The first two articles within the category, ‘Being Human – The Way We Can Become’ discuss the inherent misery often arising in cases of forced adoption and then the bias towards mothers within the family court scenario – as well as the unavailability of legal aid for fathers. This article focusses on the various situations that mothers can find themselves in when faced with the family court system. It is true that men experience an immediate inequality through their inability to secure legal aid and therefore to professionally represent themselves in court – but actually mothers can find themselves in the same position and there are some events women encounter, which can only be described as rape. If you feel this is an exaggeration – then please substitute your own word for what is happening when a good mother has her baby taken away at birth? She is in a vulnerable state having just endured labour and then the birth of her own flesh and blood – and now an authority is taking her child and she is impotent to effect the situation. The baby is not anyone else’s to have. It is the mothers baby and yet it it taken from her against her will. In some cases it is even taken from a mother immediately after the birth and in the case of a Caesarean Section where the mother has had to receive a general anaesthetic, there is no contact for her with her newborn baby at all, permanently.
This seems such a barbaric picture but sadly there is even more. Three decades ago when a young lady became pregnant, she entered into a whole world of celebration and support from midwives, doctors, nurses, family and friends. If she was a very young mum in her mid-teens for example, she would receive guidance, financial help, encouragement and praise instead of having to be afraid that her youth and lack of experience was in some way going to lose her child. Now we read of teenage suicides that have occurred as a result of emotional overload heaped onto young mothers via services that were once there to protect and nurture young mums. I deliberated over including last year’s victims within this article but have opted not to in respect of their families and friends. They are terribly sad stories that highlight a failing system and an urgent problem to be solved as a priority if more young girls are to be saved from the same desperate fate.
My research began with the plight of fathers within the family court system, and I can honestly state that I was surprised when I began to hear from mothers, at some of the one hundred percent unenviable positions they had found themselves in. Women at the mercy of a court with a bias in favour of a violent and deceitful ex-partner intent on remaining in their lives. Women who returned home to find their children gone – and who were then flooded with allegations of abuse against them. Women warned by Social Services to either separate from their partners, or lose their children. Women left grieving and broken through Social Services putting their children into care, due to a past aggressor being released from prison and posing a possible risk to both them and their children. Women who were drugged to discredit them, women dealing with falsified documents against them and allegations of medical, educational or emotional neglect towards their children and lastly, women whose cases arise in the first place, as a result of malicious, revengeful attacks arising from completely independent events. Then there are the dozens of women who in one moment were collecting their children from school, having their children’s friends to stay over and planning their future together with their husband – and the next under a ‘gagging order’ whilst their children were given to adoptive parents never to be seen again. I cannot possibly outline all of the different situations that arise for women, but the examples I have cited will give you a fair idea, that it really is not just men who are suffering the inadequacy and corruption of the British family courts.
In all my research so far, I can honestly state that although their are casualties on both sides when looking at men’s and women’s stories collectively, the most excruciating accounts of extreme torture came from women and I think the main cause of this, is the physical abuse women often endure before then being made impotent via the family courts, to keep their aggressor away from them and their children. Either parent can become toxic within a breakup – but where there is physical violence, it adds a whole new dimension. When the services that are meant to protect us fail us and leave women and children vulnerable to physical threat, the family is unable to operate as they were in the safety of their own boundaries and are instead forced into the hands of a family court system who often put them through many unnecessary hoops while they try to access the situation and still arrive at a disastrous result. I am not insinuating that all cases involve professional cack-handedness, and accidental or intentional malpractice, but there are far too many cases to pass off as just glitches in and otherwise successful system.
There is another example that comes easily to mind when I am looking at the suffering of men and women involved in the family court scenario, which again, for me, equates to living hell. When a women gives birth the baby is born from and through her body and it attached to it until the umbilical cord has been cut. In essence prior to that it had been a part of her. Although a man knows that he helped to create the child, he does not experience this same bond, even if he does experience a physical bond with the baby before it is born, that will be most likely experienced as outside of his own body. When a baby is taken from the mother soon after it is born, the mother quite literally experiences it as if she is also being taken – and yet she is still here. This discord can be so disruptive as to be intolerable and mothers in this state need to be surrounded with kindness and support as it is a very precarious inner state to balance and can lead to a breakdown of identity and subsequent emotional meltdown too. It is no wonder that there are increasing reports of teen mum’s taking their own lives – it is a huge cross to bear even for mature and well-travelled women.
I am going to say this because 1. I am a woman and 2. therefore I can’t truly say how objective I am when I start talking about women’s within this topic – but in my experience it’s true that women can get high and mighty and yes revengeful if not bitter and yup, twisted too. In my experience men have a different brand of ‘nasty’ but neither male aggression and manipulation or female psychological games and manipulation (I mention stereotypes as examples only) does anyone any good – and neither look out for the children at all. I know that readers may have another point of view – but my own research has brought me to believe that the resolution of this rather toxic dynamic relies on both parents remembering their responsibilities towards one another as parents and their commitment towards their children’s wellbeing, and creating between them a situation that allows their children to get the very best of both of them.
There are further examples such as when women are accused of medical or educational neglect for example and find their lives being examined in great details, past and present, as if the services who would usually support, are actually aiming to find any reason to take their children away from them but medical kidnap, including educational kidnap cases deserve their own attention and will be discussed in a further article within this section.
There are also cases of mothers who as I write lie incarcerated in prisons for being in contempt of court whilst refusing to be silenced. It is not just men that go to jail -and judges do not always err on the side of caution in the mothers favour. To all you good dads out there, there really are sincere mums locked up in prison for attempting to save their children from the custody or care of ex partner’s who spent their time within the family, terrorising them all. One disabled mature mum reported to me that she had already raised three children to their teens ‘without him’ and hardly needed him to re-enter their lives to reign with violence and terror again.’ However, the family courts in effect, ordered her very aggressive partner back into their lives via contact centre visits which she was supposed to support – waving the ‘disability card’ in their face. The court stated that due to her disability her children may well be losing out on a full active life and that the rekindling of the relationship with their father, m,ay well remedy the problem. The children involved were all of an age to be able to speak up for themselves – but the court alleged that they were being manipulated to not want to see him. So we need to be very clear about something at this juncture, both mums and dads are often facing the inability of the family courts to provide the service that is really needed for separting partners.
Arriving at a clear conclusion about the British family court scenario can be totally traumatising to those who have trawled through it to get there. However, once we are clear what we are dealing with, it is plain to see that parents are far better off trying to sort out their own separations amicably enough for it not to ever get as far as the court rooms. This means for resisting using all that we know about our ex-partner to character assassinate them, whether we are male or female. It means caring more about our parenting than our failed relationship. It means prioritising the feelings of our children before out own and this can be markedly difficult if we have not seen our children as people in their own right.
Many mothers in the case of family breakdown become highly protective of themselves emotionally and their attachment to their children leads them to feel vulnerable in the face of them spending time with someone that they no longer feel an affinity with. In the case of their ex finding a new partner, they fear the influence of another woman in their child’s life (just as a man often does) and this can be enough to create a longstanding conflict, even if she has a new partner of her own. I think this is due to the physical bond mothers and children often have through carrying their child and giving birth to them. It isn’t so much that it gives them a sense of ownership – but it does lead to mothers feeling this extra tie with their children and often along with that, extra rights. The reason I am highlighting this in this article, is because I think it is often overlooked in preference to tired, easily found reasons for women who appear to be possessive over their children. Yes, there can be mind games and revenge and it is true that women especially are drawn to neat little bundles when it comes to their children and family life, so often, an ex-partner can turn out to be an inconvenience. But even amongst women who are agreeable to their children maintaining contact with the absent father, there are cases where women experience what can only be labelled as ‘separation anxiety’ and my own opinion, is that this arises through their physical attachment with their child and an organic fear when their children are not within the safety of their own parameters. In cases where there has been past physical abuse towards the mother, it is therefore understandable that she would resist any contact between her past aggressor and their children even in a supervised environment.
If parents can come to better understand one another, then we have a chance to turn the current unsatisfactory status quo around. The family court process is unpleasant at best and destructive at worst and while the court staff are all being paid their wages, the cases within the court walls scream to be publicised – yet are committed to silence.
I hope we can rise to what is needed.
Over the next few weeks, I will be interviewing motjhers who have tasted the sourness of the family court system and wish to share their story. If you are reading this article and would like to become involved, please do get in touch here: https://anotherangleforthebrave.com/contact-2/
Thank you for reading. Comments welcome.
© 2015 Sarita Perrott. All Rights Reserved.