I found this blog right after my custody trial and I wrote to whomever would listen…congressmen, senators, domestic violence organizations and I posted this on her blog as well and got some amazing feedback and heard some amazing stories that really touched me, and it made me want to start blogging to reach out to the women who have been in my situation…so hear goes….
Christie said, on May 2, 2011 at 11:41 pm
I am an educated Woman, I am a Vice President of a small business, I am strong, I am independent, I am a mother, and I am a survivor of domestic violence. I am not your typical picture of a battered woman. I have a good family; I am well-spoken, educated, and successful. I am not the woman sitting in the corner afraid to testify. After five years of abuse, I’m the woman that walks in the courtroom, well groomed, self-assured, ready to face my aggressor head on, but I am a victim of domestic violence.
Five years ago I entered into a relationship with a man and found myself pregnant shortly thereafter, we tried to make it work and it did for a short period. I had broken up with him right before I found out I was pregnant because of our fights, he would get loud, I would get loud, he would get mean and nasty and call me names and I would cry. I desperately wanted my own family though, so I convinced myself he would change, he bought a house, and I moved in…things went from bad to worse. He threw me out more times than I can count, I would drive aimlessly around our neighborhood sobbing, pregnant, trying to figure out what I had done to make him so angry and why he didn’t love me. He would apologize promise to not do it again and I would go back. Shortly after the birth of my daughter I told him I was leaving him. He flipped out and ripped all the phones out from the wall, turned off the internet and cut my cell phone off mid-conversation with my mother. He was holding our daughter telling me I couldn’t have her so I ran out of the house and used his brother’s phone that lived nearby to call the police and my mother. They told me I couldn’t step foot on his property or I would be arrested for trespassing, that everything in the home belonged to him since he owned the home, but because we weren’t married and there had been no paternity test, they gave me the only thing I cared about, and that was my daughter. My mother put me on the next flight out of Arizona back to Pennsylvania where my entire family was. He filed for emergency custody and was denied, but the state of Arizona ordered me back and we settled outside of court on joint custody, this was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. My lawyer told me I’d never get full custody, my ex told me if I didn’t agree to joint he would go for full custody and take my daughter from me since he had the house and I had nothing. I shouldn’t have listened to either of them. I have spent the last 4 years fighting to change the joint custody decision. I have not been successful.
In the course of these 4 years we reconciled a few times, i.e. he apologized and promised to change; I fell for it and went back. He has been arrested twice for domestic violence in the last 3 years, the first time taking a deferment program in lieu of prosecution, and the second time he was convicted and sentenced to two years probation. There have been multiple Orders of Protection granted and issued against him, he requests a hearing each time. The first one I was never notified of by the court so the OP was lifted, and my lawyer at the time told me not to worry about it. The second one I never showed up for because he convinced me it would never happen again and he would change. The third one I was granted, I showed up for it and it is still in effect. However, all three times I have listed my daughter on the OP and the last one he requested a hearing and she was taken off. I filed for sole custody and was denied and the Judge said I was putting my daughter on the OP to estrange her from her father. I cannot tell you how appalled I am at the Arizona judicial system. I am a mother; I am in the business of protecting my child, preventing her from being harmed, not waiting for it to happen and then reacting. Would you want your child to have a relationship with a stranger that they had witnessed terrorizing you, cried over you seeing that person, begging you to stay away from that person, crying because of all the mean things that stranger told your child about you, your child being screamed at and threatened by this person? The answer is NO, so why because it’s her father does that give him a free pass? My daughter has watched this man throw me down in a drive way, (which his lawyer suggested I was wearing heels and that’s why I fell), put a television on top of me, heard him call me every name you can think of, threaten to kill me and bury me in the desert….etc. Now I ask you why am I being accused of trying to estrange her from her father when I was protecting her? Why because I am an educated woman who is strong and confident do I not deserve to be protected by the same rights as women less fortunate than myself? My ex’s lawyer’s pretrial statement stated that I am “smart” and they believe I have been planning this for some time.
I have much better things to do with my life than spend $25,000 on lawyer fees and then be humiliated in court by a lawyer who sits on the domestic violence board for Arizona, but represents a convicted domestic violence offender. I did this to protect my daughter from growing up in an abusive home. My ex’s mother has been abused for 31 years, that’s how my ex learned how to treat a woman. The judge didn’t think the domestic violence committed against me was significant because the police officer that testified said I had one cut. So should I have laid there and not gotten away from him and allowed him to break my arm in half like he was trying to do so that the court would see it as “significant”. Judge Morales in Chandler City Court thought differently. He convicted my ex for assaulting me. The message I was sent was that I should have kept my mouth shut, gone about my life and saved myself a lot of money, agony, stress and pain. I should have let him continue to abuse me because at least then I’d have my daughter. Now he has her 50% of the time. Is this the message the court system in Arizona should be sending? So it was ok for my ex to abuse me, but because the physical abuse had not escalated yet to what the judge deemed “significant” I now have to sit and wait and hold my breath until he does this to my daughter….or to another woman in front of her? Shouldn’t our focus as adults be in preventing children from harm, keeping them safe and providing them with emotional stability, so 15 years from now my daughter isn’t in an abusive relationship because she watched her father abuse women her whole life.
I got away from him and I am never ever going back, and I will do whatever it takes to save my daughter. The lawyer says I cannot appeal, which is unbelievable to me. I fought for relocation to move to the east coast for a better life for my daughter and to be with my family. The judge was puzzled as to why I wanted to relocate, which again amazes me. What is puzzling about why I wanted to leave and get as far away as I could from an abusive, controlling man and protect my daughter? My mother died during all of this, and my ex and his family told my four year old innocent, beautiful daughter that she didn’t have to worry about living with my mother anymore and moving because she was dead. Thank you Judge for protecting those people and not looking out for my daughter. Thank you for giving me the strength and determination to apply to law school in the Fall. Thank you for making me see that I only lost this battle, but I will continue to fight for my daughter and I will win the war. She is worth it.