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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