Story Time: My Custody Battle

In VT, 57% of abusers (serious abuse, possibly spent jail time) still have visitation rights and even full or partial custody due to a ruling of “Just because they abused their partner does not mean they will abuse their kid/s”

I am all for equal parenting rights  but those numbers are insane. Imagine having to hand your children over to someone who seriously abused you for a weekend-whole week long.

Terrifying.

He was violent. He would wait for people to be out of earshot or when we were alone to whisper or say horrible, emotionally and mentally abusing things. He would do so in front of our son.

He was in the local sheriffs dept. Often he brought a weapon or asp along to exchanges and would lift his shirt towards my direction or tap the weapon and lock eyes with me.

I was told to be careful what I say around him, to not set him off or start a fight. I started bringing 1-2 people along on the weekly exchanges so I could feel safe. He did everything he could in court to prevent this. Anyone I brought along suddenly had to go through a screening process to be eligible to be at the exchange.

Every horrible dirty thing you could do, he did (bring up depression, indicated I did all types of drugs *I am 100% clean* shaved my child’s head after I payed for hair cuts, every cut somehow was a mark against my parenting even ones that occurred at daycare, he got married secretly within 5 months so his new wife could seek custody, he fought me for custody and visitations then joined the army and disappeared for a year….) It was hell.

No matter what game or dirty tactic was used, I refused to do the same. No matter how much I was angered or hurt by the false accusations, I wouldn’t do the same.

There was in fact a time I stayed silent and shouldn’t have. It is one of my only true regrets in life.

A week before we separated permanently He told me about his depression. He said he was so depressed and numb that he would put the barrel of his gun to his temple…. Pause. Then decide against the action.

I immediately advised that he see a therapist or a psychiatrist. I urged him to talk to my therapist who could possible suggest someone he could see. He walked out and we never discussed it again.

I only ever confided to one friend about this incident. She urged me to bring it up in court. After all, he was attempting to get a judge to release all of my mental health records.

I said no. I fully believe that mental illness, like physical, needs to be treated. It also shouldn’t prevent someone from a relationship with their child (the exception being if the person is a danger to others)

I did not want a moment of weakness during a state of depression to prevent him from a relationship with our child.

I was wrong. I should have said something.

He committed suicide. 

After all that. All that pain, suffering, turmoil, years dragging me through a court room, and he was the one with a substance abuse problem(if you consider marijuana a substance to be abused. I was however worried about his drinking) and serious depression.

It’s been 6 six years and I am still not fully recovered. I also have much love for him as the father of my child, but have none for our relationship as a couple or for the years in court.

Good luck to everyone and your children who may be going through a similar situation. Be strong, don’t play games or seek to hurt your ex partner and always do what’s absolutely best for the child.

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