Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Domestic Violence--- A Rampant Disease

On August 27, 2007, The Tennessee Legislature's Family and Children's Committee called a special meeting to hear the testimony of the women pictured above concerning Domestic Violence and Judicial Corruption in the Family Court System of Tennessee.
Pictured left to right : Joni, Melanie(my daughter),Rosine, Susie, Danielle,Mary, Kay,Jinida, Me.

As I was cruising the blog yesterday, I came upon a blog post by a woman who had been asked to participate in a Meme about 10 honest things she'd never revealed about herself. One of the things she listed was that she had once been homeless after escaping a violent marriage.
It brought back a lot of memories.

Every Nine seconds in America, a woman is beaten or killed by her husband, ex-husband, boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend. It is a rampant disease that is most often , kept hidden and untreated. Domestic Violence like Cancer, is no respecter of persons. It affects all social levels
of the American population. One of the women above is herself, an Attorney. Two of the women above were married to Medical Doctors. One was married to a Policeman. One to an Airline Pilot. One to an Engineer. All hold college degrees, one has two Masters. Except for me and Kay, all were involved in extremely Nasty Divorce/ Custody Wars in the Tennessee Family Court System that cost over $600.000.00 each! High profile divorce/custody cases are big business in the court system. They were all victims of Domestic Violence.

I was oblivious to this problem when my daughter's husband began to abuse her. I had never seen Domestic Violence in my family. I could not fathom why she did not just leave him ! My daughter was a very beautiful,educated, self confident young woman, why would she allow herself to be treated this way by anyone I asked? I can tell you this, being the parent of an abuse victim is hell on earth. I truly wanted to kill him! I had to pray constantly over the murder in my heart. My job was to protect my child, my only daughter, my baby girl and yet I was helpless ! Only she could make the choice to leave and she was petrified to do it! This went on for five years and two beautiful children were born. He would tell her he would kill her. He would tell her he would take her children from her. His family was wealthy and well connected in the court system, she believed she would lose. She did leave, thank God. The war that ensued after, lasted three years !
This is what I learned during those three years. This problem is in EVERY single state in America. The court systems in this country refuse to recognize and educate their Judges
about Domestic Violence ! Custody is for sale and goes to the highest bidder ! If you have the money, are willing to spend it, you can get what you want in the courtroom, even if you are a convicted felon drug dealer ! If you did not call the Police and report the abuse, the Judge will not believe your allegations.
I spent those three years educating myself about Domestic Violence by talking to heads of DV Groups, law enforcement officials, victims and mental health professionals. When women are abused, they usually don't tell anyone until it becomes severe and then they usually only tell someone close they trust not to revel their secret. Their self esteem becomes virtually non-existent.
They fear the repercussions of leaving more than the abuse. They fear for their life and the lives of their children if they leave. They DO NOT often report the abuse to law enforcement because they fear further abuse afterwards as a result. Escaping an abusive relationship requires courage that most abuse victims have had beaten out of them.
If you know someone who is a victim, continue to encourage them to leave but understand they are afraid. Tell them to keep a journal of every incident of abuse, date, time, and pictures if they can. Encourage them to seek counsel such as a Minister or Therapist who not only will keep it confidential but will have documented records that can be used in court. Ninety-five percent of Abusive Men fight for custody of the children if they have financial means. They see it as their last form of control over their victim. There are hundreds of Father's Rights Group who help with the cost. There are Attorneys who specialize in Father's Rights Custody Battles because they get kick backs from the state.

Now for the men readers...........................
I am not a man basher. I know there are wonderful husbands and fathers everywhere. There are many cases of Domestic Violence against men too but the percentage is less than Ten Percent of all cases. There are cases in which the father may truly be the best parent to raise the children, but not where there is Domestic Violence involved. Children raised in the midst of DV
often become adult abusers. Children in the custody of abusers tend to become the victim when the mother is no longer there to abuse. If you have time to volunteer......get involved with a Safe House, help victims see there is life after .
My daughter has formed a non-profit " Hope For New Beginnings" in her town and hopes to open an abuse safe house for women and their children by 2010.


Katherine Aucoin said...

Carol, this is such a powerful post and I am so glad your daughter was able to get out of her abusive marriage.

Your are doing such a service to everyone by posting this.

Congrats on your awards!

Carol said...

Thank you Katherine.........
If this will help just one Victim I will be happy. I believe we go through our trials for a reason.
I have tried to do what I can to help this cause.

NCmountainwoman said...

A big AMEN! Such a hidden and common disease.

jeannette stgermain said...

Glad for women like you and others who are seeking justice for the abused - I have seen many of them in my counseling room, and am so proud when they are able to leave with my help. All they need is someone standing beside them when they make their run to freedom.

Glad I found you - you make me want to read :) ,but I can't, I HAVE TO paint -(sigh) never enough time!

Geri said...

Domestic violence is more common than people know. We I was young I was in a situation where my then-husband beat me up. Fortunatley, I was able to turn my life and am now happily married. It is a hard situation for anyone to be in, and it's always great to have people available to help.

Peggy said...

Carol, thank you so much for communicating this information. Incredible post.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

There is so much that is true in what you have said.

There is another side to this, which is all the more reason for educating judges and others. My mentally ill and very clever sister used allegations of domestic violence in her marriage (which there was not) to use the court system against her husband. The suffering she caused this man and their children is unfathomable.

Actions such as hers (which do happen with frequency) do an injustice to all the women, men and children who are the true victims of domestic violence.

Thank goodness your daughter had you and you were able to help her and your grandchildren through this.

Kay Dennison said...

Amen and hallelujah!!! I have lived with domestic violence both as a child and as a wife. I am, like your daughter, a survivor. It's sad that this is such a huge issue in our society.

Terri said...

What a wonderful and extremely important post, Carol. Having been a victim myself, years ago in my first marriage, I agree with all that you said. We need to be doing MUCH more in this country to educate, help and encourage the victims. I applaud your daughter for also moving through it and beyond.
However, I just wanted to say that many times that judge works against an excellent abuse involved here...and still gives custody to the alcoholic mother, even though the father is clearly the better parent. My son has gone through this and I, too, have seen the unfair and uncaring side of the court system. SO much so that my second novel focuses on exactly this problem.....lack of father's rights in our country with custody and divorce, despite the fact that he is the better parent.
All of it, but especially our family law court systems, need to be cleaned up and made to be accountable to make the best choices for the children involved.
Bravo to you for writing about this.