A non-custodial parent. That is what I became with a signature from the court. I had a mental illness and a free attorney. They other side had one of the best attorney’s around and financial backing.

When it all began, I did not think that I would lose the kids that I had stayed home with and had raised. I trusted the judicial system to be fair and to listen to all sides. Boy, was I mistaken.

It started from the beginning. No one wanted to believe that someone who saved others for a living would abuse their wife and kids. On top of that, he came from money and had a lot of support. Even though there were pictures of bruising, the court seemed to look over them.

This is all coming from a place of reflection. At the time, I was lead to believe that he was the better parent. That he could provide for them and was more stable.

I on the other hand was left to pick up the fractured pieces. I was trying to keep the symptoms of my mental illnesses at bay while going through one of the most stressful times in my life.

My children were all under the age of 8 at the time. The court had appointed someone to look out for their best interest. Except, the home visits never happened and I am not sure that she ever even met with the kids. He took them to a therapist that he paid for and the court believed that she was impartial. The final decision was made based on much of her opinions.

The kids are grown at this point. They are leading lives and dreams of the future. What is scary is what I recently learned from them. Out of the blue they began to describe that time period. I heard of threats, beatings where they could not sit down, and many other things that if the court had known may of made joint custody or more possible. They were little kids who were scared to tell the truth for the fear of what could happen to them.

How many other little kids are out there and are scared to tell the truth? How many courts will not accept the photos of bruises and fail to follow up when a parent says that there is clearly something wrong? Why is having an illness looked at as a weakness?

I realize that I need to be a voice for all of the kids who are scared. All of the kids who will not come forward because they are being threatened. It is happening across the country. Maybe, I cannot change my past, but change someone else’s future. The courts need to listen to the kids. They need to not think that money is everything and look at the relationships the child has with each parent. Threats need to be prevented as much as possible. Maybe if that would have happened, my children would have had it differently.

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