There are lots of times, in becoming a parent, that my whole world has changed instantly. When the ePrince first cried out his jaundiced, wheezing breath of air I knew my life would never be the same. The first time my ex-husband sought to harm me while I held on to the ePrince for dear life, I knew that my short-lived time, free from family violence was over. And during the interceding period I have experienced bouts of relative calm interrupted by frightening deranged episodes from my ex-husband directed at me.
I have maintained the belief throughout my adulthood that domestic violence perpetrators use violence with the consent of their family members and community. In my work as an advocate I came to see that the trend for people who commit acts of violence towards their loved ones begins long before that relationship and has roots in the foundational family dynamic that helped to train and develop the individual. Therefore whole family groups are responsible for family violence even where one party commits the crime.
It has been six long years of relative peace and quiet from my ex-husband. His family has sought to harass me and negatively impact the safety and sanctity of my family, but my ex-husband had largely stayed away from from our son and I for a good amount of time. Until recently, the ePrince was curious about how his biological father was doing, but had not sought him out for fear of attracting negative attention at us (and that is how he describes it to me). My son was finally experiencing a somewhat normal (in as much as his special education status allows) teenager lifestyle. The ePrince plays too many video games, he sometimes hangs out with his close friends, he texts… y’know, the good stuff.
And then we were alerted to the recent local news article that exposed an obvious psychotic break my ex-husband was deeply in the throws of and targeted at me. I knew it was bad and sought the help of his family in negotiating a safe and positive outcome in the situation. Foolish me. The out-laws have never looked after the well-being of their grandson and have repeatedly engaged with my ex and the legal system to attempt to undermine my parental rights and role. Through significant dogged effort I have maintained custody. Yet in this situation, where they financially and socially support their son (my ex) and his negative feelings toward myself and our family, they take no responsibility for their role in fostering the violence that is an unfortunate byproduct of the mental instability that afflicts my ex. But I did think I should at least try to problem-solve with them in a positive manner. My last post on the subject reflects the outcome of that failed effort.
The ePrince and I, as well as my husband and the lilEinstein, have been through a lot over the years. Attempted kidnappings, violent outbursts, and even gun-wielding show-downs. I feel angry and disgusted at what has transpired. And yet, I have always tried to maintain the best interests of my son and continue to be a responsible parent for his benefit when dealing with the outlaws. I have a long and proven track record of trying my damnedest to seek out the most positive solution for the sake of my son, sometimes at great personal cost to myself. Those days of frightening, but largely unsuccessful attempts to harm us, are over.
Last week I received a phone call referencing a ‘Tarasoff notification.’ I did not even know what that was or even what it meant to me. In essence, “[t]he California Supreme Court found that a mental health professional has a duty not only to a patient, but also to individuals who are specifically being threatened by a patient. This decision has since been adopted by most states in the U.S. and is widely influential in jurisdictions outside the U.S. as well.” From this notification we can discern that my ex, like the perpetrator in the Tarasoff case, confided his intent to kill me. And exactly like the defendant in the Tarasoff case, my ex was detained but shortly thereafter released, as he appeared rational.
It took a year for the Tarasoff perpetrator to finally kill his victim, but throughout that year, he took several steps to enact a plan to kill Tarasoff and was eventually successful in doing so. Despite repeated attempts to have positive communication with the outlaws about the significance of this situation and their participation in supporting my ex’s dangerous delusions, the outlaws continue to rebuff their responsibility. They continue to shirk their financial obligations to their grandson, and throughout this week I received several communications from them threatening litigation to enforce their ‘grandparents rights’ (which at this point are extraordinarily limited) and all the while my children and I were in hiding from their son. My husband was out of town on business (now, the ill-fated fishing trip) and was too far away to be of any help to us at all when we first prepared to disappear. The outlaws who took responsibility for my ex with the hospital to secure his release there, did not know where he was within 24 hours of the release time; once again ignoring their responsibilities.
I have been the recipient of several amazing acts of generosity since last week. Several friends who are unknown to the outlaws have offered up their safe havens at a moments notice for our safety. A security company outfitted my home with a system and installations at no cost to us. A local shop provided a steep discount on classes, ammo and self-protection. Even the police here have been supportive, communicative, helpful and advocating for our safety, doing hourly drive-by’s to ensure we are still alive.
I wish I could say that all of this is some sort of horrible joke or exaggeration. It is not. It is downright frightening for both of my children. It is exhausting and stupefyingly anger-causing for the hubby. My extended family fear for me and our friends feel at a loss to help us. What I can say at this point is that the mental health system is extraordinarily flawed. The justice system does not protect victims. And if anything should happen to me, it is my wish that the ePrince should stay with the hubby; I charge all my loveys with the responsibility to help make that happen.