October Snow — a novel about domestic abuse and the family court

Informational post: October Snow can be purchased on kindle at the special price of 99 cents until the end of this month. It’s by Jenna Brooks, who has been commenting on our blog.

About the book:

Jenna’s debut novel, October Snow [Affiliate link], is the story of Josie Kane – a battered mother who, after escaping her abusive husband, is falling into an abyss of unresolved rage.

Jenna says, “I wrote this novel for abused mothers because in my experience, the Family Court often takes up where a batterer leaves off. Like the character of ‘Josie Kane’, many of these women are every bit as injured by a paternalistic – even oppressive – FC system as they are by an abuser. Their experiences in the court are simply another betrayal. As a society, we pay little attention to the outcome of battered mothers – both legally and culturally.”

For further info, go to octobersnowevent.weebly.com. [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.]

30 thoughts on “October Snow — a novel about domestic abuse and the family court”

  1. I often say that going through family court is like being raped a second time. It’s truly that horrific. I know of so many cases of women being treated like criminals in family court, and of children being handed over to the slaughter to abusive fathers. So many people ask incredulously, “Why do these women stay in these relationships?” Well, the horror of the family court system is one of the reasons. The “best interest of the child” platitude that we hear all the time in regards to family court is a joke. Children are slaughtered like pigs in family court. THAT’S WHY WOMEN STAY!!!!!

    1. That’s right. And many wind up going back, after they get a taste of the FC system – and then, the battered woman had better hide what’s going on in her home, or she can go up on Failure to Protect. In other words, the state makes certain she stays with the abuser. Or else.

      The novel mentions the “Best Interests” standard, which is the weapon that is used to trap protective mothers (and flies in the face of Equal Protection, by the way).

      1. Thanks Jenna.
        I believe we need to have more posts and resources on this blog about how the courts and justice systems and their allied ‘services’ can create problems (nightmares) for the victim of domestic abuse especially when children are involved. It seems like your book is one of the ways that victims / survivors can be informed in advance about what they may end up facing in the family courts.

        The injustice is widespread, it would seem, though not universal. We know of some survivors who have obtained (relatively good) safety and freedom with the help of the courts. I am one such survivor; though I went through the Family Court in Australia in 1995, when it was perhaps less difficult for abuse victims than it is now — from what I pick up on the grapevine. I’m no expert in the state of play in the Aussie FC, and the situation in the USA seems to be way more complicated and more fraught with traps and snags for victims / survivors. And from what I am hearing, the love of money is at the root of many of the problems in the system.

      2. Jenna,

        I am going to get your novel. I read the first three chapters on Amazon and am hooked. I don’t have a kindle though so I have order it.

        What is the “best interests” standard?

      3. Hi, B.

        It’s “Best interests of the child(ren).” It takes priority over the rights of DV targets to live free of their abuser, because it’s the primary consideration of the process.

        And my goodness – thank you so much for the kind words about October Snow, and for buying it. Let me know if you have any questions.

      4. You’re right, Barbara – the FC system is a massive money-maker for the players within it.

        The nightmare situations for abused women began in earnest with the “syndrome” that was introduced by Richard Gardner: Parental Alienation. I don’t think PAS was a common weapon of batterers’ attorneys in 1995 Australia, so you were blessed to escape it.

      5. It’s “Best interests of the child(ren).” It takes priority over the rights of DV targets to live free of their abuser, because it’s the primary consideration of the process.

        Oh wow. An abuser’s dream…. 😦

    1. That was one of the best texts I ever read on the topic, because in it, Ms. McQueen forewarns women through her personal experience. Thanks for posting the link.

    2. Thanks for that link Barbara. That book looks great. Sadly, at this point in my life I literally cannot read anything about family court because I am still so traumatized by the whole thing. I feel such rage and profound grief over the hell family court was, even though by God’s grace I got my kids, the process was so torturous that I choose to pretend it never happened – unless I meet someone who needs my help – then I reach out to them, but it’s always so painful. For now I bookmark all of these books to hopefully read sometime in the future, or to recommend to others who many need them.

    3. Fiftyandfree, don’t beat yourself up that you can’t read these books. It’s part of the healing process. I am right there with you! In fact it took me a few days before I could even GLANCE at this post!

      1. Thanks Still Scared. I think it’s my claim to sanity for the time being. For now I have them on my save for later list on amazon.

  2. I have ordered the book because it speaks to my current (for the past 9 years) situation. I’m looking for answers to move forward out of the FC chaos, but it has impoverished me and I don’t know how to do it. It is like living in a torture chamber maze, never knowing what is around the next corner. How did anyone ever make it stop? Why does FC not protect children from abusers? Is this not in their best interest?

    1. As I see it only,

      I’m sorry you are going through this. I wish I had some words of advice for you. My FC nightmare finally ended abruptly when I agreed to all of his financial demands. I was one of the fortunate ones. He was so motivated by money that once he realized I would give him anything he wanted financially, he gave up on custody. I wish every woman could be as fortunate as I was. Lord, help those who are fighting for their children.

      Why does FC not protect children? I believe it’s because there is a backlash in this country towards mothers. FC used to almost always favor mothers but because of the father’s rights movements, and because of the few mothers who abused the system years ago, there is now a backlash against mothers seeking custody. And because of the lousy Parental Alienation Syndrome that someone coined/made up and judges are so quick to believe. And because judges, lawyers, social workers, guardian ad lidem’s etc. are not sufficiently trained in the area of psychopathy and domestic abuse. And because the FC falsely believe that a 50/50 financial split and a 50 / 50 custody split is the answer in nearly every custody case. It’s a nightmare. I pray it ends and FC wakes up to the horrors they are inflicting upon innocents.

      1. Thank God that you were able to avoid the long-term battle, Fifty.

        I’m in total agreement with you, that there is an anti-mother movement in this culture. Usually, it’s blamed on feminism, and there is some credibility to that position; yet, it seems that the conversation ends with blaming women.

        Question: which gender benefited (as in, got the most freedom from) the feminist movement? And which gender was in power, so to speak, as this country was legislated into a state of chaos? I’ve said it before, and here it is again – second-wave feminism was the biggest scam ever leveled against women.

        A little history on PAS: It was invented by a guy named Richard Gardner. If you research the truth about him (which tends to be buried in search results, so here you go: Overview of Dr. Richard Gardner’s Opinions on Pedophilia and Child Sexual Abuse [Internet Archive link] ), you’ll find that he was not who the Father’s Rights crowd says he was. Not at all.

        Until the FC system is no longer a money-maker for its players, and women start reclaiming their God-given rights, this situation will only get worse. Now that children who have been through the FC nightmare are becoming adults, we’re starting to see the results – and there’s an interesting twist: these children are angry at their mothers.

    2. Hi. I hear you. I can tell you, you are so far from alone in how you feel.

      I’m reluctant to promote my work here, because this isn’t my site and that’s not why I hang out here – so I trust that Barbara will let me know if I shouldn’t relay this information: I’m doing a multi-part column series on my site that deals with the issues we’re talking about. Here’s the direct link:

      Post DV: The Reclaim Seminar [This link is broken and we were unable to find a copy in the Internet Archive. Editors.]

      (Barbara, please let me know if you’d rather I don’t share my site here. I fully understand – it just saves me time to refer women to what I’m saying over there.)

      Thanks so much for buying October Snow. I wrote it to bring to light the “maze” you mentioned – and the truth about how it affects mothers and children. I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts.

      God bless and keep you, my friend.

      1. We are happy to have your series linked on our blog, Jenna. 🙂
        I encourage readers to go to Jenna’s website and read the series; parts 1 and 2 of the series have been published and there are more on the way.
        Readers: here is a taster from the part 2:

        Take a look at all of the points where Mary [the abused woman] was intimidated [by the System] – and by whom.

        She responded with normal fears: that her children would go without their basic needs being met; that they would be left alone with a violent male; that strangers would be brought in to “assess” (define) them, and thus determine their futures; that she would be separated from them with no recourse; that Hubby was after her daughter – and just uttering those words would result in the girl being handed over to him. And in the end, not even God would approve of her if she left.

        But her worst fear was wrapped around the insanity of the process of trying to get away from a battering male, that the lunacy of the System itself is a Twilight Zone of contempt and ignorance that doesn’t merely border on criminal: it pole-vaults over the line. And the culture, which included the people who turned on her, helped Hubby to trap her.

        So what could she have done? Well, what were her options? She could sacrifice her children – or herself. Since she was a loving and appropriately protective mother, she decided that returning to Hubby was the only thing she could do, because it’s the culture and its institutions that need to change. This society needs to stop taking the easy way out, thereby assisting in the destruction of women and children, and start reclaiming a backbone. In other words, stop trying to understand the abuser, and use that mental energy to understand his target. Take on the truth, and do something about it. Those who choose to support abusive males – including those who remain “neutral” – need to admit to their cowardice, be ashamed, and at least do no further harm.

  3. Jenna, I read parts 1 and 2 of the series. Oh, my. The rush of emotions and memories is unbelievable. Yes, I am enraged, but I am still so very leery of admitting that. The monster used to accuse me of being a rageaholic and he said that he could easily prove it (he is a licensed psychologist) and use it and my so-called “mental health history” against me to win custody of the kids. I lived in terror for 12 years. When I finally had the courage to get out I got duped by an unscrupulous lawyer who took me for $25,000 and never planned any kind of strategy to fight for me in court. He just strung me along for a year bankrupting me, playing “the get rich via Family Court” game while the kids and I suffered, and while the ex planned a brilliant strategy to get everything he wanted at the expense of me and the children. I ended up with the kids, but that’s only by the grace of Almighty God, but we are bankrupt and hurting. No one understands. I’m supposed to just pick up the pieces and move on like nothing ever happened. I lost 14 years of my life. My children are hurt, and confused, and sad.

    One of the most validating thing you said in that series was that she sacrificed HERSELF by going back. I want to cry because you understand that. I stayed as long as I did to protect my children. I don’t know if I’ll ever see myself as the hero you say I (and women like me) are, but I know that I am a survivor, and I know that every single decision I made was for my children. The MONSTER could never say that; at least not honestly.

    Thank you for posting your links here. I am looking forward to part 3 even though I know it will likely stir up some uncomfortable memories and emotions for me.

    1. ” I’m supposed to just pick up the pieces and move on like nothing ever happened. I lost 14 years of my life. My children are hurt, and confused, and sad.”
      Exactly!! We have rehab and physical therapy for people who go through major surgery but in cases like ours, it’s like we’re just dumped on the side of the road and have to figure it all out ourselves and help our kids!

      1. I know people mean well, but they just don’t understand the trauma. In their mind the divorce is over, so the trauma is over. It’s really hard to heal with so little support and understanding.

      2. Yes! I liken it to people equate divorce to the flu, bad for the time but it’s over move on. Divorce in cases of abuse is more like major cancer with chemo, radiation, surgery and all the recovery and time that that takes. And, with the flu you are all better after it. With Cancer and all the treatment, you will NEVER be the same.

  4. Right. Such a good analogy. And with the flu you lose 7-10 days of your life. Not 14. Or 20. Or More. All those years gone forever. That’s the hardest part for me.

    1. Aargh… Great discussion. So much I want to say, but I have to get out the door in a few.

      I’ll have my after-dinner coffee here. See you all later..

    2. But Fiftyandfree, yes we can never get those years back but we have many more days to enjoy our Lord and rejoice in our freedom. I hope you can look forward. I know the regret and lost and I try to not carry that burden, it’s not mine to carry now.

  5. Okay, here’s what I’m thinking about.

    I get (and agree with) the point of the flu vs. cancer analogy; however, there’s a deeper issue that needs to be remembered: Domestic Violence is something done to a woman deliberately, which is in a different league – and if it weren’t for the FC system, it would stand a better chance of being treated like the felony that it is. More than that, you’d be hard-pressed to find the same contempt for cancer victims that you do for DV targets.

    And the aftermath of DV is a unique legacy, in my opinion, because it usually involves such a deep sense of betrayal – one that can actually drive a wedge between a woman and her senses of morality, right and wrong, and justice. Especially in the court system. (Think Luke 18.)

    This is how I’ve explained in the past it to people who have difficulty getting it: You walk into your house after work, and the babysitter has ripped your home apart and is yelling vulgarities at your kids. Outraged, you fire the sitter, who then attacks you. Screams ugly names at you, threatens to take everything you own, destroy everything you care about. Badly injured, you call the police. The unrepentant sitter is arrested, spends time in jail, is forbidden from coming within a hundred yards of you and your kids, and has to rebuild a life afterward (one that has nothing to do with children) – not to mention, compensate you for your pain, suffering, and medical bills. Makes sense, and it’s as close to justice as you’ll get, and life goes on.

    But what if, when the police arrive, they question you as to: 1. Why did the sitter attack you? 2. Did you engage in any provocation? 3. Are you really hurt that badly? 4. Did you strike first? 5. Did the children witness you fighting back? 6. Is the sitter injured? 7. Which one of you has more marks? (You get the idea.)

    Now let’s say you’re obviously injured pretty badly, and they arrest the sitter. What if the judge does nothing more than order the sitter into an anger management class, and then asks you about the chances of reconciliation? You say, “Uh, no way,” so the judge orders both of you into a collaborative effort, so the two of you can work out your differences. After all, the kids once liked that sitter, and they need to maintain that relationship. And since you don’t want to be around the babysitter at all anymore, you have to get over the fact that your kids will be ordered into visitation – without you there. When you bring up the fact that your kids are absolutely terrified of the babysitter, the judge accuses you of alienating them, and threatens you with jail time if those kids aren’t delivered for visitation – and they’d better be appropriately eager and loving. (That’s called “Threat Therapy.” It’s a part of the PAS scam.) Protest further, and s/he’ll give your children to the sitter.

    That’s an unreal scenario, right? Absolutely ridiculous. But switch the babysitter for the biodad, and it’s not an unusual sequence of events. People sometimes counter with, “But we’re talking about the father here, not an employee.” My response to that is, “Of course. And that makes it even worse.” (But that’s another discussion.)

    The point is, women are criticized for their anger as a matter of course; and after escaping an abuser, if they do, they’re pretty much silenced. They’re betrayed first, by the guy who promised to love, honor, and cherish. Then, they’re betrayed by a culture which doesn’t want to know the truth, for a variety of reasons. Then, they’re too often betrayed by believers who align themselves with the Judge who didn’t fear God. Then, they’re betrayed by a court system that seems to have plucked its judges right out of Luke 18.

    Just my opinion, but the anger of battered women may be a product of their last vestige of dignity. It needs to be worked through, and channeled productively – but at least there’s life there, you know?

    As for the horrible feeling of “wasted years”: God doesn’t allow for that, not for those who love Him. That feeling of futility, of being used up, comes from the confusion of living within a culture and a system that betrays without conscience. It strips you of your sense of worth, and causes you to forget your God-given dignity.

    I talk about women’s dignity quite often. (Actually, I talk about the loss of it.) Again, that’s another discussion – so I’ll leave you with this: If nothing else, know that God is working in your life. He wastes no part of you. And if you think you’re angry at how you’ve been treated… How do you think He feels about it? At the end of it all, which side would you rather be on – yours, or theirs?

    Allow yourself the anger, but not to the point where it interferes with the voice of God. Far too often, that’s what happens to abused mothers. Look for the work He’s doing in you, stay close to Him, and then reach out to help another.

    Wow – I went on for a while here. My apologies. Talk soon –


    1. Love that example of a babysitter. Never thought of that before! IT’s great! Thanks!

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