stop harassing me! DO NOT call me at work again unless it is a medical emergency dealing with our children. DO NOT call me to discuss (boyfriend that dumped her) or any other person you are involved with. That is your business and I do not wish to discuss it with you.

DO NOT call me about anything other than the exchange of information regarding our children.

 DO NOT email me again with threats of lawsuits. Do not email me for any reason other than the exchange of information regarding our children. 

I have documented every post, every article, every comment  I have written right along with the responses or comments at times made by her.  Never has her name been mentioned, yet she takes offense at me expressing my opinion.  “Me thinks thou dost protest too much.” – William Shakespeare

The prayer that I have is for one of truth.  I pray that my husband be seen and acknowledged as the wonderful man that he is.  Let him be seen as the loving and supportive Father that he is and always has been.  My prayer is this:  Let the truth be set free.

After almost twelve years of watching this woman in action, it shouldn’t still surprise me.  The selfishness.  The greed.  The diminished concern for her own children.  The lies and manipulations.  The way she has mastered the art of playing the victim.  I tell myself it can’t possibly continue, yet it does.  Year after year.

With my husbands most recent increase, he now pays about $900 per month in child support for one child.  This is more than he paid when he and the ex divorced and he was paying support on four children.  To say that the child support system needs an overhaul is a gross understatement.  Many men are unjustly charged with outrageous child support amounts.  Others never experience any type of increase, while still others are never ordered to pay support at all.  Yes, we are in need of a major “re-do” on a national level.  But what’s on my mind is what’s happening right here under my roof.

One of the things that most attracted me to my husband when I first met him was how he loved and cared for his children.  They were all quite young then, the oldest being nine and the youngest having just turned three.  The summer before we married, I watched as this wonderful man worked several odd jobs, including digging ditches for sprinkler systems, to have extra money to buy the kids the things they needed.  At the time, it was primarily clothes and food.  In spite of the fact that he was paying around $850 a month in child support, he was still buying clothes, personal care supplies, school supplies, etc. and helping with daycare costs.

Having been a single mom, responsible for providing for my own children, I realize the importance of both parents contributing to the health, welfare and financial security of their children.  The responsibilities, as well as the joys, of raising your children should be shared.  In my opinion, this is what is most beneficial to the children. (Provided of course, that there aren’t extenuating circumstances.)  The problem that I have with my husband paying $900 a month in child support for his son is that it isn’t going to provide for this young mans needs.

My stepson has shown up wearing shoes with the entire side blown out.  He has come to our home with underwear packed in his bag that were at least two sizes too small, telling us that was all he had.  No socks.  He didn’t have any.  Or worse, wearing women’s socks (those of his mother or sisters) because he didn’t have any.  He has repeatedly worn ill-fitting clothing.  Pants so tight they cannot zip that he explained had to be worn with a long shirt so that teachers and the other kids in school did not notice.  Most recently, he has been wearing jeans that are size 34 waist, bunched up with a belt.  Who’s pants are these anyway?  My stepson wears a size 18 boys.  For Christmas, several things he was given by his mother were from Salvation Army and still had the tags on them.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Salvation Army.  Especially if that’s what your budget dictates.  I take issue with this however because my husband is paying MORE than enough child support to make sure his son is nicely clothed, properly fed and appropriately groomed.

I can hear some of the arguments now…”It’s going toward providing housing, paying utilities, buying food, etc.” Maybe partly, yes, I can agree somewhat.  But what about clothes, shoes, haircuts?  Lunch money, school supplies?  Shouldn’t these items be paid for out of my husbands child support?  Instead of spending money on the kids, let’s take just one small peek at where the money goes…

Since 2000, the ex-wife has had the following vehicles:  Mitsubishi Montero (which was my husbands but the court ordered them to trade vehicles as she had traded her four door Toyota sedan for a Mitsubishi Eclipse not capable of safely hauling all four children), New Honda Accord (which she lost due to bankruptcy), Old Honda Accord, Jeep Grand Cherokee (I had bought one so she had to have one also), Black Honda Pilot (the guy she was seeing at the time had bought a White Honda Pilot), Old White BMW Sedan (the kids told us the passenger door was falling off and couldn’t be used but hey, it was a BMW, right?), Silver BMW SUV, Black BMW Sedan, White Honda Pilot (purchased after my stepdaughter bought a new car), and a Gray Pontiac Solstice (she “needed” a convertible). Seriously?  TEN (10) cars in eleven years???

What about vacations?  This woman takes several trips every year (most WITHOUT the children).  I could list many of them, but I will spare you the sordid details.  She is gainfully employed and has finally remarried.  What she chooses to spend HER money on is frankly not my business.  I just feel the needs of the kids should come first.  Hopefully by now, you are getting my point.  It is not my husbands fault that she is so completely financially inept.  Child support MUST be for the benefit of the child/children.

When my husband visited with his attorney about the increase he asked if there was any way to ask for an accounting of the child support.  Couldn’t he ask that at least 50% of it been spent on items specifically for his son?  Couldn’t she be required to give receipts?  Unfortunately, in our state, the answer is a big, fat NO.  We asked if we couldn’t take the increase and deposit it in a trust for the child’s benefit with the balance going to him once he reached a certain age.  Once again, the answer is NO.

It’s not right.  With the child support increase, we can no longer afford to buy extra clothes, supplies, haircuts, etc. for my stepson.  So we sit by and watch the hard-earned money go up in smoke.  We don’t have much longer to pay.  A little over three years.  For all the other men (and women) who pay child support, I hope we can see change.  I hope they are someday soon given the right to know for certain that their hard-earned dollars are being spent to help their babies.

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Yesterday was Christmas.  For me, it was the best Christmas I can remember in a very long time.  Certainly since my children were babies.  We did things a little differently this year.  Our focus was more on “real” Christmas than on “commercial” Christmas.  We didn’t run around spending a bunch of money on gifts for people we don’t even see throughout the year.  We didn’t buy a bunch of gifts for each other.  We didn’t stress out trying to get to a bunch of Christmas get togethers.  It was an authentic Christmas.

A big part of this being such a great Christmas was the lack of drama where my stepchildren are concerned.  There is a court date pending that in part addresses the ex-wife’s continual interference and manipulation of visitation.  So for the first time I can remember, there hasn’t been any jockeying on her part to screw with the court-ordered visitation schedule over the Holidays.  Amazing how much better it is when she manages to play by the rules.  It is unfortunate however, that it takes having an active complaint to force her into compliance.  Fortunately, there are not many more years of this foolishness in front of us.

My favorite part of Christmas this year was being able to visit my daughter in prison on Christmas Eve.  Maybe that sounds strange.  Would I prefer my daughter be home at Christmas, celebrating with us at home?  Of course I would.  But it’s not time for that yet.  She still has work to do.  And for her to be successful out in what is referred to as “the free world” there are no shortcuts.

I enjoy my visits with my daughter.  Not just spending time with her, but learning about and getting to know some of the other women in prison.  There are so many stories.  Some happy, some sad, but all very, very real.  Faces put to problems.  People facing great adversity.  I respect them for that.  Many of the people I have met that are in prison are more honest, much more humble and sincere, than a lot of the people I know on the outside.  Often I wonder how it is that some people get caught at a crime and harshly sentenced while others commit crimes for years yet escape ever being brought to justice.  Many times I think about this long after I have left the concrete walls and razor wire that contain them.

Christmas is such a great time for personal reflection.  A time to take inventory in ourselves.  For me it’s a time to think about how I have spent the past year and how I am going to grow in the coming year.  Have I been the best person I can be?  Where have I fallen short?  How can I do better?  My hope is that I can use my voice, my talents, whatever resources I am given, to make the world a better place.  To continue to stand up for what’s right and to keep pushing for change.  To hold on to faith, to hope, and to love.

Here’s hoping you had a very Merry Christmas!  Much love to you.

 

1 Corinthians 13:13   Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

 

Yesterday I read a post on the blog A Shrink4Men titled High-Conflict, Borderline Ex-Wives: It’s the Most Drama-Filled Time of the Year!  That mirrors what goes on in our lives every Holiday, birthday or any other special occasion.  It’s sadly predictable.

My husband’s ex finally got re-married about a year and a half ago.  We had hoped that might take her focus off of us, but what little reprieve we got was short-lived.  Within six months it was business as usual with her.  If anything, the remarriage has made it worse where her interference with my husband’s visitation with his son is concerned.

Without exception, the hobbies or interests of every man who the ex has had in her life have been put upon my stepchildren.  If the guy liked kayaking and boating, she made sure they all went kayaking and boating.  When she started dating a guy who liked baseball, my youngest stepson was signed up and made to play baseball.  Same with football.  Believe me, one look at him out on the field and you could be certain he wasn’t there by choice.  It’s been the same with religion.  First, they went to the Baptist church where her sister’s family attended.  Then a guy she dated went to a non-denominational church so she switched.  One of the last guys she wanted to hook before getting married was Catholic, so she started taking the kids to the Catholic church.   The new husband is into hunting, so suddenly my stepson must be interested and involved in the sport of hunting.  This young man is not, and never has been, allowed to have his own voice where his mother is concerned.  He is a soft-spoken young man.  Just turned fifteen.   She easily manipulates and guilts him.  These activities are, of course, scheduled to take place as often as possible on my husband’s visitation times.  This past Thanksgiving Holiday and my stepson’s birthday the weekend before were no different.

The role of step parent to the children of a high-conflict personality is anything but easy.  I have always busted my ass for these kids.  As the kids get older, it seems to get easier.  Perhaps because I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Two of the kids are already adults.   They know and understand even if they are unwilling or unable to admit to themselves what they see.  It hurts to see “Happy Birthday to the most amazing mother in the world” posted on Facebook when this particular son doesn’t even bother to wish my husband Happy Birthday.  Then again, this is the same child who at twelve years old we over heard saying to his mother on the phone, “What do you need me to say?  I will tell the judge whatever you tell me to say.”  This the night before a court date where they subpoenaed him as a witness. What kind of person puts a child in that position?

And then there was the time my oldest stepdaughter posted, “I am so thankful for my wonderful mother.  She has made me everything I am today.”  Being very candid, I must tell you I nearly vomited when I read that.  My husband and I are very close to this child and she is absolutely nothing like her mother.  I would rather have been kicked in the face than read that statement.  It felt like a complete and total betrayal.  Because we are close, I gently asked her about it the next time I saw her.  I explained to her that it hurt me.  She began to cry.  Sob actually.  She told me she was sorry.  That she never meant to hurt me, but that she lives every day of her life seeking her mother’s approval yet knowing it will never come.  She described it as “Everything is always good here.  I don’t have to try to make you and Dad love and support me.  But with Mom, I can never do anything right.  If she’s happy with me even for a few minutes, it is good.”  Isn’t that heartbreaking?  After all, isn’t every child entitled to the unconditional love of their parents?

A friend of mine likens the kids’ relationship with their mother to that of  Stockholm Syndrome.  I believe this pretty much sums it up.  Here is what one link has to say:

What causes Stockholm Syndrome? Captives begin to identify with their captors initially as a defensive mechanism, out of fear of violence. Small acts of kindness by the captor are magnified, since finding perspective in a hostage situation is by definition impossible. Rescue attempts are also seen as a threat, since it’s likely the captive would be injured during such attempts.

It’s important to note that these symptoms occur under tremendous emotional and often physical duress. The behavior is considered a common survival strategy for victims of interpersonal abuse, and has been observed in battered spouses, abused children, prisoners of war, and concentration camp survivors.

Over the years, we have gotten great guidance and advice from a couple of highly qualified family therapists who have experience with high-conflict, personality disorders.  They have spent a lot of time and effort in educating us on how to protect ourselves and give the kids a “safe place” from this woman.  Never under estimate these people.  They are masters at lies and manipulations.  Experts at twisting the truth and playing the victim.  I am so thankful to see professionals such as Dr Tara Palmatier writing, speaking and educating the public about these issues.  We need to press forward with getting this knowledge into the family court system.  Not only so that the proper and rightful party is getting hit with the stick of justice, but more importantly, so our kids can grow up being kids.  Not little “mini” adults spending their lives walking around on eggshells, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

From time to time, when I really get to thinking about all that has happened with the school district as it relates to my husband’s ex, my mind wanders to the “mandatory reporters.”  Where are these people?  Who are they required to report to?  Why have they gotten away with NOT reporting?  So many questions, so few answers.

When my daughter was in high school, what caused her so much grief was that SHE was reporting a teacher who was known to have sex with students.  She told the administration on many occasions.  She told the Superintendent straight to her face about this teacher.  She sat with my attorney as I stood in front of the district Board of Education and not only told them, but we provided documentation from this teacher’s own testimony in family court about her relationship with one young man.  In the end, my daughter was the one punished.  Ostracized.  Alone.

The man who was the principal at that time has since retired.  He knew.  He had been this teacher’s principal when she was in high school.  They had been friends for many years.  His wife, also a teacher at this same high school – both when the ex was in high school and at the school my daughter attended where the ex was (and still is) a teacher – was also a close friend.  Can one honestly be expected to believe that neither of them knew about this woman’s history with students?  Especially with as much time as they spent together both in and out of the school setting.  Impossible.  Regardless, they were both mandatory reporters.

What about this teacher’s sister?  Once again, also a teacher at this same high school.  For many years their classrooms were right next to each other.  Is it possible that this sister was unaware of her sisters sexual habits with students?  Possibly.  But I find that unlikely.  The teacher and the student would often make trips to the home town of these sisters, visiting a family member, to spend together and avoid being seen in this area.  This sister is also the woman who called my husband the day after he got the test results that the third child wasn’t his and tried to shame him for uncovering that truth.  She is still a teacher at the high school and she is and always has been required to report suspected abuse.

Years ago, when my husband was first told about the rumors of the ex having sex with some of the football boys, he went to the administration of that small school.  Once again, mandatory reporters.

So what I wonder about often is exactly WHO is it these mandatory reporters are supposed to report suspected abuse to?  What happens to them if they don’t?  Clearly the list of people who stood by, knew this was going on – or strongly suspected it – and did nothing.  Actually, that’s not true.  What they did was allow countless students to be sexually and emotionally abused.  They promoted the exploitation of countless students by keeping quiet.  They are guilty of professional misconduct too.  But what happens to them?  In the case of the former principal and his wife, both are now retired.  Drawing a pension from teaching.  Personally, I don’t care how many years they taught, I don’t believe any of them should get one red cent of that State retirement.  They shirked their responsibilities to the students, their parents, the tax payers.

And what of the teacher who has sex with students?  What will the school district and the state board of education say when it is made known that the father of one of her children was a student of hers at the time of conception?  In this state, she cannot be prosecuted as the boys are all now over the age of 21 and the statute of limitations has expired.  Will she have her teaching license revoked?  Or will they try to quietly urge her to move to another district?  They did this before (she actually called my husband and told him that!) but she wasn’t smart enough to go. Maybe they will put another note in her personnel file that says she is not allowed to be around male students outside of the school setting?  (yes, she told my husband about this too and it was even discussed in family court.)  What is their liability in all of this?  What I really want to know is how do they live with themselves?

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

Ever notice how people squirm when you catch them up to no good?  It can be comical, unless you’re the constant target.  I read an email this morning from the ex to my husband.  It was l-o-n-g and full of things to deflect the real issue.  This is typical of all the correspondence I have read from her over the years.  She tries to be witty.  She will throw in stuff that is entirely off topic.  Many times she is just plain insulting.  I suppose she does this in an attempt to show herself superior to my husband.  It doesn’t work.  My husband calls these diversionary tactics “smoke and mirrors.”

In reality, this is an accurate description of her behavior.  Where there is smoke, there is fire, as the old saying goes and this woman can really puff up the smoke. I have learned over the years to stop expecting it to change.  It is very predictable.  When she is caught, or if things aren’t going the way she perceives they should go, it sets her off.  Sometimes, the behavior is simply annoying.  Continuous calls or a chain of emails.  There are always a lot of threats, usually some accusations.  The court order is a weapon for her to use against us, to threaten us and try to control us, yet she has violated it in too many ways to count.

An example of smoke.  Many years ago, when my stepchildren were little (11, 9, 7 and 5 yrs) and they lived with us, we were trying to decide whether it was better to buy a different home or add on to the current home.  We spent many Sundays going to open houses and looking at various properties.  One Sunday, we drove out to visit an open house just a ways out of town.  As we drove up to the house, all the kids started talking about the things that had gone in the house.  Unpleasant events that occurred when they were left unattended with the young siblings of the student their mother had been having sex with at the time.  There were times they told us they were locked out of the house without access to water or the toilet while “Mom and X were inside talking.”  The youngest girl reported that she had been tied to the bed with belts and locked in the bedroom with the doorknob removed.  Needless to say, we did not go into the house.  The kids were upset enough just driving by.  That all sounds pretty horrible, doesn’t it?  Very incriminating against the mother wouldn’t you say?  Well, when she got wind of it and knew what we KNEW, she called up my husband yelling and screaming.  Threatening him with exposing this in court as if he was the one who had allowed all of this to happen.  Telling him she was gonna’ rake us both over the coals in court!  See what I mean?  She was caught so she had to stir up some smoke.  Of course it was discussed in court, but not quite the way she imagined.  And thankfully, the kids had been to the court appointed counselor and everything had been documented because after midweek visitation with their mother, everything suddenly became “a dream” to the kids.

Mirrors.  Even after all this time, I continue to be amazed at how easily, and apparently without any remorse, she can take the truth and twist it up like a pretzel.  Suddenly she is the victim and everyone is out to get her.  Flash back again.  This time to before my stepchildren came to live with us.  My husband went over to pick the kids up for visitation.  The girls (remember, age 7 and 5 yrs) were upstairs in the mother’s bathroom showering.  They came down wrapped in towels.  One of the little girls went over and whispered in my husband’s ear “Daddy, X is upstairs in Mommy’s room.”  My husband told the kids to get dressed and ready to go.  He asked the ex to please step outside, where he confronted her about the teenage boy, then a current student, hiding in her room upstairs.  Lot’s of smoke and then, she turns it all around on him.  She was just trying to be considerate of his feelings by having the boy wait out of sight.  She was just tutoring him, after all.  Why would he always think the worst of her?  On and on and on…  The kids come outside, see the mother crying and clearly upset, and then don’t want to leave.  He doesn’t make them as that would only further upset them.  The next day, he follows up with an email, asking that she keep this student out of her home and away from the children.  He also cautions her on losing her teaching licensure.  She responds by telling him the kids are fine around “X” and why is it his business anyway.  She tells him “You don’t want me but you don’t want me to have anyone else either.”  Really?  Are you kidding me?  We’re talking about a HIGH SCHOOL boy here!

Beware of the smoke and the mirrors.  Tread carefully, but know that you have struck a nerve.  Document, document, document everything.  We have every bit of correspondence.  Hard copies are locked away in a safe deposit box.  Electronic copies are in various places and in the hands of a few trustworthy people.  Limit your phone contact and if you must communicate via phone, follow it up with an email documenting the details of the discussion.  Sounds like overkill doesn’t it?  In truth, I think it’s utterly ridiculous and a fabulous waste of time and energy.  That being said, I am sure glad we have done all of it.  It has saved our bacon time and again.

Stake your boundaries my friend.  And enforce them.

http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2006/06/walking-on-eggshells-dealing-with.html

How is it decided who gets punished for which crimes?  This is a question often on my mind, based on several different instances I am aware of, but none more often than when considering the crime of fraud.  Why does it seem that so many cases of fraud go unpunished?

Fraud is defined to be “an intentional perversion of truth” or a “false misrepresentation of a matter of fact” which induces another person to “part with some valuable thing belonging to him or to surrender a legal right.”  The synonyms are almost as descriptive as the definition: cheat, deceit, deception, swindle, fake, trickery, sham.

Fraud is a serious crime.  A felony in criminal courts, actionable in civil courts, in many cases a Federal offense.  It is rampant in our society, yet much of the time appears to go completely unpunished.  Why?  Shouldn’t someone be punished for “an intentional perversion of truth” especially when it costs another?

Paternity fraud is, in my opinion, one of the most despicable crimes there is today.  I have watched first-hand the damage it imparts.  Financially, mentally and emotionally.  Men are held hostage paying for children that are not biologically theirs; women are rewarded for their cheating, lying and continued deception.  And this is just on the surface.  The ramifications of this behavior runs deep.  Not only for the men and their families, but also for the children being raised in an environment with a woman who would do this.

In our case, we have been in court many times related to the children.  My husbands ex named all the children as biologically of the marriage in their divorce.  She collected child support for that child KNOWING it wasn’t my husbands.  When we had the DNA testing done, unbeknownst to us she told all four children on the day we had their cheeks swabbed that my husband wasn’t the biological father of one of them.  She defrauded the court by keeping all of this knowledge hidden when WE asked for a sealed order to protect this child.  The ex has used this sealed order as a weapon against my husband and myself since it entered into the file.  She KNEW she had already discussed this with all four children when this was written.  Is that not fraudulent?  Obviously, she does not want the biological father of this child identified because it confirms she committed a crime and although she cannot be criminally charged due to statute of limitations in this state, she would most likely lose her teaching license.  One would hope anyway.

When my husband and the ex were separated but not yet divorced she wanted a new car.  She had been driving a sedan, something appropriate for a woman with four small children.  Apparently sedans are not very attractive to teenage boys.  She went behind my husbands back and bought a Mitsubishi Eclipse.  We have a copy of the signed contract where it is obvious she forged his name.  This didn’t come to light until my husband and I were married and unfortunately by then too much time had passed to have her prosecuted.  When he confronted her about it she laughed.  At that point there wasn’t a thing he could do.  What really stinks is that in their divorce, my husband got stuck with the Eclipse because all four children couldn’t be safely transported in that car and she, being the “custodial” parent needed to be able to haul all four kids.  He had to give her the SUV.  How is this fair?  Why wasn’t she ordered to trade the vehicle and then forced to suffer the consequences of her own stupidity?  What really upsets me is that I know my husband isn’t the only man this type of thing has happened to or will happen to.  That is just plain wrong.

You know, here is the way I see it.  If any of us lied on our tax return and defrauded the IRS out of thousands of dollars the way my husband and many men like him have been defrauded, there would almost certainly be jail time.  At the very least there would be thousands of dollars in interest and penalties on the money and you can bet your bottom dollar they would see to it that every penny was repaid.  How is this any different?  Working men and their families need that money more than the IRS yet we knowingly allow them to be defrauded.

The thing to remember is that it doesn’t stop.  These people feel a sense of entitlement that is unbelievable.  What has to happen for us to stop allowing this behavior?  When are we going to treat paternity fraud as the crime that it is?

Don’t kid yourself.  There are no secrets in small towns.  In fact, I don’t believe there are secrets in big cities either, there are just more people so word of mouth has more ground to cover.  Think about it, isn’t this how all the politicians get caught in their shenanigans and how the self-righteous religious leaders get caught with their pants down?  Sooner or later, a secret comes to the attention of someone who knows it is wrong and is willing to step up and make it public.  Sadly, the people with the moral fortitude to come forward are few and far between.

Secrets, and “not airing your dirty laundry” in public, are how predators get away with their crimes.  Statistics tell us that only 30% of sexual assaults are reported.  They also tell us that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will suffer sexual abuse by the age of 18.  90% of those crimes are committed by people known to the victim.  (See http://sex-offender-registry-review.toptenreviews.com/protecting-teens-from-sexual-abuse.html)   Open, honest communication about any type of personal issue is a must if we are going to protect our children and bring about change.

Airing our dirty laundry?  I don’t call it that.  I see it as making people aware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  It is my belief that this is our responsibility.  To know of a crime being committed and to do nothing about it is in my book making yourself an accessory to that action.  People are arrested every day as accessories to various other crimes (not nearly as damaging in my opinion as any crime against a child) how is this any different?  The worst part is, the people committing these crimes against children are predators.  The behavior doesn’t stop.

Over the years, I have managed to compile quite a list of people who are aware of the behavior, or who have been sexually involved, with my husband‘s ex.  Believe it or not, I haven’t had to dig for this to happen.  People just talk.  Due to my profession, I am out in the community almost every day meeting and interacting with people.  It usually starts with the statement, “Are you related to … ?” to which thank God I can answer NO.  It is then followed by the “do you know…?” stories and comments.  I will never forget the time my husband and I walked in and sat down with a banker who happened to be one of my husband’s former students.  Apparently, this guy was often at the home of my husband and the ex.  Right there in the middle of the bank he says to my husband, “Just so there are no misunderstandings, I want you to know that I was never involved with your ex-wife.”  OMG!  I wanted to die right there on the spot!  This has happened too many times to count.  I just write it all down, add it to my file, and send it off for safe keeping.  You may think all this information is welcome.  It isn’t really.  I am long sick of hearing about all the disgusting things that have gone on.  It is embarrassing to me that I have any connection at all to a person such as this.

You see, this is what I find so disturbing.  That so many people can come to me with stories and names, yet nothing has been done.  And it has gone on for years.  So many lives affected.  So much damage done.  It is way past time for all of this to come out in the open.  The children are older now and have heard the rumors at school first-hand.  Can you even imagine how devastating that must be?  We have done our best to shield them and give them a safe place to come and share their feelings.  As they grow older, they begin to understand what has gone on in their home.

Here is my plea:  Please don’t contribute to harm done by predators.  If you know the “dirty little secrets” then share them loudly and persistently with someone who can effect change.  Will it be easy?  NO.  Will you experience adversity for standing up for what’s right?  YES.  Is it worth the headache, the heartache, the frustration?  ABSOLUTELY.  Your only other option is turn your head and allow the behavior to continue.  How can you possibly sleep at night if that is you?  Please, air the dirty laundry.  Get it out there for everyone to see.  It’s the only way we can make a difference and hold these people accountable for their crimes against children.