A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Monday Mourning

Today I sit on my daughter’s empty bed again and just cry. I’m exhausted from a week of trying to undo yet again, what my ex did the week before. My life now is handling tantrums and rages born of fear, frustration, hurt and confusion. It’s crawling under benches and beds, to sit with my daughter when she is having “big feelings”. It’s holding my son as he clings to me, knowing he is simply afraid to let go. It’s working with his many fears, obsessions and compulsions that get worse every time we near transition. It’s reassuring him every time my voice changes, that he is not in trouble, that he is safe.

And I cry…

I cry because I had to send them back to him again, knowing full well what that means for them. I cry because I feel helpless to help them. Every other week, I am bound and helpless again. This is transition day for me. A day my heart punches at the core of my soul with helpless screams and moans, as I leave my babies at the designated drop off and they watch me walk away, their eyes wide and scared. I won’t see them for a week. I can’t protect them for a whole week.

The only thing I can do now, is make their beds, do their laundry, clean their sinks and prepare their spaces for when they come back to me again and we begin the long process of assessing and again correcting the damage that has been done. Slowly and quietly, that’s what I do on these transition days. The dread of the previous day’s anticipation of this day is realized and I attempt to lift my heart and rest my spirit for the familiar battle that I know is coming.

My week will be spent in preparation. Reading anything I can get my hands on, planning how to teach them the critical thinking skills they will need, to see truth and to manage living with a narcissistic, abusive father, without being ripped to shreds in the process. It’s the only thing I can do for them when they are with him. It’s the only protection I can offer them. I must teach them how to identify manipulation, how to spot blame shifting, how to counter gaslighting. It’s survival skills 101 and I am on an unwavering mission to educate myself and become fluent in abuserese, so that I can teach them to identify it too. And then I have to pray. Pray that the Lord give them discernment by the bucket load. Pray that all they have learned will be recognized and used to minimize the effects of the abuse on their little hearts and minds.

It’s teaching them to steer the boat and to navigate the rapids they will face, because I can’t be there to hold the rudder steady for them. My kids have to grow up a lot faster than they should. I can’t change that right now. But what I can do is give them the skills they will need along the journey they are on and pray like crazy that they will find their way through the darkness, into the safety of truth.

I know God is with them. I know He will steady their feet, as He steadies my heart. And so I make their beds today, I clean their dishes and put away their clothes. I pick my heart up off of the floor for the thousandth time and I resolve to push on. At some point, God promises a finish line, and I am determined to see my kids cross it.

41 Comments

  1. Seeing Clearly

    Oh my. We never know what others are doing on Monday morning. The day we often think of as the day of ‘fresh starts’. How can it be that this is part of the job description of being a mother. Hold your head high. Yours is a place of honor, for you sit in the seat of refuge for the wounded children and read them the book of reality and how to make sense of their lives.
    Bless you, continue being courageous.

    • deborahmom

      Thank you Seeing Clearly. I just wanted to express what it’s like to share custody, the reality of it and the raw emotion of it. I think because it’s important that other moms who are doing the same thing know that they aren’t alone and that even if they can’t protect their little ones directly, they can do so indirectly through teaching them the skills they need to minimize the effects that joint custody with an abusive parent creates.

  2. Brenda R

    Deborah,
    This is heartbreaking. I have a daughter who had to see her dad everyother weekend for a while. A lot of the time he didn’t show up, so for the entire weekend I would try to comfort her through her tears. When she would get up to use the bathroom at night she would come and wake me for reassurance that someone was there until she was 12. On the weekends that he did show up, it took days to get her to understand that she did have to take a bath which made her very angry. One time I had to call the police to get her back when he refused to return her after his weekend. She was petrified. She was trying to get to me and he kept holding her back. There were lights and sirens everywhere. It took a month before she would go to sleep without my being with her. One day when she was going through extreme emotion because he failed to show up after several months. I started hitting a pillow and repeating, “how dare he do this to you”. She began doing the same. I haven’t seen my biological father since before age 2, I believe that was almost easier than what my poor girl went through. Her dad never showed up again and died by the time she was 15. She wasn’t even allowed to go to the funeral. His family kept it a secret. There was a trust involved which she was suppose to be able to use for college. That never happened. The money is gone.

    • deborahmom

      Oh Brenda, that is a heart wrenching story. I think it’s the children that suffer the most in the abuse. They are the ones caught in it all.

      • Brenda R

        Deb, It is definitely the children who suffer most. I pray that yours will make it out with strength and a deep belief in Jesus. I know you will help them in this direction.

  3. Anonymous

    Dear DeborahMom, I sit. Numb. Staring at what you’ve shared. Such grief that only God can console. I ache for you but only you know the full extent of your personal ordeal.
    So, I pray, “… but Oh God, you know it just feels so empty at times when what I would really like to do is physically embrace this dear sister-in-the-Lord; somehow to take away the anguish she and her children are experiencing. YOU are all powerful and yes, very Glorious. Thank you Lord for hearing our cries for mercy and strength.”

  4. Suzanne

    I wish that family court judges would be required to see and hear the pain they inflict on the helpless when they mandate visitation rights for abusers.

    • zooey111

      I agree.

      • poohbear

        I agree, as well!

    • tellthetruth1

      Suzanne, that’s just what I was thinking.

    • Psalm 37

      I agree, but the realization is that they could care less what they do to children. There is a special kind of wickedness and corruption that runs through our family courts. For anyone who is just beginning the divorce process, please shore yourself up to the reality of this. I’m not trying to be cynical or pessimistic, just realistic.

      • fiftyandfree

        Psalm 37, I would have thought you were being cynical before I endured the family court nightmare for myself. I had friends warn me and I thought they were being cynical but I found out that the corruption really is rampant and disgraceful. It’s a miracle things turned out as well as they did for me. A true, God-given miracle for which I will be eternally grateful. Family court is the proverbial “second rape” for abuse victims but it’s actually worse than that because in family court it’s the children who are suffer the most.

      • Marah

        This? Terrifies me. I’m working up the courage to file for divorce, but this sort of thing paralyzes me. My kids are older – the youngest is 12 – but none of them want to see their dad, and are misery-ridden at the thought that they will be forced to. I need some hope.

      • Marah, i understand. I wish I could say something that would give you confidence that if you divorce your kids will not end up in this kind of situation.

        All I can say is, things are uncertain in the way the cards fall in the Family Court.

        Maybe your being part of the blog is helping to equip you so that if and when you divorce you will be more alert to the potential tactics that abusers and their allies use, and so perhaps less likely to be pushed around by the system. My other thoughts are that maybe you could seek recommendations of lawyers from your local Women’s Resource Centre. They may know lawyers who are astute and strong at countering the potential pitfalls in the Court system. Equip yourself well, is one part of it. And prayer is the other.

        I wish, how I wish, I could prophesy that the Court would give you favor. We know some survivors get it bad, and some get a better result. How I wish I could wave the magic wand for you! but I can’t.

      • also, Marah, I am not an attorney, so don’t take my statement as legal advice, but with your kids being older than Deborah’s and their firmness of mind in wanting not to see their father, their wishes may be more likely to be heard. So if they voice their unwillingness to see their father to the GAL (Guardian ad Litem) in a divorce process, that may mean you and they may get a better outcome than Deborah’s kids did.

  5. Debra- I am so very sorry. Every time I read one of your posts, my heart aches for you.

  6. rrprewett

    I wish I had words to ease the pain. Just know that I am breathing a prayer for you right now. You are not alone.

  7. Barnabasintraining

    DeborahMom, this made me cry.

    Yes. Push on. There is a finish line.

  8. fiftyandfree

    Sadly, so many of us can relate to this post. I agree with Suzanne – family court judges should be required to see and hear what our children endure. Debra, trust the Lord with your children. He will be a father to the fatherless for them. He has been for my children and while that hasn’t erased all the pain, it does make it more bearable for them.

  9. deborahmom

    It doesn’t help them. Some would go so far as to call it court sanctioned abuse. Abuse by proxy, as the courts allow it to happen and put children in situations in which it can. It is terrible for the children….terrible. The hardest part for me is watching my kids struggle, watching them develop symptoms of trauma, knowing this is something they will have to heal from for years to come, and not being able to stop it. It’s torture. But it would be no better if I were still in that house. At least now I can teach them that abuse is wrong. Manipulation is wrong. And I can show them how to counter that for themselves. When I was with my ex, I couldn’t do that. I was barely able to survive. At least now I can grow stronger for them and fight for them.

  10. Kaylen

    It saddens me to read the post and comments. No child should have to endure any of the things mentioned. My kids are older. The only ones effected are my twins that are 16. The others are ages 19 to 25. They have all chosen to side with him. None of them are talking to me. He told them how “bad” a mother I was, but told me that I shouldn’t talk down about him or disrespect him in front of the kids and I honored that for the most part during the marriage. When I finally left, all the kids saw was a mom abandoning her children because of the mental and verbal abuse, I had checked out of my life as a wife and mother for a long time and was physically ill. Over the years he told them when I would do things wrong that should have never been discussed…things that I had apologized for. I have and had admitted that I had made mistakes in the marriage (ones that he would never let me forget). So now he has all the kids on his side and the church that has put me out. You see, he doesn’t want them to feel that it is normal for mom and dad to have separate homes. He even told them that they couldn’t come spend the night with me. And because there is no divorce yet, and they choose not to see me, then I have nothing that says they have to. And I stayed all the years for them. No calls, no answered text, no pictures….unless I come home to dad. It’s been 4 months, 4 birthdays, 1 graduation,,,,, So what I wouldn’t do for a hug from one of them right now…..
    There’s many pains, and unfortunately the kids pay the highest price and the abuser seems to pay the least price of all.

    • Brenda R

      No calls, no answered text, no pictures….unless I come home to dad.

      They know not what they do!! Their dad is just plain wrong for poisoning their minds against you. No matter what the problems between mom and dad, the children should never be used as pawns.

    • healingInHim

      Kaylen – my circumstances are slightly different. Although the children knew their father was responsible for the turmoil they now as adults have chosen him. He doesn’t question them about anything whereas I do because I love them. I have desired an adult conversation to know why they have chosen paths they claimed they would never live?
      “And I stayed all the years for them. No calls, no answered text, no pictures….unless I come home to dad….So what I wouldn’t do for a hug from one of them right now…..”
      (the alienation is heartbreaking. Years of mind games – evil)

    • Just Me

      Kaylen, I am so sorry. Your comment is heartbreaking. I will pray for you and your children.

    • deborahmom

      Kaylen, I am praying so hard for you now. It is a nightmare to know the truth and see your children believing the lies. Rejecting you for lies. Praying….

    • Not Too Late

      Kaylen, I hear your pain and share your heartbreak. I, too, haven’t heard for birthdays, Christmas, mothers day…I refused to kowtow to falsehood, and would rather stay true to what I know…and I knew I would be paying a big price, but it’s still better than living a false life. Keeping you in my prayers. X

      • Anonymous

        NotTooLate – I appreciate your reply to Kaylen … I’m praying for the strength to stop living ‘the lie’, however, it is painful. I’m thankful for the pain because it means I haven’t hardened my soul like the abusers; I care so much for their souls.

  11. fiftyandfree

    I’m so sorry Kaylen and HealingInHim. I pray that your children will see the truth one day and return to your loving arms, like the prodigal son returned to his father.

    • healingInHim

      Thank you for praying. It would be wonderful if they see ‘the truth’, however I am also very aware of:
      Luke 12:53 (NASB)
      “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

      • fiftyandfree

        Yes, but healing is possible, so please don’t give up hope.

    • Kaylen

      Thank you and everyone for you prayers…they are much needed. I just pray that someday they will see and understand. I would never keep my children from their dad or by my silence (or so he has said, since the separation) discourage a relationship with him. He is and always will be their dad. He caused so much damage to me before I left and he has no idea the damage that he has done to me know through my children…and I do blame him. Some wounds can heal, some wounds leave scars that are constant reminders and other wounds leave scars that although they are healed, they still have pain that will never fully go away even though the wound is healed.

      I just pray that my daughters that have been so bitter to me about this don’t find out by finding a man “like dear ole’ dad” and that my son’s can get out long enough to see what a true man should be and break the cycle.

      • Kaylen, you are right to blame your abuser. He is the one at fault.

      • And I pray that your abuser will fall into his own pit. And your children will awaken from the spell he has cast on them, and that the things that prompt them to awaken will not be so painful and devastating that they cannot endure them. May the Lord have mercy, and save those who have been bewitched by the evil one!

  12. IamMyBeloved's

    Don’t know where else to put this, but the Part 2 Addenda is up over at Reformed Baptist Fellowship.

  13. deborahmom

    Marah, Barb is right about the benefit of your kids being older. They can choose to live with you at the age of 14 in most states, without courts intervening. Your 12 year old can also request this of the judge and can get a chance to speak with the judge one on one, where the judge will hear their request and decide from there. It’s more hope than a lot of us have with this situation, with our kids being younger. I hope this helps give you hope.

    • Marah

      I pray that’s the case. When I had my initial screening meeting with the legal clinic, it didn’t sound like that’s the case for my state (Oregon). I pray so, though.

  14. wbgl0

    Debrorahmom, I wish so much this wasn’t happening to your family. But you sound like such a terrific mom. I prayed for you and your children today.

    • deborahmom

      Thank you so much.

  15. Finding Answers

    I saw the effects on the children in a similar shared custody arrangement play out with one of my abusive siblings. (Omitting details for protection.)

    The adult children are still paying the price, long after the shared custody is done.

  16. Now Free (formerly struggling to be free)

    My heart goes out to all who have sadly been abused and then re-abused again spiritually for a whole host of absurd and certainly unbiblical reasons. Let’s call it for what it is SIN! And sin that needs repented of!!

    Thank you Barbara & Pastor Jeff again for your comments that are so helpful and encouraging. The comments of others, whilst so harrowing and disturbing (the abuse) are also full of encouragement. You are all amazing!!

    My heart goes out to the children mentioned. As a former youth and children’s worker for years I’ve seen so much and been at the counselling end of abuse as I taught and spent much time with children. I’ve a big heart for them, and they are very, very special to Jesus. Matthew 18 is so precious to me. Woe to any one who touches or brings them suffering and prevents them coming to Christ. Children are very dear to the heart of Jesus.

    Jesus taught very clearly about children and how we should view and treat them. Keep on praying for them.

    A lovely Christian lady I once met used to wash and iron her kids clothes and over each garment prayed for them and certain aspects of their lives. Hats – she prayed for their minds that it be guarded and think good thoughts, socks -protecting their steps, their under garments – sexual protection etc, etc

    Wow I thought this is fantastic! what a way to make ironing( I hate it) productive and be blessed by it. That lady never saw it as a chore. Try it ladies and MEN!!!! It is NOT women’s work!!!

    I can’t thank this site enough for all I have learnt and received.

    • Great idea about how to make the chore of ironing into spiritual blessing!

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