Do you stay, or do you leave?
If you haven't been a victim of abuse, or a victim of the legal system, you may not be able to understand why this is even posed as a question.
Of course you should leave!
I mean, who deserves to get beat up and/or sexually assaulted in their own home...regularly...or even occasionally. Even as careful as you could try to be to make sure everything is perfect, so as not to anger your abuser, SOMETHING always sets him off...sooner or later. He is a time bomb. You are his target.
What does it mean to be a target?
When you are a target, all of your abuser's anger is directed toward you, specifically. Typically, he doesn't pull the same shit towards those who he considers his equals, or more powerful than he. This is about power. He needs you like capitalism needs slaves. He uses you so that he can feel better about his shortcomings. He doesn't know how to feel good without you.
But he is a good father. He doesn't beat the kids.
You're right. Good fathers don't beat their kids...But nor do they beat up on women to whom they are temporarily, or permanently committed. Getting beat in front of your children doesn't exactly send the kids a good message. In fact, they are put in limbo because your kids will either
A) Side with your abuser because he is more powerful and gets what he wants, or
B) Side with you in attempt to protect you...But let me break that down a little more
1) In protecting you, your children become targets, and the moment will come when they take blows for you
2) In choosing to side with you or not, your children will mimic the behaviors they have seen and normalize them.
Is this what you want?
I hope not because if some outsider reports what is going on in your household, CPS will come knocking and your kids may be gone before you ever get a chance to ask questions. You will be charged with neglect, endangering your children, or failure to protect.
Because everyone on the outside thinks you should have just left. You are the mother. If you didn't leave, you must be an accessory to the abuse.
What mother allows her children to get abused?
And what mother lets her children watch as she gets abused?
You must be a bad mother. You don't deserve to have children. If you're lucky, maybe your relatives will do you a favor and step in and raise your children for you. If not, foster care will do a great job...because it is indeed a job when they are getting paid.
Maybe you have a chance though, if you would just leave.
That seems like the best idea. Leave.
Are you going to tell your abuser in advance, or are you going to sneak out in the middle of the night?
Remember, he needs you...is he going to agree to all of this?
Who the fuck do you think you are leaving him, and taking his children?
He owns you. He's paying the bills. He's the reason you can stay home and take care of his children.
If you go, you have reason to be fearful. Get a lawyer and a restraining order. But, back up a little. The lawyer says, if you take out a restraining order, in the near future, the judge in family court could use it against you. He (the judge and your abuser) may say this was part of your vindictive scheme to get the kids and the money and the house and the car. Restraining orders don't prevent you from being harmed though anyway, because you still have to rely on law enforcement to act.
Get the restraining order anyway.
You'll have record of what you tried to do, in case the news opts to report it upon your "tragic" death. But you can't put the kids on the restraining order...Silly woman! You know fathers have rights!
In fact they have so many rights that if your abuser happens to get locked up, Responsible Fatherhood money will ensure that he has the means to transition back into his caretaking, father-role (don't roll your eyes, we know you were doing the caretaking, but you're not important and this is politics).
Go ahead and report the entire history of abuse.
You do have pictures, right? You mean to tell me in all these years that you have been getting assaulted, you weren't taking pictures of your injuries and saving them in a secret location?
Did you at least tell the doctor? Is there anything in your medical record?
Where are your vaginal tears, bruises, scars?
In talking to police without evidence (or with it), your case will seem suspicious. It will be your word, against your abuser's. Your local DA will be hesitant to take the case...well, hesitant is an overstatement because he may not even acknowledge you. DA's only take cases they can win. DA's aren't interested in intrafamilial abuse reports in the midst of divorce...
You have bad timing. You should have reported this before you were trying to separate. Oh, whoops, I forgot, they would have charged you, too!
Maybe you can work things out peacefully without involving the court.
When was the last time you worked things out "peacefully" with an abuser?
In good conscience, you allow your abuser to continue to have a relationship with the children he didn't abuse, well, directly abuse (or at least you think so). I don't know if you are really doing him a favor, or rather doing as the court would order you to do so, because you do know that the court will order you to do it, right (ask Ms. Leichtenberg and also ask the Paul family...family, because Monica Paul happens to be deceased)? Father's rights.
I know, I know. Yes, you have been abused, but now, yes, yes, you will be court ordered to continue to have a relationship with your abuser because kids deserve both parents. If you try to resist, they will call in the child custody evaluators and Guardians ad Litem and they will say things you would never imagine...because you ARE crazy, aren't you?
What mother would keep a father away from his children?
You know your abuser best
You know that when he makes threats, he can carry them through. You know if you don't meet his demands, you and your children will suffer. But if you try to protect yourself and the children, you risk losing custody to your abuser. And why would you want to put your kids in that situation? They don't want to live with him and if they do live with him, you already know how their lives will turn out. They will be like lost souls.
Sacrifice yourself...like Jesus Christ. Maybe you were put on earth to suffer for the sins of others.
You were supposed to be omniscient--to know that this man you chose would end up being an abuser.
You were supposed to be omnipresent--to know that this man would abuse your children while you were away at work, or school, or while he was away with the kids.
You were supposed to be omnipotent--to protect yourself and your children and to be able to hide and simultaneously remain visible, and to be able to leave your abuser, but let him remain in your life.
How do you want to die?
What do you want the news to say about you when you are murdered?
That you were nice? No, they won't say that! The neighbors and other members of the community will say how nice your abuser was. He was a family man. He played with the kids in the yard.
Everyone will be so shocked and sad that this happened. No one knew that you and your children were getting your asses kicked on a regular.
Your family may've thought you were crazy, or a bad mom, so they may've distanced themselves from you a long time ago. In fact, they may have ADORED your abuser.
Your children's friends will not come forward. They are children--either they won't tell anyway, or their parents won't let them.
You know who else might know? The teachers. But teachers are so busy disciplining and teaching to the test...and besides, it's too late for them to come forward now.
You see what you get for pretending and ignoring and trying to keep the family together? No credit.
Maybe the media will pull your court record and note that you tried to get a restraining order, but you didn't show up. More than likely, they will relay gossip about how you were having an affair and how you were always provoking your abuser. Because violence is mutual. Girls hit, too.
Didn't you know in advance that he was easily provoked? You should have checked his criminal record, or asked his ex.
Maybe your children will die, too. But everyone will talk about how tragic it was and how innocent they are. They, not you, because you had to have done something to make a nice guy want to kill you.
Or maybe you wanted to be killed, because who stays with an abuser anyway?
June 20, 2009
Randi James Guest Post: Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The System Sends Mixed Messages to Abuse Victims
Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The System Sends Mixed Messages to Abuse Victims