#5 Abandonment

R hadn’t seen or contacted Beau in over a year. I knew he would come back for holidays to see his family, who live about 5 minutes away. It was a constant worry of mine that he would choose this fathers day, this christmas, this birthday to contact the supervisor for a visit. I had never received any child support payments, any birthday cards, presents, nothing. So I met with my attorney to move forward with filing abandonment. In California you can file for abandonment if there has been a period of 12 months with no contact from the other parent. Now came the hard part-tracking R down. Legally I was supposed to have his address, which is a complete joke in my mind. When has he ever done anything by the law? He never followed ANY of the court ordered instructions. Never did any drug/alcohol screenings, didn’t do any of his counseling, didn’t go to any batterer intervention programs. NOTHING. His family never even contacted me to see Beau. But I had to somehow find an address and serve him 10 days prior to the hearing? I had to have my process server serve his mother and father. Then it became their legal responsibility to get it to R.

We went to court. I had the same judge that we have had this whole hearing, which terrified me. He is a very blunt, no bullshit kind of guy. He will talk over attorneys, tell them to shut their mouths, tell you that you are wasting his time. I had no idea whether or not R, his mom, or his step mother and dad would be attending the hearing. My attorney told me this will be a quick case, since he has literally abandoned Beau it wouldn’t be hard to prove it. Shockingly the judge told me I needed to hire an attorney for Beau, prove that Beau would be financially supported if anything were to happen to me, prove that he was in a better financial position with me than he ever would be with is father, I needed to show where Beau lives, go through extensive background checks, and have an interview with a court investigator. I honestly thought I was going to walk out stress free and the case would be closed. I was so angry. I felt as though we are just giving this monster more time to change his mind, more time to get his shit together, and more time to take Beau away from me.

I had the phone interview with the court investigator. She was very sweet. She asked me every detail of the case, including the domestic violence history. I went though it all step by step, the threats, abuse, how I almost died. She also needed to talk to R then would get back with me once she made contact, I wished her luck. R reportedly sounded irritated and confused as to “why so many people were calling him” She explained to him what was going on, he said “I did exactly what I was supposed to do. I walked away.” He stated “I made visitation impossible for him”. The worst comment he made that broke my heart for Beau was he said “I have no fatherly ties to the child.” Let me just make this clear, HE served me with custody papers, HE got awarded visitation, which HE canceled after 2 visits, so how did I ever make him walk away? Playing the victim as usual. The court investigator recommended that R’s parental rights be terminated since he wasn’t fighting for Beau, never paid child support, and didn’t want to come to court. I was extremely relieved, one battle was won. Next up meeting with Beaus attorney.

I met with Beau’s attorney. She seemed very blunt and almost irritated to be meeting with me. She had asked me to bring Beau so that she could see that he is healthy and happy. She kept commenting on how cute he is, saying I should get him modeling. She also said how happy he is, and  said “who wouldn’t want to be a part of that little boys life.” We went into her office. She grilled me for about an hour, asking me all about my relationship with R, his past, my past, and the abuse. She actually got teary eyed when I described the abuse, my delivery, and the trauma R caused. I got emotional talking about all of the details and saying how much I love Beau and just want what is best for him and his safety. After the hour long session she said she had talked to R. I was anxious as hell thinking about what he said. She stated that R isn’t going to fight my petition and said he doesn’t want any parental rights to Beau-“He just wanted it over with”. THANK GOD that was over with, now we just needed to go back to court to make the ruling final, but R could still change his mind.

We went back to court AGAIN. Same judge, same court reporter, even the same sheriff. My attorney said he would probably call me first or save me for last since it is an easy case. Of course we went last. I don’t think my heart has ever pounded so loudly since the very first court date. I have never prayed like I prayed that day. Next to Beau being born, this is the most important day of my life. At the end of the whole day the judge finally called my case. He asked everyone to leave the court room, at first it was just my attorney, Beaus attorney, the judge, court reporter, and sheriff. I honestly thought that R had changed his mind and that the judge wasn’t going to rule in my favor. He then said “I saved the easiest case for last” My attorney went over all the evidence, Beau’s attorney went over her conversation with myself and R. We asked my family to come in for the final ruling. The judge said he was going to grant my petition to strip R of his parental rights.  I was teary eyed I was so happy. My family was emotional. It was finally over. Beau is all mine forever. The judge said he didn’t even know where to file the paper work because in his whole career he has never made the ruling of  taking someones parental rights away. I thanked him so much! Beau’s attorney walked out with us, she actually shook my hand saying how I was a great mom and she was very pleased with the ruling. I didn’t realize how much stress I was under. It felt like I could finally breathe again.

We called all of our family, friends, and had a big dinner following the court proceedings to  celebrate.

The picture that changed my life.

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This is the first picture I have holding my son. It isn’t your typical post birth picture where the mom is glowing, dad is smiling, baby healthy and bundled up. Its a defeated dying mother holding a premature little baby, without a dad. R had attacked my sister when he was questioned about why I was throwing up blood for 5 days and he didn’t take me to a hospital for help. He was removed from the hospital. Nurses then saw the bruises on my arms, hips, and stomach. They put the pieces together and started investigating deeper for domestic violence. R was banned from returning to the hospital after my mom read through my cell phone finding the horrible life threats R had made. My family came to the realization that their daughter and only grandchild might not survive because of an abusive monster. Beau and I were put under secret names for our safety, completely off the hospital registry, and my room had been changed. My mom took this picture incase I didn’t survive so that my child had a picture with his mother holding him. This is the reality of domestic violence. I was getting transferred to a different hospital over an hour away from my child for more intensive care. I was expected to die. Domestic Violence doesn’t care who you are, where you come from, how much money you have, the color of your skin. It can happen to anyone. It breaks my heart that my mother had to think of taking this picture so that if I were to not wake up, my child had a memory with me. I feel horrible that my family had to endure the stress and heartbreak of my secret. I had carried it on my shoulders not wanting to burden anyone. I thought that I could handle it. As long as he only abused me and not my child it would be okay. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. There is this psychological hold our abusers have over us. I honestly thought that I deserved every attack. I did something wrong and he was punishing me for messing up. I thought that a “family” had to have two parents. I didn’t want my child to grow up with an absent father. I was so brainwashed to believing every negative thing R ever told me. I wasn’t going to be a good mother, I wasn’t a good girlfriend, I was stupid, ugly, worthless, a bitch. This picture represents the beginning of my journey. While it hurts me to see it, it makes me so proud. I am strong and healthy, My child is so happy, strong, and healthy. God saved me and sent be the best gift anyone can ever receive.

 

A Letter To My Abuser…

R,

I never thought I would be the 1 in 4. I never thought I would be one of those girls who become a victim of abuse, especially not at the hands of someone they love. When we are growing up we are taught to fear strangers because you don’t know what they are capable of. I was never taught how to deal with the monster you were. You made my families worst nightmare come true. YOU were my nightmare. The man I was supposed to trust became the stranger you fear your whole life. I was afraid of getting raped at a party, or getting beat up by someone, I never imagined you would become that person.

Every time you drank I knew it would happen. The blow up, the screaming, the abuse. At first I would stand up to you; try and show you that you couldn’t push me around. After a while you broke me. You took away everything I had worked so hard to be. Every time you called me a bitch, worthless, ugly, or told me how you hoped I’d die, you broke me a little more. Every time you pushed me, broke things, or hit me, I died inside a little more until there was nothing left. I look back at pictures when I was with you and I was dead inside. There was no light behind my eyes. I was just going through the motions of everyday life. I got so used to putting on that fake smile and covering up the bruises. No one knew that the night before I was getting verbally and physically abused, or watching you hold a knife to your throat when I wanted to leave. Nobody knew the damage you were truly doing to me.

The scary thing is I still can feel the spit on my face every time you screamed at me, I still am terrified of you, and I can’t trust any man fully because of you. You claimed you had PTSD. I can tell you now that you were full of shit and looking for an excuse for your actions. I have PTSD from YOU. I have nightmares all the time, I can’t go out in public without being terrified to run into you or your family, I am constantly looking over my shoulder. I make an escape plan in my mind at any store I go into just incase I see you.  I carry weapons so I am ready for you if  you do come back to finish the job you started and hurt me again.

You took the happiest time in my life and completely ruined it. When a woman is pregnant it is supposed to be the most beautiful time in her life, not hell. To think that you almost won makes me sick to my stomach. You almost succeeded in your plan of killing me. Please, tell me who the hell thinks to give a woman drano? Who taught you to hate the way you do? I couldn’t imagine hurting someone that way, but that is what makes me a survivor and you a piece of shit. I wouldn’t wish what you did to me for all that time onto anyone, not even your sisters or your mother. I don’t wish you ill will either. Part of me is thankful for you because I have the most amazing child who is ALL MINE and the other part of me pity’s you. You must feel like such a sorry excuse for a man. A real man would never abuse a woman. Plus, on top of all of that you didn’t win-I am still here, alive and telling my story of what YOU did. You messed with the wrong one this time. I have the strength and drive to change this world. I will not be silenced ever again. You can continue to deny the crap you did, but police reports and medical records don’t lie. Other girls who you have done things to have come forward and told me about what you did. My heart broke that you got away with other disgusting things, but it was nice to finally realize that I didn’t do anything wrong. Its YOU. You have a personality flaw. You have an anger issue. You are an addict. Its your guilt to deal with and carry forever.

But at then end of the day, I forgive you. I forgive you for hurting my family when you tried to kill me. I forgive you for having sex with me when I couldn’t consent to it. I forgive you for every time you hit me, called me names, and broke things. I forgive you for trying to take my child away from me. I forgive you for every sleepless night, every emotional breakdown, and for the fear I still have. I forgive you for ruining my trust in men. I forgive you for calling me a liar and for trying to play the victim in this mess you created.

One day I will meet someone who will appreciate and love me for exactly who I am. They won’t try to change me or take away my strength. They will never hit me,spit on me, or verbally abuse me. They will love my family and friends, not try and take me away from them. He will love my child as his own and will be an amazing example of what a man and father is.

R-you may have silenced me for a while, but you never will be able to do so again. I have taken the control of my life back  and I will continue to share my story and use my voice to try and speak for those who can’t.

Dating

I hope everyone had a great Christmas with their families, I definitely did.

This particular blog post may offend some dudes, I really don’t care. Put your big boy pants on and get ready for some reality.

I decided that this week I would write about dating as a single mother. Since it has been the holiday season I am sure every single single person has been asked the inevitable, uncomfortable, and frankly annoying questions-Are you dating anyone? When are you going to settle down?

Being a single mother is the hardest job I have ever had, being a single mother who has been through the traumatic experience I have makes things even harder. But I want what every person wants; Love.

Dating as single mother is completely different than dating before you had a little one. Besides the obvious factor of the child, the qualities you look for in a man have totally changed. Is this man going to be a positive influence in my child’s life? Would I eventually trust him around my child? Will he love my child as his own? Can he protect my child? With my dating history being as shitty as it is I right off the bat ask 3 questions. 1) ever been arrested? 2) are you employed? and 3) have you had/have any addictions? These may be heavy questions to ask someone but I want to know every skeleton in your closet before I become invested in this situation and DEFINITELY before I involve my child in it. I was getting ready for the last date, stressing over what to wear I had my sister helping me. She had a friend with her and I jokingly said “basically at this point I’m going to dinner and interviewing these guys.” It hit me that I really am. I am interviewing these men to see if they can fit in my life. My situation is different than the usual shared custody parenting plan, my son doesn’t have the “father” as you would in the typical upbringing. So I am seeing if these guys have the qualifications to fit the job. Which brings me to my next topic-

Guys- If a woman is giving up her time to be with you RESPECT IT. We spend hours stressing over what outfit to wear, how to do our hair/makeup, getting a new outfit, finding childcare, and the most expensive thing we are giving up -TIME. We are giving up time with our child to go out with you. Now for me personally, I want to text/talk on the phone for a little while before I even agree to go out on a date with you. So if you have passed that HUGE step with me then that means I actually see potential in you, don’t take advantage of it. Be a gentleman. Open the car door, open the restaurant door, pay attention to us-not the game, smile. Most importantly PLEASE have a damn conversation, believe me when I say ANYTHING will be more interesting to talk about than the one we have with our 3 year old about Paw patrol and Minions all the time.  Those little things will go a long way with us. Don’t be a player, if you are 27+ and are still interested in playing games, you probably shouldn’t be dating a single mother.

Look guys, all we really want is to feel respected and appreciated. Ladies, we will all find “the one” someday, but until then we are out here in this dating war together 🙂

 

#4-CPO

I hadn’t heard from the court appointed supervisor for the visits after over a year, so I thought he had actually left and given up. I still was living in fear, still terrified to go out anywhere near is families salon, scared to go anywhere alone, I was even scared to go out in my driveway in the dark. I slept with the TV or a light on every night. I walked with a taser at all times. I was prepared for him to come back and finish the job he started.

I heard that he was living in Louisiana or Texas so I knew he was physically far away, but what people don’t understand is that the physical abuse is the least of the issues. There is this constant mental hold our abusers have over us. I tell people all the time I would have rather had him hit me more and verbally abused me less because the constant  negative voice inside of you is the most difficult to get rid of. That voice I hear still is his. Continuing to tell me how I’m a rich bitch, I’m ugly, I’m a bitch, I’m worthless, that he hopes I die, I’m a liar, nobody will love me, how hated I am. Almost 3 years since this relationship has ended and I STILL hear that voice.

In april of 2015 I received a phone call from the deputy DA. R had been arrested on another charge and brought back to CA on a warrant. She had seen my pending domestic violence charge against him and called me wanting to explain to her what had happened. I immediately got this wave of emotion, where is he? how long has he been here? has he been watching me? How long will he be here?  To say I was terrified would be an understatement. I started getting emotional. After gathering my thoughts she explained to me that I didn’t need to be scared, he was sitting in handcuffs and I am safe. I went through all of the times he abused me, the custody hearings, and every detail I could remember at that point. After everything I told her she said how sorry she was the sheriff didn’t get my medical records but she would try to get charges pressed if I was willing to go to a trial against R. I asked if he would be handcuffed in the court room, If i would need to see him, and if there would be a sheriff with him during trial. She answered yes to all of them. So I said yes i will go to trial.

She called me back stating the judge wouldn’t press charges due to the lack of evidence at the time of R’s original questioning. IF that sheriff would have gotten my medical records (which i signed to have released to him) R would have gotten jail time and I would have gotten justice, maybe even an apology. She explained to me that all R received was a misdemeanor, a probation violation and mandatory AA (because it worked so well the first time around) and she would be bumping my restraining order up to a criminal protective order (CPO). I am not sure of what R said during the court hearing but it was enough that the deputy DA told me to be extremely careful and to call the police if anything odd happens.

Weird things did happen, police were called multiple times, the one police officer actually knew R from being in jail at the time the DA called me. I have talked to police I know personally about this matter and the weird things that happened around the property and they have told me to be aware, not to live in fear but if R did come back, he isn’t coming for Beau, he is coming for you. Abusers view their victims as property, nobody wants their property taken away, and they definitely don’t want the police involved.

Even though I was/am always scared, I am so much stronger now. It was so validating to hear the DA say she believed me. She knew I wasn’t lying. I had been called a liar by R, his family, his friends and others in this small town. To finally have someone who doesn’t know me personally say how sorry they are and that they truly believe me meant more than any charge R could receive. Of course I was upset that I didn’t get justice, and I didn’t receive an apology, but I did get validation. That is all that mattered to me.

I had a lot of hate bottled up inside me. I had to accept that I wasn’t ever going to receive an apology from R or his family. I needed to forgive him for myself. I know his family has heard about this blog, so …….R ,S ,and L, I forgive you. I forgive you for calling me a liar, for serving me in my home, for trying to take my son away from me. I am sure you are embarrassed for your sons actions and that is why you aren’t adult enough to admit your wrong doings, but I pray that domestic violence doesn’t ever touch your daughters, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

 

My son wouldn’t know who any of them are from a hole in the wall and for that I am so thankful. I couldn’t continue to hope on R staying out of Beaus life, so I had to make it official….

A letter to my family…

I was going to write about the next step in my journey but then I realized I keep talking about my mom, sisters, father, and of course my son, and tell you how important they were through all of this. But I’ve never actually shown you them, and honestly I don’t think I have told them enough how thankful I am for them. 15350688_10211373695649267_452374813489797899_n

G- I know we have had our differences throughout the years, but I am so proud of the woman you are becoming. You are hard working, strong willed, and honest. You are smarter than you believe, and will go far in whatever career path you choose. You don’t care what anyone thinks and I am definitely jealous of that quality. I am sorry you had to see me almost die and go through that experience. You are the one I turn to for any fashion advice before I go out on dates (I would definitely look like a hot mess if it wasn’t for you). Thank you for painting my nails in the hospital, at least one part of me looked okay! haha Beau can be a huge handful, but you are learning to deal with a toddler who is more strong willed than you, and excelling at being an aunt. I love you very  much!

S-I can’t thank you enough for taking the time off of school when I had Beau. I would not have been able to function without you helping me. When I was too weak to blow dry my hair you did it for me. You are very smart, ambitious, and driven. You are great with Beau, even if you give him sweets when he shouldn’t have them. I am sorry you had to be called to my house to see me bleeding everywhere, and for all the times you came and saw R in those crazy mental states he would be in. But I am happy at the same time, because you and G know the exact kinds of guys to NOT date. I love you very much!

Mom and Dad- I don’t even know where to start, I know me getting pregnant was not part of the ideal plan you have for a daughters life. I also know that you never dream of having a daughter almost die due to domestic violence. As a parent, I now see why you guys raised me the way you did. You did everything you guys could to give us an amazing life. My sisters and I are so very blessed to have parents like you guys. You love each other so much. We are very strong girls, we(I now) take no shit from anyone, and we love hard. You have taught us that family, loyalty, love and your word are the most important things in life. I am sorry for all the times I have let you down, but I promise to make all the heartache, sleepless nights, and money worth it. I am going to change the world and open eyes that refuse to see the truth about domestic violence. I couldn’t do any of that without you two in my corner. Dad, you are the most hard working man I know and the best example of what a man and father should be. Mom, you are the most loyal and loving person anyone has ever met, and the best mother anyone could dream of. Beau love the two of you so much! Screw the people who are jealous of what you two have. Haters are a sign that you are succeeding in life. I love you both and damn proud to call you my parents!

Beau- You can’t read this yet but one day you will. I love you so much little bear. You saved my life. You gave me a reason to defy the odds and survive. God had a plan for you too, being born at 31 weeks without any major complications is a major win in anyones book. You are SO smart, handsome, and loving. I promise to give you every opportunity this life has to offer and be the best damn mommy and daddy I can be to you. I will never let another monster come near you or ever let that certain one get the chance to know the amazing boy you are. I can not wait to see how you grow and become a little man, mommy loves you forever and always for you are my dear one.

See the thing is, not all domestic violence survivors have the amazing family I do. I had a place to go home to. Somewhere safe that I knew R couldn’t get to me without going through 4 other people first. I had an education to fall back on.  My plan for A Survivor’s Mission is to give these victims a chance to never be another mans property again. I want to change the laws we have in CA for restraining orders. I want to sponsor some of these girls through school, give them their independence back, at the very least put them through counseling. I can not explain to you what it is like to have someone take control of who you are as a person. You feel stupid, worthless, controlled, and terrified. You can’t become a strong person again without learning how to overcome that psychological hold these abusers have over us. I won’t stop until the view of what a “victim” is. My abuser gets to be free because I didn’t have the guts to stand up and ask for help, if you are reading this I will listen, you are not alone! You can contact me through this blog, or through my non profit website- http://www.lovedoesnthurt.org that emails me directly.

A little honesty…

I want this blog to be real, honest, and raw. I try my best to describe my feelings at the time and put you guys in that room or moment with me. I try to be this strong person who has worked so hard to move forward from the nightmare I lived through, but if I am being honest with you guys its really hard at times to be that strong person.

Friday,  I went through my first court date with you guys. Wanting it to be totally accurate I went back into my files to find paperwork with the exact dates. While looking through all those papers I had found a log my mom wrote for the police. It was a 3 and a half page front and back typed up log of all the times I had called her for help. Times she could hear R yelling at me, times I called her to come try and talk him off the ledge, times  I was in fear for my life, times where he held a knife to his wrists and throat, and the time he said he had thought about homicide.

Most of these events I blocked out. I hadn’t read that paper until friday. I refused to read it two years ago, and it was just as hard to read it friday. Hard enough that I really questioned writing this blog anymore. I didn’t want to go back and relive the events in my life that almost broke me. I was so weak and powerless. I was afraid that if I relived it again I wouldn’t be able to get back to this person I am now. Friday night I had the worst nightmares I have had in a very long time. I hadn’t had this one nightmare in particular for a while, but its always the same. I am back in my master bathroom at my old house, R has me pinned down. His knees on my shoulders, he is leaning over me, he has one arm on my legs holding me still and he is punching my stomach repeatedly with the other. He has a pillow over my face so even though I am screaming nobody can hear me. Now, I have been in counseling since June 4,2014. I have done this thing called EMDR that his supposed to help with memory and PTSD. This recurring dream my counselor thinks, could very well be what had happened causing me to have the placental abruption.

Reading that paper brought me right back to that helpless victim, who was ashamed, embarrassed, and terrified. I cried reading it. I was so sad that I drug my family through all that mess with me. But after seeing my counselor today she encouraged me to keep going, and share how I was feeling. She told me “Alyssa, this blog is about your thoughts, your feelings, you have made it passed that, you are strong now and will never go back to being that powerless person. You have always been a warrior, we just needed to give you your power back. Share your journey. Let your readers know its okay to have bad days, they don’t define you or take away from your progress.” And she is right. There are some days where if I didn’t have a little boy needing me to be the best damn mommy and daddy I can be, I would probably crumble. But that is part of getting strong again and being a domestic violence survivor.  Its okay for me to not be this fighter every day and somedays to cry. I want to keep writing this blog to encourage others to find the strength to leave abusive relationsips and the ones who have left, that it is okay to be weak sometimes, that being weak doesn’t give your abuser the power back, and that it doesn’t take away from the progress you have made.

Love,

Alyssa