Legal System Fails, Cycle Of Abuse Continues

by Stephanie Braski
(Brantwood, WI)

In 2000 I was awarded sole custody of my children due to my ex-husband's abuse and aggression, the placement was supervised by my ex's sister. During my ex's placement time he worked on my son, then age 10. My ex filled my son's mind with negativity, physically and emotionally abused him. The children were kept in the partially finished basement most of the time during the "supervised placement" at their aunt's home. The tactic was isolation to keep the "supervisor" unaware. My son's behavior declined. He went from gifted & talented to needing to be in the emotionally disturbed program at school. My son demanded equal placement with his dad (mind you, this was brainwashing and my son was used as a tool by his dad). After 2 years of me being harassed by my ex, the extreme behavior problems of my son and being exhausted I gave in. The guardian ad litem recommended that both children have equal placement with their father.

My daughter began to have separation anxiety. She showed fear and distress if I was out of her sight. My son began to show bully behavior, was failing most classes in school. My ex continued to harass me in a variety of ways. I had an injunction in place for a total of 4 years, he violated it and spent time in jail.
In 2004 I moved back to my home town to put distance between me and my ex. I filed for primary placement of my daughter as she was miserable at her dad's. Her brother was choked, kicked, punched, objects thrown at him, his homework torn up, his clothes ripped. My daughter became more fearful, the anxiety was heightened and she would use food for comfort when she had to return to her dad's. Neither of the kids would reveal the abuse out of fear of what would happen if they did. I reported several incidents to Protective Services, all were found unsubstantiated. My ex brought my son into the custody trial to testify that he was not hit and life with his dad was great. My ex was awarded primary placement. My daughter continued to tell me about the abuse she witnessed.
In Feb of this year my son left his dad's home for good after he was assaulted. My son told me "the light went on in my head, I don't have to take this anymore." On Easter of this year my daughter was hit and threatened by her father. She has been in my home since then. I have not been able to obtain a child abuse injunction. We reported the abuse to the police.
The guardian ad litem made a case against me and my son. He worked hard to discredit my son, to have a Protective Services worker testify only about the reports about me (this was during the height of my son's behavior problems, my ex called social services). The GAL omitted a police officer's report. In light of hearing testimony from my daughter's therapist, a domestic abuse worker and my ex's history of violence the court has portrayed me as coaching the kids to lie. The GAL stated in court that I was emotionally abusive. Next week my daughter is to be returned to her father's home.

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Aug 25, 2007
Another failing grade for the system
by: Darlene Barriere

Sounds as though the system has failed both you and your children, Stephanie. I can only hope that the results will end up favourable at some future point. In the meantime, continue to be supportive of your children. They need you more than ever.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Aug 25, 2007
Please HELP save these kids!
by: Anonymous

Please help save these kids and give some peace to their mother! Is this America or what??? Brainwashing the children against their mother who has done no wrong? and the judge and child case workers not believeing what they are told by the children? This is just so unfair and blind of everyone who is working for the "law". Who can give this family justice? Hurry before it is too late!

Aug 25, 2007
horrible man......
by: Anonymous

Your ex should be thrown in JAIL FOR LIFE!!!!!!!!!! You sound like a wonderful parent because the daughter feels safe around you, and not your ex. The ex is a horrid man who should be locked up for life.

Aug 26, 2007
child abuse
by: Marty W

I just can't understand how a judge and lawyers can be so stupid. When a child is scared of a parent why can't they see it. Do they not think there is a reason for that?? Or do they just go the easy way out and wait for the child to be hurt beyond repair. One of these days the father is going to just flip out and then it will be too late to see just what he is capable of doing. Will it take a murder for the courts to see what is going on??? I guess all you can do is pray the little girl survives her life with her dad.

Aug 26, 2007
stay in the fight!!
by: Sylvia

Stephanie, Do not give up the fight no matter how tough it seems at times. You will prevail and your kids need you to be there for them. We have to believe that somewhere in this crazy system there will be justice for you. Stay strong.
Sylvia

Aug 27, 2007
in whose best interest?
by: Sarah

I have personally witnessed physical abuse from this man to Stephanie. After 20 years of working with adult and juvenile domestic abuse survivors, I continue to be furious that our legal system awards primary custody and placement to convicted abusers. How are kids to grow up with any faith in our legal system when the people who are acting as their lawyers, in their best interest, are not believed? How can an educated GAL not recognize, or not care to take into account, dynamics of abuse? My understanding of this situation is that the GAL has a financial interest in the abusers lawyer's business. I'm no lawyer but it seems to me he should recuse himself.

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