Thursday, 22 October 2009
The day began as normal - 6.45 am get brat 1 up for school - breakfast and run her to the bus stop for 7.45 and then the same with brat 2 to be in school for 8.45 but this time I'm dressed up, make up on and driving into Belfast to attend the High Court again. As usual I hadn't slept the night before, as usual I was panicking about ensuring all relevant documents with me and as usual was expecting him either not to turn up or to pull some kind of stunt - because its what he does - him being 003.5. Its a funny place the High Court in Belfast - a beautiful building with a long hall alongside which and upstairs various courts are held. The meeting place is on any of the benches in the hall - a huge area. As I waited for my solicitor and barrister to arrive I spied 003.5 at the entrance who having spied me made a deliberate point of brushing right past where i sat - difficult to do in an area that is 40ft wide but he always does it - then sets up camp just outside the ladies so that if I have to go to the loo I have to pass him. 2 years ago this would have frightened me - Women's Aid used to attend court with me to stop this nonsense. It doesn't bother me anymore - it just all seems so pathetic - and after all if anyone should be hiding - it should be him. My barrister arrived smiling which is always a good sign - it was then she delivered the news that he had finally agreed to a settlement having been told that if he were to go ahead with the hearing he stood to lose an awful lot more (which he always knew- this was about control right to the very end - and he was prepared to make his children homeless over it). The impact of her statement is hard to comprehend - the realisation that finally it is all over - and I can grab my life back - not just exist between court dates and whatever stunt he pulls next. I think the breaking point for him was that we could prove perjury and the judge had intimated last time that 003.5 had filed a false affidavit which for a police officer is serious should we wish to make a complaint. So that was it. Of course he did string out signing the agreement and complained of being harassed and controlled by having to sign it on that day and seriously managed to p*ss off my barrister who (being a very straightforward Geordie lass) at one point threatened to "ram it up his arrogant smug a**e" and pull him into the courtroom before the judge whose court orders he had broken in the last couple of months. Funnily enough having been used to his behaviour and his tactics I smiled and said "let him do what he's doing - he's gonna sign or he wouldn't be here - he doesn't matter" - and he did sign and his behaviour doesn't matter to me anymore - 'cos in three weeks time we will have moved and he won't know where we live.
He is still able to exert some control - he still refuses permission for me and kids to live in Scotland so that will be another court date that he won't turn up to - but we'll leave that just now because that doesn't matter at the moment What matters is that we are finally free of him, finally have financial security and can finally plan a future. You always think you know how you're going to react on these days - I thought I'd probably collapse in a heap, wailing but no. It was almost as if a warmth slowly crept over me (and no - I hadn't wet myself!)- seeing those signatures and drinking in the reality of what that meant - security for me and the children and a future. Holidays can now be planned - trips to the theatre or to concerts planned but most of all I will be not worrying every time the post comes that its another bill I can't pay or worrying if something goes wrong with the car I can't get it fixed and just at that moment of realisation what I most wanted to do in the world was hug my children becasue we've come through this nightmare together. I've not been able to stop smiling since - like a massive depression and weight has just lifted. My solicitor has advised that i probably could have got more if we had adjourned - which I knew, but this was never about getting as much as I could possibly get- it was about security for me and the children and that I now have. 003.5 still doesn't realise what he's lost - I don't mean me, I mean the children. He once told me that a cynic is "someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing". I believe he was defining himself. I on the other hand have found throughout this lengthy and drawn out process what I always knew -that family is everything and that I'm fortunate enough to have a great family - even if they live hundreds of miles away - they're always there for me, for us. So I for one will be celebrating every October 20 because whilst to most people it was probably an unremarkable day - for me it was the day I got my life back.
Monday, 5 October 2009
I am a great mum because:
1. I am always here for my children - every sleepless night, every tear, every worry, every hurt, every success
2. I make great pancakes and biscuits (my son)
3. My kids often laugh at me not with me - and I have no problem with that
4. I hate ironing (so avoid it like the plague) and love the Simpsons
5. I don't insist on sitting around the table to eat every night!!
6. My kids know the difference between democracy and dictatorship - and understand that they live in the latter
7. They know everyday that they are loved and that I am very proud of them
8. When no-one else will listen, I will (daughter)
9. They know that I will fight their corner but will tell them if I think they are wrong
10. I give the best hugs in the world (both)
For all of you beleaguered mums out there - take some time to remind yourself that despite surveys, press reports and this general pummelling of mothers, you are doing a great job!
Sunday, 27 September 2009
I then had to speak to my son's headmaster ( he was ill today however the card his father sent has really scared him!) and to keep reassuring my son that he is safe. The head, as per usual gave me his dismissive "yes ok" but I know he thinks I overreact (probably because I brought the Equality Commission in when he refused to give my daughter any support in class for her dyslexia because she "wasn't dyslexic enough" - soon changed his tune when they came on board!). This led to another trickle of tears down my face - I wish sometimes there was a way that I could film those moments when the kids have been scared by their father - that people could see the fear and trauma is real because what they have lived through is real - that it is not an overreaction for a child to be scared of a person who has hurt them before, and it is not an overreaction to fear a court order being broken again when it already has been on numerous occasions. And so after calming down and diving back to bed with a duvet as I am suffering from a cold, I had to get up and set about the task of preparing for court again.
Despite the fact that my solicitor already has a 50 page affidavit from me and a similar number of appendices proving every lie 003.5 has told the court, demonstrating what he has done to cripple us financially as well as emotionally I am still required to supply further details for the FDR on 20th, particularly with regard to the impact on my career. Whilst I have all the info here, can prove the impact his behaviour has had and have all the text messages that show his lies the bottom line is I find it all so traumatic again - going through the details, reliving the nastiness, reliving the anger at what he has done and feeling this real knot of hatred inside me - hatred for everything he has done to me, to us. And whilst for the most part I can hold my head up, be proud we have come so far and not buckled I am so frustrated and angry at a system that has allowed him to do this to us for so long. Why should he be allowed to not turn up for court and delay proceedings for years on end? Why should he be allowed to ignore high Court Orders for information? Why was he allowed to delay the divorce for so long and thus delay any financial settlement? I was talking with a woman last week who was due to move on Friday however a mistake at her ex's solicitors meant that she got hold of correspondence saying he was pulling out of the financial arrangement they had. Across the top of the documentation was a note - "do not send to Friday". His plan was to ensure that his soon to be ex wife and children would be left with nowhere to live and no funds to buy a new property. Now, that she got hold of this was because it was either sent in error or someone in that office had a conscience. And I have no doubt that any hearing with regard to this would take months to arrange (I speak from experience) yet the courts do not seem to realise or quite simply ignore the fact that when you are bringing up children you need the money now - not next month, next year, in 5 years, you need to provide a home for them now! At the moment there can be no financial hearing until the decree nisi is issued - why? And in a new turn of events in Northern Ireland divorces are being denied whilst contact hearings continue with many women being forced to take ex's to court to give them contact with children they have not bothered with or are a danger to (I was in a situation 2 years ago whereby Social Services told me that if my ex had unsupervised contact my children would be on a child protection list and a family court that, despite lots of evidence were intent on giving my ex unsupervised contact) during which time I could not get my divorce (despite being separated nearly 4 years) and thus the ancillary process could not begin. (The one occasion he had unsupervised contact the children were so traumatised they were off school for two days!!). Why can the ancillary process not begin within 6 months of separation? let the family courts handle contact and the High Court handle the finances?
And then today I rang the DVO (Domestic Violence Officer) to discuss the latest breach of the no contact order. They, although sympathetic can do nothing as it is a civil court matter. The civil court will tell my ex not to do it again. He will ignore them again. Yet, not only is he a serving police officer he actually trains other police officers yet nothing can be done. I want to go and plaster everything he has done, and been allowed to do to us all over the papers, stick posters up of him and write what he has done all over his work place - but that would be seen as unreasonable behaviour on my part and damage my position in court. So I will save that for when I am free of this court system, keep my head down and thank god that I left him when I did. Some say that I will eventually learn to forgive him and that way I will find peace. Forgiveness - nahhhhhh - not a mission, not after what he has done to the children - however I will be able to move on and have a life when the courts eventually let me, when I no longer have to have anything to do with him and they take away the control that he still exerts over our lives now. Until that day (which hopefully is months rather than years away) I will just have to keep going and stay healthy. Now for another beechams blackcurrant!!
Saturday, 26 September 2009
Why? well picture the scene - 8a.m happily getting ready for my sons birthday sleepover - krispy buns everywhere - just started on the flourless chocolate cake (one of his mates is gluten intolerant so often has a miserable time at parties avoiding foods he can't eat), kids had their tidying and decorating orders (and were generally ignoring them except for the fun one's) and the dog was chasing the cat - a typical chaotic happy scene. Then the post arrives and my son rushes in with a card addressed to him - I take one look at it and my heart sinks and before I can stop my son opening it he has. There it is a card from his Father containing a £30 postal order (because I can't be trusted to give him any money!!) and a card posted yesterday saying that he really misses him and looks forward to seeing him soon. Pretty innocuous you may say - however this sent my son into a state of confusion and fear. Why so well:
- firstly there is a no contact order in place which means their father is to have no contact of any form until the children are 16 - this was after many years of trying to ensure safe regular contact to no avail
- secondly, my son will not go to childminders for fear his dad will turn up an take him - he is a police officer and has told his son He will always find him - my son told the court welfare officer he is scared his dad will take him and hurt him again - so he now thinks that his dad is gonna turn up at his school or at the house and is frightened His father knows of this fear as it has been discussed in great detail in court with evidence from Court Welfare, Social Workers and Child Workers and his school work
- thirdly the card was sent 2 days after my sons birthday - sent to arrive on the nearest Saturday (when we normally have his parties) to disrupt it - he did the same last year and was warned in court not to do this
- fourthly my son wants to believe that his dad loves him and doesn't mean his behaviour
We will ignore the fact that he was warned last month for doing exactly the same at my daughters birthday - told of how he had upset her and that he was in breach of the order. Some may see this as a father simply trying to send his children cards. They are wrong. When their father was allowed contact, he ignored their birthdays, making excuses not to attend their parties, not giving them presents or cards - the same for Christmas. This is about him saying that he can ignore court orders (also this month he has ignored a High Court Order in respect of paying half the mortgage - he simply told the building society to go ahead and repossess the house before the sale - it was of no concern to him - this is the third time he has tried to make us homeless!!). So this isn't done with a sense of guilt or love - if he loved his children he wouldn't try to make them homeless - it is done by a very manipulative and controlling man who wants to upset days that should be a celebration , that should be happy, the same as he has always done.
I have already e-mailed my solicitor who will tell me that the courts will simply tell him off again. Now this is a man who is a police officer training other police officers and is in breach of 3 court orders this month. I know that their response will be that if he is off duty it is none of their concern despite him being in breach of his Code of Conduct. So what can I do - except pick up the pieces, hug my children and have a great day in spite of him. what upsets me the most is that I have tried everything, I have done all the right things, gone through all the right processes to ensure mine and the children's safety and even with all the orders in place no-one seems to care that they are being broken and I still feel that all the strings are being pulled by him and he now has the children wondering if whether he is trying to make an effort or not which is really confusing for them again. In the meantime we still do not have his permission to move to Scotland and so I am in the hands of the courts again who are allowing a man that they believe should have no contact with the children to have a say in where we live and so keep my children from being with their family in Scotland. I would give up but I won't. I will do whatever it takes to keep my children safe and happy but also to ensure that I am safe and happy - as I too have that right. I look forward to a time when I do not fear birthdays and Christmas wondering what stunt their father is going to pull next - what he will do to hurt us. I look forward to a time where I can live close to my family so that I can have some kind of life other than the children and they can enjoy being with cousins and I look forward to a time when I am finally free of this controlling bully and that the courts finally see what they are doing to mothers by allowing this behaviour to go unpunished, unchallenged. In the meantime I will fight the good fight and continue with my baking endeavours (hopefully not burning too much)!!
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
This may seem stupid, however it is that fear of asking for help that keeps us in abusive situations and it is a fear that is played on to isolate you.
When I met 003.5, (ex- husband - reaosn for the name will be made clear later) I wasn't scared of anything much (except birds!!) and even if I was I would do what I could to change it. I lived and worked abroad, I travelled extensively and had no problem giving my opinions or standing up for myself!! By the time I'd left him (after 10 years) I was scared of everything, but most of all I was scared of people finding out what had gone on, scared they would blame me or not believe me. And that does happen - the first time I plucked up the courage to call the police was when we had come back from a holiday in France & Spain - the kids had had a great time however I had spent most of the time waiting for the next row, the next put down, the next humiliation which he began to get the kids to join in with - for example he would get all of them (including my stepson - his son from his first marriage) to slap me really hard on the backside or nip me really hard - when I asked them to stop I was the spoilsport. I had had to hide from him on a couple of occasions when he was drunk and had never felt so alone in my life. When we got home I told him I wanted a divorce. I couldn't believe I'd actually said it - the next 9 hours were spent by him interrogating me, pretending to listen but twisting everything I said - turning it back on me - until yet again he had me believing I was mad - that things weren't as I saw them. But this time I stuck to it and then he became very angry - began trashing the study - throwing books and computers at me so for the first time I called the police. I didn't call them for me. I was frightened that he would hurt the children - when I told him I'd called the police he immediately calmed down and said they'd never believe me as he was a policeman and he would say it was me. When the police did come they said that they saw no reason for him to leave the house as he was calm and believed him when he said his gun was in work. I was told that they would get someone from victim support to call me. As they left he began laughing. No-one from victim support ever did call me so yet again it reinforced in my mind that I was on my own - that no-one could help.- needless to say I did not leave then. However within the next year I had left him but I was very much alone - I couldn't talk to anyone about it and was very confused myself and I would plow on through everything - occasionally having mini breakdowns as he pulled more and more stunts with the children, with finances and finally attempting to have me arrested (on more than one occasion).
However, two years ago, after a particularly nasty stunt (I will elaborate on this in a later blog) when police were at my house and I felt like I just could not continue - I was called by Women's Aid - the Domestic Violence Officer had been in touch with them and asked them to call me. I went to see them the next day and finally began to get the help and support I so badly needed. I received counselling but also joined a group and discovered that I was not the only one. That others had gone through exactly the same as me - the mind games, the abuse and the feelings of total helplessness was a total eye opener. To realise that you did not have to be punched across a room on a daily basis to be suffering from abuse was almost a relief - I wasn't mad. Over the next 18 months the help and support that I received was enormous however, I believe that the biggest thing I got from them is not being frightened to ask for help, realising that you may get knocked back by some (and sometimes the people you expect to be there to help you) but there are genuinely many people and organisations who want to help and are able to help - even with the smallest of things - and that all you have to do is ask. I say "all you have to do" - when it is in fact a huge thing for anyone who has been in an abusive relationship - and actually that is what keeps us trapped there. I am lucky enough to have a great family - and I knew this but was afraid to tell them what was going on, afraid I would be seen as weak or even stupid. That has changed. I was afraid to call the police. I'm not anymore - they can't always do much but at least the call is logged, the breach of the order noted and one day we may have a legal system that is serious about enforcing these orders!! And I think twice now before knocking back offers of help - I let people help me. So after 43 years I have finally realised I cannot do it all on my own and it is ok to ask for help and that is what will keep me and my children safe in the future. You see isolation is what the abuser wants - it enables them to carry on with the abuse, to make you feel weak and all alone. However, when you have help and support around you, when you are not afraid to ask for help you become much stronger and the control that they have becomes much less. So I would urge anyone who is in a similar type of situation to ask for help - don't be afraid to be helped, don't feel that you are weak because you need help - we all do.
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Then this morning I received a call just after 8.a.m from a friend of mine whose ex-partner is taking her to court yet again for over night contact despite the fact that he lives in a hostel, has been on a methodone programme for 5 years and drinks heavily, regularly. ( He has taken my friend to court on numerous occasions to increase his contact with the daughter whilst rarely taking it up). The daughter loves her father and wishes to see him. However the daughter had been angry towards my friend for a few days - my friend believeing it must be with going back to school and hitting thirteen. It turns oout that on the last contact visit (Saturday) the father had said to the daughter that my friend had sent him a letter saying that she was stopping ocntact until Spring 2010 and then got his girlfriend to say that she had seen the letter. This sent my friend into a spin as her ex (an extremly abusive man) has forged her signature in the past. Her daughter had clearly been doubtful about this letter as when my friend asked if she believed her father her daughter was unsure, doubtful, and needed reassurance from her mother.
Fortunately my friend is seeing her solicitor on friday anyway and my advice to her was to focus on her daughter's trust in her and not to panic about how the court may see this (much easier said than done!!). It also struck me once more how abusive parents try to alienate children against another parent - for little gain other than the fact that they can with little regard for what is best for the children yet the court's refuse to acknowledge this form of mental abuse (well here anyhow). My ex, for example, claimed to my then 7 year old son that I had left the marriage becasue I used to beat him. It took a long time for my son to tell me this (in fact he only told me when I stopped covering for his dad missing birthday's etc - when I stopped making excuses for his dads appalling behaviour). When I asked my son if he believed this he too was doubtful becasue he remembered seeing his Dad hurt me - and I've never raised a hand to my kids in my life..but he did not want to believe that his dad would lie to him like that. This created so much confusion in my little boy's head and in turn would make him angry with me - no doubt the aim of my ex! The court did not see this behaviour as relevant to contact at the time.
So my point here is that whilst I may have left a lot of this behind - my ex has no contact with my children now and they actually are much happier for it (and yes I am someone who wholeheartedly believes that it is in the childs best interest to have a relationship with both parents providing there is no abuse and responsibility is truly shared) for many children and mothers this form of abuse continues on a daily basis. This is not simply a case of two parents who need their heads knocking together, who have the odd tantrum, but of a parent who is seeking to further abuse the other parent through the child. How can this be right and why on earth is it tolerated? So actually I havn't left it behind at all - because its close by affecting other people and children I know and many others sto and until we can change the courts and their views this abuse will be perpetuated. Anyone who wishes to help with this please get in touch - at this stage I 'm not even sure how we can change it but I do know it has to change for the sake of our children.
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
Whinging aside I am one of the lucky ones's - I have a home (by the skin of my teeth) and whilst my family are hundreds of miles away I have their support! So why am I writing this blog - maybe to see how many more there are out there like me and to find ways to support each other. The Campaign on Yummy Mammy - "Save One Mammy" has touched a nerve as the mother's story is so similar to my own. Having been helped so much by Womens Aid I can begin to see a future (which is why I am studying again) I want to help other women who have been in abusive situations to help campaign and change the laws applied to contact, residency and divorce in order that they do not allow abusive ex-partners to further their abuse - as well as sound off about all the trials and tribulations of bringing up your children on your own - -whatever age they are - and support each other - as for me isolation - feeling on my own and unable to talk was the biggest hurdle to overcome! On the bnght side - my divorce may finally be through soon (5.5 years and counting) and I may actually be financially stable again - I can't even begin to imagine how that will feel again!!! Even more amazing - imagine not having to deal with the court system for a while....(it come's to something when you're on first name terms with security at court and aren't an employee!). In the meantime, I shall get back to dealing with yet more legal stuff, ignoring the housework and prepare for the deluge of homework due to hit in about three hours!!