Friday, April 30, 2010

The Reality of Australia's Shared Parenting Laws - An Insight

An Insight into a Mother's Reality

I am writing of my own journey here, to hopefully give people an insight into the reality that so many Australian mothers (and some fathers) have faced and are facing, in their struggle to keep their children safe from an abusive, controlling parent, since Australia's Shared Parenting Laws came into effect in 2006.

If you look online, you will find overwhelming amounts of documented evidence and a great many blogs discussing the unforeseen effects that Shared Parenting Laws have had on abused children in Australia and in numerous other countries around the world, including Canada and the US, and you will get an idea of just how many parents are facing similar dilemmas.

I feel we all have a duty of care to these children, and I plead with you all to make their cases heard. Tell your friends and family, write about it on your blogs, sign petitions, attend protest rallies and write to your politicians. Our children cannot speak for themselves!

Here is my story:

I have come to believe that the father of my children is a complete psychopath and I am terrified for their safety. They have not seen him for months and do not want to. After much counseling, group therapy, completion of the Protective Behaviors Program, doing lots of fishing, gardening and other fun things, and receiving lots of unconditional love, they now say that they are happier than they have ever been, although I believe we all still have a long way to go.

They asked me to promise to keep them safe, and promise I did, but I am losing hope in being able to keep that promise as although I have violence restraining orders for myself and the kids, I will soon be facing their father in Family Court.

While I had always believed that my kids needed to be able to continue their relationship with their Dad if we separated, it is only in the months since our separation that I have come to be aware of what he is capable of. After he first left, I realized my kids were displaying most of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which have thankfully diminished with time.

Over the months the children have slowly been revealing what he put them through, and with counseling and by reading my journals I have been able to recall all the things he has put me through. It is amazing how much we had all blocked out. Even so, once the kids remember something, we have a chat about it to help each other understand it all, and then the specifics of the event a filed away again, so the kids forget most of the details that would help my court case. For their sake, I don't believe that it is such a bad thing to process the memory and then forget it again, it just makes them miserable when they think about it all, and I for one have no intention of reminding them, they are too young to have to bear that responsibility, so I fear it's going to be my word against his in family court.

I did have support from both The Department for Child Protection and The Police Family Protection Unit, but since my ex contacted them to inform them of "his side of the story" (please also read my article entitled "The Fine Art of Institutional Grooming"), they have now decided that all my allegations are based on hearsay and cannot be substantiated, and therefore they will not support me in court. They further went on to accuse me of parental alienation, paranoia, negativity and of perpetuating fear in my children.

These departments have only met my children on one occasion, and myself perhaps half a dozen times, and if you were to contact my counselors, my children's counselors or our victim support worker, they would all tell you they believe I have gone from strength to strength since separating from their father, and have been extremely and consistently supportive, proactive, clear minded and positive in all areas of my life, including the task of helping my children heal from the harmful experiences of their own abuse and the witnessing of my abuse, at least 99% of the time, and during that 1% of times when I have had a bit of a wobble, half an hour of good, solid venting (in a safe place where I don't have to watch what I'm saying in case the kids hear it) and a box of tissues is all I need to get back on track. The kid's group therapy counselor saw them weekly for 3 months, and she says that rather than perpetuating fear in the kids, I have been successful in helping them to overcome their fears while still helping them to feel safe and teaching them how to stay safe.

The kid's child psychologist accessed all of the records from the many calls I made to the 24 hour domestic violence helpline and 24 hour crisis care helpline, and compared them to her own reports. She later told me that despite the fact that I may as well have been "hit over the head with a sledge hammer" (her words, not mine) by my ex, the reports all showed that from the moment he finally left and in the months since, I have been nothing but consistent in my story, clear minded when reasoning through rational and irrational fears, proactive in seeking support for myself and the kids and successful in implementing measures to ensure our safety. Even so, the reports of counselors are opinions based on hearsay, and will not count for much in Family Court.

Although the kids have attended group therapy sessions (Family Abuse Integrated Response) and had a few sessions of crisis counseling, they have not yet had any consistent "1 on 1" or even "2 on 1 + mum" counseling yet, due to their ages and waiting lists, but I finally found somewhere. I have already had a few sessions with their counselor, and their first appointment is this week (thank Goodness). It won't help me in court, but that is not the purpose of it anyway. I want it to focus on helping them understand and work through their confusion and grief by reinforcing what I have been teaching them about separating their Dad from their Dad's behavior and their feelings about both, and reinforcing their ability to distinguish between rational and irrational fears, so they can consistently overcome their unrealistic fears, recognize their justified fears and reinforce what they have learnt about how to get help to feel safe again when they feel their warning signs (protective behaviors program). I also want more help with giving them strategies to manage their strong emotions and stay focused at school.

I have been trying to do all of these things myself, with varying amounts of success, but in all honesty, I feel unqualified for the task. At least I have been successful in some things; the bed wetting only happened 3 or 4 times, the nightmares stopped after a few months, they no longer blame themselves for the things he did and said, and they have realized that he was wrong when he said that they can't trust me and that I'm stupid. Time has shown them that I do the things I say I will (or if logistics and life get in the way, then I do it the next day anyway), I know almost as much as their teachers and what I don't know, I know how to find out, I don't make them do things that are not safe or that they are scared of doing, although I do encourage them to be brave when I know they can do it and that they will enjoy doing it, and I almost* always practice what I preach with regards to emotional management, behavior and thinking positively (*Unfortunately, I totally failed to find anything positive about the second time I found new $15 jar of fish food all over the carpet, less than 5 minutes after I'd vacuumed, and I more than raised my voice when my youngest was about to run out onto the road to get a feather that blew across our path). It can be disheartening though, when all the weeks of progress we make are undone in less than a minute after they see him standing at the end of our street just staring at us and are instantly triggered back into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For a couple of weeks afterwards it is like living with wild animals on one day and zombies the next, and all routine, house order, manners, concentration, co-operation and punctuality go flying off on a little holiday....

Besides what the kids and I have experienced, I have also discovered certain information towards the end that opened my eyes to the extent of his lies, addictions to sex and violence, and his ability to hide his dark and sadistic nature and come across instead as a warm, genuine and caring human being.

All of his friends and family think he is wonderful, charming man, and that his only faults are that he is impulsive, irresponsible and homophobic. I can tell you that he is in fact, secretly bisexual, into beasteality, extremely abusive, controlling, violent, skilled at subtle cruelty, sadistic, criminally versatile and completely lacking in empathy, remorse and guilt.

He also has very contradictory beliefs and values about pedophilia and incest, on one hand believing that all pedophiles should be shot, but on the other hand saying that he believes that the perpetrator father who repeatedly molested a lady he knows was only trying to show her how much he loved her.

One of his favorite pornographic videos is an X-rated homosexual video staring multiple young men, one of whom bears an alarming resemblance to his adult son from his first marriage. He has admitted to me that he found it hard not to fantasize about things that may have been going on when this son had friends over to stay the night, and that he fears that his relationship with this son may one day turn incestuous. He also goes on about how proud he is that the boy is bisexual like him.

He has also admitted to me to being unable to stop himself from looking at his niece's breasts after she reached puberty, and trying to imagine what they looked like underneath her clothes.

My children were displaying signs of learnt sexual behaviors, had expressed ideas and opinions and displayed other signs that indicate possible sexual abuse, which lead me to speak to their child psychologist, but in a subsequent investigation they did not disclose any sexual abuse to Child Protection Officers. I believe however, that he may have been grooming them for future sexual abuse.

The only abuse I know of for certain though, is the soul destroying emotional abuse that I often witnessed and experienced, the physical abuse that I experienced myself and instances of physical abuse experienced by my children, the first few of which I witnessed and the last few of which I did not see, but soon found out about, at which point I told him that if he ever hit them or manhandled them again I would have him charged.

He has said many things to me in the 20 years that I have known him, and I have also witnessed concerning behavior and found many other strange things that make me fear him. I have listed some of these below:

  • He has a long criminal record of multiple convictions for possession of drugs, cultivation of drugs, possession of unlicensed firearms and unlicensed ammunition, and restraining orders.
  • I know he still has unlicensed firearms, but because I have not seen them for some time, police will not do anything about it.
  • When I once became suicidal following the deaths of one of my parents and another much loved family member and finding out that he had indulged in an affair, all within a 3 week period, he kept telling me I did not have the guts to do it, but that he wished I would. One night he left his loaded gun on the table and went out after saying that there was only one way I could make life better for myself and everyone around me. When he came home he told me I had proven that I was nothing but a useless coward.
  • He once told me "I reckon murder is no where near as satisfying as inducing suicide"
  • Whenever we drove past an old rubbish tip near where we were living, he would go quiet, and then say that he knew of lots of bodies that were buried there.
  • When I told him that his friend had raped me once, he responded with "well that's ok, I raped him"
  • He once said to me "Why would you be scared that I would shoot you when I have access to explosives and I could just blow you up instead"
  • A year before we separated, he promised me he would do a courses in positive parenting, emotional management and effective communication, as well as that he would attend counseling with me, but when months had gone by with excuse after excuse about going, I said "now or never" and he made a big show about signing up for the courses online. The first and only course he signed up for was a course for gay men, about how to have anal sex safely. He then informed me that it was the only course he would be attending, because he did not need to attend the others, but I did, as I was the one with a problem. I had already attended those courses during a previous period of separation.
  • I once found a rope, shovel and balaclava in his car and started wondering if I was living with a serial killer. He convinced me that it was not what it seemed and that I was paranoid.
  • Once when he was talking to me, after having first exploded in yet another violent rage, and then breaking down crying saying he was violent and needed help, he started confessing all these things to me including years of torturing animals when he was in his 20s, having planned to rape, torture and murder his "friend", admitting for the first time to the times that he has raped me (he had previously always denied that he had), and finally he started confessing to an incident in the 1970's where he and some of his friends picked up a woman hitch hiker. I never heard the rest of the confession as I ran out crying. Afterward, he denied having said any of the things he had said.

I have reported all this to the police but they will not do anything and tell me he's just bluffing. Further more, it is just hearsay, as I did not witness any of the actual events.

I face the same thing in family court and worse. Any allegations I make of his abuse of my children that I have witnessed will be discounted as hearsay as I have no other witnesses. I may even then be found to have "Parental Alienation Syndrome", an unprovable, fake psychological disorder that is laughed at by 95% of psychiatrists world wide, and which was actually invented by a psychologist who was later charged, convicted and jailed for multiple counts of pedophilia and incest(I read that but don't know if it's 100% true, as I have since read another article that only said he was suspected of it), and then committed suicide. If a judge decides that I have this "syndrome", then it is most likely that the kids' Dad will be awarded sole residency, and I may even be restricted to supervised contact.

I have a lawyer who is going to do his best, but he fears for me and my children and doubts he will be able to do much to help us due to the current laws.

Our journey continues....

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