I should be writing more. I should.
Here is why: He filed some paperwork in court, my ex. That is what they do, abusive exes. They use the legal system as a way to keep their power and control – however much of it they can. They suck us as dry as they can. Make us pay legal fees (or incur legal debt if we can barely pay, like me). They shake us up.
Just when we feel like, hey, I am stronger now, I am doing ok … a surprise comes along, an OSC for a change in child support (if we are lucky enough to get it, as I am, indeed it is the upside of a Not Guilty from criminal court), or an OSC for a change in visitation (as this one was).
Today my attorney called his attorney, offered a “deal.” It sucks to have to offer a “deal” about your children’s safety, my children’s safety … but it might beat the lottery of the courtroom, might.
His attorney said it was not enough additional time. His attorney asked how my ex can move toward reunification, reunification, re-fucking-unification, with so little time.
My attorney reminded him of the charges. Child Abuse. Domestic Violence. Attempted Murder. Assault with a Deadly Weapon. This is not the kind of case that should head the perpetrator toward “reunification” … was his point.
My ex’s attorney said, “It’s not like her killed her.”
Right, I lived, so, hey, he’s not that bad.
Another upside: my ex’s attorney disgusted my attorney. Disgust, as it turns out, can be energizing. That’s not a bad thing. Not for me, anyhow.
Right, he didn’t kill me. But not for lack of trying.
I should be writing more because my ex’s attorney knows that in family court, not having killed a partner is, all too often, reason enough for the court to pave the road to reunification. First more monitored visitation. Then more, then more. Then just visitation. Then … shared custody. This is based on the assumption that reunification with an abusive parent who has not recently committed violence is in a child’s best interest.
In too many cases, however, that is wrong. Dead wrong. Often literally. Too often.
I should be writing more because I have learned a lot about the legal system, about child custody, about trauma, about abuse, and about disordered personalities … especially about the prevalence of disordered parents in high conflict custody cases.
I am glad my children have not lost their father. But, I can’t help but wonder: why? I am glad that they have a father who demonstrates what seems to be an enthusiasm for seeing them – I feel that it is good for them. But, is it? What if, as I believe it is, it is all a sham? a con? What if it is all about him, all about his need to be affirmed as “the good father”? His need for them to feed his narcissism?
What does “monitored visitation” with a disordered, pathological parent offer to a child? Is it, indeed, better than nothing? I think it may be … as long as it does not become a path toward reunification. Reunification with a Narcissistic or Sociopathic parent is an almost certain sentence for a child to abuse, and perhaps (maybe likely) even to the development of a psychopathology like that of the abusive parent.
This is why I – and so many many others – need to write more about this. About our experiences with abusive, disordered ex-partners or partners as we seek to protect ourselves and our children. About our experiences with those unwell individuals in family courts. About our struggles, our failures, our successes.
“It’s not like he killed her.”
There is something seriously wrong with that logic. Deeply, seriously … wrong.
No, he didn’t. And he didn’t silence me either.